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THE ISRAELIZATION OF AMERICA
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TELLING THE TRUTH FOR 35 YEARS...
Volume XXXVII, No. 2
On Middle East Affairs
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
Israel’s Highest Court Gives Shin Bet “a Green Light to Continue With Torture”—Jonathan Cook
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence —Ramzy Baroud
Trump Cuts Humanitarian Aid to Palestinian Refugees—Two Views —Mohamed Mohamed, Mohammed Omer
Abbas Rejects the U.S., Failed Oslo Accords— Now What?—Two Views —Gideon Levy, Rami G. Khouri
Immigration, Aid, and the Israelization of America —Delinda C. Hanley
The Immigration Debate We Must Not Lose —James J. Zogby
20 24 26 28 30 31 33 37
Israel’s Quest for Security Council Seat Faces Challenge in General Assembly Vote—Ian Williams
Mathilde Krim (1926-2018): Ardent Zionist Who Influenced LBJ During Six-Day War—Janet McMahon Neoconning the Trump White House —Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
Clean Break II: Iran Hawks Decide to Burn it All Down—Derek Davison and Jim Lobe Trump’s Iran Statement: A View From Europe —Peter Jenkins
Trump’s Threat to Cut Palestinian Aid Met With Uncharacteristic Muted Response—Shirl McArthur
A U.S.-Turkish Clash in Syria?—Patrick J. Buchanan Trump Turns on Pakistan—Eric S. Margolis
Turkey’s Arabian Nights—Jonathan Gorvett
Tunisia at Home and Abroad—Two Views —Youssef Cherif, Giorgio Cafiero and Khalid al-Jaber
Return to the “Homeland”: Syrian Armenian Refugees In Armenia—Shannon Tawoos Mahathir Is Opposition Candidate for Malaysian Prime Minister—Officially, at Least—John Gee
ON THE COVER: Ahed Tamimi, 16, awaits her hearing in the military court of Ofer Israeli military prison in the
West Bank village of Benunia, Jan. 1, 2018. Israeli authorities are seeking 12 charges against her for slapping an Israeli soldier invading her home in Nabi Saleh. Her detention has been extended four times and her trial postTHOMAS COEX/AFP/GETTY IMAGES poned until Feb. 6. See pp. 52-54.
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(A Supplement to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs available by subscription at $15 per year. To subscribe, call toll-free 1-888-881-5861.)
Other Voices Why Doesn’t Congress Care When Israel Kills American Citizens?, Alex Kane, The Forward Braying Donkeys, Hatim Kanaaneh, http://mondoweiss.net
Compiled by Janet McMahon
Why Is NPR Giving Ample Airtime to Anti-Iran Deal Propaganda?, Ben Armbruster, http://lobelog.com
The Iran Protests, Regime Change, and the MEK, Anne & Massoud Khodabandeh, http://lobelog.com
What Is Going on Between Egypt and Sudan?, Ahmed H. Adam, www.aljazeera.com
The Master Artist Preserving Jerusalem’s History, Ali Younis, www.aljazeera.com
Iraqi-Jewish Archive Triggers “Traumatic Memories,” Dalia Hatuqa, www.aljazeera.com
Apple Censors Vic Mensa’s Views on Palestine, Ali Abunimah, www.electronicintifada.net OV-7
Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Is at The Center of a Battle for Turkey’s Soul, Stephen Starr, The Irish Times
Has Latin America Abandoned Palestine?, Massimo Di Ricco, www.aljazeera.com
European Arabs Have a Distinct View of the Region, Khadija Hamouchi, The Arab Weekly
Poll Shows Dropping Democratic Support for Israel. Here’s What You Need to Know, Nathan Guttman, The Forward OV-4 Fearing Breakup of Israel Lobby, Liberal Zionists Stress the Power of Jewish Unity, Philip Weiss, http://mondoweiss.net
Facebook Deleting Accounts at Request of U.S., Israeli Governments, The Intercept Says, Emily Wells, www.truthdig.com OV-6
DEPARTMENTS 5 Publishers’ Page
6 letters to the editor
39 the World looks at the Middle east — CARtoons 40 other PeoPle’s Mail
49 ChristiaNitY aNd the Middle east: tensions Mount Between Middle Eastern Christians, American Evangelicals—Gregory Aftandilian
56 MusiC & arts: Jerusalem Growing in size and Depravity
60 MusliM aMeriCaN aCtivisM: MPAC Bridges the Divide 62 WagiNg PeaCe: Golden Globe Racer Will sail for Palestine
50 israel aNd JudaisM: Adelson-Funded IAC and other Groups May soon Rival AIPAC for Influence, Power—Allan C. Brownfeld 52 diPloMatiC doiNgs: Palestinian Ambassador: Jerusalem Announcement a “Lethal Bullet”
52 huMaN rights: Women’s Rally for Ahed tamimi and Palestine
A page from the children’s alphabet book P is for Palestine. See story p. 57—and reserve your copy through Middle East Books and More!
