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On Middle East Affairs Volume XXX, No. 2

March 2011

Telling the Truth for 28 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 The Big Lie: Israel’s Concern for “Security” —Rachelle Marshall 11 Recognizing Palestinian Statehood—Quality as Well as Quantity—John V. Whitbeck

16 Israeli-Imposed Apartheid Almost Complete in the West Bank City of Hebron—Jane Adas

18 Seeing Is Believing: An American Activist’s First Trip to Palestine—Kristin Szremski

20 Happy New Year From Israel: The Story of the Abu Rahme Family—Frank Barat

22 Obama Should Condemn Razing of East Jerusalem’s Historic Shepherd Hotel—George Hishmeh 24 It’s a Myth That Israelis Support a Two-State Solution—Jan Elshout 26 Letters, Packages en Route to Gaza via Israel Go “Missing”—Mohammed Omer 28 Israel Unwilling to Apply the Same Law to Itself That It Demands Be Applied to Others—Ian Williams 30 Israel’s Original Sin: No Separation of Synagogue And State—Uri Avnery 34 Congress Funds Government Through March 4— But not Israel’s “Iron Dome”—Shirl McArthur


36 Crisis in Lebanon—Two Views —Jim Lobe, Ranni Amiri

42 Beyond the West: Expanding the Scope of Pro-Palestinian Activism—John Gee 70 In Memoriam: Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke (1941-2010)—Andrew I. Killgore

Lebanese army troops patrol in Beirut on Jan. 18, 2011 amid rising tensions in the Lebanese capital following the announcement that the prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon had filed his indictment the previous day for the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. See “Views” pp. 36-38.

ON THE COVER: Tunisians shout slogans during a Dec. 27 demonstration in the capital of Tunis to show their solidarity with the residents of Sidi Bouzid, where protests erupted after 26-year-old university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire when he was not allowed to run a fruit stand. AFP PHOTO/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH


12 Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution—Three Views —Delinda C. Hanley, Rami G. Khouri, Patrick J. Buchanan

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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.)

Other Voices

Compiled by Janet McMahon

Israel’s Spy Request Strains Relations With U.S., Jonathan Cook, The National OV-1 The Day There Is No Bomb, Sever Plocker, Yediot Ahronot


Iron Dome Anti-Rocket System Was Never Meant to Protect Israeli Towns, Yossi Melman, The Forward


New Language for Middle East Peace, John V. Whitbeck, Arab News


Russia’s Challenge to America’s Middle East Policy, Patrick Seale, Agence Global


Recess Appointments and the Politics of Diplomacy, Marsha B. Cohen,


Israel and the Next War, Alain Gresh, Le Monde diplomatique


Glaspie Memo Vindicates Her, Shows Saddam’s Thinking, Prof. Juan Cole,


A Talmud Ace Tackles Thorny Issue of Net Neutrality, Joy Resmovits, The Forward


When the Messiah Comes, Israel Will Deport Him, Bradley Burston, Haaretz


Egypt’s Muslims Attend Coptic Christmas Mass, Serving as “Human Shields,” Yasmine El-Rashidi,


EU Diplomats Outline Steps to Snub Tel Aviv, Mohammed Mar’i, Arab News Weekly Standard, Rove Make the Case for Israel-al-Qaeda Linkage, Jim Lobe, UXOs: Did Israel Deliberately Arm Hamas?, Thomas Suarez,





50 ISRAEL AND JUDAISM: Finally, Israel’s Settlements


Policy, Turn Toward Extremism

63 DIPLOMATIC DOINGS: Bahrain, Qatar National Days

Making Impact on Jewish 39 OTHER PEOPLE’S MAIL

Opinion—Allan C. Brownfeld

64 BOOK REVIEW: Palestinian Village Histories:


52 ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVISM: Tony Blair Urges Support for Palestinian State-Building

Geographies of the Displaced

—Reviewed by Andrew Stimson

CHRONICLE: At MPAC Convention, Nobelist Ahmed Zewail


Discusses Challenges to Muslim

ACTIVISM: NY Area Muslims

States—Pat and Samir Twair

Train to Counter Islamophobia


53 HUMAN RIGHTS: Panelists

Banquet—Elaine Pasquini


67 2010 AET CHOIR OF ANGELS 56 MUSIC & ARTS: Laila El-Haddad, on Gaza Mom



Debate Closing Guantánamo

On Past Successes, Future Challenges at Eighth Annual



Church in the Holy Land

Ads in Bay Area Transit Stations

—Sir Jeffery M. Abood, KHS

Promote Peace and Justice


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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: Web sites: Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Printed in the USA

MARCH 2011

Remember These Children Thank you so much for the superb resource, “Remember These Children.” This excellent project is what made it possible for me to write my latest article, “Gabrielle Giffords, Tom Hurndall and Palestinian Children: Shot in the Head.” I am aware of how much meticulous work goes into updating your sad, detailed list of children killed in Palestine-Israel. Please know that your work is extremely important to all of us—and to eventually ending this carnage. Alison Weir, president, Council for the National Interest, and executive director, If Americans Knew As you explain in your compelling article, which appeared in the Jan 14-17, 2011 edition of CounterPunch, <>, “Several years ago, I was researching the cause of death of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces during the first months of the Second Intifadah, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. As I counted up the numbers, I was chilled to discover that the single most frequent cause of death in those beginning months was ‘gunfire to the head.’ “In the past 10 years Israeli forces have killed at least 255 Palestinian minors by fire to the head, and the number may actually be greater, since in many instances the specific bodily location of the lethal trauma is unlisted. In addition, this statistic does not include the many more Palestinian youngsters shot in the head by Israeli soldiers who survived, in one form or another.” According to the “Remember These Children” Web site, <>, the last Israeli child to die as a result of the occupation lost his life on April 2, 2009. The killing of Palestinian children , however, continues to this day. In his book The King’s Torah, American-born Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, legitimizes the killing of non-Jewish children because of the possibility that they may grow up to harm Jews. J Street E-Mail I would like to suggest you take a look at a recent J Street e-mail that encourages people to contact their representative to support the Dear Colleague letters supporting the people of Gaza. The site allows the reader to enter his/her zip code, which then brings up an e-mail to their represenTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tative, giving the information supporting this matter. It is quick and efficient and, I believe, makes it possible for people to more easily contact their representative— which in turn will, hopefully, create a larger number of e-mails of support. I would also include the telephone number for the switchboard of the House for people who prefer this method of contact which might have more impact. Ed Reilly, via e-mail P. S. I would have attached the J Street email, which arrived on Dec. 15, but am having computer problems. We visited the J Street Web site,

<>, where one can sign up to receive its e-mails, but found no archive of previous ones sent. The site did include a Dec. 15 “Statement on Berman Resolution,” however, which says in part: “J Street opposes a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood…J Street’s primary objective is to advance the long-term security of Israel and its survival as the democratic home of the Jewish people.…J Street urges members of Congress to express their opposition to a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in a manner that advances the cause of a two-state solution, and supports the decisions of members of Congress to refrain from voting in favor of the Berman resolution. Regardless of how they vote, we urge members of Congress to make public statements of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…” Readers and activists can sign up for Washington Report e-mail alerts at our Web site, <>. We appreciate and will investigate your suggestions for facilitating communications with elected representatives. Additionally, the phone number of the House and Senate switchboards, along with contact information for the White House and State Department, are listed in every issue’s “Other People’s Mail” feature (see p. 40). 5

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Contemporary Jewish Prophets Long an admirer of Allan Brownfeld’s writings in the Washington Report, I was disappointed by his December 2010 essay’s failure to connect the dots from Rabbi Morris Lazaron’s prophetic speech in 1937, warning of the dangers of Jewish–Zionist nationalism, to today’s Israeli reality. Connecting the dots must lead to the contemporary prophetic actions of groups such as J Street and the Jewish Voice for Peace in 2011, and not to any wistful hope for the moribund American Council for Judaism [ACJ]. Recent opinion polls indicate that the majority of American Jews support these peace groups and not the Netanyahu-controlled Jewish establishment. Yet, Washington Report readers are not being adequately exposed to this reality of the American Jewish community. The Washington Report needs to have observers and reporters at both the J Street Washington, DC Conference, Feb. 27-March 1, and the National Membership Meeting of the Jewish Voice for Peace, March 11-13 in Philadelphia in order to enable its readers to better appreciate how the interests of the American Jewish peace community coincide with and/or differ from those of the Washington Report. Publishing nostalgic references to early 20th century Jewish expressions of concerns about Zionism, presented without context, are of limited utility in 2011. David Eugene Blank, Louisville, KY We did in fact cover J Street’s 2010 conference (see “J Street and the Battle for the Jewish Soul” by Jack Ross, Jan./Feb. 2010 Washington Report, pp. 55 and 56). Ross, by the way, has just written a biography of the anti-Zionist Rabbi Elmer Berger, the first executive director of the American Council for Judaism. We cover many pro-peace groups (even ones which describe themselves as “proIsrael”) in our regional reports and “Activisms” sections—but our mission is to provide all Americans with information that

cannot be found in the mainstream media, not only developments, however encouraging, within the American Jewish community.

Richard Holbrooke While the mainstream media has eulogized Richard Holbrooke and lauded him as a great diplomat, many would disagree with this portrayal. More accurately, Holbrooke epitomized the symbol of a hawkish, “take no prisoners” attitude of U.S. military power. Earlier in his career, as special envoy to Vietnam in the Carter administration, he failed to follow through on a verbal assurance to lift a crushing economic embargo which resulted in wide-spread starvation. As assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, Holbrooke vigorously supported the shipment of weapons to the Indonesian military which were used to massacre one-third of the people of East Timor. As a key U.S. policymaker in the Balkans, he was at odds with human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, who condemned the U.S.-led NATO air strike that killed 16 media workers on Radio Television Serbia as a war crime. Subsequently, Holbrooke and other U.S. officials funded the training of the Croatian military, which engaged in the largest ethnic cleansing of the war against the Serbs in Krajina. In the run up to the war in Iraq, he displayed extremely poor judgment by supporting the Bush administration’s bogus claim of Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction. Earlier, Holbrooke was part of an administration which ordered the bombing of Baghdad on multiple occasions in the north and the south of the country, under the guise of enforcing an illegal “no fly zone.” Jagjit Singh, Los Alto, CA At least we didn’t read anything about Holbrooke being modest and self-effacing! For our publisher’s view, see p. 70.

Other Voices is an optional 16page supplement available only to subscribers of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. For an additional $15 per year (see postcard insert for Washington Re port subscription rates), subscribers will receive Other Voices bound into each issue of their Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Back issues of both publications are available. To subscribe telephone 1 (800) 368-5788 (press 1), fax (202) 265-4574, e-mail <>, or write to P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009. 6

No Laughing Matter In President Jimmy Carter’s new book, White House Diary, he writes: “Some people within our administration had dual interests, and they considered it proper to leak secrets if it would further their special goals. Much later, in January 2009, when Presidents Clinton, G e o rge H . W. B u s h , George W. Bush, and I met with President-elect Barack Obama, we all l aughingly agreed that


there was no way to prevent any secrets being shared with Israel if they were known by more than two people in the White House, State or Defense Departments.” What hope is there for the United States when five of our living presidents see spying for Israel by members of our government as being amusing, not even worthy of a slap on the wrist? Ruth E. Ramsey, Blairsville, GA We somehow doubt that a future president’s memoirs will feature a scene of kneeslapping over espionage by China or Iran! Thank you for joining our AET Choir of Angels. Your generous contribution will help us continue to inform American citizens who put the interests of their own country first.

Spreading the Word Please accept our small donation to your wonderful publication. I have been a subscriber for a number of years after taking a sample copy from an independent bookstore in my neighborhood. Since that time I have passed my magazines on to coffee shops and various gathering places that offer reading material. I am a retired nurse and my husband is a stock broker specializing in socially responsible investments. I am also an artist and am always delighted to see the interest that patrons who come to my art shows display when they are exposed to your publication. Many are amazed that there is such information available here at home. Although I wish my donation could exceed what I am now able to send, I would like to support you in the name of Rachel Corrie. Thank you and bless you for your courage, fine reporting and being a voice for the silenced. Shirley O’Neil, Cleveland Heights, OH We are equally grateful for your contribution and your activism on our behalf. Reiterating Our 9/11 Stance Thanks for printing Patty Goldstein’s letter regarding “The Truth About 9/11,” and for your helpful reply to her letter in the December 2010 issue. I agree with Ms. Goldstein that the evidence is overwhelming that the official story cannot be true. Indeed I go further. There’s a subset of the 9/11 Truth movement which advocates the No Planes Theory (NPT), and holds that there were no plane crashes on 9/11, no hijackings and no hijackers. Ronald Bleier, New York, NY We are printing the first paragraph of your letter precisely to demonstrate why, regardless of our own opinion, we must “leave it to others to actually conduct that investigation.” Those interested in reading your entire letter may visit your blog, <http://, Dec. 18>. ❑ MARCH 2011

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American Educational Trust After Tirelessly Championing… For the rights of besieged Palestinians living in Gaza, criticizing Israel’s murderous aggression during Operation Cast Lead, and describing Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza as a “medieval siege,” John Ging, UNRWA’s director in Gaza since 2006, is leaving to take up a senior U.N. post in New York. Barbara Shenstone, director of UNRWA’s West Bank operations, is also leaving to return to Canada. Perhaps both officials realize that the U.N. needs their help now more than ever in order to play a stronger role and push hard for change. Indeed, many new voices are beginning to be heard.

U.N. Drafts Resolution to Halt Illegal Israeli Settlements. At a Jan. 19 Security Council meeting, Lebanon proposed a draft resolution, sponsored by 120 countries, demanding that Israel “immediately and completely” cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. The resolution, which will be brought to a vote in February, at the earliest, also condemns “all other measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Territory, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions.”

International Law Negotiable? While Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Washington’s deputy permanent representative to the U.N., did not use the word “veto,” she spoke out strongly against the proposed resolution. “Permanent-status issues can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties—and not by recourse to the Security Council,” DiCarlo said. “We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this council and will continue to do so, because such action moves us no closer to the goal of a negotiated final settlement. Rather, we believe it would only complicate efforts to achieve that goal.”

Clarion Call for Obama to Condemn Settlements. Nearly seven years after this magazine circulated among retired U.S. diplomats a letter to President George W. Bush criticizing his April 14, 2004 endorsement of unilateral Israeli moves and calling on him to “reassert AmerMARCH 2011

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ican principles of justice and fairness” in the Middle East (see < letter_to_bush.html), a group of concerned policy commentators, academics, and former government officials sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Jan. 18, asking him to vote in favor of the draft resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements. According to the latest letter, the time has come to give a “clear signal from the United States to the parties and to the broader international community” that this nation “will approach the conflict with the objectivity, consistency and respect for international law required if it is to play a constructive role in the conflict’s resolution.” The letter also reminds the president of the words in his landmark Cairo speech of June 2009: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

“At This Critical Juncture,” The letter continues, “how the U.S. chooses to cast its vote on a settlements resolution will have a defining effect on our standing as a broker in Middle East peace. But the impact of this vote will be felt well beyond the arena of Israeli-Palestinian dealmaking—our seriousness as a guarantor of international law and international legitimacy is at stake.” The letter goes on to warn that…

“America’s Credibility... in a crucial region of the world is on the line—a region in which hundreds of thousands of our troops are deployed and where we face the greatest threats and challenges to our security. This vote is an American national security interest vote par excellence.

“We Urge You to do the Right Thing.” For the First Time Ever… The Palestinian flag was unfurled outside the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, DC. Ambassador Maen Areikat, the chief Palestinian envoy to the U.S., officiated during a brief ceremony on Jan. 18. The State Department had given permission to fly the flag in August, when the mission was upgraded from a representative office to a general delegation, but the building owner’s approval was also required. While flying the flag is an important symbolic step, Areikat THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

The Palestinian flag is raised over the Palestinian delegation for the first time on Jan. 18. said he hoped the Obama administration would also move to recognize Palestine as an independent state, which the U.S. has said it would do only after a negotiated peace deal is reached with Israel. Palestinian statehood is “an international interest, a U.S. interest and in the interest of all the parties in the Middle East,” Areikat said.

Old Timers May Remember… The days when America’s spirit—a unique blend of integrity, fairness, friendliness, optimism and goodwill— was our national hallmark. This is an opportunity for the U.S. to truly help our friends in Palestine, Israel, Tunisia and Lebanon (not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan) by supporting justice and peace in their troubled region. This is not the time to manipulate and scheme, provide one side with more tear gas and weapons, or block efforts to achieve ....

Equality, Freedom and Justice for All. Heartfelt Thanks… To our writers, staff, angels, subscribers, bookstore patrons, volunteers and friends who help keep this magazine going, issue after issue, year after year. After nearly 30 years of existence, we finally are beginning to see a change in Americans’ understanding of the U.S. role in supporting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and aggression toward its neighbors. Let’s continue to work together and…

Make a Difference Today! 7

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The Big Lie: Israel’s Concern for “Security” SpecialReport


By Rachelle Marshall

A Palestinian Bedouin sits amid desks and equipment from a classroom destroyed by Israeli troops in a Bedouin camp located in the West Bank village of Dakeka, near Hebron, Jan. 12, 2011. In all, 17 structures providing shelter to some 300 Bedouins were destroyed. ike the self-deluding crowds that

Lpraised the king’s new clothes as he

strode by stark naked, U.S. policymakers have long refused to acknowledge that Israel’s security is in less danger from its Arab neighbors than from maintaining an oppressive occupation. Thanks to pressure from America’s Israel lobby, Washington long ago assumed as a sacred trust the obligation to spend billions of dollars a year assuring Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East. As a result, Israel is one of the most heavily armed nations in the world, with a politically powerful military establishment. Protecting national security has from the beginning been less of a concern to Israeli leaders than acquiring more territory. The Rachelle 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

Israelis have turned down Arab peace overtures since at least 1949, when at the Lausanne conference they refused Arab offers of peace in exchange for the return of Palestinian refugees. Immediately after the June 1967 war Palestinian elders offered peace if Israel withdrew from the newly captured West Bank, an offer that Israel ignored. Since the late 1970s Palestinians and Arab leaders have indicated they would accept a two-state solution. Today, with a Palestinian president pledged to nonviolent resistance, Israel’s concern for security remains more pretext than reality. Protecting national security serves Israel as an excuse to flout U.N. resolutions, and to repeatedly bomb and invade Lebanon and Gaza. It is the rationale for constructiing a barrier in the West Bank that creates a new border east of the Green Line. Israel cites security concerns to justify the imprisonment of Palestinians who advocate nonviolence, and the army’s use of tear gas, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

clubs and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protesters. A Palestinian housewife, Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, died of respiratory failure on Jan. 1, a day after soldiers sprayed her with tear gas during the regular Friday protest at the Bil’in separation barrier. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s stated requirements for a peace agreement go far beyond guarantees of Israel’s security. Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and forgo the return of refugees. Netanyahu, backed by President Barack Obama, insists that Israeli troops remain stationed in the Jordan Valley, where the army is demolishing Palestinian villages to make way for new settlements. To the west a buffer zone several kilometers wide would remain on the Palestinian side of the separation wall. Netanyahu’s plan would leave Palestinians with a demilitarized mini-state on 60 percent of the West Bank, surrounded by Israeli troops, with no access to East Jerusalem and no control over its border with Jordan. Such demands send an unmistakable message that Israel is more interested in keeping control of the West Bank than in achieving the security that would result from a peace agreement. That message was made even clearer when the Israelis turned down President Obama’s offer of 20 F-35 stealth bombers, a pledge to veto all antiIsrael resolutions at the U.N., and a permanent guarantee of Israel’s security. In return, Israel had only to suspend settlement construction for 90 days. The cabinet refused even to consider the offer. Netanyahu proposed on Jan. 1 that he and President Mahmoud Abbas hold continuous one-on-one peace talks until they reach agreement. But he did not say he was prepared to offer concessions, or explain how, if he could not persuade his cabinet to discuss even a brief settlement halt, he could convince them to accept a peace agreement based on the 1967 borders, which the Palestinians insist on. In his speech in Cairo in April 2009, President Obama declared unequivocally that “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” Yet less than a year later, in December 2010, instead of threatening to cut MARCH 2011

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cards as a prank, vandalizoff U.S. aid if Israel did not Life Is Precarious for Palestinians Under Occupation ing Palestinian homes, and comply with international tossing sound grenades law, he sent Middle East THERE HAS NOT BEEN a suicide bombing by Palestinians for several into crowded market envoy George J. Mitchell years; Hamas has observed a year-long cease-fire, which Israel has igplaces to frighten shopon yet another mission to nored; and the Palestinian Authority has done its best to put down antipers. Israeli writer Yossi the Middle East, where, Israel protests in the West Bank. Yet Israeli soldiers and police continue Gurwitz describes the acaccording to Robert to conduct frequent pre-dawn manhunts in the West Bank that invariably terrorize families and result in sweeping arrests. Too often they also recounts as a record “of litWright of the New Amersult in death. Palestinians have refrained from retaliating, knowing that tle nobodies granted conica Foundation, he “will the Israelis welcome the excuse to obstruct peace efforts and impose trol over the lives of othtalk to the two sides about ever harsher restrictions. The Palestinians’ patience was most seriously ers, of the automatic trend what they might say tested on Jan. 7, when 65-year-old Omar al-Qawasmeh was shot to to sadism in such posishould they ever talk to death by Israeli soldiers who had burst into his house in Hebron while he tions, and the burning haeach other.” and his wife were sleeping. The killing took place only a few days after a tred they leave behind.” It Obama’s retreat has left Palestinian man was shot and killed as he approached a checkpoint, and less than a week after 36-year-old Jawahar Abu Rahmeh died after being is a description of the octhe Israelis free to add sprayed with tear gas while attending a demonstration at Israel’s cupation itself. thousands of Jewish setapartheid wall in Bil’in. Israel initially claimed Mr. Qawasmeh had “run at” Israeli law as it applies tlers to the 500,000 already the soldiers before he was shot, and the killing, like so many others, to Palestinians too often living in the West Bank. might have passed unnoticed in the West. But his bloodsoaked sheets takes the form of arbitrary Between mid-September and the blood-spattered wall above them forced the Israelis to admit cruelty. Adnan Gheith, a and mid-December of last that soldiers had “made a mistake.” His wife said the soldiers had come resident of Silwan in East year, construction began to kill their nephew, Wael Bitar, who had recently been released from detention after 43 days without charge or trial. —R.M. Jerusalem, was banished on more than 2,000 new from his home in Jerusahomes, with 13,000 more lem for four months last December for planned. The Israeli peace group Gush edges Israel’s right to exist.” Wright admits that such a solution speaking out against the continuing demoShalom reported that demolition crews in East Jerusalem are demolishing Palestinian would pose problems, but adds that “it lition of Palestinian homes in his neighhomes “more or less at random” to make looks pretty good when you realize how borhood. A few weeks earlier Abdallah hopeless the current process is.” As for the Abu Rahmah, a nonviolent activist in the way for Jewish housing. The building boom that began last Sep- inevitable protest from the Israel lobby, he West Bank, completed his year-long sentember also has resulted in the establish- writes that Obama would have to face it tence for “incitement”—but as he was ment of settlements in remote parts of the only twice: once when he agreed to ex- about to be released to rejoin his family, the West Bank, where Israeli bulldozers are plore this approach with the “Quartet” of army without explanation ordered that he leveling whole hillsides to provide build- Russia, the European Union, and the U.N.; remain in prison. Abu Ramah’s crime was ing lots. The boundaries of the new settle- and again when the U.S. refrained from ve- to organize nonviolent protests against the separation barrier, which the International ments are being intentionally left unclear, toing it at the U.N. The Israelis need a peace agreement al- Court of Justice declared illegal in 2004. to allow for their continued expansion at Israelis have reason to regret that their the expense of nearby Palestinian commu- most as much as the Palestinians if they nities. Since a two-state solution now wish to stop the increasing erosion of free nation, once admired in the West as a sowould involve moving hundreds of thou- speech and ordinary civility in their soci- cialist democracy at least for Jews, is sands of Israelis back to Israel, the ety. On Jan. 6 the Knesset voted to investi- rapidly becoming a pariah state. Israel’s onprospects of such a solution have become gate left-of-center human rights and civil going siege of Gaza has not weakened liberties organizations in Israel, with one Hamas, but resulted in a poverty rate of 80 increasingly dim. Palestinians have every reason to doubt Knesset member, Michael Ben-Ari, calling percent and the spread of malnutrition and that Washington intends to pursue a peace such groups “traitors,” “germs,” and “ene- disease, according to the World Health Oragreement if it means confronting Israel. mies of Israel.” Religious leaders who ganization. In late December, a season of Consequently Palestinian officials, led by preach hatred of Palestinians have fostered peace and goodwill, Israel escalated its air Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, instead are an outbreak of mob attacks on Israeli attacks on Gaza. Israeli warplanes, unseeking the international community’s en- Palestinians and on immigrant workers. In doubtedly provided by the U.S., carried out dorsement of a Palestinian state based on mid-December the chief rabbi of Safed is- a series of strikes aimed at “militants” and the 1967 borders. Bolivia, Venezuela and sued a letter ordering Israeli Jews to re- whatever infrastructure remained—includArgentina already have recognized such a frain from renting or selling homes to ing a dairy factory and Gaza’s only funcArabs, and 300 rabbis signed it. Eli tioning power plant—after Israel’s devasstate and others are likely to follow. Robert Wright suggests how such a plan Tzviele, a Holocaust survivor in his 80s, tating assault in the winter of 2008-9. Among the supposed militants killed might work. In an op-ed column in the has been hounded by rabbis and threatDec. 14 New York Times he points out that ened with arson if he continues to rent to was Sasama Abu Hashish, a 20-year-old Gaza farmer, who was shot by Israeli “The United Nations created a Jewish state Arabs. The continued occupation has long had snipers on Christmas Eve as he tended his six decades ago, and it can create a Palestinian state now. The U.N. can define the a brutalizing effect on the army. Testimony sheep several meters from Gaza’s border borders, set the timetable and lay down the by veterans in Breaking the Silence de- with Israel. Abu Hashish, who left behind rules for Palestinian elections, specifying, scribes bored soldiers tormenting small a young wife and a day-old baby girl, was for example, that the winners must swear Palestinian boys, humiliating fathers in on his own land at the time, but the buffer allegiance to a constitution that acknowl- front of their children, pocketing vital I.D. zone on the Gaza side of the border fence, MARCH 2011




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In Afghanistan, U.S. Private First Class Andrew Rios of the I-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat, 101st Airborne Division walks through a pomegranate orchard during a patrol in the Kandahar village of Khosrow Olia, Jan. 5, 2011. which is from 500 to 1,500 meters wide, contains 35 percent of Gaza’s arable land. In the previous five weeks the Israelis shot more than 40 Gazan farmers when they wandered into the zone. Israel claims its cross-border air strikes and shootings are aimed at stopping rocket attacks, which Hamas is trying to prevent. Yet Haaretz recently reported that Israel’s Iron Dome missile intercept system, designed to protect Israeli towns from the rockets, is being kept at an Israeli air force base until it can be used in a future war to protect military installations (see this issue’s “Other Voices” supplement). Meanwhile, Israel is selling the system to Singapore and India. The U.S.provided Israel with $205 million to pay for its development. An incident that took place last fall suggested that Israel‘s punishment of the Palestinians is motivated to no small degree by an occupation mentality that has become ingrained in Israeli culture. When Israel called on other nations for help in battling a devastating forest fire near Haifa, the Palestinian Authority responded with two fire engines and several firefighters. All of them entered Israel with no trouble. But when a ceremony to honor the firemen was held a few weeks later, all but seven of the Palestinians were prevented from entering Israel. Although the army claimed “a bureaucratic mistake,” Knesset member Ahmed Tibi blamed the incident on the “stupidity and lordly attitude of the occupation regime.” Nevertheless, Palestinians remain ready to live in peace with Israel. Hamas leader 10

Ismail Haniyah declared on Dec. 1 that if a referendum were held on any proposed peace agreement with Israel, Hamas would accept the outcome, “even if it contradicts our policies and convictions.” Abbas two weeks later circumvented the stalled peace negotiations by inviting 60 Israeli public figures to lunch, including members of Kadima, Likud and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Speaking of his concern for the future of his eight grandchildren, the Palestinian president repeated his commitment to resolving the conflict peacefully. On the way back to Israel Amram Mitzna, a former leader of the Labor party, said the meeting proved “to anyone who wants to know if there is a partner on the other side that, yes, there is one.”

A Pointless and Costly Venture Unfortunately, achieving Middle East peace may have become less of a priority for the Obama administration than pursuing the war in Afghanistan—a war that is turning out to be one of the most pointless and costly ventures in American history. As the new year began, the only certainties were that U.S. troops will be fighting in Afghanistan until at least 2014, and that Afghan and Pakistani civilians are paying an increasingly fearful price. Obama’s long awaited strategy assessment in mid-December asserted that U.S.NATO forces had “halted the momentum” of the Taliban in the south, but acknowledged that those gains are “reversible.” Meanwhile, according to analysts and aid THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

workers, the Taliban has extended its reach to the north, where a variety of militant groups purportedly fighting to defend the government are in fact robbing and terrorizing the local population. NATO has plans to transform many of these groups into local police forces, but Afghan officials warn that they are essentially thugs, formerly employed by the warlords whose brutality and corruption prompted the Afghans to welcome the Taliban in the 1990s. The administration’s goals in Afghanistan have become increasingly murky. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said after the assessment report was released, “Our goal is not a country free of corruption. It’s to turn back the Taliban and provide some minimal capability to the Afghan government.” But U.S.-NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus has adopted a strategy that is far from modest. According to Michael Cohen, a Fellow at the American Security Project, the U.S. use of air power has “increased dramatically” since Petraeus took over. The military is now using three times as many bombs and missiles as in 2009, with 850 missions in November alone. The number of night raids and assassinations by Special Operations forces has also tripled—and, as it did in Vietnam, the military again is issuing daily body counts. Red Cross officials held a rare press conference on Dec. 15 to express their concern over the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a number that has increased by 25 percent over last year. The number of displaced civilians in both countries also has increased. Petraeus’ strategy of using air strikes and night raids to kill as many insurgents as possible has fueled increasing popular resentment and therefore could be self-defeating. Meanwhile, as Anatol Lieven pointed out in the Jan. 3 issue of The Nation, the assassinations are eliminating the very Taliban commanders who might be open to reconciliation with the Afghan government. Meanwhile neither peace nor victory is in sight. The government of Pakistan, a crucial U.S. ally, faces fierce domestic opposition and is in danger of collapsing, despite receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid. European Union President Herman Van Romping was quoted by WikiLeaks as saying last year, “No one believes in Afghanistan anymore.” Yet on Jan. 6 the Pentagon announced it was sending 1,400 more combat Marines to Afghanistan in order to continue a war that has no clear objective other than killing more Taliban and propping up two failed governments. ❑ MARCH 2011

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Recognizing Palestinian Statehood— Quality as Well as Quantity SpecialReport

By John V. Whitbeck n Jan. 13, Guyana extended diplo-

Omatic recognition to the State of Pales-

tine as a free, independent and sovereign state within its full pre-1967 borders (all of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem). Coming soon after similar recognitions by Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile, Guyana’s recognition brought to 110 the number of U.N. member states recognizing the State of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on Nov. 15, 1988. While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the State of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognized by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country’s sovereign territory, and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory, expanded East Jerusalem, leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested. In this context, it may be enlightening to consider the quality as well as the quantity of the states extending diplomatic recognition. Of the world’s nine most populous states, eight (all except the United States) recognize the State of Palestine. Of the world’s 20 most populous states, 15 (all except the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Germany and Thailand) recognize the State of Palestine. Even eight EU member states recognize the State of Palestine. By contrast, the 73 U.N. member states which currently recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state include only one of the nine most populous states (the United States) and only four of the 20 most populous states (the U.S., Japan, Germany and Turkey). When, in July 2010, the International Court of Justice held that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence (see April 2008 Washington Report, p. 12) did not violate international law because international law is silent on the subject of the legality of declarations of independence—meaning that no declarations of independence violate international law and all are “legal,” albeit subject to the political decisions of sovereign states to recognize or not the independence declared—Washington responded by calling John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of The World According to Whitbeck (available from the AET Book Club). 11

on all countries which had not already recognized Kosovo to do so promptly. Six months later, however, only four more had seen fit to do so: Honduras, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Qatar. If the Arab League were now to call on the minority of U.N. member states which have not already recognized Palestine to do so promptly, it is certain that the response would be far superior (both in quantity and in quality) to the response to the recent American appeal on behalf of Kosovo. It should do so.

tates encompassing S between 80 percent and 90 percent of the world’s population recognize the State of Palestine. Notwithstanding that (by my rough calculations) states encompassing between 80 percent and 90 percent of the world’s population recognize the State of Palestine, while states encompassing only between 10 percent and 20 percent of the world’s population recognize the Republic of Kosovo, the Western media (and, indeed, much of the non-Western media as well) act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration which can never be realized without IsraeliAmerican consent. Much of international public opinion (including, apparently, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah) has, at least until recently, permitted itself to be brainwashed into thinking and acting accordingly. As in most aspects of international relations, it is not the nature of the act (or crime) which matters but, rather, who is doing it to whom. Palestine was conquered and is still occupied, 43 years later, by the military forces of Israel. What most of the world (including the U.N. and even five EU member states) still regards as the Serbian province of Kosovo was conquered and is still occupied, 11 years later, by the military forces of NATO, the American flag is flown there at least as widely as the Kosovo flag, and the capital, Pristina, boasts a Bill Clinton Boulevard and a larger-than-life-size statue of the former American president. Might makes right, at least in the hearts and minds of the mighty, including most Western decision-makers and opinion-formers. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Meanwhile, as a perpetual “peace process” appears suddenly threatened by peaceful recourse to international law and international organizations, the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted by a unanimous voice vote a resolution drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) calling on President Barack Obama not to recognize the State of Palestine and to veto any effort by Palestine to obtain U.N. membership. Western politicians and the Western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country which actively resists Israeli-American global domination. By its slavish subservience to Israel, as reflected yet again both in the absence of a single brave voice raised against this new House resolution and in the Obama administration’s recently rejected offer of a huge military and diplomatic bribe to Israel in reward for a mere 90-day suspension of its illegal colonization program, the United States has effectively excluded itself from the true international community (redefined to refer to the great majority of mankind) and become a true rogue state, acting in consistent and flagrant contempt of both international law and fundamental human rights.

A Declaration of Independence One must hope that the United States can still pull back from the abyss and recover its own independence, even if all signs currently point in the opposite direction. In fact, it may soon reach its moment of truth and have the opportunity to do so. If Palestine, within its full pre-1967 borders, were a U.N. member state, not simply “the occupied territories,” the end of the occupation and peace with some measure of justice—even if not imminent—would instantly become only a question of “when,” no longer of “whether.” When, later this year, the State of Palestine applies for U.N. membership, Barack Obama must have the courage to assert his own country’s independence and to permit it to rejoin the true international community by withholding the traditional American veto of any U.N. action opposed by Israel and by permitting the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people to assume their full and rightful places in the community of nations. ❑ MARCH 2011

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Three Views


Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution

Protestors kiss soldiers during a Jan. 20 demonstration in Tunis against the presence in the transitional government of stalwarts of toppled leader Zine El Abedine Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party.

The Jasmine Revolution By Delinda C. Hanley

he sweet smell of jasmine conjures up T memories of Tunisia—of whitewashed, blue-trimmed villas draped in jasmine and bougainvillea, or a teenager selling tiny nosegays to men and women lounging in cafés. Inhale that heady jasmine perfume and one can almost forget that those crowds of highly educated young people sipping coffee and mint tea have little else to do—since they can’t find jobs—and that a teen flower seller’s family may depend on loose change to survive. Tunisians have dubbed their recent unarmed uprising the Jasmine Revolution, a name that now evokes the exhilarating promise of freedom of expression and real democracy. While others have called the revolution that rocked Tunisia the Wikileaks Revolution—because leaked U.S. diplomatic cables described Tunisia as a Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 12

“police state” and criticized corruption in President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali’s government and family—Tunisians didn’t need Wikileaks to tell them there was trouble in their seaside paradise. Rising inflation coupled with high unemployment was making life increasingly hard, and economic woes in Europe affected the nation’s vital tourism industry. Officially, Tunisia’s unemployment rate is 14 percent, but probably much higher in rural regions, and the percentage of college graduates without work is probably double the national average. More than a million Tunisians, or 10 percent of the population, have emigrated, mostly to Europe, in hopes of finding work and a better future. Underemployment in Tunisia is also a problem, one that worries students and graduates alike. Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26year-old university graduate, could not find a job in his rural central Tunisian hometown of Sidi Bouzid. He took out a loan to buy a used cart, bought some fruit and vegetables on credit, and began to hawk his wares. Police confiscated his cart

and his produce his first day on the job because he did not have a permit. When Bouazizi argued that he couldn’t afford a license, police slapped and beat him. On Dec. 17 he picked up a gallon of gas, went to the gates of his governor’s fancy home, poured the gas over his body and set himself on fire. He died three weeks later. Days after Bouazizi’s shocking act of self-immolation, street protests erupted in his hometown—and spread like wildfire. By Christmas thousands of unarmed Tunisians, especially young people inspired by Bouazizi’s courage and desperation, had taken to the streets throughout the country, where they were met by police equipped with tear gas, live ammunition and clubs. The day after protests spread to Tunis and Sousse on Dec. 27, President Ben Ali, who had ruled his country for 23 years, finally addressed his people, blaming the clashes on a “minority of extremists and terrorists” and warning that the law would punish protesters. Students began tearing down photos of their ruler. MARCH 2011

On Dec. 29 Nessma TV, a private news channel, became the first major Tunisian media outlet to cover the protests. Labor unions, lawyers and opposition groups soon joined the students, and commercial and judicial strikes took place on Jan. 6. Tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets of the capital, Tunis. Ben Ali’s government responded by cracking down even harder on activists, journalists, bloggers, lawyers, artists, and even a rap singer, and firing sympathetic cabinet ministers. On Jan. 13 the president again tried to extinguish the flames, promising not to run for re-election in 2014. He went on to promise early elections and the release of political prisoners. Firing his interior minister, Ben Ali said he’d investigate the killing of some 80 protesters by security forces—but the demonstrations continued. The next day the president imposed a state of emergency, dissolved the government, and closed Tunisian airspace, newspapers, universities and schools. He ordered his army to shoot into the crowds of protesters. Unlike the police, however, the soldiers refused. Instead of following orders, army chief of staff Gen. Rachid Ammar suggested that Ben Ali leave. So, on Jan. 14 the president and his entourage flew to Malta, which denied him refuge, then boarded a plane to France, which also refused to let him land. Finally Saudi Arabia agreed to allow him to stay for an unspecified period of time. Ben Ali’s wife, Leila, and children already had fled to Dubai, allegedly with 1.5 tons of gold worth more than $56 million. Much of the family’s $5.59 billion fortune is believed to be in France and Switzerland, where officials say they’ll freeze “suspicious” assets. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi took over as interim president and formed a new coalition government, but Tunisians weren’t happy that it included several members of Ben Ali’s cabinet. The speaker of parliament, Fuad Mebazaa, tried to form a unity government, but the verdict on that is not in. For weeks Tunisians held protests outside their embassy in Washington, DC to show solidarity with their families back home. On Jan. 14, as news broke that Ben Ali had fled, the protest turned into a celebration. People left bouquets of flowers along the embassy’s fence and cheered and waved as cars passed by honking. “Ben Ali just didn’t get it,” said one protester, Najeh Sassi. “It’s not just jobs and corruption. He was the problem. We applaud the military, which wouldn’t take part in the violence. They’ve stayed neutral and made sure nothing got out of hand. The military MARCH 2011


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(L-r) Sami Belhoula, Majim Habib, Hakim Ben Alaya and Najeh Sassi demonstrate outside the Tunisian Embassy in Washington, DC, Jan. 14, 2011. will calm things,“ Sassi predicted. “The best part of this revolution is that it came from the people,” he added. “There was no one outside making it happen and no opposition inside.” Another protester, Sami Belhoula, said he was worried, “I hope it stays civilized and the violence stops. The police brutality got ugly—how could people fire at their family members? I hope they prosecute the guilty, the people who gave the orders to shoot protesters.” “I have too many things to say,” Hakim Ben Alaya said. “We are celebrating a Tunisian revolution that only took four weeks. Tunisia can be the model for other Arab counties in need of freedom,” he said. “This is historic.” Majim Habib, who said he’d escaped from prison after being sentenced for a political crime, has lived in exile for years. “I haven’t seen my three children in 18 years,” he lamented. “At last I’ll have a chance to go home.” As the gathering ended, Ben Alaya concluded, “This was a one-person revolution, the Jasmine revolution. Mohamed’s human rights were abused. He couldn’t express himself except by self-immolation. Our message is that one person, one person, can change history.” Several hours later, U.S. President Barack Obama applauded “the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people” and appealed for calm and “free and fair elections” in the near future. “The United States stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold, and we will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

It may have taken only four weeks to change the government in Tunisia, but its citizens have been preparing for this day for decades. Over the years on visits to Tunisia, discussion often turned to the inevitable question, “What happens after President Ben Ali?” The answers were the same from teachers, students, bureaucrats and cab drivers: “Tunisia is so much more than one man, it’s 10 million Tunisians. We know how to make things work.” Many Tunisian men and women are highly educated, hard-working and genuinely motivated to make sure their country is a success story, a model for others to emulate. As one sign protesters left propped against the embassy fence declared, “Free at last!” But it also warned, “Be aware next president!”

The Thrill and Consequences of Tunisia By Rami G. Khouri

wo great questions loom after the over-

Tthrow of the Tunisian regime of former

President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali: How smoothly and how quickly will the Tunisian people transition to a more democratic form of government that can address their grievances and improve their life prospects? How much, and what kind of, impact will the Tunisian popular revolution have on other Arab countries? Both of these questions will require some time before we have clear answers, but several important points already seem clear. Rami G. Khouri is editor-at-large of The Daily Star, and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon. Copyright © 2011 Rami G. Khouri. Distributed by Agence Global. 13


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Two women walk past slogans written on the wall surrounding the burned and looted house that belonged to the nephew of ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Hammamet, some 60 kilometers southeast of Tunis, Jan. 19, 2011. The two most important are that both the popular grievances and political governance system in Tunisia broadly mirror the same realities throughout most Arab states. Widespread popular economic distress and political indignity, alongside security-based autocratic rule and top-level corruption and profligacy, make the entire region potentially vulnerable to political turbulence. Tunisia exposed exactly how thin was the police-based rule of the Ben Ali regime, which crumbled rapidly when it met sustained domestic resistance. Some other Arab leaders, whether monarchs or life-long presidents or something in between, would not flee the country so quickly, but instead would put up a fight to stay in power, partly because they have stronger organic links to major constituencies in society that Ben Ali did not. The third point is that the 22 Arab countries are not a monolithic entity that behaves in a single manner. Each country has its distinct local conditions, socio-economic development level, patriarchal governance, and political culture (i.e., secular, Islamist, tribal, nationalist, pan-Arab, etc.). Moreover, we are really speaking about two distinct Arab worlds—the wealthy oil producers who are governed by paternalistic welfare states that take care of their citizens’ material needs, and the rest of the Arabs who are defined by low-income conditions, widespread un- and under-employment, and political autocracy. Polling data by Gallup from the entire Arab world, recently published by the Silatech group in Doha, highlights the very 14

strong divergence in worldviews among youth in the rich and the poor Arab countries. It shows, for example, that 15-to-29year-old young Arab men and women have a strong desire to migrate permanently in quest of a job and a better life, but this desire is very uneven; it reaches 40-45 percent in some countries like Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia, but only 5-6 percent of youth in the Gulf states. Confidence in their government and judicial system is relatively low among Arab youth—around 50 percent on average, and reaching down to 34 percent in poorer Arab societies—while in the oil-producing states it is 90 percent. A few desperate young men have turned themselves into human torches in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritania, but we are unlikely to see any such thing in Kuwait, Qatar or the UAE. The fourth point that is most immediately relevant is that we have virtually no experience in the two exciting and historic phenomena now taking place in Tunisia: Arab popular self-determination, and transition from autocracy to democracy. The Arab countries have provided a novel form of modern nationhood in which they enjoyed independence without real self-determination (because their citizens for the most part never really had an opportunity to define governance systems and state ideologies), and most of them experience statehood without full sovereignty (because they depend on external powers to keep them in place and solvent). We are fortunate that Tunisia is the first example of self-determinant Arab populist governance, because it is a relatively secular soTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ciety with a range of ideological views— from the Marxist and labor left to the Islamist and tribal right—that neatly captures the pluralistic character of the Arab world. Local and international observers who wonder how Tunisia mirrors the rest of the region would do well to note the core grievances that Tunisians articulate during this transition, because these grievances are widely shared across the nearly 90 percent of all Arabs who are poor—and thus they point the way to needed reforms across the region. They are about corruption, lack of political and fiscal accountability, non-credible electoral and political systems, absence of democratic principles, abuse of power, and excessive reliance on unchecked police power. Consequently, heading off similar revolts in other Arab countries would seem to require that longserving rulers reflect on the need to make real changes in four principal areas: freedom of press and expression; more honest political representation of the citizenry in parliament; greater accountability in government budgets (including ruling and royal family spending); and civilian oversight of the police, security and intelligence services. These changes will not come easily or quickly. Tunisia’s ongoing transition will have continuing impact around the Arab world, especially with the massive television coverage from Jazeera-led satellite services. What a thrill—what an absolute, exhilarating thrill—it is after half a century of mass Arab citizen degradation and dehumanization to watch one self-determinant Arab MARCH 2011

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citizenry start to make a transition to something more noble, or simply more normal.

Who Lost the Middle East? By Patrick J. Buchanan

neasy lies the head that wears a especially today in the Maghreb and Middle East. For the ouster of Tunisia’s Zine El Abedine Ben Ali has sent shock waves from Rabat to Riyadh. Autocrats, emirs and kings have to be asking themselves: If rioters can bring down Ben Ali with his ruthless security forces, what prevents this from happening here? Millions of militant Muslim young who have never shared in the wealth produced by the oil and gas must be asking: If Tunisians can take down a detested regime, why cannot we? America had no role in this uprising, and our diplomats had been appalled at the corruption. Yet Ben Ali was an ally in the war on terror, and what happened in Tunisia could trigger a series of devastating blows to the U.S. position in the Middle East. For when autocrats fall, it is not always democracy that rises. And in the Middle East, democracy is not necessarily America’s ally. The fall of King Farouk in 1952 led to Colonel Nasser in Egypt. The ouster and murder of King Faisal in Iraq in 1958 led to Saddam. The fall of King Idris in Libya in 1969 led to Qaddafi. The fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1974 led to the rise of the murderous Colonel Mengistu. And the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979 led to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Often the old saw applies: “Better the devil we know...” And should a new wave of revolts sweep the region, we might see the final collapse of the neoconservative foreign policy of George W. Bush. That Mideast policy rested on several pillars: uncritical support of Israel, invasions to oust enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and U.S. occupations to rebuild and convert these nations into democracies. Well before he left office, these policies had made the region so anti-American that Bush was himself, in opinion surveys, viewed less favorably by the Muslim masses than Osama bin Laden. And when Bush, having declared at his 2005 inaugural that his goal was now to “end tyranny in our world,” called for


Patrick J. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist. Copyright © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Patrick J. Buchanan and Creators Syndicate, Inc. MARCH 2011

elections in the Middle East, he got the results his policies had produced. In Palestine, Hamas swept to power. In Lebanon, Hezbollah made such gains it was brought into the Lebanese government it has just brought down. When Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak allowed some electoral districts to be contested, the Muslim Brotherhood won most of them. In Iran in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected and became an instant favorite of the Arab masses because of his hostility toward Israel. The trend continued in the Iraqi elections of 2010, which enhanced the prestige and power of the anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr. The message from the Mideast has been consistent and clear: When elections are held, or monarchs and autocrats overthrown, the masses will turn to leaders who will pull away from America and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. Turkey is a case in point. Before he invaded Iraq, Bush asked Ankara for permission to attack from its territory in the north, as well as Kuwait in the south. The parliament of this NATO ally of 50 years refused permission. Since then, Turkey has been moving away from America, away from Israel, and closer to the Islamic peoples of a region Ottoman Turks ruled for centuries. George H.W. Bush abjured “the vision thing.” But George W. had a road-to-Damascus experience during 9/11. He became a true believer that the security of his

country and the peace of the world depended on a global conversion to democracy. And he would do the converting. This is the ideology of democratism. Bush’s zealotry in pursuing his new faith blinded him to the reality that whatever their failings, the kings of Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Mubarak are more reliable friends than any regime that might come out of one-man, one-vote elections. Why, other than ideology, would a leader demand that a friendly regime hold elections if it were a near certainty the regime to come out of those elections would be more hostile to one’s own country? Dwight Eisenhower preferred the shah to Mohammad Mossadegh, though the latter had been elected. Ike backed the coup. Richard Nixon preferred Gen. Augusto Pinochet to Chile’s pro-Castro President Salvador Allende, who was elected. The general was with us. Yet this raises anew the question: Why do they hate us? In the 19th century, European monarchs disliked our republic, but their people loved us. Through World War II and much of the Cold War, the peoples of the Middle East saw America as the champion of liberation from imperial rule. We were first to throw the British out. Perhaps we have lost the people of the Middle East, while winning the allegiance of their autocratic rulers, because we, too, have become an empire—and no longer see ourselves as others see us. ❑

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Israeli-Imposed Apartheid Almost Complete in West Bank City of Hebron SpecialReport


By Jane Adas

turnstile but not the second, trapping them between the two. Every morning children must pass through this gauntlet on their way to school. Armed soldiers on the other side then conduct random searches of gaily colored school backpacks often decorated with Disney motifs. One morning the electricity was out and nobody could pass through. Soon a crowd of more than a hundred people, mostly schoolgirls, had amassed. Perhaps fearing “a situation,” soldiers unlocked a nearby gate. Everyone exited—for once, with no metal detector or bag searches. Another checkpoint stands where the road leading down from the Ibrahimi Mosque meets Shuhada Street. Palestinians walking down this road may not turn left and may not cross the street to reach the few Palestinian shops that remain open, but must turn right. There, for a brief way, Shuhada Street is divided by Jersey barri-

Palestinian children return home from school via Hebron’s rooftops.

late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) is almost complete in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The Hebron Protocol of 1997 divided the city into two parts: 80 percent of the city, designated H1, is theoretically under the administration of the Palestinian Authority; H2, which includes the Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, is under Israeli military control. Life for Palestinians in H1, except for occasional Israeli incursions and the fact that every plane heard overhead is military, is almost normal. Israeli settlers stay clear of the area and the uniformed men in the streets are Palestinian security forces. H2, the eastern fifth of the city, is a different matter. A few hundred Israeli settlers and yeshiva students, guarded by more than a thousand Israeli soldiers, live here in four scattered colonies. For their security and convenience, roads that connect the colonies to each other and to the larger illegal settlements of Kiryat Arba and Givat Jane Adas is a free-lance writer based in the New York City metropolitan area. She recently returned from a month in Hebron with Christian Peacemaker Teams. 16

Harsina east of the city are off-limits to Palestinians, whether by car or on foot. This includes Shuhada Street, the main road running through the center of Hebron, rebuilt in 1997 as a USAID project ostensibly to benefit both communities. The Israeli military has welded shut the doors of Palestinian homes and shops along the street, meaning that the only way residents, including schoolchildren, can leave and return to their homes is out a back door, then over rooftops and up and down ladders. For Palestinians living there, the Old City itself is a ghetto. The Israeli military has blocked off most exits and controls those that remain open. The checkpoint at the gate leading from the Old City to the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs just oppo- TOP: A mesh-covered walkway in Hebron. ABOVE: Divided site comprises a pair Shuhada Street. of electronic turnstiles, turned off and on at will by the sol- ers: the broad central section for illegal Isdiers on guard, with a metal detector be- raeli settlers, the narrow lane at the side for tween them. The soldiers sometimes play Palestinians, who must then turn left rather games—allowing people through the first than proceed along the forbidden street. STAFF PHOTOS J. ADAS

eparation (“apartheid” in Afrikaans;

S“us here, them there,” according to the


MARCH 2011

ABOVE: Abed (l) and his son Mohammed. BELOW: Gutnick Center, seen from Abed’s shop. The Israeli border police refer to the barrier beyond which Palestinians may not pass as “Checkpoint Abed,” named for an ebullient shopkeeper who sells glass, embroidery and pottery. Because Palestinians cannot reach his shop and Jewish settlers shun it, Abed’s only customers are international tour groups who come after visiting the mosque. Business is not booming. Directly across the street, the Jewish Gutnick tourist center plays extremely loud music over multiple outdoor speakers any time of day or night. Mr. Gutnick, a wealthy Australian Jew, offered Abed millions of dollars for the shop and home that have been in the Hebronite’s family for generations. Abed refused. Israeli border police joke that he is “majnun” (crazy), but Palestinians know Abed is “sumud” (steadfast).

Soldiers’ Sadistic “Games” Sometimes soldiers’ games are more heartless. Dec. 7, the Muslim New Year, was a school holiday. That afternoon, at the edge of the Old City farthest from the Ibrahimi Mosque, Israeli soldiers took a 15-year-old boy named Ahmad from his home and into the military compound near the Beit Romano yeshiva. The soldiers told his mother that they had taken Ahmad to the police station near the mosque. With two younger sons, both sobbing, she made her way through the crowded lanes of the Old City. The police station is a short distance to the left of Abed checkpoint, but Ahmad’s mother, being Palestinian, had to go the long way round. When she finally got to the station, police told her Ahmad was still with the soldiers. As she went back via the MARCH 2011

Palestinian detour, soldiers brought Ahmad to the police station. When she made her way back to the station, police told her Ahmad would be released shortly. Half an hour later she learned that Ahmad had been taken out the back way to the Kiryat Arba police station. Upon arriving there, police told her they had transferred Ahmad to the Ofer military compound near Ramallah. The next morning the family received a call to go to Ofer, an expensive and timeconsuming trip, to pick up their son. But when they arrived, there was no record of Ahmad being there, so the parents returned to Hebron. Soon after they left, soldiers released Ahmad and two other juveniles without charges and dropped them off at a checkpoint near Ramallah. The perpetrators of Israel’s “security system” had gratuitously traumatized Ahmad, his younger brothers, and perhaps the whole family. Within Hebron’s Old City is mostly Palestinian territory. Once or twice a day squads of Israeli soldiers rather comically march through, nervously pointing their guns up each of the many byways. On Saturdays groups of Israelis—preceded and followed by soldiers, with others on rooftops—brave the alien territory on Shabbat heritage tours. At one point, however, the main walkway is adjacent to the Avraham Avino colony, where Jewish settlers live on the upper floors immediately opposite Palestinian homes. To protect pedestrians below from garbage thrown at them by settlers, the municipality has stretched wire mesh over the walkway to catch the debris. Still, there is friction. On Nov. 26, Fatima’s youngest son was sitting in the window of his home. A settler across the way told the boy to go away, and then hosed water into the room with such force that it broke the window. When Fatima came to see what had happened, the settler exposed himself to her. Palestinians living just outside Hebron are even more vulnerable to settlers. Abdel Karim lives near an illegal settlement outpost. When his 22-year-old son, Samer, saw Jewish settlers attacking the family car, he began videotaping them and telephoned the police. When the Israeli police arrived, they arrested Samer, although the video proved that Samer had not reacted to the settlers. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Samer spent three months in jail and was released upon payment of 5,000 shekels’ “bail,” which the family partly raised by selling the badly damaged car for scrap metal. Abdel Karim described such arrest and “bail” as “a kind of business for Israel.” Families inside and outside Hebron benefit from what is surely the world’s longest continuously operating soup kitchen. The Hospice Abrahamic, begun under the Caliphs more than 900 years ago, is associated with the generosity of Abraham, from whom is derived Hebron’s Arabic name of Ibrahim alKhalil (Abraham the friend, as chosen by God). Throughout its long history, the soup kitchen has been supported by whatever government is in control—these days it’s the Waqf (Ministry of Religious Affairs)—but the food has always been donated by individuals in fulfillment of zakat, the Islamic obligation to help the needy. For centuries the hospice was adjacent to the mosque, but as that area is no longer accessible to Palestinians, it has moved inside the Old City. Twice a week, and every day during Ramadan, the soup kitchen provides a full meal with meat; the other five days it serves a traditional soup made of cracked wheat called Abraham’s soup.



adas_16-17_Special Report 1/19/11 5:08 PM Page 17

The Hospice Abrahamic soup kitchen. Such assistance has probably never been more needed than now. Nearly 2,000 shops in Hebron have been forced to close, either by order of the Israeli army or for economic reasons. Since the first intifada, the number of beneficiaries of the soup kitchen has doubled 12 times. On soup days representatives from 300 to 400 families come with buckets to collect their portions. The number rises to more than 3,000 during Ramadan. To learn more about this venerable institution, contact the Hebron Waqf Department at <haramibrahimi@hot>. ❑ 17

szremski_18_Special Report 1/19/11 5:09 PM Page 18

Seeing Is Believing: An American Activist’s First Trip to Palestine SpecialReport


By Kristin Szremski

The author picks olives in the orchard owned by Um Mohammed Ghanim near Burqin in the West Bank, Oct. 16, 2010. ltimately, it was a package of socks I

Ufeared would get me thrown into an

Israeli jail last October. After several hours of interrogations upon my arrival at the Tel Aviv airport—and after I was taken into an enclosed, locked room with six guards, policemen and Shin Bet officers—it was a package of cotton anklets the officer held up as suspicious contraband. With a decibel level disproportionate to the situation at hand, he shook the package in the air and yelled, “Who are these for?” Pointing to my running shoes that were lying alongside all the other contents of my bags sprawled over three metal tables, I replied, “See those running shoes? Those socks are for me.” “For you? These are a size 4. You wear a size 9.” Had I not been so worn out from jet lag, thirst, lack of access to a restroom, or the at least six hours of repetitive and seemingly innocuous questions (“What’s your Kristin Szremski is director of media and communications for American Muslims for Palestine. 18

grandfather’s name?”), I’d have laughed at the sheer idiocy of the situation. Was I supposed to be impressed that the Israeli knew my shoe size? Had he forgotten that they had confiscated the shoes I was wearing, and so most likely saw my shoe size? Instead, my stomach sank and I began to doubt myself. What if I’d bought the wrong size socks? Forget my activism. Forget the numerous articles I’d written as a journalist and as the media director for American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) exposing the lies of the Israeli Zionist narrative. It was a package of white, cotton socks that would be my undoing. It took the interrogators only those sixplus hours to get me to that state of paranoid insecurity. Imagine if one lived under Israel’s oppressive security apparatus day in and day out! Even though I’ve written about issues related to Palestinians for more than a decade, nothing could have prepared me for my first trip to the Holy Land in October 2010. It is a land of extremes—from the extreme beauty found in the harsh landscape to the profuse generosity of the Palestinian people THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

to the indescribable depravity of the excrescences of Israel’s occupation. No matter how hard I tried, I could not grasp the reality of what I was experiencing. I stood right next to the apartheid wall and traced with my index finger the graffiti—those symbols of resistance—painted by the trapped. I watched as fear flittered over the faces of a father and his young son, hand-in-hand, as they scurried away from al-Aqsa Mosque while an Israeli soldier barked out orders in Hebrew over a megaphone. I talked to Sharihan Hanoun, whose shoulder was broken the night Israeli police threw her family and her out of their Sheikh Jarrah home in August 2009 so that a Jewish settler family could move in that same night. I saw the netting above the old market streets in Hebron that protect the Palestinians below from the refuse and feces settlers throw from above. I saw all of this and still could not believe what I was seeing. It is so hard to accept that not only does this type of brutal oppression exist today, but that it is fully supported by the United States. There’s a new sense of urgency to my activism now. And I’m grateful to work for an organization whose mission is to educate the American public about the occupation and the resulting denial of human rights endured by the Palestinian people. And now, on behalf of AMP, I am taking my stories on the road with a variety of presentations geared for all audience types. The interactive presentations can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. They include a PowerPoint full of pictures and facts, videos and handouts. The two most popular programs are “Upholding Faith and Falasteen: Why Activism is Important,” which is geared toward a Muslim audience, and “Where Jesus Tread: The Holy Land under Occupation,” which is for church and civic groups. The presentations draw from the experiences I had while traveling throughout the West Bank and historic Palestine with 14 others on the Sabeel Witness Trip. We met with officials from the United Nations, several NGOs and Christian Palestinians. For more information, or to book this free program, contact AMP at (888) 404-4AMP, or e-mail <>. ❑ MARCH 2011

upa_19_UPA ad MARCH 2011 1/18/11 7:11 PM Page 19

barat_20-21_Special Report 1/20/11 11:34 AM Page 20

Happy New Year From Israel: The Story of The Abu Rahme Family SpecialReport


By Frank Barat

Mourners carry the body of 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahme during her funeral procession in the West Bank village of Bil’in, Jan. 1, 2011. hile hundreds of millions of people

Waround the world celebrated New

Year’s Eve by going out in the streets, hugging, chanting and drinking, the people living in the West Bank village of Bil’in did not change their routine much. New Year’s Eve or not, Friday in Bil’in means demonstrating against Israel’s illegal apartheid wall carving the West Bank into bantustans and stealing ever more Palestinian land. The wall was deemed illegal by the world’s highest judicial body, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in 2004. The “World Court” took the Israeli argument that the wall was built for security reasons and dismantled it in a 54-page document. There is no valid security reason for this wall to have been built, the court found, and the illegal wall—built on Palestinian, not Israeli land—should be dismantled now. The ICJ report also asked all state signatories to the 4th Geneva Convention not to aid Israel in building its wall and to Frank Barat is coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and editor of Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe’s new book, Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians (available from the AET Book Club). 20

make sure that Israel dismantled it instead. This was not optional, in the words of the justices. Instead it was the duty of all member states to make sure that international law was applied even when Israel was concerned. The route of the wall also had been deemed illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2006. The court instructed the army to re-route the wall and give back some of the land its construction had stolen from the Palestinians. Five years later, nothing has changed. As usual in Israel, the army rules and is above even its own country’s laws. The “security” argument thrown about by Israel to justify the building of the wall is nonsense. Only because of the power of Israel’s Hasbara (propaganda) machine it is still used by the media and people around the world. Anyone looking at the facts should be able to trash this idea in a few minutes. If the wall is for security, why not build it on the 1967 Green Line? Instead the wall carves into the West Bank, stealing its most arable lands and water resources, and includes the huge illegal Israeli settlements. More importantly, however, if the wall was built to stop suicide bombers from entering THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Israel, why has it not yet been completed? “Terrorists” are clever people, after all, and there is still a 125-mile zone where there is no wall, and where Palestinians “terrorists” could enter Israel at will. Moreover, many Palestinians still enter Israel illegally to work. If they wanted to, they could do a lot of harm. But they do not—and that is the salient point. Palestinian civil resistance has been mostly nonviolent, ever since the beginning of the first intifada. The people of Bil’in, led by the village committee, have continued this process. For more than five years now, every Friday at around 1 p.m., hundreds (if not thousands) of Palestinians, Israelis and international supporters have been demonstrating against the route of the wall and Israel’s apartheid-like policies. These nonviolent demonstrations are Palestinian sumud (steadfastness) at its best. As usual with oppressive regimes, Israel’s response to those peaceful demonstrations has been indiscriminate—sometimes lethal—force.