68 book revieW: A Palestinian theology of Liberation —Reviewed by Thomas R. Getman
69 Middle east books aNd More 70 obituaries
72 2017 aet Choir oF aNgels 29 iNdeX to advertisers
pubs_5_Publishers Page 2/1/18 9:43 PM Page 5
American Educational Trust
Palestine’s Joan of Arc.
Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes around 700 children in military courts each year. Three out of four children suffer physical violence during their arrest or interrogation. Israel’s never-ending occupation is affecting another generation of children. Now even kids in America are noticing the imbalance of force between Israelis and Palestinians.
A Grotesque Sight.
U.S. President Donald J. Trump cut aid to the Palestinians, citing, among other complaints, their objection to his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Watching Trump in Davos dangle aid for the besieged Palestinians, while seated next to a smirking Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu—whose country is the largest recipient of U.S. assistance—was grotesque. Conservative estimates put the total amount of U.S. aid to Israel since 1949 at close to $150 billion.
America First (Right After Israel).
Aid to Israel remains at record levels, to the point that even the state’s strongest advocates are beginning to worry about the optics. Trump is drastically cutting assistance to developing countries, and sharply reducing U.S. payments to the United Nations, World Bank, USAID and UNRWA. His sweeping defense policy bill authorizes a $700 billion budget for the U.S. military—but first lawmakers must roll back a 2011 law that set strict... MARCH/APRIL 2018
June 5 concert at the Tel Aviv Convention Center. A growing number of artists are joining the cultural boycott of Israel because of its illegal occupation, and embarrassing Israel on the world stage.
Justice Cannot Be Silenced.
PHOTO ANGELA WEISS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
On Jan. 31, Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi turned 17 in an Israeli military jail. A video of her slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier went viral in December, and her arrest in the middle of the night inflamed the world. Israeli occupation troops shot Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin in the head at close range right before the confrontation that led to her arrest. Teen Vogue, one of hundreds of publications and news stations covering this shocking story, reported that young people, including Jewish high school kids and others around the world took to the streets to show solidarity with Ahed on her birthday. Both Ahed and her mother are in prison, denied bail, and waiting trial for…
New Zealand singer Lorde.
Limits on Federal Spending.
On Jan. 30, a federal judge ruled in favor of Kansas public school teacher Esther Koontz, who was denied a teaching position last year after she refused to sign a waiver stating she wasn’t boycotting Israel. In 2017, the Kansas legislature passed an anti-BDS bill that requires all state contractors to promise they won’t boycott Israel. Numerous other states have passed similar legislation, while the Senate and House of Representatives are both considering bills that would criminalize BDS—and thus limit…
Trump seeks massive cuts to programs for low- and moderate-income Americans, undermining basic food programs for the poor and increasing the number of uninsured Americans. He’s sending as many immigrants as he can back where they came from—even if they’ve spent most of their lives in America—and doing his best to ban Muslims. He tried to encourage Norwegians to emigrate and one of our Norwegian readers posted a snappy response on Facebook to that invitation. Her country is ranked as the top nation in the World Happiness Report, she noted, with a life expectancy 2.5 years higher than the U.S. With free health care, low unemployment, respect for its natural beauty, and one of the best educational systems in Europe, she asked, “Why would I move to the United States?”