A Telling Story The story of the Abu Rahme family is a telling one. In 2008, an Israeli soldier shot Ashraf Abu Rahme, while bound, at very close range. In April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahme, Ashraf’s brother, was shot at very close range by a tear gas canister and died of his wounds. In spite of her brothers’ deaths, Jawaher Abu Rahme and thousands of others kept demonstrating, Friday after Friday after Friday—because that is the whole point of nonviolent resistance: to expose the monstrosity of one’s oppressor by not responding to their most cruel acts and instead continue to stand up against them. Israel has U.S bullets, U.S. weapons and one of the world’s most sophisticated armies on its side (thanks in part to a $3 billion check from American taxpayers every year). The people of Bil’in, however, have on their side the truth, the law and the moral high ground. The point of their weekly demonstration is to show the Israeli army and its government that their violence will not stop the Palestinians. MARCH 2011

barat_20-21_Special Report 1/20/11 11:34 AM Page 21

On New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day 2011, thousands had joined the people of Bilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;in to demonstrate and celebrate New Year in the best way possible: by resisting, together, regardless of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s country of birth, race or religion, and standing up against oppression. Jawaher probably chanted â&#x20AC;&#x153;la, la el jidarâ&#x20AC;? (no, no, to the wall) and walked, side by side with others, toward the apartheid wall and the line of Israeli soldiers waiting on top of the hill. She then probably ran away when the first tear gas canisters were fired, regrouped and walked back toward the wall again. Or perhaps she did notâ&#x20AC;Śnot this time. Jawaher inhaled a huge quantity of this most poisonous substance made in the USA, and was taken to a hospital in Ramallah, where she died. The Holy Land today is not the land of miracles. For years now, the Israeli government and army have been using the West Bank and Gaza as a weapons testing ground. The Palestinians are their guinea pigs. The tear gas used by the Israeli army would probably be banned in any other country. Its soldiers shoot tear gas directly at protesters, once again, an illegal actâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but a very rewarding one financially. Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s security industry is booming, as countries around the world buy Israeli expertise in security, crowd control and weaponry. Israeli soldiers train other countriesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; commandos all over the planet. When there is a profit to be made, the law does not count.

An investigation will probably be launched into the killing of Jawaher Abu Rahme by the Israeli army itselfâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the accused investigating itself. As a result, no Israeli soldier is ever held to accountâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as the family of Rachel Corrie can attestâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and the investigations often end in a whitewash. The investigation into Bassemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death was closed after a few months. Ashrafâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s case also was investigatedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still waiting for the verdict. Over the past decades, only 6 percent of Israeli soldiers investigated have ever been convicted for their actions. Most of the time, those who were held to account only received reprimands and never faced jail or any serious sentences. The good news, however, is that fewer and fewer people are fooled by this charade of justice. The self-proclaimed Jewish State looks less and less like â&#x20AC;&#x153;the only democracy in the Middle East.â&#x20AC;? It is becoming increasingly easy to show that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more accurately described as the only apartheid state in the Middle East. Israel is helping in this transformation by passing laws discriminating against its own citizens (the 20 percent who are Palestinian), arresting and imprisoning Palestinian peace activists without charges, demolishing houses and Bedouin villages, stripping Palestinian Jerusalemites of their residency in the city of their birth, building more settlements for Jews only in East Jerusalem, kicking Palestinian families out of their homes in order to replace them with extremist settlers, bombing a ghetto

(Gaza), killing unarmed peace activists (Rachel Corrie, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla), repeatedly flouting U.N. resolutions and international law....the list is endless. The issue now is how Palestinians and their supporters can use Israeli actions to make sure changes for the best happen on the ground. The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) strategy is proving very effective and serves as a means for activists to unite under one manifesto. International corporations are divesting from Israel, trade unions are voting to boycott settlementmade goods, and universities are refusing to collaborate with their Israeli counterparts. The point of all these actions is for Palestinians and their supporters to show the world that they will not remain silent and they will not disappear. As the late historian Howard Zinn said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The reward for participating in a movement for social justice is not the prospect of future victory. It is the exhilaration of standing together with other people, taking risks together, enjoying small triumphs and enduring disheartening setbacks together.â&#x20AC;? Jawaherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death was certainly a disheartening setback for anyone with a conscience. Yet it also is a very powerful wake up call for anyone who so far has remained silent in the face of injustice. Silence is not an option. Everyone must be involved in the struggle for universal human rightsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; in the hope that, one day, change will happen and another powerful page of history will be written by the peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;by us. â?&#x2018;






5FM'BY 8881&34*"/)&3*5"(&$0.&."*-.*3"44*3"/!"0-$0. 1FSTJBO)FSJUBHF*OD 1BTTBJD"WF1BTTBJD /+

MARCH 2011



hishmeh_22-23_Special Report 1/20/11 11:38 AM Page 22

Obama Should Condemn Razing of East Jerusalem’s Historic Shepherd Hotel SpecialReport


By George S. Hishmeh

serve as the residence of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the l a t e g r a n d mu f t i o f Jerusalem. The mufti, a prominent Palestinian nat i o n a l i s t l e a d e r, wa s sought by the British for his earlier anti-colonial activities in Iraq and later in Palestine, where the Zionists were trying to establish their presence. As a result, he fled the country and took refuge during World War II in Italy and Germany. After Israel occupied East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, the property was confiscated under its absentee property laws that apply to abandoned properties of absent Palestinians who were chased out of their homeland. It was later sold to a Miamibased American-Jewish billionaire, Irving Moskowitz, who is said to be “a

Working under Israeli police protection, an IDF Caterpillar bulldozer demolishes part of the Shepherd Hotel complex in Arab East Jerusalem, Jan. 9, 2011. RIGHT: The Shepherd Hotel in September 2009.

of the historic Shepherd Hotel in occupied Arab East Jerusalem where Jewish settlers are hoping to build 20 housing units. “We are very concerned about the initiation of demolition of the Shepherd’s Hotel,” the secretary of state declared in Abu Dhabi, during her second tour in a month of Arab states in that region. She did not mince any words in her outright condemnation: “This disturbing development undermines peace efforts to achieve the two-state solution. In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at <>. This column was first published in the Gulf News, Jan. 13, 2011. 22

and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem.” Regrettably, Clinton stopped short of using her whip. This Israeli action was typical of past disruptive moves on the eve of any Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. This time it came as Palestinian and Israeli representatives were scheduled to come to Washington for separate talks with State Department officials on the steps the two sides needed to adopt in order to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks. The hotel, a villa built in 1935, was to STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI

illary Rodham Clinton was quick to

Hrebuke Israel for its demolition of part


long-time supporter of Jewish building and settlement in East Jerusalem.” [See Sept./Oct. 2009 Washington Report, p. 10.] The Shepherd Hotel episode followed several violent Israeli actions in the previous fortnight in the occupied West Bank. A 66-year-old Palestinian was (mistakenly) shot dead while sleeping in bed by Israeli MARCH 2011

hishmeh_22-23_Special Report 1/20/11 11:38 AM Page 23

troops who burst into his apartment in Hebron and in the presence of his wife who was praying. His wife said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;They didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ask a thingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not what his name was or whose house it wasâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and immediately started shooting.â&#x20AC;? Another incident involved the killing of a 36-year-old woman who died after inhaling tear gas while watching a Palestinian protest march. Again a Palestinian was shot dead according to the Israeli army rules of engagement because he was approaching an Israeli checkpoint carrying a water bottle but did not heed orders to stop. All these actions were condemned by Arab-American and Jewish-American groups as well as various international organizations. The Washington-based American Task Force on Palestine called on the United States government to ensure that such provocations cease. Americans for Peace Now (APN), an American-Jewish organization, said â&#x20AC;&#x153;[Israeli] settler activities in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, aided and abetted by the government of Israel, directly threaten the two-state solution and have the potential to spark a conflagration that could spread far beyond the city.â&#x20AC;? A confidential report by the 25 consulsgeneral from European Union members warned that â&#x20AC;&#x153;if current trends are not stopped as a matter of urgency, the prospect of East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable.â&#x20AC;? The report, obtained by The Independent of London, cautioned: â&#x20AC;&#x153;This, in turn, seriously endangers the chances of a sustainable peace on the basis of two states, with Jerusalem as their future capital.â&#x20AC;? APN President Debra DeLee, whose group is considered a leading American Jewish organization advocating Middle East peace, echoed the views of many in her statement, which declared: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The fact that Netanyahu permitted [the demoliton] to take placeâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C;and is now defending it publiclyâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C;during a period when he is demanding that the Obama administration block a United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing precisely this kind of Israeli action, is thus especially ironic. A forceful response for President Obamaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; more forceful than Secretary Clintonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s statement of U.S. concernâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C;is vital to show Netanyahu that he is mistaken.â&#x20AC;? Regrettably, the Obama administration has yet to act on a draft resolution submitted last December to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council which called for a halt of all MARCH 2011

West Bank Israeli settlement activity. If Obama is still concerned about the influence of the Israeli lobby, he might feel much better should he read a published letter from Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street (see â&#x20AC;&#x153;Other Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mail, p. 39), which describes itself as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;pro-Israel, propeace lobbying organization.â&#x20AC;? In the recent letter to The New York

Times, he wrote that Jewish voters â&#x20AC;&#x153;remain overwhelmingly supportive of President Obama and voted more than 2 to 1 for Democratic candidates, even in a landside year for Republicans.â&#x20AC;? He continued, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The bottom line is that President Obama would command broad support from Jewish Americans for a bold push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....â&#x20AC;? â?&#x2018;


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The Journal of Palestine Studies, the only North American journal devoted exclusively to Palestinian affairs and the ArabIsraeli conflict, brings you timely and comprehensive information on the regionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s political, religious, and cultural concerns. With emphasis on peaceful conflict resolution, the journal unites sound research and analysis with a variety of well-informed perspectives by academics, policy makers, and diplomats. E E E C 1 > @ 3 A A 8 = C @ < / : A 1= ;



elshout_24-25_Special Report 1/20/11 2:52 PM Page 24

It’s a Myth That Israelis Support a Two-State Solution SpecialReport

By Jan Elshout

party (which holds 27 of the Knesset’s 120 seats), “Israel will not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.” Palestinians may enjoy “selfrule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.” With regard to Israel’s illegal colonies on the Golan Heights and West Bank, Likud vows to “continue to strengthen and develop these communities and prevent their uprooting.” Another plank states that “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of Israel and only Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem.” A possible unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence would be a “fundamental and substantive violation“ of current agreements, to be met with “immediate stringent measures.” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party (with 15 Knesset seats) advocates “Zionism’s three basic principles: immigration to Israel, defending the land and settlement activity.” Full Israeli citizenship rights only apply to those who swear loyalty to these princi-

Nor do the platforms of other Israeli parties inspire hope for achieving a two-state solution through negotiations. United Torah Judaism (5 seats) and the National Union (4 seats), two parties which support the government but have no ministers in it, consider Palestinian territories to be part of Greater Israel. The former’s platform states: “Israel is the Jewish people’s state by divine right.” National Union calls for the further Judaization of East Jerusalem, and—because of the “right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel”—considers “all past agreements with the Palestinian Authority null and void.” Kadima, the largest opposition party with 28 Knesset seats, was established in 2005 by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and counts among its members former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. According to its platform, “The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel. However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, part of the Land of Israel [which in its view


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announces Jan. 17 in Jerusalem that he is leaving the Labor party, distancing himself from its more moderate members, and starting a new “Independence” party.

ples. The party platform describes the “land for peace approach” as “fundamentally flawed.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Labor party (13 seats) does favor a two-state solution. Isolated settlements will be abandoned and investments in new settlements will cease—but Jerusalem itself (including large surrounding areas), “holy Jewish sites,” and the large settlements will remain Israeli forever. The governing coalition’s two other parties, Shas (11 seats) and Habayit Hayehudu (1 seat), promise to enforce the Jewish character of the state and strongly condemn “moves that would see a country of all its citizens.” Shas’ fundamental premise is explicit: “every diplomatic question has its answer in Jewish law.” None of the governing parties’ platforms refer to Israel’s 1967 borders, which in international diplomacy are widely accepted as the basis for negotiations. Only the Labor party platform does not cite the goal of Greater Israel.

or decades, the two-state solution has

Fbeen considered the best way to re-

solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. On the other hand, there are those who argue that, due to Israel’s ongoing colonization of the West Bank, this no longer is possible. One question that often is neglected, however, is whether there is any popular support for the two-state solution—especially on the Israeli side. While this is irrelevant in terms of international law, the answer is essential in determining whether the internationally preferred solution can be achieved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In fact, the platforms of Israel’s nonArab political parties raise great doubt about the possibility of a two-state solution. According to the platform of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Jan Elshout, based in The Netherlands, worked as a business development consultant in several countries, including in the Middle East. He regularly writes on the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. 24


Other Israeli Parties

MARCH 2011

elshout_24-25_Special Report 1/20/11 4:17 PM Page 25

includes Palestinian territory] must be given up to maintain a Jewish and democratic state.” This is not seen as a concession to its basic ideology, however, and has no relation to Palestinian rights. Rather, it is simply a pragmatic solution in order to maintain a Jewish majority. None of the above parties, then, recognize Palestinian rights—a principle which can be found only in the platforms of three small parties: Meretz (Israel’s “peace party,” with three seats), Balad (an Arab party, also with three seats), and Hadash (the communist alliance which describes itself as a “Jewish-Arab party,” with four seats). These parties favor a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal from (nearly) all occupied territory. Thus it is evident that there is virtually no support in the Israeli Knesset for a twostate solution—and certainly not one in accordance with Western thinking and international law, including U.N. resolutions. Instead Israeli political thinking is fully in line with original Zionist principles (i.e., exclusive use of the whole of Palestine) formulated even before the State of Israel was established.

Israeli Public Opinion One might hope that Israeli public opinion is more liberal and sensitive to Palestinian rights than are its political parties. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In a May 20, 2010 Haaretz column discussing a recent poll, Akiva Eldar summarized the results as follows: “Baseless beliefs and deeply rooted misconceptions are the main obstacles that prevent Israelis from supporting negotiations as a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.” He cited research conducted by Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Eran Halperin with the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlya which found that, although a narrow majority of Israelis declared themselves in favor of a two-state solution, they objected against such concrete steps toward that end as withdrawing from occupied territory, leaving many settlements, partitioning Jerusalem, etc. The survey also made it clear that there was very little knowledge of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Bar-Tal and Halperin consider the general Israeli opinion that the West Bank is not occupied territory (55 percent see it as “liberated” and only 32 percent as “occupied”) a “central obstacle to the conflict’s resolution,” and view this as the result of decades of brainwashing. “When people are exposed systematically and holistically from an early age to approaches MARCH 2011

that suit national goals and ignore the needs of the other side,” they note, “it is very difficult to induce a conceptual change.” As an Israeli professor commented to this writer when asked if a new Israeli government would bring change, “The problem is not with the government, but with the society as a whole.”

Netanyahu’s Attitude Prime Minister Netanyahu often is said to favor a two-state solution, as evidenced in his June 14, 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University. While the speech contained numerous references to (in his eyes 3,500year-old) Jewish rights to the Land of Israel, there were hardly any references to Palestinian rights. Netanyahu acknowledged “a large population of Palestinians” present in Israel, but not “the Palestinian people.” He made only one reference—at the end of his speech and, according to sources, under heavy U.S. pressure—to “a Palestinian state”: “I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to reach a real peace agreement, a demilitarized state side by side with the Jewish state.” Nowhere did Netanyahu refer to the frontiers of such a state, Palestinian territorial rights, the significance of Jerusalem for Muslims and Christians, refugee rights (only that they are not allowed to return), the rights of Arab inhabitants of Israel, etc. In this writer’s opinion, concluding from these remarks that Netanyahu favors a two-state solution is a case of hope overriding reality. As far as is known, during his current or previous terms as prime minister Netanyahu has made no other reference to a Palestinian state. Surely that is more than merely an oversight. What is referred to as “the Israeli consensus,” then, clearly deviates not only from Palestinian and Western expectations, but also from the rules of international law. There is no real support in Israel (either by its political parties, public opinion, or by Netanyahu personally) for a two-state solution as viewed internationally. Thus the premise that such a state can be achieved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is invalid. Not only is it unrealistic to assign Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas the task of realizing this, it also contradicts the experiences of the past 20 years. The West therefore is confronted with a choice between accepting continued Israeli THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

expansion (the de facto policy of the past 20 years) or trying to achieve a Palestinian state (the stated goal) by other means. So far the West has tried to avoid pressuring Israel at all costs, but it is a normal, justified and necessary type of action to act against states that grossly violate international regulations. A May 2010 fact-finding mission of former leading Dutch politicians (led by former Prime Minister Dries van Agt) came to the conclusion that among Jewish Israelis there is “no willingness to voluntarily end the occupation.” The Dutch leaders recommend strong international pressure on Israel as the only way to achieve a viable Palestinian state. Europe should urgently take the lead in this, as has also recently been proposed by 26 former top European officials. Palestinian rights have been neglected for far too long. The West should stop promoting negotiations that, as evidenced by the experience of the last 20 years, cannot achieve results. Europe especially should assume its responsibility and act to realize Palestinian rights in more direct and effective ways, with international law the guiding principle. Only when “the power of dominance” is replaced by “the power of justice” will a just and therefore durable peace be achieved. ❑

IndextoAdvertisers Alalusi Foundation . . . . . . . . . . 38 American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) . . . . Inside Back Cover Arab-American Almanac . . . . . 49 The Atlas of Palestine . . . . . . . . 29 Dish World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Helping Hand for Relief and Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside Front Cover

Journal of Palestine Studies . . . 23 Kinder USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Muslim Link . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Persian Heritage . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Radio Baladi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 United Palestinian Appeal (UPA). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 25

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Letters, Packages en Route to Gaza via Israel Go “Missing” Gazaon the Ground


By Mohammed Omer

Hani Abu Helal (l) checks a mailbox at the Rafah Post Service office in the southern Gaza Strip. iplomatic correspondence released by

DWikiLeaks confirms that the Israeli

government’s continued blockade of Gaza is intentionally punitive and meant to keep Gaza on the “brink of collapse.” As “Democracy Now!” reported on Jan. 5: “According to a November 2008 cable, Israel wanted Gaza’s economy to be ‘functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.’ In addition, the WikiLeaks cables reveal the United States offered to transfer $70 million to Gaza in November 2008 in an attempt to ease the economic situation. However, Israeli Major General Amos Gilad refused to allow the transfer, saying that ‘the Palestinians should not receive anything.’” Since June 2007, however, when Hamas thwarted an attempted coup and took control of the Gaza Strip—and 17 months before the leaked cable was written— among the items Israel has denied Palestinians living in Gaza is their daily mail. All mail to and from Palestine now goes through the Israeli Postal Service, where mail is sorted for the West Bank, Gaza Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip, and maintains the Web site <>. He can be reached at <>. 26

Strip and East Jerusalem. (Arab states that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel previously sent mail to Gaza via Egypt. This channel, too, has been closed since 2007.) The result has been severe restrictions and delays in delivering letters and packages, including government mail.

A Lonely Outpost The Rafah post office is eerily quiet. Instead of reflecting its location in the most densely populated area on the planet, the post office looks and feels more like a remote outpost from America’s Old West that hasn’t seen a courier in months. A few bags of parcels being sent from Gaza do little more than collect dust, their intended destinations to countries in Europe and the Middle East barely visible. A policeman lounges in the corner, quietly reading his Qur’an, with his Kalashnikov and prayer beads sitting idly by on an old desk. Next to him, the postman brushes away dust as a lone fly buzzes around the light bulb. You’d hardly know that it’s the holiday season, when greeting cards and packages should be overflowing the mail bins, and lines of well-wishers streaming through the door. But this year there are no wellwishers and the bins are empty—except THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

for one. The Gaza International Airport bin bursts with years-old commercial aviation materials, tourism brochures and other non-essentials. The airport has been in ruins for a decade, since Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed it in 2001. True, it doesn’t make much sense to continue to collect mail for an international airport with a bombed-out runway, but laws prevent post office personnel from disposing of the out-of-date mail and emptying the bin. So there it sits, collecting dust and reminding the staff of more normal times. The shortage of goods that is the intended result of Israel’s four-year blockade of Gaza has forced many residents to rely on care packages sent by relatives living abroad and purchases made over the Internet. Yet these attempts to live above the “lowest level possible” are only intermittently successful. Imad Abuel Khair, 44, is one of many Palestinians in Gaza whose life revolves around a post office box. Afflicted with chronic rheumatism, he relies upon medication his brother sends from Italy. Every work day for two months he has arrived at Rafah Post Office, stood at the window and asked postal employee Hani Abu Helal if his package has arrived. Abu Helal’s answer never varies: “You don’t need to come. We’ll call you when the mail arrives.” Abuel Khair is in pain and tired of showing up for nothing—but it’s better than sitting home and doing nothing. While postman Abu Helal speaks with Abuel Khair, Imad Fouda arrives looking for a document he has been expecting for months: a signed copy of his letter of acceptance to a Ph.D. program at a German university. His letter has not arrived, either—and if he does not receive it within the next 60 days, he will not have time to apply for a German visa. Fouda’s future hangs in the balance—and he is only one of many scholars in Gaza who continue to face obstacles in sending and receiving academic materials, including books and research documents. “It takes a very long time for mail to come, if it arrives at all,” explains university professor Mohammed Meqdad. “Otherwise we must depend on travelers to bring books and magazines with them.” Disappearing packages, late packages, MARCH 2011

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damaged packages, expired packages—if they’re going to or coming from Gaza, notes postman Abu Helal with frustration, “priority stickers are given no priority by Israeli officials.” For those awaiting much-needed medicines and perishable supplies, this means that even if the medicine does arrive, it has expired, or is about to—assuming, that is, that it has not already been destroyed due to inadequate storage conditions while in transit. Abu Helal’s job is mainly delivering bills and cell phones from the Paltel Telephone Company to homes in Rafah. “We deliver internal packages within Gaza in less than 24 hours upon arrival,” he explains. In 2009, the Postal Service of the Palestinian Authority was awarded an International Mail Processing Center Code by the Universal Postal Union. This designation allows the Palestine Postal Service to send and receive mail directly to and from other postal services around the world, rather than having to go through Israel. Unfortunately, such legitimization has not improved the situation, according to postal officials in Ramallah, who note that local deliveries within the West Bank are made promptly, but that Israel still controls international mail into and out of the occupied territories. Yousef Al Mansi, minister of post and telecommunications with Gaza’s de facto Hamas government, says that he and his staff are launching an international campaign to alert concerned postal services

worldwide about the situation, in the hope of generating pressure on Israel to let the people of Gaza send and receive mail freely. “The continuous Israeli restriction on the mobility of Gaza’s mail is a violation of international and humanitarian law, which protects and guarantees the individual right to send and receive mail,” he emphasizes. The situation in Gaza has created a burden on other nations as well. In August 2010, for example, the Canada Post decided to no longer accept mail destined for the Gaza Strip, as the bulk of it is returned to the sender. The only other place to which letters or packages from Canada cannot be sent is Somalia. Not all Canadians agree with the cessation, however. In a show of solidarity, the Canadian Postal Workers Union announced plans to symbolically deliver mail to Gaza on a Canadian aid ship. The union cited international law guaranteeing the safe delivery of stamped mail—even if the state of Israel refuses to comply. The delay and non-delivery of mail is detrimental not only to individuals, but to commerce as well. Laments an importer-exporter in Gaza who prefers to remain anonymous, “People lost confidence in us because we simply could not be relied on.” He has lost several clients due to the restrictions, he added. While his branches in the West Bank and Jerusalem are able to send and receive parcels, Israel allows only documents into Gaza, and their arrival is unpredictable at best. This has caused tremendous difficulties with inventory management, he

says, as well as customer service. “Timing is vital in our business, and it’s frustrating when we can’t deliver,” the businessman explains. As he finishes speaking, an employee informs him that the passport he sent to Ramallah for renewal never arrived at the Ministry of Interior. The vital document is presumed to be languishing in limbo on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing. “At times we know that the parcels are just a few hundred meters away, waiting on the decision of an Israeli soldier,” he says in frustration. The mail restrictions have spoiled not only the holiday season for Gaza’s Christian and Muslim communities, but birthdays and anniversaries as well. Duwa’a Mustafa of Rafah knows that her cousin in San Francisco always tries to send her dark chocolate, with a few gifts for the family, by regular mail. Of course, by the time she gets the package, the chocolate has melted, making the birthday message illegible. “Next time, I shall tell him to send my 28th birthday gift a year in advance,” she jokes—“and maybe chocolate is not such a good idea any more.” Even though there is not much real work for them to do, however, the staff opens the Rafah Post Office every work day. Like their colleagues around the world, they are deterred by “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night”—nor, in the case of besieged Gaza, by Israel’s vindictive blockade. ❑

Gaza Youth Issue Manifesto for Change “[The hell with] Hamas. [The hell with] Israel. [The hell with] Fatah. [The hell with] U.N. [The hell with] UNRWA. [The hell with] USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! “We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F-16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this ----ing situation we live in... “We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the socalled experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a sh-tty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten

MARCH 2010

up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world. “There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of channeling this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. “We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the sh-t out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behavior and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want. “ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heartaching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullsh-t, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?” —Gaza Youth Breaks Out, Facebook page



williams_28-29_United Nations Report 1/20/11 2:56 PM Page 28

Israel Unwilling to Apply the Same Law to Itself That It Demands Be Applied to Others By Ian Williams wad some Power

To see oursels as ithers see us!” wrote Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. For those who need a translation, he prays for the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us after seeing a louse crawl out of a young lady’s hair in church. Observers of the Middle East have long noticed Israeli insouciance to the lice swarming in that country’s head. According to the commentary from pro-Israel government sources, it is unthinkable, provocative and anti-Semitic for states like almost the whole of Latin America to recognize Palestine—until they do, of course, in which case it immediately becomes a futile and wasted gesture. Israeli hasbara (propaganda) is indeed capable of believing three impossible, and contradictory, things before breakfast. Fortunately, Israel is not trying to agitate an American attack on Latin America, so countries there have some leeway. I n p a r t i c u l a r, t h e polemics from some Israeli think tanks against the idea of the U.N. recognizing a Palestinian State would surely benefit from Jehovah’s largesse in this matter. Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, for example, solemnly intoned for the benefit of foreign diplomats and press that the recognition of a Palestinian state was illegal “as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, relating to a caIan Williams is a free-lance journalist based at the United Nations and has a blog at <>. 28

Baker’s time at the U.N. clearly was not spent in the archives. When Israel was admitted to the world body in 1949, if it had any recognized frontier at all it was the boundaries of the Jewish State demarcated by the commission that recommended partition, and explicitly excluded both parts of Jerusalem. This is why, of course, not one single member state now has an embassy to Israel in that city. Israel’s admission was delayed until the conclusion of armistice agreements with its neighbors, which came at heavy cost: the assassination of U.N. representative Count Folke Bernadotte by the party led by Yitzhak Shamir, which now, of course, rules Israel. And that state at the time had a temporarily permanent population that included a majority of Arabs, but a much less permanent population of o u t s i d e rs wh o we re deemed to be automatic citizens. It is a little too late to call for nullification of Israel’s accession to the U.N., although perhaps less tardy to remind the state of the promises it made on that accession to abide by U.N. decisions. Baker also solemnly said that any attempt to secure recognition of Palestine was a violation of Palestinian commitments under the Oslo agreements. Of course, one would have to look hard in the Oslo agreements to see where they countenanced repeated Israeli military incursions into the West Bank and Gaza, assassinations and arrests of elected PA officials, blockading Gaza, and blowing up U.N. facilities. And with hallmark chutzpah he solemnly accused the Palestinians of violating undertakings under “Article XXXI, HTTP://WWW.MIDEASTWEB.ORG/UNPARTITION.HTM

“Othe giftie gie us/

United Nations Report

pability of governance, permanent population, defined territory, and capacity to enter into relations with other states.” From 1985-89, before becoming Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Baker was seconded by the Israeli government to the U.N.’s Department of Legal Affairs, where he seems to have survived despite his interpretation of international law being so notably at variance with that of everyone but Israel and its supporters. Nothwithstanding his insistence on “permanent population, defined territory, and capacity to enter into relations with other states” for Palestinian recognition, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

MARCH 2011

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para. 7, not to initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” Unlike, of course, doubling the settler population since the agreements were signed. Indeed, so damning was a recent EU report on Israeli activities that European foreign ministers vetoed its publication—fruitlessly in the age of WikiLeaks since The Independent newspaper in Britain promptly leaked it. The report accused Israel of “restrictive zoning and planning, ongoing demolitions and evictions, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources and investment,” policies which it concluded had a demographic intent. Describing the political consequences of Israeli policy in Jerusalem, the document added: “Over the past few years the changes to the city have run counter to the peace process. Attempts to exclusively emphasize the Jewish identity of the city threaten its religious diversity and radicalize the conflict, with potential regional and global repercussions.” In the face of this accurately depicted reality, Baker’s breathtaking audacity, indeed mendacity, should be beyond satire. But across the world, some politicians, headline-writers and letter-writers will repeat it—and do so sincerely. After all, if one’s worldview is that Israel is never wrong, then clearly reality must be ignored or adjusted accordingly. In fact, it has been some years since I pointed out in this column that the status of Jerusalem can indeed be negotiated between the parties—but that their agreement has no validity until and unless the U.N. rescinds that partition resolution which made Jerusalem an international city under U.N. jurisdiction. It is indeed unfair and anomalous that the world’s diplomats, by refusing to base embassies in Jerusalem, respect the residual authority of that resolution over the city, but forget the only legally sanctioned boundary between the Jewish and Arab states. Baker invoked Brazil’s words in the Security Council in 1967 to decry the Latin American states’ recognition of Palestine “within the 1967 boundaries.” He quotes them as saying, “Its acceptance does not imply that borderlines cannot be rectified as a result of an agreement freely concluded among the interested States. We keep constantly in mind that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East has necessarily to be based on secure permanent boundaries freely agreed upon and negotiMARCH 2011

ated by the neighboring States.” Indeed, the pre-1967 boundaries were armistice lines without permanent legal foundation, and the Latin Americans, like the Palestinians, often invoke international law, since it is one of their defenses against neighboring bullies, notably the U.S. Everyone agrees that the 1967 boundaries are negotiable—but international law and the U.N. Charter also outlaw the acquisition of territory by force, which is why not one single country in the world has recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, its legal title to the West Bank and Gaza, or even the Golan Heights. But there is no rule saying Israel is entitled to keep the 1967 boundaries and then add more territory. Indeed, the Palestinians would be legally and morally justified (albeit at the risk of some questioning of their grip on reality) in demanding in negotiations a return to the original U.N. partition lines of 1947.

since it would imply that their boundaries would shrink way behind the 1949 Armistice Line. In fact, to the south of Lake Tiberias the Syrians controlled more extensive Palestinian territory that was later designated a demilitarized zone. The IDF continually encroached on it, of course, but in 1949 Ralph Bunche sent a letter to Israel and Syria denying Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the area to be included in the Armistice Agreement. In language that ironically foreshadowed current Israeli diplomacy he declared, “Questions of permanent boundaries, territorial sovereignty, customs, trade relations and the like must be dealt with in the ultimate peace agreement and not in the armistice agreement.” Continued on page 32 Advertisement

The Lake of Tiberias Strip Also, to return to a theme the Palestinians seem to have forgotten, while the Golan Heights are indisputably occupied Syrian territory, the strip along the Lake of Tiberias is, under the Mandate boundaries, equally indisputably occupied Palestinian territory. The British and French had drawn up the boundaries and left a 10-meter strip—the beach, effectively—as part of Palestine to ensure what was then British control of the lake and the headwaters of the Jordan. That strip was indeed allocated to the Jewish state in the U.N. partition plan, but one suspects that the Israelis would not be eager to cite that plan as definitive on the boundary front, THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS


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Israel’s Original Sin: No Separation of Synagogue and State SpecialReport


By Uri Avnery

Thousands of Israeli students attend a mass rally Nov. 1 in the center of Jerusalem to protest a yeshiva student funding bill which would allocate more support to Jewish students attending religious seminaries than to those enrolled in secular universities. friend of mine in Warsaw told me

Aabout a Polish journalist who visited

Israel for the first time. On his return he reported with great excitement: “You know what I’ve discovered? In Israel, too, there are Jews!” For this Pole, Jews are people who wear a long black kaftan and a big black hat. In almost every souvenir shop in Poland, little figures like this are exhibited along with other classics like the nobleman, the artisan and the peasant. This distinction between Israelis and Jews would not have surprised any of us 50 years ago. Before the foundation of the State of Israel, none of us spoke about a Uri Avnery, a former member of the Israeli Knesset, is a founder of the peace organization Gush Shalom, <>. 30

“Jewish state.” In our demonstrations we chanted: “Free Immigration! Hebrew State!” In almost all media quotations from those days, there appear the two words “Hebrew state,” almost never “Jewish state.” In school we acquired an ardent love for the country, the language and the Bible (which we considered the classic book of Hebrew literature). We learned to regard with disdain—if not worse—Jewish life in the Diaspora. (All this, of course, before the Holocaust.) In 1933 I lived for half a year in Nahalal, the legendary communal village. Seeing it for the first time, I marveled at the communal hall building, the milk processing plant and the large agricultural school for girls (in which Moshe Dayan was the only male pupil). Out of curiosity I asked about THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

the synagogue and was shown a ramshackle wooden hut. “That’s for the old ones,” one of the local boys told me pityingly. One cannot understand what happened since then without knowing that in those days almost everyone believed that the Jewish religion was about to disappear, together with the Yiddish-speaking old people who still stuck to it. Poor geezers. If somebody had predicted that the Jewish religion would dominate the future state, people would have laughed. Zionism was, among other things, a rebellion against the Jewish religion. It was born in sin—the sin of secular nationalism, which had swept through Europe after the French revolution. Zionism rebelled against the Halakha (religious law), which forbade Jews to “asMARCH 2011

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cend” to the holy country en masse. According to the religious myth, God exiled the Jews from the country in retribution for their sins, and only God had the right to bring them back. Because of this, practically all the important rabbis—both the Hassidim and their opponents—cursed the founders of Zionism. (Needless to say, these curses—some of them very juicy ones—do not appear in Israeli schoolbooks.) Before all the international inquiries preceding the establishment of the state, delegations of Orthodox Jews appeared in order to oppose the Zionist delegations. But David Ben-Gurion, who refused to wear a kippah even at funerals (where most atheists do wear kippahs as a gesture toward the beliefs of others), thought that it was worthwhile to get the Orthodox to join his government coalition. Therefore he promised them to free a few hundred yeshiva (religious seminary) students from military duty and to pay for their studies and upkeep, so that they would not be obliged to work for a living. The consequences were unexpected. That little gesture has grown to monstrous proportions. Today one could man several army divisions with those shirkers from army duty. They now constitute 13 percent of the entire yearly crop of those liable to the draft. Moreover, 65 percent of all Orthodox male citizens do not work at all and live on the public purse. The situation is absurd: the state is paying for the upkeep of a large and growing population of Torah-shielded parasites, who undermine the state. The state pays hundreds of thousands of young religious people in order to keep them from—God forbid—working. It pays them generous subsidies so they can produce more and more children (from 5 to 15 per family), most of whom will also neither work nor serve in the army. One can calculate exactly when the economy will collapse, together with the welfare-state and the “citizens’ army” based on conscription. The whole phenomenon is an authentic Israeli invention. All over the world, Orthodox Jews do work like everyone else. During one of our visits to New York, we wanted to buy a camera. Rachel—who is a professional photographer—was told about the biggest photo shop in town. When we went there, we couldn’t believe our eyes: all the staff of the huge place were Orthodox Jews—all male, of course—clad in their traditional garb. That was the first time we had ever seen Orthodox men working. This experience had an amusing side. MARCH 2011

We were both wearing an emblem with the flags of Israel and Palestine. When Rachel went to the cashier to pay, he looked sideways at Rachel’s pin, and without looking at her face asked: “What flag is that?” “The flag of Israel,” Rachel responded. “No, the other one!” the man insisted. “The flag of Palestine,” she answered. The man turned and spat on the floor, exclaiming loudly, “Tfoo, tfoo! Tfoo!”

he Jewish religion in T Israel is a mutation of Judaism. The Orthodox camp in Israel is a hole which swallows anything that comes too near. For example: the Oriental Jews who came from Islamic countries. (They are frequently called “Sephardi”—“Spaniards”— though only a fraction of them are actually descended from the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492.) The Sephardi religious tradition has always been far more tolerant than the Ashkenazi one. It includes the teachings of geniuses like Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides), the personal physician of the great Saladin. Maimonides forbade religious students to make a living from their studies and ordered them to go out and work. The Sephardis have their own traditions, garments and symbols. But lo and behold, upon coming to Israel, they subordinated themselves to the Ashkenazis and adopted their blind fanaticism, together with the kaftan and the hats that originated in cold Eastern Europe, where they were worn by the non-Jewish upper classes in bygone centuries. Their Sephardi party, Shas, is slavishly subservient to the Ashkenazi Orthodox. Their ”spiritual” leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, grovels before the East European anti-Hassidic rabbis (called “Lithuanians”). In November, a miracle occurred. A Sephardic rabbi, Haim Amsalem, rebelled against Rabbi Ovadia and his party, demanding a return to the Sephardic traditions of tolerance. He was promptly excommunicated. In the early days of the state, the Orthodox Ashkenazis, though extreme in their religious beliefs, were moderate in national affairs. Not only did they not celebrate the Independence Day of the Zionist state or salute the flag of the Zionist heretics, but they also obstructed the nationalist adventures of David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres. Later they opposed the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

annexation of the occupied territories— not because of any excessive love for peace or the Palestinians, but because of the Halakhic ruling that forbids the provocation of the Goyim, because it could cause harm to the Jews. When the Orthodox set up settlements, they did not do so with any ideological fervor, but solely because of the need to find housing for their ever-growing numbers of offspring. The government gave them cheap land only beyond the Green Line. Nowadays, the largest settlements are Orthodox—Beitar Illit, Immanuel and Modi’in Illit—the last of which is located on land stolen from the Arab village of Bil’in. Whereas the large religious camp opposed the new Zionist movement, a religious splinter group supported it. In the religious camp they were a small minority. Between the two sides, ardent hatred was the rule. Thanks to the massive support of the Zionist leadership, the “national-religious” camp grew in Israel at a dizzying pace. Ben-Gurion set up a special branch of the educational system for them, which grew more extremist by the year, as did the national-religious youth movement, Bnei Akiva. Members of one generation of the national-religious community became the teachers of the next, which guaranteed an inbuilt process of radicalization. With the beginning of the occupation, they created Gush Emunim (“the Bloc of the Faithful”), the ideological core of the settlement movement. Nowadays this camp is directed by rabbis whose teachings emit a strong odor of Fascism. This would not be so terrible if the two opposing religious factions neutralized each other, as was indeed the case 50 years ago. But since then, the opposite has happened. The national-religious have become more and more extreme on the religious level, and the Orthodox more and more extreme on the nationalist level. The two factions are very close to each other today and together constitute an Orthodox-nationalreligious bloc. The youngsters of the national-religious faction despise the lukewarm religiosity of their fathers and admire the robust religiosity of the Orthodox. The youngsters of the Orthodox faction are seduced by the nationalist melody, unlike their fathers, for whom Israel was just like any Goyim-state to be milked. The union of the two factions is based on the essence of the Jewish religion, as fostered in Israel. It does not resemble the Judaism which existed in the Diaspora— 31

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neither the Orthodox nor the Reform model. It must be said: the Jewish religion in Israel is a mutation of Judaism, a tribal, racist, extreme nationalist and anti-democratic creed. There are now three religious educational systems—the national-religious, the “independent” one of the Orthodox, and “el-Hama’ayan” (“to the source”) of Shas. All three are financed by the state at least 100 percent, if not much more. The differences between them are small, compared to their similarities. All teach their pupils the history of the Jewish people only (based, of course, on the religious myths), nothing about the history of the world, of other peoples, not to mention other religions. The Qur’an and the New Testament are the kernel of evil and not to be touched. The typical alumni of these systems know that the Jews are the chosen (and vastly superior) people, that all Goyim are vicious anti-Semites, that God promised us this country and that no one else has a right to one square inch of its land. The natural conclusion is that the “foreigners” (meaning the Arabs, who have been living here for 13 centuries at least) must be expelled—unless this would endanger the Jews. From this point of view, there is no longer any difference between the Orthodox and the national-religious, between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Seeing the “youth of the hills,” who terrorize Arabs in the occupied territories, on screen, one cannot distinguish among them anymore—not by their dress, not by their body language, not by their slogans. The source of all this evil is, of course, the original sin of the State of Israel: the non-separation between state and religion, based on the non-separation between nation and religion. Nothing but a complete separation between the two will save Israel from total domination by the religious mutation. ❑

Palestine’s to regain—or at least to be countered with equivalent concessions from the other side. Over on the other coast, Lebanon raised the issue of U.N. help in demarcating the maritime boundary in the Mediterranean, where Beirut considers that it has claims to some of the natural gas fields Israel is claiming as its own. Indeed, a quick glance at a map suggests that the Lebanese do indeed have a point. However, the U.N. spokesman said—correctly—that Resolution 1701 only covered the U.N. delineating the land boundary between the two countries. Now Israel has become very upset because the U.N. Special Representative for Lebanon, Michael Williams has said—equally correctly—that the U.N. could help clarify the boundary. In fact, not only are there clear legal principles, not least under the International Treaty on the Law of the Sea, for marking maritime boundaries, but there are fora, such as the Hamburg-based International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, and the International Court of Justice itself, where interpretations of those principles could be argued. Israel’s distress at this suggests that it does indeed have some doubts about its legal claim to the full extent of the gas fields. As the American poet Robert Frost noted, “good fences make

good neighbors.” On land and at sea, it is in everyone’s long term interest to agree upon boundaries—unless a party has designs to move the posts permanently. Bringing together these issues, the Palestinians have been threatening to take two issues to the U.N. Firstly, to recognize Palestine as a state, as well over 100 U.N. members already have and secondly to condemn the illegal settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is a sad epithet on Obama’s initial enthusiasm for building relations with the Muslim world that Washington seems to have promised Netanyahu to veto both. Perhaps in gratitude for the prime minister’s compliance with oft-repeated and humiliating U.S. pleas for a mere settlement freeze? It is a great opportunity missed. Despite its bluster, the Israeli government is worried about U.N. resolutions and not vetoing them would be a painless way for the U.S. to exercise some leverage on the recalcitrant Likudniks. If Hilary Clinton can condemn settlements, then why veto the U.N. Security Council doing the same? If President Obama can look forward to a Palestinian state, then why shouldn’t the U.N. follow the wishes of a clear majority of its members? Sadly, like Israeli legal exegesis, these are mysteries beyond understanding. ❑


United Nations Report… Continued from page 29

In 1967, the Israelis took the lot, and subsequently annexed the whole of the Golan Heights. But since Resolution 242 calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, that presumably includes the Golan, and the strip of Mandatory Palestine and the DMZ, which should fall to the Palestinian State. At the very least, if the 1967 boundaries are to be negotiated, then these territories should be 32


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Congress Funds Government Through March 4—but not Israel’s “Iron Dome” CongressWatch


By Shirl McArthur

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). s reported in the December 2010 issue of the Washington Report, on Sept. 29 A Congress passed H.R. 3081, a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through Dec. 3 of last year at FY 2010 levels. Subsequently, on Dec. 2 and Dec. 17, two more CRs were passed amending H.R. 3081 to continue the funding until Dec. 21. Meanwhile, on Dec. 8 the House passed H.R. 3082, a full-year CR to fund the government at FY ’10 levels through the end of FY ’11 (Sept. 30, 2011). The Senate and administration officials reacted negatively to this, however. Said Senate Appropriations Committee chair Daniel Inouye (DHI): “I do not believe that putting the government on autopilot for a full year is in the best interest of the American people.” So the Senate tried to insert a new “omnibus” appropriations measure combining all the outstanding FY ’11 appropriations bills, but also including several thousand “earmarks” for pet projects. When all Senate Republicans and some Democrats strongly objected to this, on Dec. 17 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Shirl McArthur, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area. 34

gave in and pulled the omnibus from the floor. The Senate then, on Dec. 21, amended H.R. 3082 to continue the funding at FY ’10 levels through March 4. The House agreed to the Senate amendment and President Barack Obama signed it on Dec. 22, as Public Law 111-322. Interestingly, the original House-passed version of H.R. 3082 included the $205 million grant (on top of the annual $3 billion Israel receives from the U.S.) announced by the White House in May for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system (see this issue’s “Other Voices” supplement), but the final version of the bill is clean, without extra funds. The only extra provision codifies the two-year federal pay freeze that Obama announced earlier in December.

House Condemns Measures to Declare a Palestinian State During the recent “lame duck” session, three separate but similar non-binding House resolutions were introduced opposing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), who has earned the reputation of making outrageous statements on the House floor, introduced the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

first two, H.Res. 1731, with three co-sponsors, and the identical H.Res. 1734, with 33 co-sponsors. They would “call upon the administration to oppose: (1) the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state; and (2) any attempt to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the U.N. or other international forums and to veto any such U.N. Security Council resolution.” The third, slightly more moderate resolution, H.Res. 1765, was introduced on Dec. 15 by outgoing House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Howard “Even before I was a Democrat I was a Zionist” Berman (D-CA) and 53 co-sponsors. Although “condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state,” it also “supports a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.” The resolution was passed the same day under “suspension of the rules” (allowing for no substantive amendments but requiring a two-thirds majority) by voice vote—which was unusual, since someone generally demands a roll-call vote on pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian measures so that AIPAC and others can take names. During the floor debate on the resolution, predictable pro-Israel hard-liners Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Dan Burton (R-IN), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (RFL) took the opportunity to bash the Palestinians. Ros-Lehtinen’s statement was the most stridently anti-Palestinian and antipeace, as discussed below. On the other hand, Reps. Lois Capps (DCA), George Miller (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI) and David Price (D-NC) complained about the one-sidedness of the resolution. Moore argued that the resolution “targets only one action by one party” but “conveniently skips around other unilateral actions by the parties that may also harm the atmosphere for peace.” She concluded, “let’s make sure that we recognize that both parties have an equal responsibility to refrain from such actions.”

Ros-Lehtinen Seems Bent on Sabotaging U.S. National Interests Abroad Since the November elections, new House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ros-Lehtinen has been outspoken in her apparent determination to sabotage U.S. national interests and diplomatic efforts overseas— MARCH 2011

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and especially in the Middle East. As mentioned above, her floor statement on H.Res. 1765 was outrageously anti-Palestinian and anti-peace in the Middle East. “We should finally hold PA leaders accountable,” she said, “which is why I will soon introduce legislation to clarify and tighten existing U.S. laws that deny funding to the PA until they meet their commitments.” She claimed that until now Washington has given the PA “a blank check”—a ridiculous assertion, since, as a long-time member of the committee she knows full well that aid to the Palestinians has more conditions, restrictions and oversight requirements tied to it than aid to any other country. Previously, in a statement published in The Cable, Ros-Lehtinen said that her mission is to cut the State Department and foreign aid budgets, and she called for the government to use its contributions to international organizations as leverage to force changes at the U.N. She also urged stronger action against “rogue states,” indicating that she will press for harsher and stricter implementation of Iran sanctions and will also resist any engagement with North Korea. After Obama made a “recess appointment” (requiring no Senate confirmation, but valid only until the end of the year) of Robert Ford as ambassador to Syria, Ros-Lehtinen blasted the move, saying that “making undeserved concessions to Syria…is the wrong message to be sending to a regime which continues to harm and threaten U.S. interests and those of such critical allies as Israel.” It is unclear how she intends to cut foreign aid appropriations and place further restrictions on Palestinian aid, since the foreign aid bill comes from the Appropriations Committee, not hers. The House Foreign Affairs Committee does originate the foreign relations authorization bill, which often includes mischievous provisions, but, as noted in the previous “Congress Watch,” the Senate Foreign Relations Committee remains controlled by Democrats, and chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and ranking Republican Richard Lugar (R-IN) both are responsible moderates who will serve as a check on any extreme anti-peace measures emanating from the House. Also, Obama can be expected to veto any measure that restricts his constitutional responsibility for foreign affairs, and it is unlikely that overriding such a veto will get the necessary two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress.

Chabot to Head the House Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee It was widely expected that long-time “Hall of Shame” member Burton would chair the House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee in the 112th Congress. Instead, however, he will chair the Europe and Eurasia subcommittee, and newly elected Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) will head MARCH 2011

the Middle East subcommittee. Although recently elected, Chabot previously served seven terms in the House representing Ohio’s first district. He was defeated in the 2008 elections but regained his seat last November. In the 110th Congress he was the second ranking member of the Middle East subcommittee. While he did not make this magazine’s 2008 “Hall of Shame,” he did have two out of three possible negative marks, and no positive marks.

U.S. “War Stocks” Prepositioned in Israel to Increase in 2011, 2012 Previously unnoticed in this column was the passage by the Senate and the House in September of S. 3847, the “Security Cooperation Act of 2010.” President Obama signed it into law on Oct. 8. While dealing mostly with defense cooperation treaties with Canada, the U.K. and Australia, the act also includes two provisions for Israel. Section 301 provides an “expedited congressional defense export review period for Israel,” giving Israel the same status as U.S. NATO allies. And section 302, governing the “U.S. War Reserves Stockpiles for Allies,” increases the value of U.S. weapons to be prepositioned in Israel “and intended for use as Israeli reserve stocks” from $800 million in 2010 to $1 billion in 2011 and $1.2 billion in 2012. According to the Nov. 11, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine, “Israel made use of the stockpile during the 2006 war with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia— a conflict which killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers, the Haaretz daily reported.”

Iran Continues to Draw Congressional Attention In early December in Bahrain, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged, in accordance with international law, that Iran does have the right to a domestic uranium enrichment program for civilian purposes, if and when it proves to the international community that it can do so transparently and responsibly. Well, five senators would have none of it. On Dec. 6 Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), newly elected Mark Kirk (R-IL)—who received more pro-Israel PAC money than any congressional candidate in 2010—Jon Kyl (RAZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) wrote to Obama, with a copy to Clinton, saying, among other things, that more and harsher sanctions against Iran are needed, and that the U.S. should make it clear that Iran “cannot be permitted to maintain any enrichment or reprocessing activities on its territory for the foreseeable future.” With the Dec. 22 adjournment of the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, all pending bills and resolutions died. This didn’t stop members of Congress from introducing new measures right up to the THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

bitter end, however, probably to satisfy constituencies. One of those new measures was S. 4008, introduced on Dec. 3 by Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Casey, “to enhance U.S. diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran.”

Weiner Continues to Tilt at Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia As the previous issue of this magazine reported, despite the fact that it was too late to stop the sales of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia short of extraordinary measures by both houses of Congress, on Nov. 18 Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Berkley, and Chris Carney (D-PA) introduced H.J.Res. 99 disapproving the sales. The resolution was sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for burial. This didn’t deter Weiner, however: on Dec. 15 he reintroduced the measure as H.J.Res. 104. Also, responding to pressure from several right-wing U.S. Jewish organizations, Weiner, along with 32 other representatives wrote to Obama urging clemency for convicted arch-spy Jonathon Pollard— who in the mid-1980s gave Israel thousands of pages of classified information— “as an act of compassion justified by the way others have been treated by our justice system.”

Rothman Protests France’s Sale of Anti-Tank Weapons to Lebanon After learning that France plans to sell 100 advanced anti-tank missile systems to the Lebanese Armed Forces by the end of February 2011, Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) on Dec. 22 wrote to French President Nicolas Sarkozy urging that he “reconsider” the sale. The letter will likely be ignored— Rothman is a member of the U.S. Congress, not the Israeli Knesset (although one sometimes wonders), and his letter makes no mention of a threat to U.S. interests. Instead, the only reason he gives for his request to reconsider the sale is that the missiles might end up in the hands of Hezbollah “and the danger this would pose to Israel is too great.”

Defense Authorization Act: No Permanent Bases in Iraq, Afghanistan One of the measures passed by the lame duck session was H.R. 6523, the Defense Authorization Act. It was passed by both houses on Dec. 22. According to Section 1211, no funds may be obligated or expended “to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq” or “to exercise U.S. control of the oil resources of Iraq.” Section 1215 contains identical language regarding Afghanistan, but without the reference to oil resources. ❑ 35

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Crisis in Lebanon

(L-r) Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah meets with Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasem bin Jabr al-Thani and Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Davutoglu at an undisclosed location in Beirut, Jan. 18, 2011. After two days of inconclusive talks with Hezbollah and Hariri government representatives, the Qatari and Turkish officials suspended their mediation efforts.

Lebanese Government Collapse Adds to Obama Problems By Jim Lobe

he collapse of the government of

TLebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on

Jan. 12 adds to the growing list of challenges faced by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama across the Middle East. Increasingly concerned about mounting unrest in Tunisia and Algeria and sectarian violence in Egypt, Washington is also worried about what looks to be a protracted impasse in its efforts to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and the potentially explosive impact of unabated Jewish settlement activity in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem. The break-up of the Hariri-led unity government adds yet another potential flashpoint—one in which, as in nearby Iraq, Washington finds itself in a contest for influence with Iran. Tehran strongly backs the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance, whose departure from the cabinet precipitated the current crisis. “Lebanon is once again falling victim to Jim Lobe is Washington bureau chief for Inter Press Service (IPS). His blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at <>. Copyright © 2011 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. 36

the regional tug of war between the U.S., Israel and their allies on the one hand, and Syria, Hezbollah and Iran on the other,” wrote Joshua Landis, a regional expert at the University of Oklahoma on his widely read blog. The government’s collapse is regarded as unlikely to result, at least in the short term, in renewed violence of the kind that saw Shi’i-led Hezbollah quickly dispatch Sunni militias in pro-Hariri strongholds in West Beirut in May 2008. But it will no doubt increase sectarian tensions in the country and curb the tide of investment that boosted the Lebanese economy over the last 18 months of relative stability, according to veteran observers here. The fact that Hezbollah’s move appeared timed to coincide with Hariri’s meeting with Obama in the White House added to the impression that it was directed as much at Washington as at the prime minister himself. Indeed, Hezbollah and its allies have accused Washington of sabotaging SaudiSyrian efforts to negotiate a solution to the political crisis impasse that precipitated the collapse—the anticipated indictment, as early as Jan. 14, of several Hezbollah militants by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) established by the United Nations to investigate the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, Saad’s father. The assassination provoked mass pro-

tests by the Hariri-led March 14 movement that eventually resulted in the so-called “Cedar Revolution” and the withdrawal of Syrian troops—Hezbollah’s most important foreign backer—from Lebanon. The March 14 movement was backed strongly by U.S. President George W. Bush, whose chief aim at the time was to weaken Syria and its ally, Iran. “The big push of the Bush administration was to separate Lebanon from Syria and bring Lebanon within the U.S. and Israeli sphere of influence,” said Landis. “But that has clearly failed, and what we’ve seen in the last several years is the unravelling of the Bush agenda.” Under Obama, Washington has remained the STL’s biggest international booster, in part because it sees the tribunal as one of the few and diminishing points of leverage it can use to affect the balance of power in Lebanon. If Hezbollah is formally implicated in the assassination of Hariri, who was Sunni, its efforts to establish itself politically as a national, rather than a sectarian, movement will be badly set back, according to analysts here. “Hezbollah cannot afford the blow to its popular legitimacy that would occur if it is pinned with the Hariri killing,” wrote Thanassis Cambanis, author of a highly critical book on the Shi’i militia, in the Jan. 13 New York Times. Other analysts noted MARCH 2011

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that it would also deal a serious blow to Hezbollah’s standing, which soared through the Arab world after its 2006 conflict with Israel, elsewhere in the region. As a result, the group and its allies have exerted pressure on Hariri to denounce the tribunal and cease all Lebanese cooperation for its work, a step that many analysts believe would amount to political suicide. “If Hariri complies with Hezbollah’s demands, he is in my view finished as a national and as a Sunni leader, having compromised his own, his family’s and his country’s honor,” wrote Elliott Abrams, an architect of Bush’s policy in Lebanon, on his blog on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site Jan. 12. The mediation undertaken by Syria, Hezbollah’s most important foreign backer, and Saudi Arabia, which has long supported the Hariri family, was designed to work out a face-saving compromise for all parties. Bitter rivals during most of the past decade, Damascus and Riyadh worked out a rapprochement in 2009, when they began working together both to shore up Hariri’s unity government and to boost Sunni and non-sectarian parties in last year’s elections in Iraq. For its part, the Obama administration shows little sign of backing away from its support for both the STL, which it has reportedly encouraged to announce its indictments as quickly as possible, and Hariri, whose “steadfast leadership” it praised in a statement released by the White House after the Jan. 12 summit. Both leaders, it went on, expressed their “determination to achieve both stability and justice in Lebanon during this challenging period of government volatility, and agreed that all parties should avoid threats or actions that could cause instability.” Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently on a tour through the Gulf, strongly denounced the walkout by Hezbollah and its allies. “It is a crisis because there are those who do not wish to bring murderers to justice, or at least to have people who are charged with murder held accountable,” she said. “[Y]ou cannot run any society where murder is given impunity.” Landis strongly criticized the administration’s position as a continuation of Bush’s failed efforts to weaken Hezbollah at all costs. “They’ll allow Lebanon to languish,” he told the Inter Press Service, “because they want to save American prestige and continue their fight against Hezbollah, which they know they can’t win.” Indeed, Abrams praised the administraMARCH 2011

tion’s support for Hariri and the STL but admitted that such statements were “perhaps all we can do for now...[A]t bottom, this is far less a test of the United States than of the Lebanese,” he stressed. For now, however, most analysts believe mediation efforts are likely to continue quietly, and possibly involve new actors besides Syria and Saudi Arabia. Qatar negotiated the Doha Agreement that ended the May 2008 crisis and helped pave the way for the unity government, and has indicated that it stands ready to join any effort. Hariri himself was scheduled to fly Jan. 14 to Turkey, whose “zero problems with neighbors” policy—as well as its growing independence from Washington—has won it considerable prestige in the region over the last several years.

The (Well-Deserved?) Collapse Of Lebanon’s Government By Ranni Amiri

he Jan. 12 timeline from the Lebanese

Tnews portal read as fol-

lows: 5:17 pm Agence France Presse: Prime Minister Saad Hariri went into talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the moment that opposition ministers resigned from the Lebanese government. 5:32 pm Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Hussein announced in a statement his resignation from Cabinet. In that 15-minute span, President Obama went from meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to ex-Prime Minister Hariri. The unity government under his premiership had fallen, and deservedly so. Events had rapidly unfolded. The previous weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had met Hariri in New York. The visiting prime minister was holding consultations with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, recuperating from recent back surgery there, on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) impending indictments. The STL is widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in the February 2005 assassination of late Premier Rafiq Hariri despite evidence pointing to Israel’s complicity in the crime (see Sept./Oct. 2010 Washington Report, p. 16). Saad Hariri’s Western-backed ruling March 14 coalition backs the tribunal, while the opposition Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. A version of this article was first posted on the Jan. 14-17, 2011 edition of CounterPunch, <>. Reprinted with permission. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

March 8 coalition has called for its boycott. Hopes have been riding on a SaudiSyrian, or “S-S,” initiative that would effectively mediate between the rival camps on how best to handle the STL’s imminent verdict. Syrian President Bashar Assad and King Abdullah, respective patrons of the March 8 and March 14 blocs, sought to broker a solution to both side’s satisfaction. Although details of the alleged initiative were not made public, speculation exists it may have entailed Hariri distancing himself from the STL decision in exchange for March 8 dropping its pursuit of charges against the “false witnesses”—those who initially fingered Syria for Hariri’s murder but whose testimony against Damascus was ultimately found to have been fabricated. Some of these witnesses are thought to be Hariri confidantes. Not long after Hariri had finished meeting with Clinton, opposition leader and Free Patriotic Movement head Michel Aoun declared on Jan. 11 the S-S initiative was dead: “We thank the Saudi king and the Syrian president for the efforts they have exerted, although their initiative has ended with no results. The Hariri-led camp didn’t respond to these efforts, that’s why we’ve reached a dead end.” A statement released by the opposition said the endeavor “…reached a dead end due to U.S. pressures and the other camp’s compliance with these pressures, despite the fact that we had positively dealt with that initiative and provided it with chances of success.” Progressive Socialist Party head and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt remarked, “Saad Hariri was on the brink of making a major concession as concerns the tribunal, but occult forces prevented him from doing so.” After meeting with the Maronite Patriarch on Jan. 12, he said, “dark forces intervened in the ongoing SyrianSaudi talks and sidetracked this initiative from its original course.” According to Labor Minister Muhammad Fneish, the Saudi-Syrian effort was sabotaged by “American intervention and the inability of the other side to overcome American pressure.” When asked why it ultimately failed, Fneish replied, “Ask Mrs. Clinton.” The Obama administration and the U.S. State Department never wanted, nor would they have tolerated, an intra-Arab solution to Lebanon’s predicament. They ensured there would be no obstacle in the way of a discredited tribunal from issuing its findings based on doctored evidence, one that would sully Hezbollah’s reputa37

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tion in Lebanon and throughout the Arab and Muslim world. When it became clear the S-S initiative and whatever promise it held had been quashed, opposition members called on Hariri to urgently convene a cabinet meeting by the following day (Jan. 12) to address what the governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s position toward the STL would now be. The prime minister, still in New York, refused. Ten opposition ministers in his 30member cabinet then proceeded to tender their resignations. Because the â&#x20AC;&#x153;one-third-plus-oneâ&#x20AC;? formula mandates at least 11 resign before the cabinet can be dissolved, one more minister was needed. That came when Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Husseinâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;one of five ministers directly appointed by President Michel Suleimanâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;announced his resignation. With that, Haririâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 14-monthold government fell. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The grace period has ended, and the waiting stage that we lived through without any result has ended,â&#x20AC;? said Energy Minister Jibran Bassil. Saad Hariri rightly wants to see those who murdered his father and 22 others that fateful February day brought to justice. It is a wish shared by all Lebanese. But he and his coalition allies could not put their political and sectarian biases aside long enough to see how badly compromised the STL had become; its subjective investigatory methods, its reliance on Israeli-infiltrated telecommunication data, its refusal to even entertain the notion that Tel Aviv could possibly be involved in the assassination despite plausible evidence procured against it (not to mention the military benefits it reaped from Rafiq Haririâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s killing). Although a compromise appeared at hand, one that would satisfy both coalitions and guarantee the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wellbeing, Hariri was unwilling to overcome U.S. pressure. He allowed Secretary of State Clinton to veto overnight a plan that was months in the making. What Clintonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s action did make clear is that any outside solution will always be subject to such interference. It only reinforced calls for the Lebanese to assume control of their own affairs and reach an agreement a third party cannot abrogate. After meeting with Hariri, Clinton embarked on a tour of Persian Gulf countries, continuing the mission to promote division between Arab and Iranian, Sunni and Shiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;i. When asked on Al-Arabiya television to comment on the situation in Lebanon, she said â&#x20AC;&#x153;stability requires justice.â&#x20AC;? Ironically, a concept she tried to subvert and one Hariri never understood. â?&#x2018; 38






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MARCH 2011

opm_39-40_Other People's Mail 1/19/11 5:11 PM Page 39

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Kate Hilmy and Delinda C. Hanley Cutting the Military Budget To The New York Times, Jan. 1, 2011 Re: “The Big (Military) Taboo” (column, Dec. 26): Nicholas D. Kristof’s clarion call for reduced military spending will go unheeded unless American policymakers can overcome their reliance on the unworkable concept of a “war on terror.” Its disastrous consequences include several ill-advised actual wars, indiscriminate trampling on civil liberties at home, and actually provoking a good deal of the terrorist activity toward which it is ostensibly directed. The widespread taboo on questioning this ill-defined and harmful concept is the most glaring impediment to a sensible reordering of foreign policy priorities. Edwin M. Schur, New York, NY

Our Asymmetrical Wars To The Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2011 The Air Force has developed a drone that “can see everything” in Afghanistan, but can it help us Westerners tell the good guys from the bad? And what good are powerful satellites that can read newspapers from outer space if only a handful of people among the coalition forces can read and understand Arabic or Urdu or any of the other tribal languages beyond the “courtesy level”? Our military continues to develop weapons of unimaginable lethality while we are befuddled by ragtag fighters who kill and maim our soldiers with cheap homemade explosive devices. All these years and deaths in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have given us little understanding of the futility of these asymmetrical wars. Peter P. Cecere, Woodville, VA

Is Plan for Guantánamo Just? To The New York Times, Dec. 29, 2010 President Obama’s plan to detain indefinitely by executive order people the government deems dangerous to the country, although unable to prove this by any legitimate means, is not “A Step Toward Fairness.” Rather, by signing the order the president would indelibly stain his name in the pages of history. A prisoner detainable under the laws of war can be detained. A prisoner alleged to have committed a crime should be prosecuted. MARCH 2011

If the evidence is classified, there are long-tested procedures to deal with the issue. If a prisoner cannot be convicted on admissible evidence, he should be acquitted and deported if appropriate. Instead of surrendering to the present hysteria by endorsing the dilution of bedrock American values as “realistic,” your editorial should have held the president to his words: “We have these core ideals that we observe—even when it’s hard.” Eric M. Freedman, Hofstra Law School, New York, NY

Palestinian-Israeli Impasse To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 28, 2010 Now that the midterm election is over, President Obama has no reason to be timid with Israel. He owes Israel nothing. Obama should now allow Israel to take the consequences of flouting international law. He should insist that Israel meet peace-building objectives before releasing U.S. aid. These actions would win back much of his political base and restore his and America’s standing in the world. More important, we might see some genuine progress toward Mideast peace. Esther Riley, Blacksburg, VA

Israel’s Existential Threat To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 11, 2010 As Andrew J. Bacevich points out, Israel carries on as if the existential threat to it is military aggression by its enemies, even though the reality is that it has one of the world’s strongest armies as well as the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. Israel does have an existential threat to its survival, but it is internal. Its inability to make peace with its indigenous people will cost it everything. Eventually, the American people will become tired of spending resources on a state that makes us enemies in the Arab world, and the Palestinian population will become harder to subjugate. Israel is running out of time to make peace, and only making peace will bring peace. Erica Hahn, Monrovia, CA

More Than One Miracle To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 12, 2010 I appreciated reading Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren’s thoughts on the horrible fire this week and how a global commuTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

nity, including adversaries of Israel, came together to help. I too was at the White House Hanukkah party and appreciated hearing President Obama send condolences to the Israeli people and promise aid and support. I hope that this will help American and Israeli Jews understand that the president has provided unprecedented security cooperation with Israel. Oren spoke of “enlightened cooperation” as a lesson of this fire. If the peacemaking efforts of both Israelis and Palestinians would be handled in the same kind of “emergency effort” as this fire, we could reach an agreement that would be as important as extinguishing the Carmel fire. We should all be seeing the need for peace as a massive forest fire and act. Doing so would be another Hanukkah miracle. Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Pasadena, CA

U.S. Should Cut Israel Off To The Baltimore Sun, Dec. 17, 2010 The article “U.S. drops demand for Israeli building freeze“ (Dec. 8) will surprise no one who pays attention to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. Israel doesn’t want a peace settlement with the Palestinians, today or ever. And the U.S. doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to Israel and its powerful pro-Israel lobby, the wealthiest and most influential lobby in Washington. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has always rejected even discussing any of the final status issues: borders, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. All Israel wants is to continue stealing more Palestinian land and water in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, while maintaining their strangulation blockade of the Gaza Strip, referred to as the world’s largest prison. The U.S. could bring peace to the region immediately by cutting off all aid to Israel: financial, military and political, while becoming an honest broker for peace in the Middle East, rather than the lackey for Israel that we have been for too long. Ray Gordon, Bel Air, MD

Politics and the Mideast To The New York Times, Dec. 30, 2010 “New Political Landscape in U.S. Brings Mixed Blessing for Israel” misses critical dynamics in American politics regarding Israel. The overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans do not support the pol39

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itics of Rep. Eric Cantor, the incoming majority leader of the House, the Tea Party or the new Republican House majority, according to an Election Day poll of Jewish voters conducted for J Street. They remain overwhelmingly supportive of President Obama and voted more than 2 to 1 for Democratic candidates, even in a landslide year for Republicans. Unlike elements of Israel’s government, most Jewish Americans favor a two-state solution, restricting settlement growth and active American leadership to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The bottom line is that President Obama would command broad support from Jewish Americans for a bold push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even in the face of the intransigence of the leadership on both sides. Jeremy Ben-Ami, Washington, DC

Justice in Lebanon To The New York Times, Dec. 29, 2010 Roger Cohen expresses concern that “the passage of time—as well as bungling and inconsistencies—has rendered justice impossible in the Hariri murder,” referring to the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. I am a victim of the campaign of assassinations that started in 2005 against Lebanon, and I refuse to give up, as Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, and Mr. Cohen seem to ask us to do. I was an outspoken journalist when I was seriously wounded by explosives put under my car seat. I lost my left leg above the knee and my left arm was amputated because of severe injuries. But I never lost hope or faith in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and in international justice. Obviously I do not share with Mr. Cohen his impatience with justice nor his pessimism. I believe that justice is not only possible but also inevitable. The indictments will be a great achievement for the tribunal and for justice. They will also be a watershed in the history of Lebanon. It will be the first time that anyone was brought to justice, let alone indicted, for political assassinations in Lebanon. Mr. Cohen says that stability “trumps justice delayed, flawed and foreign.” We appreciate Mr. Cohen’s concern over Lebanese stability, but Lebanon does not have to choose between justice and stability. It should have and deserves both. The tribunal process might have flaws, but these imperfections are worth having if justice is served in the end. May Chidiac, Beirut, Lebanon 40

Qatar Deserves This Honor To The Independent, Dec. 6, 2010 The overwhelming media reaction to the failure of England’s bid to host the 2012 World Cup has been one of horror. James Lawton states in his article (Dec. 4) that Qatar has a poor sporting tradition and little right to host the World Cup ahead of Australia. N F Edwards asserts in his letter of the same date that Qatar has no football heritage. My family lived in Qatar between 1973 and 1986 and I can tell you that Qatar absolutely does have a strong football heritage and a long sporting tradition. The Khalifa Football Stadium was completed in 1976. The enthusiasm for football in Qatar is amazing, as our TV viewers might have witnessed had any of our news stations broadcast scenes from there on hearing the results of the bids, instead of wallowing for hours in interviews with men who felt we had a God-given right to host the event. Qatar has been hosting the Qatar Open Tennis Tournament for 18 years, an event in which the world’s top tennis stars participate. There are also long traditions of golf, horse-racing, sailing, water ski, bad-

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

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


minton, table tennis, basketball, handball and motor rallying. My husband played hockey, football and fencing when he attended school there, and I can tell you that Qatari women played a mean game of netball and volley-ball. So congratulations to FIFA on their decision. With the wealth of sporting heritage Qatar has maybe it should be bidding to host future Olympic Games. Sue Fanous, Plymouth, UK

A Question of Blasphemy To the Los Angeles Times, Jan. 7, 2011 Salman Taseer’s assassination should give the entire Islamic world pause. His death represents the ugly consequences of permitting an Islamic state to criminalize blasphemy. Since Pakistan elected to use its penal code as a weapon against “offenses” against Islam in 1984, all of its citizens have suffered. The deadly grip of Pakistan’s antiblasphemy laws has spared no one, including courageous leaders such as Taseer who have voiced their opposition to them. Worse, Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws have emboldened the most dangerous forces in the Islamic world, who continue to draw power and influence by acting as the self-proclaimed “protectors” of the Islamic state. There is nothing Islamic about criminalizing differences of opinion in society. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad viewed such differences of opinion as blessings. Muslims everywhere should condemn Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws and the extremists they legitimize. Amjad Mahmood Khan, Los Angeles, CA

Muslims in America To The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2010 Re: “Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Is Focus of Planned Inquiry”: Rep. Peter T. King’s “inquiry” is a continuation of the wedge politics the Republicans used with great success in the midterm elections. Perhaps with his inquiry, if it is shorn of a political message focused on our president’s middle name, Mr. King will also realize that the vast majority of American Muslims are no different from any other American immigrant group—they seek, above all, security, integration and upward mobility toward the American dream. Mostly, they also want America’s highest principles to be applied to them—freedom of religion and freedom from exploitation as an unrepresented, easy-totarget political group. S. Izaz Haque, Westford, MA ❑ MARCH 2011

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cwS/cartoonartS international


The Muslim Observer, livonia

cwS/cartoonartS international

cwS/cartoonartS international

The Globe and Mail, Toronto

Verdens Gang, oslo

cwS/cartoonartS international

cwS/cartoonartS international

Morning Herald, Sydney

New York Times Syndicate, nY

The Khaleej Times, Dubai

MARCH 2011



gee_42-43_Islam and the Near East in the Far East 1/20/11 11:40 AM Page 42

Beyond the West: Expanding the Scope of Pro-Palestinian Activism By John Gee

Islam and the Near East in theFar East


they took for granted about citizenship, passports and ease of travel. So we ended up virtually re-explaining much of what had been said earlier, but from a starting point with which the students felt a strong engagement— one that our telling of the events of 1948 and life under occupation clearly had lacked. Coming to Singapore in 1999, I found the general absence of interest in events in the Middle East quite frustrating, but soon realized the reasons behind it. In East and Southeast Asia there’s cerMembers of the Japan-Palestine Project Center prepare “Japanese falafel” during the 2009 Palestinian Okto- tainly a strong current berfest in the West Bank Christian village of Taybeh, near Ramallah. The Japanese organization sent 10 dele- of sympathy for the gates from Tokyo especially for the annual Palestinian beer festival, which celebrates the local Taybeh brewery, Palestinian people in and has taken place every year since 2005. the predominantly Muslim states of Indone of the problems with being closely standing (CAABU), a London-based NGO, nesia, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as involved with an issue is keeping a I arranged for a group of visiting students among Muslim minorities in other sense of perspective on it. I used to see this to hear a talk by a Palestinian who then states—though this rarely translates into in an acute form in Westerners who had worked with the Palestinian Delegation of- effective action. Elsewhere, there’s little inworked in Palestine or in Palestinian fice. The students were around 14 and 15 clination to try to come to grips with a sitrefugee camps in Lebanon. They would re- and I had the impression that they found uation that seems very complicated. It is turn home with what they had seen and what we said too much to take in. It often perceived at a popular level as an heard seared into their minds. The injustice seemed to wash over them without evok- issue of “Muslims vs. Jews,” rather than of what Israel was doing to the Palestinian ing any reaction—until the Palestinian one about national or human rights, and people was often so obvious to them that mentioned in passing the difficulties he the perceptions of non-Muslims therefore they could not help feeling frustrated that had in traveling without a proper passport. tend to be shaped by the state of communal relations in their respective country or humane and thoughtful individuals they That produced quite a reaction. “Why don’t you have a passport?” asked region. knew often seemed unconcerned, uninterJapan is exceptional in having well-esested and sometimes all too ready to make one student. The Palestinian explained excuses for Israel’s conduct. There was a that he was a stateless person and had to tablished Palestine solidarity groups, but yawning gap between the daily experience obtain a special travel document that there’s not much of a movement elsewhere, of people living under occupation or as ex- would allow him to leave Lebanon, where even in places like South Korea, Taiwan or the Philippines, all of which have lively iles and that of people in developed coun- he had grown up. “But you could just become a Lebanese NGO scenes and activities on many issues tries who, with all their complaints about government and corporations, still lived citizen and get a Lebanese passport....” of the day. These are countries that con“How can you not be able to get a pass- front serious problems internally or in lives that were infinitely freer and safer. Once in the early 1990s, while working port?” “Why can’t you get a passport from their immediate neighborhood. For examfor The Council for Arab-British Under- Israel if that’s where your family came ple, with political violence, corruption, poverty, environmental problems and terfrom?” The students were not questioning the ritorial disputes with China and Malaysia John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the author of Unequal Con- speaker’s honesty: it was just that his situa- to contend with, it is no wonder that Filflict: The Palestinians and Israel. tion seemed so out of keeping with what ipinos don’t think a lot about the rights




MARCH 2011

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and wrongs of the Palestine issue. As a consequence, none of these countries, apart from the mainly Muslim ones, takes an overtly political stand on guest worker employment in the Middle East, regardless of how they vote in the United Nations—and most do take a law-based, rights-based position when the Palestine issue comes up. Thais, Filipinos and Chinese all go to work in Israel in significant numbers—and with the blessing of their governments. There are no major domestic movements trying to persuade workers not to go to Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinians: the political awareness and sympathy for the Palestinians are just not sufficiently developed for the issue to be on the national agenda. The flip side to this disengagement from the Palestinians, however, is that there is little identification with Israel either, except by affiliates of pro-Zionist evangelical groups in Korea, Philippines and Singapore. Their zeal vastly exceeds their knowledge of the realities of the Palestine conflict.

Momentous Changes in Asia This matters much more than it might seem in the West or the Middle East. Even

though many people there realize that an increasing number of the goods they buy have a “Made in China” label, and they might have read that East Asian countries either emerged from recession fast or didn’t go into recession in the first place, there does not yet seem to be a full realization of the extent of the changes taking place in the global economy, which must have political consequences. The sheer scale of the transformations taking place in the region must be seen to be believed. New construction transforms cityscapes from year to year. Engagement in international trade and large-scale labor migration (most of the world’s migrant workers are Asian, and most migrate within Asia) have had a pervasive impact, for good and ill, down to the village level. Resources can be mobilized for undertakings on a vast scale, such as the planned rail links stretching from northern China and Singapore. In my visits to recession-hit Britain and the U.S. last year, I could not help being struck forcefully by the contrast between the vigor and overflowing confidence of much of Asia and the bleeding and uncertain state of those Western countries.

The consequence of these changes is that the U.S. and Europe, until now the key external factors in the Palestine conflict, will still be important—but Asian countries, in their relations with the Middle East, will exert an increasing influence. In the protracted effort to secure the rights of the Palestinian people, activists in the Middle East, Europe and North America need to consider how they might forge a constructive dialogue with those in the arc of states stretching from India to Korea to encourage the emergence of greater popular awareness of and sympathy for the Palestinian people’s struggle. Needless to say, the process must be one of cooperation of equals, with listening and learning by all. There are partners, current and potential, in the region. One of the fruits of cooperation might be the discovery and refinement of the most effective means of bringing the Palestine issue home and winning greater public sympathy in a rapidly changing societal context. Like it or not, the dynamics of power in the world are moving in ways that will make strategies that focus on what the U.S. and Europe choose to do increasingly ineffectual. ❑


MARCH 2011



twair_44-45_Southern California Chronicle 1/19/11 4:59 PM Page 44

At MPAC Convention, Nobelist Ahmed Zewail Discusses Challenges to Muslim States


By Pat and Samir Twair

Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail.

What troubles Zewail is that most Muslim governments are sadly lacking in the two key ingredients for democracy: knowledge and justice. In a list prepared by Shanghai University of the top world-class universities, not one institution from a Muslim country was mentioned, he lamented. “One in every four people on Earth is a Muslim,” Zewail pointed out, “but the depressing fact is Muslims only account for 1 percent of individuals in science and technology.” It is this huge gap in scientific learning that presents the biggest challenge to the Muslim world, he stressed. But Zewail said he draws hope from what he witnessed in his travels to Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar. “It’s remarkable what Turkey has accomplished in the last 15 years,” he noted. Citing the reforms and modernization projects of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Zewail explained that Turkey is an exporter of iron, steel, motor vehicles, machinery and fuels. It annually publishes

Southern California Chronicle Youths in Muslim countries are ambitious and curious, Zewail said, but need knowledge and training in science. As for Muslims in the U.S., he concluded, “despite Islamophobia, justice is here, knowledge is here, opportunity is here.” Zewail offered his rapt audience two a’s and two b’s as advice: acquire knowledge; aspire to achieve at the highest level; be involved in U.S. institutions; and be proud of your culture.

MESTO Launches Christmas Tradition Under the baton of Maestro Nabil Azzam, the Multi Ethnic Star Orchestra (MESTO) staged the world’s first Christmas concert featuring a recitation from the Qur’an. The second half of the Dec. 3 program at Santa Monica’s elegant The Broad Stage opened with Dr. Saleh Kholaki in the spotlight as he recited two chapters from the Qur’an dealing with Jesus and his mother, Mary. Dr. Azzam, who founded the 45-piece symphony orchestra in 1990 in Los Angeles, said he wanted to showcase ties be-

hmed Zewail has been a

Ahero of the Arab people


since at least 1999, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Last Dec. 18, he addressed more than 1,000 delegates at the 10th annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee in the Bonaventure Hotel. Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 as the first U.S. science envoy to the Middle East, the Egyptianborn Zewail has visited six nations in that capacity and said he plans to soon visit a ABOVE: Mahibere Selam choir of St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo seventh. The Islamic contributions Church; INSET: Dr. Saleh Kholaki recites from the Qur’an at MESTO to world civilization are well Christmas concert. understood from the period when Cordoba, Baghdad, Damascus and 22,000 publications and boasts 300 pri- tween the two Abrahamic faiths. For many Cairo were beacons of knowledge, stressed vate TV stations and more than 1,000 pri- in the audience, it was the first time they the California Institute of Technology pro- vate radio stations. heard the soothing sounds of a Qur’anic And whereas Malaysia’s economy used recitation. The inclusion of Muslim referfessor. “We’ve learned enough about our to be based on the sale of rubber and tin, ences to Jesus in a Christmas concert conpast,” he stated. today its thriving economy exports electri- fused many, including a radio talk show Pat and Samir Twair are free-lance journal- cal and electronic products, cars, motorcy- host who referred to the program as an “Isists based in Los Angeles. cles and petrochemicals. lamic Christmas” event. 44


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Aquinas became a disciple of the two thinkers’ philosophies. Stunning photography continues in Italy and Egypt. The journey ends in Israel, where images of the apartheid wall, IDF bulldozers destroying Palestinian homes, gun-toting settlers and chanting Orthodox Jews don’t reveal any inevitable incompatibility between Jew and Arab or clash between East and West. Instead, the real culprit is a fundamentalist religious perspective that denigrates the “other.” During the question-and-answer period following the film, Zionists criticized Bender for being one-sided. Explaining that his documentary interviews Muslims who speak out against extremist Islamist terrorism, the filmmaker went on to say that Jews should also be willing to criticize injustices Israeli Jews commit against Palestinians.


Mindful that 224 languages are spoken in Los Angeles, where there are 600 practicing religious sects, Azzam searched for churches which perform the earliest known Christian music. A stunning example of this was the a capella singing of Suhail Bachour, who performed Melkite and eastern Byzantine hymns celebrating the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus. The audience was mesmerized by the strength of Bachour’s voice. The artist studied Byzantine chanting in Lebanon’s Balamand Monastery and led the 100-person chair of the Damascus Roman Orthodox Cathedral. Christian liturgies were performed by the 14-voice choir of St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church. Dr. Joanna Medawar-Nachef, director of choral activities at El Camino College, sang “Silent Night” in Arabic. The audience was electrified by the exotic sounds created by two barrel drums and the l4-voice Mahibere Selam choir of St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Culver City. Attired in Ethiopian regalia, the performers sang gospel hymns in Amharic. Dr. Azzam arranged the two Ethiopian songs, which never before had been recorded on paper. The choir meets for four hours each Sunday and continuously sings ancient gospel hymns. The concert opened with an unexpected introduction. MESTO fans were surprised as the symphony orchestra performed swing rhythms while Jimbo Ross sang a mellow version of “Let it Snow, Let it Snow.” Other holiday songs and carols were sung by Yvette Holzwarth and soprano Anna-Suzette Eblen. Azzam promises to present more of L.A.’s exotic nativity music at next year’s Dec. 3 Christmas concert. For more information, visit <>.

“Out of Cordoba” a Must-See Film Jacob Bender was in New York on 9/11. As an American Jewish filmmaker who had lived for seven years in Israel and worked at the Yad Vashem Museum, he wanted answers to claims that Jews and Muslims are eternal enemies and that the West and Islam are on a “clash of civilizations” collision course. It took him nearly a decade to obtain grants and film his fact-finding odyssey resulting in his documentary, “Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours.” MARCH 2011


Shami-Aggarwal Vows Exchanged

TOP: Rev. Tom Welbers (l) and “Out of Cordoba” filmmaker Jacob Bender. ABOVE: Amitesh Aggarwal weds Wafa Shami. On Dec. 29, Bender screened his film before more than 70 viewers in the Beverly Hills Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd. Bender confronts the issues of conflicting theologies by focusing on 12th century Muslim Cordoba, which turned out two “wise men”—Averroes or Ibn Rushd (1126-1198) and Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1138-1204)—who shared a philosophy grounded in reason and tolerance that still influences scholars today. Both, however, were condemned in their lifetimes by fundamentalists within their faiths. Bender talks to scholars in Cordoba, Morocco and then France, where St. Thomas THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Wafa Shami became a respected member of the Southern California peace community as Middle East peace education program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee of Greater Los Angeles from 2005 to 2009. On Dec. 26, she exchanged wedding vows with Amitesh Aggarwal in the La Canada/Flintridge Country Club. Pandit Swami Adrish Anand of the Pasadena Hindu Temple presided over nuptial rites, with the bride wearing a jewel-emboidered hot pink silk lenga choli and the bridegroom attired in a turban and silk sherwani. Soon after, a Christian wedding service was performed by the Rev. Darrel Meyers of the Middle East Fellowship of Southern California. This time the bride wore a white gown and the bridegroom a business suit. On hand for the international exchange of vows were the bride’s mother, Laila Shami of Ramallah, Palestine, and the bridegroom’s parents, Kosaum and Pawan Kumar Garg of Bhilai, India. Wafa holds a master’s degree in international studies from North Carolina State University and is employed as a real estate broker. The bridegroom holds a master’s degree in computer science from Northeastern University, Boston, and a MBA from the University of Southern California. He is project lead manager of St. Jude Medical, Inc., Sylmar and CEO of Kumar Consulting Services. The couple will reside in Pasadena. ❑ 45

pasquini_46-47_Northern California Chronicle 1/18/11 7:17 PM Page 46

CAIR-SV Reflects on Past Successes, Future Challenges at Eighth Annual Banquet By Elaine Pasquini

Northern California Chronicle


leader, who happens to ern world’s most influential Islamic scholar be Muslim.’” in The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited CAIR-SV president by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin—deNajme Minhaj de- livered a wide-ranging 60-minute talk to scribed how the orga- the banquet audience. Appearing at times nization empowers the to be part entertainer, old-time preacher, community by promot- eloquent Qur’anic scholar and articulate ing social justice and history professor, the highly anticipated supporting community keynote speaker inspired applause eight outreach. “With your times, laughter in an equal number, an support, advice and awkward silence or two—and a standing input, as in the past, ovation. CAIR will meet the Peppering his talk with quotes from Bob challenges of the com- Dylan, John Kennedy, Herbert Hoover, ing year,” he averred. William Shakespeare, the Qur’an and the Executive director Ten Commandments, Yusuf analyzed the Basim Elkarra re- Muslim community’s strengths and weakcounted the group’s nesses and gave suggestions for improvmany activities over ing—as the corporate world would call the past year, including it—their “negative brand equity.” As CAIR-SV executive director Basim Elkarra (r) listens, Imam conducting a work“My desired goal is for our community to Siraj Wahhaj appeals to the banquet audience for generous do- shop on civic engage- be a spiritually and economically thriving nations in order for CAIR to continue its important civil rights ment in London, work. participating in the World Islamic he Sacramento Valley chapter of the Economic Forum in Malaysia, and Council on American-Islamic Relations meeting with representatives in (CAIR-SV) drew a record number of Washington, DC. As outreach and education are two guests—some 800—to its eighth annual banquet at the capital city’s Sheraton of CAIR’s most important areas of Grand Hotel on Nov. 30. The event’s work, the organization provided dispeakers reflected on the banquet’s theme, versity training to the Lodi Police De“Carrying The Legacy: Advancing With partment during the past year, Elkarra noted. Confidence.” Prior to fund-raising efforts by Siraj “Although some people in some countries in the world think that minarets are Wahhaj, imam of New York’s Masjid more threatening than missiles, at the same Al-Taqwa and chairman of the Muslim time there is much to applaud, and we can Alliance in North America, community continue with optimism and confidence,” awards were presented to the following Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. master of ceremonies Wajahat Ali told the individuals: The Courage and Inspiraaudience. “And while Islamophobia is on tion Award to Florin-Japanese American community that is socially, politically and the rise, we see people engaging, respond- Citizens League in memory of Bob culturally effective,” explained Yusuf. ing and trying to be pro-active—being Uyeyama, Distinguished Service Award to “Moreover, that we become an increasingly both Muslim and American—showing Mahmud Sharif, Outstanding Community relevant community that impacts the greater that there is no mutual exclusivity—that Service Award to Babak Afshinnik, Out- society concerning the great issues of our standing Youth Service Award to Mohamed time, as well as those policies that impact our you can be both.” Praising the Muslim Youth Leadership Ali, and the Fairness and Integrity in Media relationship with other parts of the world.” While averring that “the Israeli/PalestinConference as one of the highlights of Award to your surprised correspondents, ian conflict is undeniably real and we will CAIR’s activities, Ali said: “This confer- Phil and Elaine Pasquini. stand up for the rights of Palestinians,” he ence gives hope to Muslim youth, telling warned against anti-Jewish sentiment. them, ‘you, too, can be an American Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Warns Against Anti-Jewish Sentiment “We should not tolerate it in our mosques Elaine Pasquini is a free-lance journalist Following the awards ceremony, Sheikh or private conversations in our commubased in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hamza Yusuf—recently named the West- nity,” Yusuf said. “America has to be the STAFF PHOTO PHIL PASQUINI




MARCH 2011

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We all have stories to tell and I think it first Muslim community on this planet to helps dispel the myths and stereotypes. eradicate this irrational fear and hatred of We take our place in history—the history the Jewish community.” of the U.S., Latin America and the Arab Noting that diversity is one of the Musworld—because we are part of a larger lim community’s biggest strengths, he Arab world.” pointed out that at one point in history Katrina Sa’ade’s story is an interesting one-fifth of all African slaves brought to one, indeed. Born in Ottoman-ruled Beththis country were Muslim. lehem in 1900, she traveled with her merThe American-Muslim community is chant family to Tsarist Russia six years outgrowing its institutions, Yusuf caulater. As Kenny writes in her book: “…the tioned. “Charity begins at home and Tsar’s strong support for the Orthodox money should be kept here for building Church ensured a large market for religious our institutions,” he said to enthusiastic articles from the Holy Land.” applause. “I am calling for a five-year After her family returned to Palestine moratorium on money being sent overseas. during the Russian Revolution, Katrina beOur community is struggling and we need came betrothed to a Palestinian whose famto build strong institutions in our commuily had emigrated from Bethlehem to Mexnity. We need to strengthen our indigeico. Following her husband’s untimely nous Muslim population in the Africandeath, Katrina moved from Mexico to Long American community because the work Beach, California, where she lived the rest these people are doing in their communiof her life, except for a ties is amazing.” return to Palestine durIn conclusion, Yusuf ing the 1930s. addressed the issue of Kenny, former presiwho speaks for Islam in dent of the San Franthe U.S. “We need cisco-based Arab Film trained imams in this Festival, has co-written a country,” he told his auscreenplay of her book dience. “We cannot and is searching for a allow every Tom, Dick film producer to develop and Abdallah to speak the project. She divides for Islam. We need to her time between Northdefine what our religion ern California and Mexis without waffling, ico, where her mother without all of this douwas born and many relablespeak. We must pretives still reside. An acsent simple, clear mescomplished jewelry desages about who we are signer, Kenny creates to the greater commuglass beads that she innity. The Qur’an says: corporates into colorful ‘People without a vision one-of-a-kind necklaces. perish.’ We have to know who we are, TOP: Author Kathy Saade Kenny. ABOVE: Golden Thread Productions artistic diwhere we are going, and rector Torange Yeghiazarian (r) congratulates children who participated in her Arab Cultural and Community Center’s what our goal is.” story-telling at the Arab Cultural and Community Center’s holiday party.

Katrina in Five Worlds Growing up in Southern California near her grandmother’s home, Kathy Saade Kenny was accustomed to hearing Arabic spoken, enjoying delicious Palestinian cuisine and listening to intriguing stories about her Bethlehem-born grandmother’s fascinating life. In 2003, however—14 years after her grandmother’s death—she learned about an unknown and traumatic part of her beloved relative’s life after discovering a box of letters dating from the 1930s. Kenny recounts these events in her selfpublished book, Katrina in Five Worlds (available from the AET Book Club). The MARCH 2011

Winter Wonderland

biography, written in English and Spanish, was a finalist in the Multicultural Non-Fiction and Biography Historical categories of the “Best Books 2010” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Unable to read the letters written in colloquial Arabic, Kenny enlisted Birzeit University Prof. Salim Tamari, among others, to translate the documents into English. “The material for the book was originally developed for my family, just out of curiosity about my grandmother’s story,” Kenny told the Washington Report. “But, in addition to the story itself being interesting, my book tells a piece of Palestinian history that not many people know about. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Amid decorations of snowflakes and snowmen, the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC) hosted an afternoon of holiday fun for children of all ages at its San Francisco center on Dec. 11. The “Winter Wonderland” event featured food and arts and crafts activities, including gingerbread cookie and house decorating. The youngsters enjoyed dynamic story-telling by Torange Yeghiazarian, artistic director of Golden Thread Productions, which has created an ensemble to develop a repertory of performances rooted in stories, music and dance from the Middle East. A holiday elf was also on hand to paint the children’s faces in whimsical, colorful styles. ❑ 47

abood_48-49_Christianity and the Middle East 1/20/11 11:45 AM Page 48

The Vanishing Church in the Holy Land


By Sir Jeffery M. Abood, KHS

Christianity and the Middle East

A Palestinian Christian takes part in the Christmas Day service at the Catholic church in the village of Zababdah, near the northern city of Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Dec. 25, 2010. he recent Middle East Synod (see

TJan./Feb. 2011 Washington Report, p.

42) has helped focus the churches’ attention on the vanishing Christian population in the Holy Land. For two thousand years, Christian communities have thrived there. Yet, over the last 60 years, their population has gone from their historical level of around 18 percent to less than 2 percent today. Never have the Christian communities in the Middle East been as close to extinction as they are now. According to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, “the future of the Church in the Holy Land is now in doubt unless fellow Christians around the world step up efforts to help them.” So why are these communities, long Sir Jeffery M. Abood, KHS is a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He can be contacted at <jabood@>. The views expressed above reflect only those of the author and may not reflect the views of any organization to which he belongs. A previous draft appeared Dec. 30 as a guest blog on the national Catholic weekly America Magazine. 48

rooted in the historic land of their faith, now choosing to leave? And what does that mean for Christianity in the land where Jesus was born and preached? First, when we speak of the Holy Land today, we generally mean Palestine and Israel. Oddly enough, the Christians living there seem almost like strangers to most of us. Many Westerners are not even aware that there are Christians in the Holy Land. Certainly many are also not aware that when we talk about the Christians there, we mean the Palestinians. Whether they live in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, these Christians are all Palestinians (with the exception of recent immigrant worker communities) and have been living there for 2,000 years. They live as a double minority: as Christians in a largely Muslim culture, and as Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. Second, contrary to current popular opinion in this country, Christians are not leaving Israel/Palestine because of their Muslim neighbors. After all, for 1,500 years the Christian population has been relatively stable despite living in a largely Muslim culture. Even today, many of elected PalesTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

tinian leaders are Christians who enjoy popularity and a wide base of support. The number one reason given by Christians as to why they are leaving is because of the economic conditions created by the Israeli occupation. In fact, according to a statement put out by the heads of all the churches in Jerusalem, “Occupation remains the root cause of the conflict and of the continued suffering in the Holy Land.” Since the State of Israel first occupied Palestinian lands (partially in 1948, taking the rest in 1967) Christian residents have been leaving. As cited at the Middle East Synod, “the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socioeconomic life and the thousands of refugees” have created such harsh conditions that many who can afford to leave have emigrated. Christians, who are generally well-educated and have connections in the West, have departed in great numbers.

State of the Church Today While the government of Israel continues to state that it welcomes and protects the MARCH 2011

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rights of all religions, a tree is known by its fruit—and Israel’s actions say otherwise. Most Christian-owned lands have been and continue to be confiscated for the building of illegal settlements for Jews only. The Home of Our Lady of Sorrows outside Jerusalem is only one of many examples. The Sisters there care for the elderly. Yet, Israel has constructed a giant wall on their property, effectively cutting off patients from their families and limiting access to the hospital access. Israel also has denied visas to more than 500 religious workers and clergy to live and work in the West Bank and Gaza. Denied entry into Palestine, they are prevented from ministering to their people. Some priests are even afraid to leave, for fear they will not be allowed to return. The Israeli government continues its efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of the Christian churches. A notable example is Augusta Victoria Hospital, which largely serves the Palestinian poor (see October 2003 Washington Report, p. 52). The government has gone to court to try not only to remove their exempt status but also to back them retroactively to 1967, when Israel first occupied East Jerusalem. This, of

course, would force the hospital to shut its doors. Evangelization itself, always a primary mission of the Church, is a crime in Israel, and carries a mandatory prison term. Even the Holy Sites are coming under increasing threat. Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity still bears the marks of Israeli Defense Forces gunfire from 2002. Access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is increasingly denied to Palestinian worshippers who live outside Jerusalem’s walled Old City. This past year access was even denied on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The Upper Room is all but off limits to all Christians. When Pope John Paul II was allowed to pray there in 2000, it was a rare opportunity indeed. Christians in the Holy Land can feel very isolated and cut off from the Church at large for two reasons. First, many of their fellow Christians in the West don’t even realize there are Palestinian Christians, as we tend to think of the “Israel–Palestine” conflict as only a Muslim-Jewish issue. Thus the views of Palestinian Christions often are ignored—or not sought in the first place. Secondly, many Christians in the West

seem to hold kind of a default Christian Zionist viewpoint, which actually works to the detriment of our brothers and sisters there. Christian Zionism is an oxymoron, the practice of which is rooted in violence and exclusivism—things that are the very antithesis of Jesus’ teachings. While there is a lot of spin and politics in an issue such as this one, it is nonetheless a humanitarian concern which demands a response by the faithful. We can choose to heed the calls of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict to build bonds of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. Our efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict benefit not only the Christians and Muslims in Palestine, but Israelis as well, and addresses their ongoing security issues. Their cause is the cause of us all. We need to stand for justice, as it is only from this that true peace can take root. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is widely seen as the key to stability in the wider Middle East. Peace there would also certainly help to stabilize our economy here at home. More importantly, it will one day help us answer that question that Jesus will pose to us: “When did we see you a stranger and not invite you in?” ❑

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Finally, Israel’s Settlements Policy, Turn Toward Extremism Making Impact on Jewish Opinion Israel andJudaism

By Allan C. Brownfeld he collapse of the Middle East peace

Tprocess, Israel’s persistence in building

illegal settlements upon land which, if a twostate solution were to emerge, would constitute a Palestinian state, and the turn toward extremism within Israel have had an impact on Jewish opinion both in the U.S. and throughout the world. In November, a leader in the British Jewish community publicly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the waning peace talks and insisted that AngloZionists begin to voice their opinions on the matter. Mick Davis, chairman of the Londonbased United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) and executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, warned in front of more than 160 people at the London Jewish Cultural Center that unless there was a two-state solution with the Palestinians, Israel could become an apartheid state, “because we then have the majority going to be governed by the minority.” He went on to declare that Netanyahu lacked the courage and the strategy to take the steps to lead to peace in the Middle East. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted in its Nov. 24, 2010 edition, “For years the Jewish community not in Israel has avoided expressing moral reservations regarding the Israeli government’s decisions and policies. Davis said that the British leaders felt they could not voice their opinions for fear of their ideas being used by Israel’s enemies.” According to the International Jerusalem Post of Dec. 17-23, 2010, “many prominent Jews in public positions defended his [Davis’] remarks, noting that it was high time ‘that honest and open discussions’ about Israel took place in the public arena....A growing desire to openly criticize Israel is moving from the fringes of the Jewish community into the mainstream.” In the U.S., President Barack Obama’s attempt to bribe Israel with a $3 billion security assistance package, diplomatic cover and advanced F-35 fighter aircraft if NeAllan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of the Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. 50

tanyahu would simply agree to a 90-day settlements freeze to resume talks with the Palestinians, not only was rejected by Israel but was harshly criticized even by some of Israel’s long-time friends in Washington.

growing desire to “A openly criticize Israel is moving from the fringes of the Jewish community into the mainstream.” In an op-ed in the Nov. 21, 2010 Washington Post, Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who now teaches at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and an Orthodox Jew, declared that the idea of the U.S. rewarding “Israel’s bad deed” was a bad one: “And while Washington will almost certainly come to regret bribing Israel, Israel may regret receiving such a bribe even more. Previously, U.S. opposition to settlements resulted in penalties, not rewards, for continued construction. Washington deducted from its loan guarantees to Israel an amount equivalent, dollar for dollar, to the money that Israel spent in the occupied territories. While it’s true that the U.S. has turned a blind eye to indirect U.S. subsidies for Israeli activities in the territories—such as tax deductions for American organizations that fund settlements—the deal now being offered to Israel is of a totally different magnitude. If it goes forward, it will be the first direct benefit that the U.S. has provided Israel for settlement activities that we have opposed for more than 40 years.” TIME Magazine’s Sept. 13, 2010 cover story was devoted to the proposition: “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” Author Karl Vick quoted a number of prominent Israelis who say that peace with the Palestinians is hardly a priority. Hadas Ragolsky, executive producer of Israel’s Channel 2, said, “The rise in real estate prices is more interesting to the public than future talks...” According to political scientist Tamar Hermann, who has measured the Israeli public’s appetite for a negotiated settlement every month since 1994, “There is no sense of urgency. They watch less and less news. They read political sections of the news less. They THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

say, ‘It spoils my day, so I don’t want to see it.’” Israel’s thriving economy and the feeling that it can maintain control of the West Bank with little cost has, in Vick’s view, “combined to make the Palestinian question distant from the minds of many Israelis...The concrete wall Israel erected on its eastern side during the second intifada sealed out not only suicide bombers but almost all Palestinians. An Israeli Jew can easily pass an entire lifetime without meeting one. ‘The wall,’ marvels a former Israeli negotiator, ‘put the Palestinians on the moon.’” While some Jewish observers were harshly critical of the TIME story, others were not. Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, provided a different assessment: “The Anti-Defamation League...oddly claimed that the article implied that Israelis ‘care more about money than a future of peace and security.’ The ADL demanded that TIME apologize for ‘calling up age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.’ But if it is anti-Semitic to celebrate the prosperity of Israel and its ‘restless culture of innovation’ Vick does....then this pro-Israel newspaper and dozens like it are anti-Semitic.”

An Unprecedented Concession Writing in the Oct. 18, 2010 issue of The Nation, Henry Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project and a former leader of the American Jewish Congress, pointed out that “Netanyahu has never offered to concede even one inch of Israeli territory to the Palestinians—not even from Palestinian territories acquired in 1948 during its War of Independence which the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan had assigned to Palestine’s Arab population...Netanyahu’s Likud Party has popularized a slogan that Palestinians only ‘take and take’ while Israel’s many ‘concessions’ go unacknowledged. It is a lie that has become deeply ingrained in Israel’s national narrative. For Palestinians have made a concession to Israel that is unprecedented: in 1988 the PLO agreed formally to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty within the 1967 armistice border, an area that includes fully half the territory that...had been recognized as the legitimate patrimony of Palestinian Arabs in the U.N. Partition Plan. This reduced the Palestinians’ territory from MARCH 2011

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43 to 22 percent of Palestine while enlarging Israel’s territory from 56 to 78 percent.” If more and more Jewish voices are being raised in criticism of Israel’s policy on settlements, the outcry over growing extremism in Israel is even greater. Some 53 percent of Israel’s Jewish population believes that the state can encourage Arabs to leave the country, a new poll found. The Israel Democracy Institute’s 2010 survey released in November also found that 86 percent of Israeli Jews, constituting 76 percent of the total public, believes that critical decisions for the state should be made by the Jewish majority. The poll also found that 46 percent of the Jewish public is bothered by Arabs, 39 percent by foreign workers, 23 percent by haredi Orthodox Jews and 10 percent by non-observers of the Sabbath. A statement, made public on Dec. 7, 2010 which cites the halachic (Orthodox religious law) stance against renting or selling a house or a plot of land to a non-Jew in Israel was signed by 47 state-employed rabbis: “In response to many people’s questions, we hereby reply that it is prohibited by the Torah to sell a house or a field in the Land of Israel to a Gentile.” This follows a similar ruling issued by Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliahu, nine months earlier. The latest statement seemed to be an attempt to gather broad rabbinic support for Eliahu. It also sought to prove that his edict was based on halachic and not racial grounds, and thus substantiate his right as a rabbi to issue it. Signatories included the national religious and ultra-Orthodox rabbis heading the rabbinates of Metulla, Karmiel, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Hod Hasharon, Herzliya, Ta’anana, Ma’aleh, Adumim, Rehovot and Eilat. In its Dec. 24, 2010 issue, The Forward reported on the opposition to such a decree under the headline, “U.S. Rabbis Offer Rare Rebuke Of An Israeli Edict.” Statements by the American Modern Orthodox and Conservative rabbinic associations, and by the spokesman for an American ultra-Orthodox umbrella group, all denounced the Israeli rabbis’ directive. So, too, does an online petition signed by more than 900 rabbis, most of them affiliated with non-Orthodox denominations. According to the American Jewish weekly, “Controversial proclamations by Israeli rabbis are not unheard of, but this sort of broad American rabbinic response is rare. Now, it appears that the collective response has reached a tipping point, at which so many American rabbis have spoken out against the edict that others may feel compelled to concur.” MARCH 2011

An online petition for rabbis posted by the New Israel Fund (NIF) on Dec. 10 had received 914 signatures by Dec. 15. “Statements like these do great damage to our efforts to encourage people to love and support Israel,” the NIF statement read. “They communicate to our congregants that Israel does not share their values, and they promote feelings of alienation and distancing.” Signatories of the NIF petition included Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Though mainstream American rabbinical associations appear to oppose the Israeli rabbis’ letter, at least one prominent Orthodox rabbi was sympathetic. “I think it’s part of a concern—and I believe a rightful one—that there’s a war going on and we’re trying to maintain normalcy,” said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a dean of the rabbinical school at Yeshiva University. In Safed, whose rabbis issued the religious ruling forbidding residents to rent or sell apartments to Israeli Arab students attending the local community college, there is fear of intermarriage and, Rabbi Eliahu declared, “fighting assimilation in the holy city of Safed.”

“Ugly Currents of Racism” As Washington Post correspondent Joel Greenberg reported on Nov. 14, 2010, “To civil rights advocates and other critics, the unsettling developments in this normally quiet community of 32,000 are a window into ugly currents of racism in Israeli society...Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that public attitudes have been legitimized by proposals in parliament that send a message of exclusion to Israeli Arabs. One bill authorizes rural Jewish communities to review applications for residence on the basis of social and cultural compatibility, language that critics say is code for keeping out Arabs.” In October, Greenberg reported, “A group of young Jewish men attacked apartments of Arab students near the old city of Safed... The mob gathered outside a building housing Arab students, shouted ‘Death To Arabs’ and ‘Stinking Muslims’ and hurled stones and bottles, smashing a window...Eliahu Zvieli, an 89-year-old resident of the old city who rents a room to three Arab students, said he had received numerous phone calls and visits, including from Rabbi Eliahu, urging him to remove his tenants. One caller threatened to burn down Zvieli’s house, he THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

said. A sign was posted on the gate calling the Arabs’ presence ‘a shameful disgrace.’ Zvieli, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who endured forced-labor and prisoner-ofwar camps, said he was not fazed. ‘I’ve been through a few things, and I’m handling it,’ he said. ‘You can’t surrender to terror.’” So extreme is the attitude toward nonJews that Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which raises money for Israel among Christian supporters in North America, said that Interior Minister Eli Yishai refused to accept donations from pro-Israel Christians, thus denying the underfunded Fire and Rescue Service a shipment of brand new fire trucks that would have helped quell the fires that raged in December on Mount Carmel, killing 42 people and turning thousands of acres into wasteland. In the face of both its refusal to move toward a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the growth of extremism internally, some Jewish establishment figures still maintain an “Israel, right ot wrong” posture. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, writing in the Spring 2010 issue of the journal Reform Judaism, declared: “What Israel needs from us now is unconditional support. It needs our visits, our dollars and our engagement. It needs our political activism.” Sadly, for many American Jews in recent years, support for Israel—whatever its policies—has become a substitute for religion. Prof. Eric Alterman, writing in the Nov.-Dec. 2010 Moment, reported that without a real religious faith, “Many have turned to the defense of Israel as a kind of religious precept and the result, too often, is a repetition of political talking points as if they were the Amidah (the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy, meaning “18 Benedictions”). They are not and will not sustain generation after generation with what is, after all, vicarious experience, and one that is based less on a genuine attachment to Israel than to a mythic version of it.” Increasingly, however, Rabbi Yoffie’s formula of “unconditional support” is meeting growing opposition. To use support for Israel as a substitute religion is not helpful to American Jews—or to Israel. It corrupts Judaism and encourages Israel’s own most extreme individuals and groups. As more diverse Jewish voices are heard—applying genuine Jewish values to Israel and developments in that country— everyone will be better off, including Israelis, Palestinians, and Jews in other countries. Finally, Israel’s turn to extremism seems to have evoked a long-needed response. ❑ 51

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top down effort but also a state-building ef- Muslim community and other members of fort that shows the process is not discon- the public on the methods needed to nected from people’s lives,” he said, adding: peacefully combat growing Islamophobia. Tony Blair Urges Support for “We do actually have a consensus of desire Braving the inclement weather and the Palestinian State-Building in the Middle East to reach this goal. The climate of fear and hatred against Muslims, Arab Peace Initiative gives us the context in more than 150 community and youth leadwhich we can reach peace. President Obama ers attended the day-long peace leaders’ said this is a strategic interest for the United training retreat. During the day news of States and the whole of the world. We can the Arizona massacre broke and undernever afford to give up. It is worth continu- lined the theme of the retreat: the spread ing, never yielding the ground to extremists of hatred is threatening the unity of this who do not want peace, and continuing on nation and there is an urgent need to mountil we get the deal done.” bilize against it. ATFP President Ziad Asali said, “We are The training sessions were specifically honored by Mr. Blair’s presence today and designed to teach the proper techniques by his choice of ATFP as a forum to address to successfully organize and mobilize for the Arab-American and pro-Palestine com- the mass anti-war and anti-Islamophobia munity. We agree with his focus on the need rally at noon on April 9 at New York City’s to support the state-building program of the Union Square. Palestinian Authority, in parallel with efThe day commenced with a recitation forts to resume negotiations. The state- from the Qur’an which called for the building program creates positive changes standing up for justice even if it means that improves the lives of Palestinians, and speaking out against yourself or your own Former Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses also generates momentum toward the cre- kin. This was followed by a welcoming adation of a Palestinian state. A convergence dress by Dr. Shaik Ubaid, the NY chapter ATFP guests. of the indispensible diplomatic track and co-chair of the Muslim Peace Coalition Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the institution- and state-building track is (MPC) USA, who spoke about the reasons the representative of the Middle East Quar- the best path toward the realization of our for the launch of the peace coalition and tet, called for more international “support American national interest in having two- the goals for the training retreat. Kathy Kelly with Voices for Creative Nonfor [Palestinian] Prime Minister Salam states, Palestine and Israel, living side-byviolence then gave a a moving and inforFayyad and the state-building effort.” He side in peace and security.” —Ghaith al-Omari mative talk regarding the history of peace spoke at a Dec. 15 Washington, DC event movements in the United States. Many hosted by the American Task Force on consider Kelly, who just returned from Palestine (ATFP) and attended by some 200 Muslim-American Activism Afghanistan, to be the conscience of Ameradministration officials, foreign ambasica. Next, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid sadors and members of the Arab-American spoke about how wars are damaging Amercommunity. Emphasizing that these efforts NY Area Muslims Train to Counter ica’s economy and international standing. should continue and intensify in the con- Islamophbia text of seeking a negotiated two-state solu- Jan. 8, 2011 could very well turn out to be He talked about the need to organize and tion, Blair called for Palestinians to be sup- a milestone in the history of Muslim civil speak out against war and terrorism. Imam ported in their efforts to develop and build rights activism and interfaith bridge build- Mujahid’s comprehensive PowerPoint preinstitutions not only in Areas A and B, but ing. On that cold blustery morning, the sentation also showed how involving in Area C as well. Muslim Peace Coalition (MPC) organized youth in peaceful methods to fight Islamo“I am and always have been an advocate an initiative at the Islamic Center of Long phobia will prevent their radicalization. The next session was headed by Mike of Palestinian statehood,” said Blair, who Island in Westbury, NY to educate the Gecan, author of Going Pubworks with the Palestinians lic: An Organizer’s Guide to to prepare for statehood as Citizen Action, and was depart of the international vised to train and educate community’s effort to secure the audience on the imporpeace. “What’s the alternatance of getting organized tive?” he asked pointedly. in order to influence policyBlair stressed the need to makers. Gecan is one of the treat the Palestinian Authorcountry’s most influential ity’s institution-building trainers in community orgaprogram as a political project nizing. His training held aimed at extending PA juristhe audience’s attention, diction over more areas of and they wished his session the West Bank, improving had continued longer. accessibility to the Gaza The third session covStrip, and creating palpable ered the media and how inbenefits in East Jerusalem. dividuals and organizations “This requires not only a The audience learned how to combat Islamophobia in training sessions. PHOTO BY AHMED SAEED, ISLAMIC CENTER OF LONG ISLAND


Arab-American Activism



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said. “The ultimate sacrifice of so many could influence it and use it as an effective Muslims Lead Interfaith Prayers for people should not be in vain and should tool to educate the public and policymak- Arizona Victims bring in an atmosphere of understanding ers. Bob Keeler, an editor with Newsday, discussed various ways that Muslims can The final event was a solidarity session and tolerance. “The Muslim Peace Coalition has asked have their voices heard in the media. He where leaders of more than 25 interfaith algave priceless practical tips—from main- liances, peace groups, churches and syna- Congressman Peter King to hold hearings taining individual contacts to holding gogues spoke against Islamophobia, ex- on the rising hatred and increasing threat fruitful and regular meetings with editor- pressed solidarity with the Muslim com- of violence against elected officials, includial boards. Keeler said that the Muslim munity, and urged a large turnout for the ing President Obama,” Dr. Ubaid added. community can be portrayed in a positive April 9 rally against war and Islamophobia. “We need a comprehensive strategy to stop light in all sections of the print media—in This session was moderated by MPC co- this hatred. The strategy should include news, editorials, culture and religion as chair Seemi Ahmed, who spoke about the political and religious reconciliation, eduwell as style pages. He encouraged the au- urgent need to fight against the spread of cation and effective law-enforcement. dience to submit op-eds and letters and to hatred and political polarization through When TIME Magazine runs a story on the contribute to any other columns they were interfaith unity, using the model of the rise of armed militias in the country, the problem should be taken seriously.” well acquainted with. Dr. Ubaid then civil rights struggle. The training conference concluded with touched upon previous examples to show The keynote speaker was George Grehow a community can have an effective sham, president of SEIU 1199, the powerful speeches from Zead Ramadan of the Counmedia-relations effort. healthcare workers union. He spoke mov- cil of American-Islamic Relations and Imam Mujahid discussed methods that ingly about his upbringing in the segre- Imam al-Amin Abdul Latif, president of could be implemented to mobilize the gated South and described how his family the Islamic Leadership Council of New community against Islamophobia in a de- and community struggled to obtain their York Metropolitan area, the umbrella ormocratic and peaceful way. His multi- rights while maintaining their human dig- ganization of New York area Muslims. media presentation was again a resound- nity and decency along the way. He spoke Imam Al-Amin gave his personal blessings ing success. about the need to be vigilant so as not to and promised that ILC will support the —Abdur-Rahman Ubaid Following a lunch and prayer break it lose the hard-earned civil rights won April 9 rally. was the turn of Ibrahim Abdul Matin, the under the leadership of Rev. Martin Luther author of Green Deen, to educate and en- King, Jr. Human Rights thrall the delegates, who heard him exThe delegates and speakers observed a plain how youth can and must be mobi- moment of silence for the victims of the lized for the betterment of the society. This Arizona massacre and prayed for the Panelists Debate Closing media personality and environmental ac- speedy and full recovery of Congress- Guantánamo tivist taught ways to foster understanding woman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and the The New America Foundation in Washingand harmony in American society. others wounded. Leaders expressed alarm ton, DC held an important discussion on Imam Shamsi Ali then spoke at length over the climate of hate and political polar- the future of the American prison Camp Xabout Islam’s stand on interfaith bridge ization that is taking hold of the country, Ray, located at the Guantánamo Bay naval building, emphasizing the Islamic com- and requested that leaders of both political base in Cuba, on Jan. 11—the nine-year anmandments on fostering communal har- parties and of all faith-based and non-faith- niversary of its opening. The United States mony in society with examples from the based communities come together and work still faces major questions and partisan ranlife of Prophet Muhammad. toward reconciliation and healing. cor over the prison, the fate of its 173 reThe next session, chaired by Habeeb Dr. Ubaid expressed deep sorrow and maining detainees, and the proper means of Ahmed—one of New York’s most promi- anguish over the heinous crime in Arizona. trying and holding terrorism suspects denent Muslim leaders—addressed the dan- “We are not surprised by this dastardly act tained at home and abroad. gers of Islamophobia. Panelists warned that of violence because of the prevailing cliModerator Patrick Doherty, a senior adtheir own Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new mate of fear and hatred in the country,” he viser of New America Foundation’s Counchairman of the House terterrorism Strategy InitiaHomeland Security subcomtive, described Guantánamo mittee, is calling for congresas a symbol of the U.S. war sional hearings on the radion terrorism to some and a calization of the Muslim comfrontal assault on our Conmunity. Those hearings stitutional order to others. A could be used by Islamototal of almost 800 men have phobes to spread hatred and been held at Guantánamo fear against the American since it opened in January Muslim community. Imam 2002, and around 600 have Mujahid led an interactive been released, according to discussion on developing a the New York Times’s Guanpractical and comprehensive tánamo Docket database. On strategy to counter this his second full day after takthreat in a democratic fashing office, President Barack ion by mobilizing all AmeriObama issued an order to The Muslim Peace Coalition held interfaith prayers for victims of hatred. shut the prison, where incans with conscience. MARCH 2011




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(L-r) Benjamin Wittes, Thomas Wilner, Col. (ret.) Morris Davis, and Andy Worthington discuss Guantánamo.


One-Tenth the Recidivism The U.S. government claims that one in four men released from Guantánamo engage in terrorism or insurgency after their release, so the remaining prisoners should remain behind bars. In an article published Jan. 12 in Foreign Policy, New America Foundation authors concluded that only one in 17, or 6 percent, of detainees released from Guantánamo have taken up arms after their release (see < many_gitmo_alumni_take_up_arms>). Guantánamo recidivism figures are low compared to recidivism figures among criminals released from American prisons—which are in the 60 percent range. Also absent from this debate is whether Guantánamo prisoners who were never charged or tried became radicalized during their stay at Gitmo or were already possible terrorists. —DCH


mates were harshly interrogated and even tortured, within a year. More than two years later, the prison still holds 173 detainees, who are neither criminals—who should be tried, then freed or sentenced to prison—nor warriors, who belong in a prisoner of war camp. There now exists a new category of enemy combatants who have no right to due process. Journalist/filmmaker Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and co-director of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” said he really believed President Obama would close Guantánamo within a year of sweeping into office. Now, he admitted, “the picture looks bleak.” A review task force approved the release of 89 of the 173 men still being held. They are still there only because the U.S. government cannot find countries willing to accept them. Three were convicted by military tribunals or accepted plea deals, and the rest are in limbo. The Saudi detainees were released in 2006-2007, but only 23 of the 89 Yemenis have been released. “Fifteen countries have already helped out the U.S. The remaining men should be given homes in the U.S.,” Worthington stated. “I am fundamentally depressed,” he concluded. “Without some new argument I could be here a year from now after only one or two people have been released. Every day Guantánamo is open is an insult to the values Americans hold dear.” Col. (ret) Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor, U.S. Military Commissions at Guantánamo, said he was surprised by the packed audience who came to listen to panelists on a snowy day in DC, because “People in power have little interest in Guantánamo—the general public has even less.” Colonel Davis resigned from his position as chief prosecutor in October 2007, when he learned that his superior would be the controversial General Counsel William Haynes, who said waterboarding was OK. Currently the executive director of Crimes of War Education Project, Davis gave a fascinating

historical look at Guantánamo, from the day in April 30, 1494 when Christopher Columbus landed (and left the next day, never to return) until its latest incarnation. Colonel Davis also discussed the history of military tribunals, and described the Quirin decision, which gave President Franklin D. Roosevelt the authority to establish a military commission, which subsequently tried, found guilty, and executed (within 43 days) eight Nazi saboteurs immediately after the Supreme Court rejected their petitions for writs of habeas corpus. President George W. Bush invoked that ruling to create military tribunals, abrogate federal court jurisdiction and deny federal court access to those prosecuted or held for suspected terrorist behavior. Detainees who actually go to trial often win. Even if they lose and are convicted, they still have a shot at going home, Davis said. “What should we do with the 173 men who remain there? Our reputation has been tarnished...The American legal system is on trial, not just al-Qaeda,” Colonel Davis said. “The verdict is not pretty.” Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes, author of Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor After Guantánamo, said he felt like the devil in front of a Baptist church. He defended Guantánamo, saying, “It wasn’t the biggest problem in the world.” Americans “hold people

Scores of human rights activists—including 173 wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods, representing the remaining 173 prisoners at the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba—marched from the White House to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, DC on Jan. 11, the ninth anniversary of the detention center’s opening. There were no arrests during the “day of action,” directed at closing the detention center and ending torture. To watch Bill Hughes’ video of the protest go to: <>. To learn about the moral and legal reasons for this protest action, visit <www.witness>. MARCH 2011

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Women and the Making of Men: Notions of Rugula in Cairo, Egypt The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University in Washington, DC hosted a Nov. 1 lecture by Farha Ghannam, associate professor of anthropology at Swarthmore College and presidentelect of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association. An authority on contemporary spatial practices and gendered identities in the Middle East, Dr. Ghannam’s Georgetown presentation drew from her new book entitled, To Live and Die like a Man: Embodiment and the Construction of Masculinities in Cairo, Egypt. Using long-term ethnographic research conducted in the low-income neighborhood of Al-Zawiya al Hamra in northern Cairo, Dr. Ghannam assessed the ways in which women contribute to the “making of manhood” by conforming to social norms, instructing their sons, brothers, husbands and male neighbors about the proper way of being a “man,” and defending their reputation and standing as men in different spaces and contexts. By using “Ali,” a young, working-class man in Al-Zawiya al Hamra, as a case study, Dr. Ghannam aimed to capture the shifting meanings of masculinity and the multiple—and often contradictory—discourses through which men and women interact to question, chalMARCH 2011

lenge and reaffirm notions of manhood. According to Dr. Ghannam, there is an overembodiment of women in literature on the East. Women are thought of mainly through notions of physical state, sexuality, or fertility—female, in other words, is equated with the body. Talk of “men,” on the other hand, often leads to the mind, where masculinity is considered in terms of reason, public life, or power. This dichotomy, she argued, “is actually very key to how patriarchy is structured in many societies, not just the Middle East. Feminists have been questioning this strong association between the woman and the body, but have paid less attention to how patriarchy distances the man from the body.” Curiosity about how this relationship is negated led Dr. Ghannam to explore, in the context of daily life, how men think about, present, and experience their bodies. The story of Ali, now in his early 30s, illustrates the complexity of Rugula (Arabic for “manhood”) in Egypt. During her frequent visits to Al-Zawiya al-Hamra, Dr. Ghannam had witnessed major transitions in Ali’s life, from military service to marriage. When Ali first became engaged, Ghannam observed how his mother and sisters participated in “the making of him as a man.” While women in Arab communities conform to the social norms that define their proper roles as “dutiful daughters, obedient wives, and respectful sisters,” they also provide support and instruction at different stages of a man’s life. When Ali was younger, his family did not mind him going out and “having fun,” fitting behavior for a man in his early 20s. Once Ali became engaged, however, they placed pressure on him to save money, monitored his earnings and activities, and scolded him if he was overly yielding to his fiancé’s demands. They did not want him to be perceived as “not man enough” and, by employing various tactics, ensured that he was maintaining his standing and integrity as a man. Dr. Ghannam concluded by explaining that manhood is an “unfinished process of becoming.” Masculinity cannot be achieved once and for all, she said, but is an everchanging process, shaped by a number of different actors and practices. Ali’s story allows us to see that “women are judges of normality who actively monitor how men perform the normative notions of masculinity, evaluate shortcomings, and exert pressure to conform conduct.” Their daily instruction, assistance, and financial and life support are all an important part of cultivating a masculine self that is recognized and admired by others. —Kianoush Naficy THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Role of Women in the Shahnama Discussed at Sackler Gallery


around the world” who have the same rights. He argued that it’s the rules for detention, not the detention center, that is at the root of the problem. He recommended getting the system right and, perhaps, retaining overseas detention centers in the war theater, far from federal courts. Thomas Wilner, who represented Guantánamo detainees in the Rasul v Bush and Boumediene v Bush cases, described detainees who were wrongly or accidentally picked up and given no hearings. (The Geneva Conventions and military law require a hearing so detainees can try to prove their innocence.) Every Arab was shipped to Guantánamo. “I do think Guantánamo as a symbol is important. It was established to avoid the law, to be beyond the law,” Wilner said. “It’s a symbol of fear and weakness.” Wilner said President Obama is afraid of the political repercussions of closing Guantánamo. He shouldn’t care if Republicans give him crap, Wilner said. He should take the remaining detainees in— ”they’re innocent people who were held for eight years. He should stand up for them.” To watch this excellent panel discussion visit < nine_years_guantanamo>. —Delinda C. Hanley

Prof. Dick Davis discusses women in the Shahnama. A renowned scholar and a best-selling author visited the Smithsonian Institution’s Sackler Gallery on Dec. 4, 2010 to discuss the role of women in the Shahnama. Dick Davis, professor of Persian and chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University, commented on the text. Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, added her personal perspective on the lasting significance of Iran’s national epic written by the poet Firdawsi. The program was one of the special events being held in conjunction with the exhibit “Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings.” Davis described Firdawsi’s poem as being so complex, it subverts its own agenda. It celebrates kings but shows their flaws. It advocates nationalism and male superiority, but sympathizes with foreign and feminine elements. Over and over, foreign princesses choose to become Persian by marriage, and resourceful women get rewarded for defying their fathers’ wishes. He cited his own favorite couple, Zal and Rudaba, as one example. Even though their parents are enemies, they fall in love, marry, and become the parents of a national hero, Rustam. While most female characters are introduced as part of love stories, there are notable exceptions, including warriors and kings. To support his speculation that these legends may be more than fantasy, Davis reported on testing that found female DNA in an unknown soldier’s grave in Azerbaijan dating to the Iron Age. With regard to kings, three of the 50 rulers included in the Shahnama are female. Their reigns are described near the end of the mythical first half of the epic before an abrupt shift occurs. As Davis noted, Firdawsi celebrates strong women in the first half of the poem and regrets that they are gone in the second historical section. Speaking next about what the Shahnama 55

Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran means to her, Nafisi declared that all great literature is vengeance and resistance to loss. She said she finds the poem to be conclusive evidence of what Iran is, including its Zoroastrian heritage of celebrating physical pleasures. When she pointed out that the principal purpose of the work is to teach people how to act rather than how to win, it became clear that Washington, DC could benefit from that lesson, too. As author, translator or editor, Davis has produced more than 20 books, including academic works and translations from Persian prose and verse. His own poetry, published as Devices and Desires: New and Selected Poems 1967-1987, was chosen by both The Times and The Daily Telegraph (London) as a 1989 Book of the Year. Nafisi is a visiting professor and executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. In addition to Reading Lolita in Tehran, which spent more than 117 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, she is the author of Things I Have Been Silent About, a memoir about her mother published in 2009. “Shahnama: 1000 Years of the Persian Book of Kings” will remain on view through April 17, 2011. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is located at 1050 Independence Ave. SW on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Hours are 10 to 5:30 daily, and admission is always free. —Anne O’Rourke

Music & Arts Laila El-Haddad, on Gaza Mom Laila El-Haddad—professional journalist, activist, Palestinian, and mother—discussed her new book, Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in 56

vide “a single voice amidst a sea of silenced voices.” “The average person…understands very little about who Palestinians are and what occupation means as a result of the way the media covers Palestine,” El-Haddad noted. She quoted cartoon artist and journalist Joe Sacco as stating that the media “…does not educate people; it only confuses them more in an attempt to attain so-called objectivity.” Gaza Mom, on the other hand, aims to give the reader a personal understanding of what it was like to live in Gaza during a very turbulent time, and illustrates the impact of Israeli occupation. “It is a story,” said El-Haddad, “about mothering, homeland, identity, war and survival.” —Andrew Stimson

Between, at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC on Nov. 18. With her husband and two children in the audience, El-Haddad asked the audience, “How does one assess the situation in Gaza?” While she started her blog, <>, in 2004 as a way to stay connected to her husband, the site eventually evolved into a portal into everyday life under occupation. This blog, she eventually realized, could help the average person understand what life was like for Gazans. Early on she received a comment from a Florida schoolteacher who read entries from the blog to her students every week, to help them understand the situation. Then there was the Israeli journalist who told El-Haddad that she was an avid reader of the blog, and explained that she read it to her brother, who was institutionalized after being overtaken by guilt while serving in the Israeli army. Over time the blog became popular, but a problem arose. “Unless you are a religious follower of my blog from the start,” El-Haddad explained, “keeping up with the time gaps and the narrative shifts became harder and harder to do over the years.” The book attempts to provide an easy-to-follow narrative as well as to make sure that the indignities of today are not forgotten tomorrow. Gaza Mom is a compilation of six years’ worth of material, with the last entry dated Aug. 5, 2010, and includes blog entries, her reportage for Al Jazeera, photos, reflections, rants, occasional live-tweeted narratives, and recipes. The blog and book are an attempt to pro-

Reza Aslan Promotes Tablet and Pen



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(L-r) Yassine El-Haddad, Noor, Yousuf and Gaza Mom author Laila El-Haddad.

Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed Iranian-American author and scholar on religions, appeared at Washington, DC’s Politics and Prose bookstore on Nov. 11 to discuss his latest work, an anthology entitled Tablet and Pen. A collection of contemporary literature translated from Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu, the book aims to provide “a different, more authentic perception of this rich and complex region” known as the Middle East, he said. In front of a standing-room-only crowd, Aslan, a contributing editor for The Daily Beast, explained that the idea for his book first arose in reaction to rising anti-Islam sentiment in U.S. politics and mainstream media. Remarking on the recent antishariah law passed in Oklahoma and the growing popularity of “clownish” antiIslam figures like Pamela Gellar, Sharron Angle and Robert Spencer, Aslan noted that negative views toward Islam are actually more prevalent now than they were in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. According to Aslan, there are several reasons behind this current climate of “shariah hysteria.” The economy certainly plays a pivotal role. “In times of economic distress, it’s only natural people look for some kind of scapegoat. And it seems that the scapegoats of the year, depending on where you live, are either Muslims or Mexican,” he said, quipping, “God save you if you happen to be a Mexican-Muslim American!” Alluding to polls indicating that more than a third of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, Aslan noted the high correlation between holding this belief and maintaining negative views toward Obama’s domestic policies. In other words, Aslan argued, Islam is MARCH 2011

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that might be read in bits and pieces, this book is meant to be read from beginning to end, Aslan explained, because the narrative work is about first using language to revive national identity “as a means of pushing back against Western imperialism and colonialism” and then creating the philosophical and intellectual foundations for the modern nation states of the Middle East. Following this arc, the book ends in the modern period, where a new generation of writers begin to do “what all of us are starting to do in this globalized world,” which is to start looking inward, “to start putting criticism into one’s self.” Tablet and Pen’s regional editor, Zeenut Ziad, next gave a short introduction on the Urdu language and recited a poem from Mohamed Iqbal, Pakistan’s national poet, who is featured in the book. The event concluded with a question-and-answer session, followed by a book signing. Tablet and Pen is available for purchase through the AET Book Club and online at <>. —Kianoush Naficy

Reza Aslan signs copies of Tablet and Pen.

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Lois Critchfield Discusses Her Book, Oman Emerges The Washington, DC-based Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted a talk by Lois Critchfield about her new book, Oman Emerges: An American Company In An Ancient Kingdom on Dec. 1. The author’s late

“Son of Babylon”


becoming “otherized” in this country. “It’s becoming a receptacle into which Americans are throwing all of their fears and anxieties, whether about the economy, or political instability, or the changing racial landscape in this country,” he stated. “We are in the midst of an identity crisis in the U.S.” The easiest way to define ourselves, continued Aslan, is “in opposition to an ‘other.’” For many, being American means not being Muslim—hence, the hysteria about shariah. “It represents something that is perfectly exotic, perfectly other” that Americans turn to and say, “that is not us,” he remarked. The author noted that the “otherization” of Islam is not unlike the historical condemnation of other religions. “I’m confident that everything that is being said about Muslims in this country…was said about Jews, Catholics, Quakers and Mormons,” Aslan stated. In Aslan’s view, the path toward “knowing the other” is only possible through the arts. Literature, music, and film provide a “universal language that allows us to go beyond the things that separate us as religions or ethnicities or cultures…to truly get to the core of our human identity and know each other as people—not as us and them.” Hence his anthology, a book intended to “reframe our perception of the Middle East” and provide readers with a new set of symbols and metaphors that can be used to understand this complex and “mosaic” part of the world. Tablet and Pen’s collection of poems, short stories, fiction and non-fiction translated from Urdu, Persian, Turkish and Arabic is constructed in such a way as to tell the story of the modern Middle East. The authors are not outsiders—colonialists and conquerors—but the regions’ greatest writers and poets. Unlike most anthologies

husband, James Critchfield, was a decorated combat officer in World War II. He joined the CIA in 1948 and retired 26 years later as the first man to hold the position of National Intelligence Officer for energy. He then began his third career, as a consultant to the Omani government for an American company, Tetra Tech International. Drawing on boxes full of her husband’s files and on the memories of others who also played key roles in Oman, Lois Critchfield described the ups and downs, struggles and intrigues Critchfield’s company faced as it helped Sultan Qaboos change Oman from a Third World country to a 20th century success story. James Critchfield battled Dutch Shell to convince Oman’s government to conserve and properly shepherd Oman’s modest oil and gas resources. His wife’s book portrays the mysterious characters, foreign carpetbaggers and commercial entrepreneurs who came to seek their fortunes in Oman, as well as the pioneers who helped the country succeed. She also details the struggle between the United States and Britain as each sought influence over the region, which includes Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, strategically located on the Strait of Hormuz. Following her talk Critchfield’s audience asked her to sign copies of the book, which is also available from the AET Book Club. This reporter—as a former Tetra Tech employee straight out of the Peace Corps in Oman 30 years ago, who lived in the Musandam and helped Tetra Tech build roads, water pumping stations, an airport, port and hotel—can’t wait to read Oman Emerges: An American Company In An Ancient Kingdom. —Delinda C. Hanley

Lois Critchfield discusses her new book, Oman Emerges. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Film critics and members of the Golden Globe and Academy Awards viewed “Son of Babylon,” Iraq’s official film in the foreign language category, at a private screening Nov. 22 in the Clarity Theater, Beverly Hills. On hand for the event was the director and screenwriter, Mohamed al-Daradji, named by Variety as Middle East Filmmaker of the Year. His film won the Amnesty International Film Prize at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival and was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Before the screening, al-Daradji explained that he’d been traveling for two days from Baghdad to be present for the Los Angeles event. He holds two master’s degrees in cinematography and directing from the Northern Film School, Leeds Institute. He became 57



murta” (Egg), was released in 2007, and the second, “Sut” (Milk), was produced in 2008. “Bal,” set in the remote eastern Black Sea region, tells the story of Yusef (Bora Altas), a six-yearold boy handicapped by a severe stutter, his mother, Zehra (Tulin Ozen) and beekeeper father, Yakup (Erdal Besikcioglu), who goes missing in the forest. At the 60th Berlin Film Festival, “Bal” won the Advertisements in San Francisco BART stations promote peace “Son of Babylon” director Mohamed al- Golden Bear best picture and call for ending military aid to Israel. award when it premiered Daradji. The “Be on our side” campaign aims to Feb. 16, 2010, becoming the second Turka Sundance fellow in 2008, enabling him to ish film to capture the honor since “Susaz highlight the fact that the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars sent to Israel every year Yaz” took the prize in 1964. develop “Son of Babylon.” The film is seen through the world view have failed to bring peace, security and The film tells the story of 12-year-old Ahmed (Yasser Talib) and his grand- of a child. Kaplanoglu’s signature treatment equality for Israelis and Palestinians. Inmother, Um Ibrahim (Shezhad Hussein). is the absence of a musical score replaced by stead, the funds have been used to perpetuate the ongoing cycle of death, destruction Three weeks after the fall of Saddam Hus- soundtrack noises of forest animals. —Pat McDonnell Twair and illegal occupation in the region. sain, they make a torturous journey from According to the Congressional Research Mosul to Babylon in search of Ahmed’s Service, Israel received $58.6 billion in milmissing father. Waging Peace itary aid from the U.S. between 1949 and Viewers quickly comprehend the lan2008, plus tens of billions more in other guage and cultural problems of the Kurdish forms of assistance. Under an agreement grandparent and grandson as they confront Ads in Bay Area Transit Stations signed in 2007, Israel is slated to receive anunexpected obstacles to reach the killing Promote Peace and Justice fields of southern Iraq. In mid-December, Northern California other $30 billion by 2018. The advertisement design and Web site —Pat McDonnell Twair Friends of Sabeel, the local chapter of a non-profit Christian organization seeking were developed by the Committee for a Just Turkey’s “Bal” Screened peace in the Holy Land, placed advertise- Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP), a diTurkey’s Consul General to Los Angeles, R. ments in three Bay Area Rapid Transit verse Chicago-area community organization, Hakan Tekin, hosted a reception and pri- (BART) stations calling for an end to U.S. which began running the ads in the Chicago vate screening of Semih Kaplanoglu’s “Bal” military aid to Israel for the sake of peace transit system in October. The CJPIP was in (Honey) Dec. 7 in the Clarity Theater, Bev- and justice for both Palestinians and Is- turn inspired by a billboard campaign in erly Hills. The film is Turkey’s official can- raelis. The posters were displayed for four Albuquerque, NM. For more information, visit the Web site: didate for the best foreign film Oscar in the weeks in transit stations in Oakland, Berkeley and at San Francisco’s Civic Center/UN <>. 83rd Academy Awards. —Elaine Pasquini The film is the third in Kaplanoglu’s auto- Plaza. The powerful ads are the beginning biographical “Yusef Trilogy.” The first, “Ya- of a campaign co-sponsored by the local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace Israel, the U.S. and Jewish Identity: and American Muslims for Palestine Yael Dayan in Florida to bring awareness to Bay Area com- Possibly the most serious threat to stability muters about the Palestinian/Israeli in the Middle East is Israel’s illegal occupaissue. tion of Palestine and U.S. support in block“We are disturbed that our politi- ing any peaceful resolution for 35 years. A cians spend billions of taxpayers’ possible solution to this problem was sugmoney to supply the Israeli war ma- gested by Yael Dayan, who spoke at Temchine with lethal weapons, to the ple Beth-El in St Petersburg, Florida, in Nodetriment of both Israelis and Pales- vember as part of a week-long speaking tinians and the cause of peace,” said tour of the United States. Dayan, the Hassan Fouda, a member of the daughter of famed Israeli Gen. Moshe Northern California Friends of Dayan, is an Israeli politician, author and Sabeel. “If our fellow citizens know activist for peace and human rights. the facts, we are sure they will insist Speaking to a largely Jewish crowd, she “Bal” director Semih Kaplanoglu (l) with Turkish that the money is spent here at urged her audience to withdraw blind suphome.” port of Israel. Although many in the AmerConsul General to Los Angeles R. Haken Tekin. 58

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Yael Dayan tells American Jews to end their unconditional support for Israel. ican community express their Jewish identity by supporting Israel wholeheartedly, this support should not be given in ignorance, she said. To provide historical background, Dayan noted that, in the past, Jews were made to feel a common denominator because it was imposed on them by the hatred of the outside world. This changed in 1948, she said, and now Jews create communities that are not the result of the hatred of others. Today the desire of Jews all over the world to preserve what is different about them, but still be equal with others, causes problems. Thus, from Day 1 Israel was a Jewish democracy, Dayan said, but as time has passed, more and more clash points between living in a Jewish state and living in a democracy have become apparent. One of these clash points is the inequality among people—even Jews—living in Israel. Dayan traced some of today’s problems to Israel’s first prime minister, David BenGurion, who exempted about 500 people from serving in the military because they were very religious. This number has since grown to about 40,000 people, and these ultra-Orthodox Jews have become Israel’s ruling class. Today in Israel there are different levels of Jews, she continued, and the different levels do not have the same rights. For example, only Orthodox Jews are allowed to marry. Non-Orthodox Jews and others who want a legal cermony must travel abroad. Also, Ethiopian Jews who were brought to Israel with great fanfare are now not permitted to attend official schools because of their color, and women are not allowed to worship equally with men in synagogues. If their children went to Israel and did not have a Jewish mother, Dayan told her American listeners, they would be second-class citizens. MARCH 2011

Dayan also discussed the illegal occupation of Palestine, Jewish settlers up-rooting olive trees that had belonged to Palestinians for generations, the need for a twostate solution with Palestine, and the need for peace. Her message to the American Jewish community was direct: “We come to you every year—we find another kind of emergency fund...If it’s not a war we say it’s a wave of Ethiopian immigrants. We take your federation donations. It’s terrific.” Israelis need Americans to give the same kind of support they give in times of crises and war, Dayan said: to stand together to fix the wrongs in Israel. When American Jews visit Israel, government officials give them a carefully arranged tour, emphasizing the tensions and dangers the tiny country faces. American visitors are told they must support Israel to protect it from the Arabs countries that surround it and from a world that hates Jews. They are shown Jerusalem, but not Tel Aviv—which is a democractic, pluralistic and diverse model for what Israel could be. Furthermore, Dayan said, Jews are sworn to silence. When they criticize Israel the reaction is: How can a Jew talk like this? But, she argued, “We’re not there any more. We know right from wrong...We are all Jewish but we are also all democratic...” When asked what a lay person in the United States could do to help, Dayan responded that American Jews must stop their unconditional support of Israel. There are many strong Jewish organizations in the United States, she noted, and they seem to underestimate their own power. But first American Jews need to break their silence. “The cry, the demand should come from here,” she concluded. —Melva Underbakke

olence as systematized by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, an associate of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The evening included a welcome and ecumenical peace prayer by Deacon Marti Martinson; an introduction to LTN by Mai Abdul-Rahman of the APWA; a dance by the Glade Dance Collective that expressed the impact of the occupation and Israel’s separation wall on the lives of ordinary Palestinian women; a very personal and emotionally interpretive reflection by Tarek Abu Atta of LTN; a slide-show of the efforts and staff of the LTN Ramallah office; and musical numbers from Deacon Perry King (of UNMC) and Kent Bedune (of Church of the Savior) that included songs about Rachel Corrie and world peace. The crowd spontaneously joined hands during the last song, “If I Had a Hammer” by Pete Seeger. Attendees raised approximately $6,000 for the efforts of LTN. For more informations visit <>, <> and <sabeeldc. org>. —Arthur Martinson

West Bank, Gaza Water Crimes Susan Koppleman comes from an American Jewish Zionist family—and for the past four years she’s been working for LifeSource in Ramallah, a Palestinian-led collective of people addressing the Israeli-generated water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza. On Dec. 10, she gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Middle East Fellowship of Southern California. In 1967, she explained, Israel took control of the West Bank water supply and has denied permission to Palestinians who want to dig wells or pump water. As a result, the people are forced to buy water from tanker trucks which is 12 times more expensive and susceptible to water-borne diseases.

Universalist National Memorial Church Hosts Love Thy Neighbor The Universalist National Memorial Church (UNMC), American Palestinian Womens Association (APWA), and Sabeel DC Metro cohosted a Dec. 18 fund-raiser and community awareness meeting for Love Thy Neighbor (LTN) at the church on 16th St. in Washington, DC. LTN is a tax-exempt organization in Bethesda, Maryland and Ramallah, Palestine dedicated to promoting and facilitating grass roots nonviolent initiatives in support of peace and justice in Palestine/Israel, and to educating about the nonviolence effort of the region. According to LTN’s Web site, its curriculum is based on both the 6 Principles and 6 Steps of nonviTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS



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Susan Koppleman discusses the water crisis in the West Bank and Gaza. 59


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Jewish Witnesses and Friends for Peace have held weekly nonviolent vigils outside Beth Israel [House of Israel], a Conservative synagogue in Ann Arbor City, MI, since September 2003. The previous year, after Sol Metz and Henry Herskovitz returned from an eye-opening trip to Palestine, they asked three local rabbis if they could speak to their congregations. The rabbis refused—so the activists use signs every Saturday to address congregants. On Christmas morning Santa Claus himself, in the person of Thom Saffold, made an appearance at their Saturday vigil. Demonstrating next to Santa is Gloria Harb. Koppleman said there are plenty of Palestinian water engineers but Israel prevents them from piping in water. While Palestinian villages go thirsty, Israel pumps in abundant water to illegal Zionist settlements and their swimming pools. This, she pointed out, is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states it is illegal for an occupying power to transfer people into an occupied area or extract natural resource from occupied land. Israel deliberately destroyed Gaza’s water supply during its 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead assault, she added. Only seven percent of water pumped in Gaza is fit for human consumption. For more information, visit <>. —Pat McDonnell Twair

she said. “We depend on teamwork, and we insist on consensus decision-making.” Walters explained that MPT currently has international teams in Juarez, Mexico, and in the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank territory, but also fields teams in the U.S. An MPT team worked to prevent violence in mid-November in East Lansing, MI, when members of the Phelps family of the Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for picketing funerals of service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, picketed at East Lansing High School. “We look at all the dimensions of non-

Michigan Peace Team (MPT) members visited Iowa in December, making several presentations around the state in support of the team’s work in the U.S. and abroad. “MPT has a vision of pursuing peace through active nonviolence, hands-on nonviolence, in places of conflict, especially in places where there is violence or the threat of violence,” Sister Elizabeth Walters, IHM, told an audience at the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting House on Dec. 5. “We require our domestic and international teams to have very good training,” 60


Michigan Peace Team Visits Iowa

Michigan Peace Team member Martha Larsen spoke in Des Moines on Dec. 5 about her experience as a peacemaker in illegally occupied Palestine. THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

violent intervention in our eight-hour basic training,” added Walters, who noted that international teams receive additional training. “We do protective accompaniment, and what that means is we literally surround the person, we walk with them [so that] the people who are threatening that person would have to harm us first,” she said. “Inter-positioning” means getting in between armed men and those who are at risk of being shot, explained Walters. “Observation and monitoring, obviously our cameras are tools in that regard, our notebooks are tools. We observe and monitor and document human rights abuses, and we work with international organizations to lift up our findings with regard to human rights abuses,” said Walters. MPT member Martha Larsen spoke about the work of MPT’s international team in Palestine. “I’ve been in Palestine nine times in the past five years. The last time I was only allowed two weeks in,” said Larsen. “We worked with Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). We also worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). RHR brings in Israelis and Jews and internationals from around the world.” Israeli volunteers who work with human rights activists reflect a range of perspectives and attitudes not unlike those seen in America, some bringing an understanding of the plight of Palestinians, others exhibiting condescension, said Larsen. Israeli soldiers and settlers tend toward more extreme views. “In Yitzhar, the rabbi [Shapira] said to the public—[he published a book, The King’s Torah]—You can kill a two-year-old Palestinian because they are going to grow up to be terrorists,” said Larsen. Yitzhar is the site of two yeshivas, or schools, founded by extremely conservative and influential rabbis, Yitzhak Shapira and Yitzchak Ginzburg. The Israeli daily Haaretz characterized Ginzburg, originally from Missouri, as a well known radical and referred to his “prosecution in the past for incitement to racism after having published a book insisting that there is no place for Arabs in the state of Israel.” In September 2009, Israeli settlers in the Yitzhar area cut 95 young olive trees in the Palestinian village of Burin. Later, they cut 30 more, said Larsen. In late July 2010 settlers from the Berakha Shomronim settlement rioted and burned many olive trees in Burin. “This is a way to destroy the livelihood of the Palestinians. You don’t have to kill MARCH 2011

them if you destroy their livelihood. They get very desperate then, because they don’t have any way to live. Our presence there would be to take photographs and let the world know, and to stand with the people,” said Larsen. In early October 2010, she said, when settlers, who are allowed to go about armed, let it be known that they intended to desecrate a mosque in Burin, MPT and other internationals responded. Larsen explained that soldiers often come and arrest Palestinians in the night. “Then there might be two months when nothing will happen. And then it will be every other night for two months. Then a break for a week, a month, whatever. You can never quite rest, because you never know when they are going to return,” she explained. “How many generations will have to live under this occupation, under this harassment and denial of their human rights?” asked Larsen. Walters and Larsen offered the MPT model and training to peace and social justice groups in Iowa. The two women spoke on Dec. 6 in Ames at a breakfast meeting at the home of Betsy and John Mayfield, and again on Dec. 7 at the Iowa City Public Library. —Michael Gillespie


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The Jerusalem Fund held its popular annual souq and olive harvest celebration on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Washington, DC. Record numbers of shoppers enjoyed a fun afternoon of music, tea, food, and viewing and buying textiles, pottery, jewelry and gifts from the Middle East. Shoppers supported Palestinian farmers by purchasing bottles of fair trade extra virgin olive oil imported from Palestine. Washington Report intern Evan ThomasArnold (r) helps customers at the American Educational Trust Book Club’s booth, which was a favorite of shoppers eager to find the perfect gift of Palestinian pottery, olive oil soap, embroidery, or books and music. Many Washingtonians returned to the AET Bookstore later that month to finish up their holiday purchases.

never was and never will be,” she said. “We want to stop the wars and bring the troops home so we can have funding for the wounded troops’ medical and health care Members of Veterans for Peace (VFP) Iowa and for reparations for the damage we’ve Chapter 161 joined a long-running weekly done in the countries we’ve bombed out vigil at Nollen Plaza in Des Moines Dec. 16 and shot up,” said Ed Bloomer, a founding to protest U.S. wars and military actions in member of VFP Iowa Chapter 161. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and “We also want our senators to come on elsewhere. board for the START treaty so we can move “We’re here in solidarity with the natoward eliminating weapons of mass detional Veterans for Peace District of Columstruction,” he added. bia action today at the White House,” said “I’m here to support VFP locally and naGil Landolt, chapter vice president. “We’d tionally today,” said Chris Gaunt, who reglike to see an end to these unjust, illegal, ularly visits the offices of her representaand immoral wars, and the occupation of tives to ask that they stop Palestine,” he explained. funding the wars. During the Veteran Dennis Paul said he past 10 months Gaunt has paris concerned about public apticipated in more than 30 athy. “Thousands if not mil“die-ins,” as she calls them, lions are being murdered and alone or with fellow activists. Americans are extremely apaGaunt said she spoke briefly thetic. We see the Iraq body with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) count, and the numbers are after he gave a speech in Grinover 100,000 civilians—40 nell, IA on Oct. 5. percent of those are chil“He said, ‘I like your dren—and America, I feel, is sign…We shouldn’t be in extremely apathetic about that Afghanistan. You keep up issue,” said Paul. your protesting,’” said Gaunt. “I’m here because the U.S. has a war going on in Afghan - Iowa VFP Chapter 161 Vice President Gil Landolt (r) presents a letter to “Wouldn’t you call that encouragement?” she asked. istan, an occupation or a war a member of Sen. Tom Harkin’s staff. still going on in Iraq, from time to time engages in military action elsewhere in the world, and this all seems to go on below the radar of the collective consciousness of the United States. People don’t pay attention to it, they don’t think about it,” said Bill Stansbery, a veteran. “I’d like to do my small part to bring it to peoples’ attention. It’s happening.” Sherry Hutchison, a long time participant in the weekly Thursday vigil, is not a veteran. Holding a placard, Hutchison said she was glad to join with the veterans and add to the emphasis. “I have always believed, as it says on this sign, ‘War is not the Answer,’


Iowa Veterans Demonstrate in Solidarity

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Veterans for Peace led a demonstration at the White House on Dec. 16, 2010. In a massive act of “civil disobedience,” more than 131 anti-war activists, including (l-r) Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges and Dr. Margaret Flowers, were arrested for refusing to obey “a police order to disperse.” strengthen the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Iraq in 2011. According to Myron Brilliant, senior vice president of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber, investors have “every reason to remain optimistic about Iraq’s economic prospects and the American jobs that trade with Iraq can bring.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing the interests of more than three million businesses. Members of the American business community filled every seat at the forum and asked some tough questions following the presentation. —Delinda C. Hanley

Following the hour-long vigil in Nollen Plaza, the group delivered a letter including VFP’s National Statement to the offices of their elected representatives, Sen. Harkin and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in the federal building across the street. At the same time in Washington, DC, police were arresting 135 demonstrators at the veteran-led civil resistance action at the White House. —Michael Gillespie

U.S. Chamber Hosts Iraq Business Forum

Dr. Sami Al Araji. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, hosted an Iraq Business Forum on Nov. 23. Dr. Sami Al Araji, chairman of the Iraq National Investment Commission, discussed how increased security in Iraq has made his nation a lucrative emerging market. In the past three years, the Chamber’s U.S.-Iraq Business Initiative has helped American companies identify business opportunities in Iraq. It plans to 62

Independent journalist, author and filmmaker Nir Rosen spoke on Jan. 5 at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC about his new book, Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World, which is available from the AET Book Club. In it he covers Iraq, the U.S. occupation, the civil war, and how spillover from the Iraq war has affected the broader Middle East. Born in New York, Rosen is a Jewish American who learned Arabic during summers spent in Israel. While working as a bouncer in a Washington, DC nightclub, Rosen traveled to the frontlines of first the Balkans and later—on April 7, 2003—to Iraq. By April 19 he had an article published in TIME New America Foundation moderator Peter Bergen (l) and Magazine, with subsequent author Nir Rosen discuss lessons from Iraq. STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY


Nir Rosen Discusses His New Book, Aftermath

articles published in The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, the Boston Review and Harper’s. Rosen, a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security, has also written about Lebanon, Afghanistan (where he was “unembedded with the Taliban”), Pakistan and Somalia, as well as the role of independent media and the failures of the U.S. press. His articles about “the starving and imprisoned population of Gaza” or Israel’s 2008-09 attack on Gaza, when it committed “one of its largest massacres yet in a 60-year history of occupying Palestinian land,” published in The Guardian, are not as well received. At other appearances, Rosen has said American editors don’t like writers to humanize the Iraq occupation story because it doesn’t make Americans look good. But while he gets critical letters accusing him of “treason” for his Iraq articles, Rosen said he comes “under less condemnation” for criticizing the American occupation than he does for criticizing the Israeli occupation. Americans cannot understand Afghanistan, Rosen argued, without understanding what really happened in Iraq—not just the “national mythology” regarding the U.S. occupation, which has been “justified by one thing after another.” Rosen said his book explains why Gen. David Petraeus, who saved us in Iraq, cannot save us again by winning the war in Afghanistan. He gave an in-depth, year-by-year analysis, starting in 2003, of the Iraqi civil war between Sunni and Shi’i militias, the Iraqi police and army and the American military caught in the middle. According to Rosen, the war has affected the entire region, from Jordan to Syria to the refugee camps of Lebanon and the encampments of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The largely American narrative surrounding the turnaround in Iraq is oversimplified, he maintained, and ignores the complex internal dynamics of

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the Sunni and Shi’i militias. He added that the 2007 announcement of the American surge actually had more of an impact than the actual physical surge of American forces. The announcement, he explained, forced the Sunni and then Shi’i militias to re-evaluate their positions and finally agree to a (L-r) Qubad Talabani, Can Oguz, and Charles Dunn. cease-fire. Into this vacuum quest to become a stable country,” citing stepped the Iraqi police and army. Rosen cautioned that the conditions that Turkey’s engagement on matters related to caused a decrease in violence in Iraq are not trade, the economy and even transportapresent in Afghanistan—that area is too tion. Ankara, he stressed, is engaging with rural to apply counterinsurgency doctrine. each and every component of Iraqi society, The real enemy, al-Qaeda, is in Pakistan’s “regardless of their sectarian background,” through both political and social networks. tribal areas, not Afghanistan. To view a podcast of Rosen’s talk visit: He was enthusiastic about the Turkish-U.S. < relationship, saying that the degree of cosen>. —Delinda C. Hanley operation is “close to perfect...we are coordinating on an almost daily basis.” Turkey’s Role in Iraq Qubad Talabani, the son of current Iraqi Qubad Talabani, a representative of the Kur- President Jalal Talabani, spoke next, highdish Regional Government in Iraq, and Can lighting the influence Kurdish politicians Oguz, a counselor at the Turkish Embassy have had on the formation of Iraq’s new in Washington, DC, discussed “Turkey’s En- government. “I’m proud to say that the gagement in Iraq” at the Carnegie Endow- Kurds in the process played a pivotal role in ment for Peace, at a Nov. 30 event co-hosted trying to change the dynamics of the disby the Middle East Institute (MEI). MEI cussion,” Talabani said. He explained that scholar Charles Dunne and Gönül Tol, exec- Kurdish politicians had been holding up the utive director of MEI’s Center for Turkish process to ensure that all groups in Iraq had Studies, facilitated the discussion and intro- a role. Later, during audience questions, he duced the participants. The issue of the for- again pointed to the stalled process, this mation of an Iraqi government dominated time as evidence that Iranian influence in discussion, which included such considera- Iraq is much weaker than is often believed. tions as regional stability, trade, Kurdistan, More than who should fill what posts, he explained, “it is important to ask what and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Oguz described Turkey’s role in Iraq as posts there should be, and what kind of supportive “on a federal level in their government they should have.”

Finally, MEI’s Dunne, formerly the Iraq director at the National Security Center, discussed the relationship among the U.S., Iraq and Turkey. He began his remarks by listing U.S. interests in Iraq: political stability, a stable security situation, reintegration of Iraq into the region, and a robust relationship between Iraq and the U.S. Turkey and the U.S. both want a stable Iraq, he said, as a check against its land being used to fight proxy wars. As for what he thought America should be doing, he suggested that the U.S. direct more resources to party-building activities, support for independent NGOs, and building judicial capacity—all elements he argued, “essential to the functioning of a democratic society.” In Obama’s 2010 budget request, Dunne noted approvingly, 66 percent of the assistance request for Iraq was devoted to the Governing Justly and Democratically rubric—a six percent increase from 2009. The same budget, however, cut support for civil society groups by 54 percent and programs that support political development and party building by about 6 percent. Regarding the role Turkey can play, Dunne praised the strong relationship between Ankara and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and suggested that it be used as a basis on which to build the government’s capacity in the north. Overall, each participant praised the other two countries’ role in Iraq, reinforced the theme of cooperation on multiple levels, and sounded confident about Iraq’s future. —Evan Thomas-Arnold

Bahraini Ambassador Houda Ezra Nonoo greeted guests celebrating the Kingdom of Bahrain’s national day on Dec. 8 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, DC. (L-r) Iraqi Ambassador Samir Sumaida’ie, Omani Ambassador Hunaina Sultan Ahmed Al Mughairy, Ambassador Nonoo, and Mai Sumaida’ie. MARCH 2011



Diplomatic Doings

Ambassador Ali Bin Fahad Al-Hajri (c) welcomes guests to a reception to celebrate Qatar’s national day at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, DC on Dec. 14.



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Books Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced By Rochelle A. Davis, Stanford University Press, 2010, paperback, 360 pp. List: $24.95 AET: $17. Reviewed by Andrew Stimson After almost 63 years of diaspora and occupation, how will Palestinians continue to remain connected to the more than 400 villages depopulated and destroyed by Jewish militias and the Israeli army in the 1947-1949 war? The answer to this question is not just philosophical, it is crucial to the pressing issues of the right of return and demarcation of boundaries. Most of these villages were destroyed or saw their buildings appropriated and resettled by waves of Israeli immigrants. In addition, the generation of those old enough to remember life before 1948 continues to decrease and the challenge of remembrance is made more difficult because there is no Palestinian state, and thus no national museums or other institutional bodies to help develop and preserve an official, unified history. Palestinians have managed to embed village histories in their daily life by naming refugee camp streets and schools after these long-lost hometowns. Since the 1980s, oral histories have become the most detailed source of remembrance. Many of these stories have been recorded in village memorial books which document geographical locations, genealogies, cultural traditions and livelihood. These books and their authors are the subject of Rochelle A. Davis’ insightful book, Palestinian Village Histories. These histories, she argues, help maintain and reflect a Palestinian identity that exists despite the fact that many of the authors never have lived in their ancestral village. Perhaps more importantly, these records of dispossession help establish political authority, subverting Western and Zionist accounts dismissive of pre-1948 Palestine. Davis, an assistant professor of anthropology at Georgetown University, spent Andrew Stimson is director of the AET Book Club. 64

many years living in Egypt and Jordan, amassing a collection of 112 village memorial books. Excellently researched, Palestinian Village Histories includes textual analyses of more than 120 village books, personal interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork Davis conducted in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. In breathless detail, she illustrates the myriad ways these stories pass on village knowledge, connecting each to the Palestinian homeland, and passing on the memories to younger generations. Because their authors often work independently, without the imprimatur of official history, village books are intensely scrutinized, often contested and argued over within the communities they are meant to serve. Intercommunal and familial disputes, distortions of old memories, and some nostalgia challenge Western standards of accurate historical accounting. Indeed, as one author points out to Davis, “this new generation thinks that we were all kings back then….They don’t want to accept the fact that we were riding donkeys and walking around barefoot.” However, Davis argues, “we must understand how people see their past in order to know how they conceive of their lives and of their place in the world today.” For many refugees, the true past is still preferable to the squalor of the camps they live in today. The proliferation of Palestinian village books during the 1980s, 30 years after the destruction of Palestine, reflects the increasing importance of the national struggle as well as the failures of national leadership. Early Palestinian historians often stressed their Arab-ness as a counter to increasing Zionist influence. However, the failure of Arab nationalism and the rise of the PLO ushered in the emphasis on the Palestinian nature of the struggle. In 1985, when Israelis seized the archives of the PLO’s Palestine Research Center in Beirut, Palestinians realized that they had to seek alternative sources of documentation. Subsequent failures of Palestinian leadership further encouraged individuals to invest in their voices of remembrance. This proTHE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

duced a unique development, Davis observes, wherein villagers, once governed by village elites and landowners, became empowered with the authority to represent who Palestinians are today. Davis conducts a welcome examination of gendered themes within the village books. She notes that, among other topics, modern gender roles, common in urban settings, have altered interpretations of the past. Today, few Palestinian women work outside of the home, yet only elite village women enjoyed the kind of wealth that would have let them engage solely in housework. Either through selective memories or editorial choice, however, many village books eliminate stories that discuss the difficult work endured by women in order to help provide for their families. Despite a few short sections that deal with exclusively academic debates, Palestinian Village Histories is eminently accessible for a general audience. The book’s most notable flaw, however, is sheer ambition in the author’s development of a number of important theses instead of a clear, central thesis. Perhaps this could have been avoided by dividing the book into multiple volumes. Ultimately, Davis offers the reader an invaluable study on how Palestinians are maintaining the knowledge of their village histories while simultaneously maintaining their identities against the odds. ❑

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AET Book Club Catalog Literature









New Winter 2011 Out of Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel, by Ilan Pappé, Pluto Press, 2010, paperback, 224 pp. List: $22; AET: $15.50. Influential Israeli historian Ilan Pappé tells the story of his transformation from a left-wing Zionist youth to a dissident academic struggling to break with mainstream Israeli narratives and scholarship. His journey, marked by emotional tumult, social alienation and death threats, provides a powerful example of Zionism’s grip on Israeli life and the dangers the ideology poses to Israeli society itself.

Katrina in Five Worlds, by Kathy Saade Kenny, Five Worlds Press, 2010, paperback, 113 pp. AET: $15.99. The true story of Katrina Sa’ade, a Palestinian Christian woman whose life was shaped by the historical upheavals of the early 20th century. From a comfortable life in Ottomanruled Bethlehem, Katrina was thrust into the turmoil of prerevolutionary Russia, an arranged marriage during the Mexican Revolution, a traumatic return to Palestine in the 1930s, and fulfilling years as a mother and businesswoman in California.

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, by Izzedin Abuelaish, Walker & Company, 2011, hardcover, 256 pp. List: $24; AET: $15. Born in the Jabalya refugee camp, Dr. Abuelaish grew up to practice medicine as a way to create reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Then on Jan. 16, 2009 an Israeli shell hit his home, killing three of his daughters and a niece. I Shall Not Hate is a powerful account of Abuelaish’s extraordinary life and his message of resilience and hope.

Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced, by Rochelle A. Davis, Stanford University Press, 2010, paperback, 360 pp. List: $24.95; AET: $17. Davis examines the histories of hundreds of depopulated and destroyed Palestinian villages whose stories were collected in 120 village memorial books following the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war. Through exploring Palestine’s past, Davis shows the importance these narratives have in shaping the identity of Palestinians today and their aspirations for nationhood in the future.

The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian's Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker, by Sami Al Jundi and Jen Marlowe, Nation Books, 2011, paperback, 368 pp. List: $16.99; AET: $11.25. The Hour of Sunlight traces Sami Al Jundi’s unlikely path from militant to prisoner to passionate advocate for nonviolence. Despite his experience as a refugee and suffering torture at the hands of Israeli officers, Al Jundi began a personal transformation after finding a book by Mahatma Gandhi in the prison library. Today he supervises an Israeli-Palestinian coexistence center in Jerusalem and inspires future generations of peacemakers.

Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11, by Louise A. Cainkar, Russell Sage Foundation Publications, 2009, paperback, 340 pp. List: $23.95; AET: $22. This carefully researched work is the product of more than a hundred research interviews and five in-depth oral histories. Homeland Insecurity explores the experiences of many Arab and Muslim Americans who came under intense scrutiny by federal and local authorities, even neighbors, after the attacks of 9/11. Cainkar expertly reveals the origins of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attitudes, as well as providing hope for the future.

What Is a Palestinian State Worth? by Sari Nusseibeh, Harvard University Press, 2011, hardcover, 256 pp. List: $19.95; AET: $17. Renowned philosopher, activist, and president of Al Quds University Sari Nusseibeh poses difficult but important questions about history, meaning, future, and resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. His perspective is not merely academic: Nusseibeh has decades of experience with Palestinian political and activist movements. His book provides a valuable reassessment of the most basic tenets of Palestinian self-determination.

A Responsible End? The United States and the Iraqi Transition, 2005-2010, by Reidar Visser, Just World Books, 2010, paperback, 302 pp. AET: $23.95. This collection of influential analyst Reidar Visser’s curated blog postings and writings from, and History News Network provides a lucid account of the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq from the elections in 2005 to the so-called end of combat operations in late 2010. A Responsible End? is an accessible look into Iraq’s complex internal politics and the disastrous effects of U.S. policy.

Master of the Eclipse: and Other Stories, by Etel Adnan, Interlink Publishing, 2009, paperback, 168 pp., List: $15; AET: $11.50. This new anthology from Lebanese-born poet and novelist Etel Adnan features stories ranging over a startling period of time and place—from 1930s Beirut through early ’60s San Francisco to the first Gulf war. The common thread that ties these disparate tales is the shadow that war and death cast upon individual lives, the difficulty of coping with loss, and the never-ending desire to persevere.

Shipping Rates Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web ( All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please make checks and money orders out to “AET.”Contact the AET Book Club for complete shipping guidelines and options. U . S . S h i p p i n g R a t e s : Please add $5 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $11 for the first item and $3 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $13 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. MARCH 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.



bulletin_board_66_March 2011 Bulletin Board 1/20/11 11:56 AM Page 66

Upcoming Events & Obituaries BulletinBoard

—Compiled by Andrew Stimson

Upcoming Events: The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding invites the public to attend Consensus and Cacophony: Debating the Islamic Shari`a in 21st Century Egypt with George Washington University Prof. Nathan Brown, Feb. 9 at 12:30 p.m. at Georgetown University’s Intercultural Center. Seating is limited. RSVP at <> or email Mona Mogahed at <mem297@>. Laila El-Haddad, author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, will tour the West Coast from Feb. 10-24, visiting L.A. and southern California, Santa Barbara, the Bay Area and the Seattle/Tacoma region. Specific locations and times to be announced. For more information visit <www.justworld> or follow @Justworldbooks on Twitter for updates. The Middle East Children’s Alliance will sponsor “Never Again for Anyone,” with Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer & Islamic scholar Hatem Bazian, Feb. 17, 7-11 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakland, CA. For more information visit <>. American Muslims for Palestine will host its Chicago Fund-raising Dinner on Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sabre Room Banquet Hall, 8900 W. 95th St., Hickory Hills, IL 60457. Featured speakers will include Imam Hamza Yousuf, co-founder of Zaytuna Institute; Sheikh Jamal Said, imam and director of the Mosque Foundation; AMP chairman and co-founder Dr. Hatem Bazian; and legendary journalist Helen Thomas. For more information visit <>. The Second Annual Arab Global Forum will be held March 30-31 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, DC. The forum, convened by Egypt’s International Economic Forum and Smadja & Associates, brings together hundreds of CEOs from large companies in the Arab world and from global corporations involved in the region, as well as senior policymakers, thought leaders and experts. For more information visit <www.>. 66

Sabeel’s 8th International Conference will take place in the West Bank’s Bethlehem Hotel, Feb. 23-28. The theme will be “Challenging Empire: God, Faithfulness, and Resistance.” For more information visit <http://www.>. J Street will host its 3rd annual conference, “Giving Voices to Our Values,” Feb. 26-March 1 at the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW, Washington, DC. For more information call (202) 249-3000 or visit <http://>. Dr. James Zogby will discuss his new book, Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters, on Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m. at Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001. For more information visit <http://www.busboys> World renowned composer, vocalist, and oud player Marcel Khalife will perform the U.S. premier of “Concierto Andalouse” with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, March 12, 2011 at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. Seating is reserved, with tickets $25-$45. For tickets and more information, call (240) 242-8032, visit <>, or call TicketMaster at (202) 397-SEAT. The Rachel Corrie Foundation will host its annual Peace Works Conference, April 8-9 in Olympia, WA, with acclaimed author and activist Alice Walker as the event’s keynote speaker. The two-day conference will be held at Evergreen State College and Walker will speak at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia, WA. For more information call (360) 754-3998 or visit <http:// rachelcor pw2011>. The United National Antiwar Committee will be holding a March and Rally: Bring the Troops Home Now in New York City and San Francisco on April 9. The New York event will take place at Union Square at noon. The location and time of the San Francisco event will be announced shortly. To endorse the event please visit <http://nationalpeaceconfer THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS>. Donations can be made to UNAC, P.O. Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054.

Obituaries: Stephen J. Solarz, 70, former nine-term U.S. congressman from New York, died of esophageal cancer on Nov. 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. A Brooklyn native and staunch ally of Israel, he graduated from Brandeis University and Columbia Law School, after which he helped run the congressional primary campaign of antiwar candidate Melvin Dubin. As a leading figure in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he dropped a 1981 amendment that would have banned U.S. aid to countries that manufactured nuclear weapons after admitting that he and cosponsor Jonathan B. Bingham were afraid the provision would be detrimental to Israel. He was a vocal critic of President Ronald Reagan’s deployment of Marines to Lebanon in 1982, met numerous times with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain, and negotiated with Syrian President Hafez Assad’s government over the right of Syrian Jewish women to immigrate to the United States. He opposed the sale of U.S. fighter jets to Saudi Arabia brokered by then-President Jimmy Carter, but later backed Carter’s post-presidential mission in the Middle East, angering many in the pro-Israel community. He also served on the board of advisers of the hard-line Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Solarz lost his seat in 1993 after his 13th congressional district was redistricted and he was implicated as one of the worst offenders in the House bank scandal, having written 743 overdrafts. After serving in the Clinton administration, he joined the International Crisis Group as a member of its executive committee and called for Hamas to be included in peace talks. He also held positions on the boards of the United States Institute of Peace’s Senior Working Group on Middle East Peace, and The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Karim Camel-Toueg, 50, president and CEO of Contrack International, an engineering and construction firm with offices across the Middle East, died Dec. 4 folContinued on page 69 MARCH 2011

angels_67-69_Angels List March 2011 1/20/11 12:00 PM Page 67

AET’s 2010 Choir of Angels Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 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. Donors who have contributed since Jan. 1, 2011 will be listed in the April 2011 issue.

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 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 Mr. & Mrs. Robert Beckmann, Seattle, WA 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 Robert Adams Boyd, Binghamton, NY Carole Brown, Branford, CT 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 MARCH 2011

Laura Castleberry, Portland, OR Mark Chandler, Huntersville, NC 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 Diana Dajani, Washington, DC 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 Sophia Farooq, Smyrna, GA 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 Hussein Khatib, Fridley, MN 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 David Glick, Fairfax, CA THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

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 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 Bryant Harrell, Santa Rosa, 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 Rosario Ilacqua, New York, NY 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 John Kirk, Montgomery, AL Donald Kouri, Westmount, Canada Joseph Korey, Jr., Reading, PA 67

angels_67-69_Angels List March 2011 1/20/11 12:00 PM Page 68

Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL Raymond Joseph Kyriakos, Hatfield, PA Michael Ladah, Las Vegas, NV Laurel Family Eyecare, Laurel, MD William Lawand, Mount Royal, Canada William Lehfeldt, Rockville, MD Edward Lesoon, Pittsburgh, PA Sherif Lotfi, New York, NY 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 John McGillion, Greenwich, CT Bill McGrath, Northfield, MN Robert Michael, Sun Lakes, AZ Peter Miller, Portland, OR Maury Keith Moore, Seattle, WA 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 Shirley O’Neil & Chris Dunmore, Cleveland Heights, OH** 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 68

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 Dr. Daniel Wagner, Wildwood, PA Paul Wagner, Bridgeville, PA James Wall, Elmhurst, IL Carol Wells & Theodore Hajjar, Venice, CA John V. Whitbeck, Paris, France Edwina White, Sacramento, CA Arthur & Marianne Whitman, Auburn, ME Tina Wong, Sacramento, CA Nabil Yakub, McLean, VA Darrell & Sue Yeaney, Scotts Valley, CA 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 Dr. Lois Aroian, Willow Lake, SD Kamel Ayoub, Hillsborough, CA Heidi Beck, Cedarville, CA Elizabeth Boosahda, Worcester, MA Abbey Bourghei, Van Nuys, CA Prof. & Mrs. George Wesley Buchanan, Gaithersburg, MD 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 THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

Masood Hassan, Calabasas, CA 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 Frank & Mary Regier, Strongsville, OH Dr. Mohammad H. Said, Ephrata, WA Anthony Saidy, Los Angeles, CA Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV James & Lisa Sams, Bethesda, MD Carl Schieren, New York, 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 Ziyad & Cindi Zaitoun, Seattle, WA**

TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more) Mohamed Alwan, Chestnut Ridge, NY Michael Ameri, Calabasas, CA A.R. Armin, Troy, MI 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 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 Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Nabeel Mansour, Corvallis, OR Trini Marquez, Beach, ND Clifford Misener, Brookings, OR Anees Mughannam, Petaluma, CA William O’Grady, St. Petersburg, FL John Parry, Chapel Hill, NC Patricia & Herbert Pratt, Cambridge, MA Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI Gay Schroeder & Stephen Cross, Lille, France Mahmud Shaikhaly, Hollywood, CA Yasir Shallal, McLean, VA Dr. I. Tabry, Fort Lauderdale, FL Cheryl Tatum, Cincinnati, OH Linda Thain-Ali, Guneykoy, Turkey MARCH 2011

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Donn Trautman, Evanston, IL David Willcox, Harrison, AR 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 Branscomb Family Foundation, Basalt, CO G. Edward Brooking, Jr., Wilmington, DE Luella Crow, Eugene, OR Thomas D’Albani and Jane Killgore, Bemidji, MN Do Right Foundation, Las Vegas, NV Linda Emmet, Paris, France Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR Gary Richard Feulner, Dubai, UAE Douglas A. Field, Kihei, HI** Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Ambassador Holsey G. Handyside, Bedford, OH George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Sufian & Barbara Husseini, Salem, OR Les Janka, Arlington, VA Vincent & Louise Larsen, Billings, MT Eric Margolis, Ontario, Canada Rachelle Marshall, Mill Valley, CA Joan McConnell, British Columbia, Canada Barry Musser Memorial Gift, Goshen, CA Robert Norberg, Lake City, MN 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

Bulletin Board… Continued from page 66

lowing a heart attack. A resident of McLean, VA, he was born in Cairo and moved to the Washington area in 1981. He received a BA in business administration from American University in 1985, joined Contrack in 1987, became vice president in 1990, and was appointed president in 1998. Contrack International received international attention in 2004, when it became the first large contractor to pull out of the Iraq reconstruction efMARCH 2011

fort. After security costs consumed 60 percent of the $325 million dollar contract, “we reached a point,” CamelToueg told the Los Angeles Times, “where our costs were getting to be prohibitive.” He also served as a board member of the United States-Egypt Friendship Society and as president of the Council on Egyptian American Relations, and helped found the U.S.Bahrain Business Council. Ali-Reza Pahlavi, 44, the younger son of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his third wife, Empress Farah Diba, was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Boston home on Jan. 4. Born in 1966, he was 12 when he and his family fled into exile during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. After his father’s death in Egypt he moved to the United States, where he enrolled in prep school, graduated from Princeton, and went on to study Middle Eastern and Persian history, as well as philology and ethnomusicology. He enrolled in a doctoral program at Harvard but did not complete the degree. Salman Taseer, 64, Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the governor of Punjab province from 2008 until his death, was murdered by his bodyguard on Jan. 4. An outspoken advocate for religious tolerance, he had opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and had publicly defended Aasiya Bibi, a Christian woman who is currently awaiting execution for blasphemy. Taseer’s attacker, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was quoted as saying “the punishment for one who commits blasphemy is death,” shortly after murdering the governor and surrendering to police. As a supporter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Taseer was jailed and tortured several times under the military regime of Gen. Muhammad Zia ulHaq. Following his release, he remained in Britain until 1988, when Pakistan held its first free elections and Taseer won a seat in the Punjab provincial legislature. He became a friend of Bhutto’s daughter Benazir and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari. After losing a bid for re-election in 1993, Taseer focused on his business interests and became a self-made millionaire. His businesses included accounting firms, mobile phone operators, a television channel, and a liberal English-language newspaper. He became known for his secular THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

ways, including a fondness for whisky, cigars, and philandering. In 2008, he was nominated for the post of governor of Punjab by Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party government. In office he spoke out against the Taliban and other extremists, and advocated striking the clause in the Pakistani Constitution designating the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. It is widely believed that the attack on Taseer was motivated by a mercy petition he filed for Ms. Bibi. Zardari has yet to pardon her, and Taseer’s murder remains a significant blow to moderate voices in Pakistan. During an attempt to bring Mumtaz Qadri to the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi, his supporters, some of whom showered him with rose petals, blocked police. Taseer was given a state funeral in Lahore, which President Zardari did not attend. Oleg Grabar, 81, an influential historian of Islamic art and architecture, died of heart failure on Jan. 8 in his home in Princeton, NJ. He authored more than 30 books focusing on subjects such as the architecture of Jerusalem under Islamic rule, Arabic and Persian illustrated manuscripts, Islamic ornaments, and contemporary Islamic architecture. These and hundreds of other academic works and collaborations helped transform the Western study of Islamic culture. The son of the eminent scholar of Byzantine art Andre Grabar, the young Grabar attended lycées in Paris before studying ancient history at the University of Paris. He moved to the Washington, DC area in 1948 after his father received an appointment to Dumbarton Oaks, a center for Byzantine studies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in medieval history from Harvard and diplomas in medieval and modern history from the University of Paris in 1950, and a doctorate in Oriental languages and literatures from Princeton. His works The Formation of Islamic Art and the two-volume Pelican History of Islamic Art and Architecture remain standards in the field. Grabar was responsible for directing archeological excavations in Israel and Jordan, and also lectured at the University of Michigan and Harvard. In 1980 he was named Aga Khan professor of Islamic art and architecture and in 1982 established the influential academic journal Muqarnas. In 1990 he accepted a position at the school of historical studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained until his death. ❑ 69

killgore_70_In Memoriam 1/19/11 5:15 PM Page 70

Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke (1941-2010) InMemoriam

By Andrew I. Killgore

agreement. Bosnia was divided between the Bosnian Serbs and the Croats/Muslims. To get a taste of Holbrooke the negotiator, one must read The New York Times for Dec. 14, 2010: â&#x20AC;&#x153;He had a formidable arsenal of facts, bluffs, whispers, implied threats and, when necessary, pyrotechnic fits of anger to press his positions.â&#x20AC;? He stayed close to the late Secretary of State Dean Rusk and went to school with Ruskâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s son. Holbrooke also was careful to cultivate journalists. But for all his talents, he had enemies. Former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, for example, tried to get him fired, but President Obama refused. It was reported in one newspaper that Secretary of State Hillary Clintonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s special regard for him saved his career. Dick Holbrooke was definitely, overwhelmingly engaging. He is survived by his third wife, Kati Marton, an author and journalist who had been married to ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings; his two sons, David and Anthony; his brother, Andrew; and two stepchildren, Christopher and Elizabeth Jennings. â?&#x2018;

first became aware of Dick

IHolbrooke in 1977, when


former Peace Corps volunteer Jack McCreary arrived from Morocco to join my staff in Doha, Qatar. Peace Corps director in Morocco Richard Holbrooke had informed his staff there that he was returning to Washington to become U.S. secretary of state. McCreary and I marveled at the 37-year-old Holbrookeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brashness and arrogance. In fact, Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke never became secretary of state. Nevertheless, he played a towering role in American diplomacy, and in the opinion of some he was the greatest diplomat of his generation. His failure to achieve his ultimate goal of secretary may have been Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. caused by a never resolved conflict between a brilliant intellect he explained wryly to a distinguished Jewish-American government official. and a â&#x20AC;&#x153;force of natureâ&#x20AC;? personality. At the United Nations, Ambassador After graduating from Brown University in 1962 and being turned Holbrooke became close to Secretarydown for employment by The New General Kofi Annan. He was a runnerYork Times, Holbrooke joined the U.S. up for secretary of state, but President Foreign Service. He spent the next six Clinton chose Madeleine Abright inyears in, or on, Vietnam. Working in stead. More recently he again was a the Mekong Delta, where the going candidate for the position, but Presiwas rough, he also served as an aide to dent Barack Obama chose Mrs. ClinAmbassadors Maxwell Taylor and ton in 2009. But where Holbrooke Henry Cabot Lodge. He then served as (Advertisement) a member of the American delegation made his grandest achieveto the 1968-69 Paris peace talks led by ment was in stopping the W. Averill Harriman and Cyrus R. bloodshed from the disastrous breakup of the former Vance. During the Clinton presidency he Yugoslavia, when Croatia, was sent as ambassador to Germany, Slovenia, Macedonia and served as assistant secretary of state Bosnia seceded. Massacres, for European affairs, and as ambas- mass rapes and displaced sador to the United Nations. (When in populations were a part of 4HERESALOTMOREYOUMIGHT Germany he prominently displayed at the â&#x20AC;&#x153;ethnic cleansingâ&#x20AC;? that NOTKNOWABOUTYOUR the embassy an old photograph of a ensued. At the Dayton, MUSLIMNEIGHBORS World War I German army officer in Ohio Air Force Base, with 6JG/WUNKO.KPMVJGNCTIGUVPGYURCRGTHQTCPFCDQWV full uniform for German visitors to American military might all VJG/WUNKO%QOOWPKV[KP&%/&CPF8##XCKNCDNGCV see. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my Jewish grandfather,â&#x20AC;? around, the peace negotiaOQUV/QUSWGU#TCD+PFQ2CMCPF2GTUKCPTGUVCWTCPVUCPF tions took place. SurITQEGTKGUKPVJGITGCVGT9CUJKPIVQP$CNVKOQTG Andrew I. Killgore, former U.S. am- rounded by the sheer OGVTQRQNKVCPCTGC#XCKNCDNG(TGG bassador to Qatar, is publisher of the brutal power of American 0HONE  &AX   Washington Report on Middle East might, the contending neWWW-USLIMLINKPAPERCOM gotiators finally came to an Affairs.


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MARCH 2010

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

March 2011 Vol. XXX, No. 2

A woman representing a Chinese trading company distributes oranges and refreshments to promote its products to Shiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;i pilgrims traveling through the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on their way to attend the Arbaeen religious festival in Karbala, Jan. 16, 2011. AFP PHOTO/STR

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  

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