Be it in defense of human rights in the U.S., South Africa or Palestine, Americans have a treasured First Amendment right to boycott. The Kansas City Star editorial board correctly noted that the judges’ finding “would seem obvious to anyone familiar with free speech protections under the First Amendment.” They further noted the legal and moral precedent for such boycotts: “In 1982, the Supreme Court upheld boycotts as constitutionally protected political speech. In NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., the high court looked at the boycott of whiteowned businesses in Port Gibson, Mississippi, and found that ‘speech, assembly, and petition…to change a social order that had consistently treated [African Americans] as second-class citizens’ are ‘on the highest rung of the hierarchy of…
The World Values Network, run by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, has paid for expensive full-page ads in The Washington Post to smear artists who boycott Israel. His ad railing against Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters is laced with quotes from radio talk show host Howard Stern, ADL’s Abraham Foxman, and Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper, claiming that Waters demonizes Jews and bullies other artists to boycott Israel. Another World Values Network ad took on 21-year-old New Zealand singing sensation Lorde, who canceled a
Who flew to the rescue in 2017! We understand that our rescuers are torn: There is a greater than ever need for humanitarian aid, but it’s also vital to educate voters and help them change U.S. foreign policy. Many of you are listed on pp. 72-74 of this issue. Those of you who contributed in 2018 will find your names in a future issue. There is still time to join the ranks of our readers who put their money where their hearts are and help us try our best to ....
Good Optics for BDS.
First Amendment Values. Thanks to Our Angels…
Make A Difference Today!
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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Managing Editor: News Editor: Assistant Editor:
Middle East Books and More Director:
Finance & Admin. Dir.: Art Director: Founding Publisher: Founding Executive Editor:
JANET McMAHON DELINDA C. HANLEY DALE SPRUSANSKY NATHANIEL BAILEY CHARLES R. CARTER RALPH U. SCHERER ANDREW I. KILLGORE (1919-2016) RICHARD H. CURTISS (1927-2013)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (ISSN 8755-4917) is published 7 times a year, monthly except Jan./Feb., March/April, June/July and Aug./Sept. combined, at 1902 18th St., NW, Washington, DC 200091707. Tel. (202) 939-6050. Subscription prices (United States and possessions): one year, $29; two years, $55; three years, $75. For Canadian and Mexican subscriptions, $35 per year; for other foreign subscriptions, $70 per year. Periodicals, postage paid at Washington, DC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Published by the American Educational Trust (AET), a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC by retired U.S. foreign service officers to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. AET’s Foreign Policy Committee has included former U.S. ambassadors, government officials, and members of Congress, including the late Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright and Republican Sen. Charles Percy, both former chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Members of AET’s Board of Directors and advisory committees receive no fees for their services. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs does not take partisan domestic political positions. As a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, it endorses U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s landfor-peace formula, supported by nine successive U.S. presidents. In general, it supports Middle East solutions which it judges to be consistent with the charter of the United Nations and traditional American support for human rights, self-determination, 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 ProQuest, Gale, Ebsco Information Services, InfoTrac, LexisNexis, Public Affairs Information Service, Index to Jewish Periodicals, Ethnic News Watch, Periodica Islamica. CONTACT INFORMATION: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Editorial Office and Bookstore: P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009-9062 Phone: (202) 939-6050 • (800) 368-5788 Fax: (202) 265-4574 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Web sites: http://www.wrmea.org http://www.middleeastbooks.com Subscriptions, sample copies and donations: P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. Phone: (888) 881-5861 • Fax: (714) 226-9733 Printed in the USA
LetterstotheEditor TRUMP’S MONUMENTAL MISTAKE
Mr. Trump’s impetuous declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a monumental mistake. He falsely claimed that this would advance the peace process, ignoring universal opposition to such a move and the ongoing violence. This has little to do with the peace process but has everything to do with fulfilling a campaign promise to his ardent supporters. Furthermore, he has exposed all Americans to extreme danger, especially those on overseas assignments. The declaration comes at a time when Palestinians in East Jerusalem remain under brutal Israeli occupation, enduring rampant home demolitions, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and revocation of residency rights. Meanwhile illegal settlements continue to gobble up more and more Palestinian land. The announcement also comes after more than two decades of failed so-called peace talks and 22 years of unconditional U.S. congressional support for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Glaringly omitted from Trump’s proclamation were the legitimate Palestinian claims to Jerusalem. Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA Aside from the fact that his decision violates international law, we were stunned to learn that President Trump was warned that his declaration would put American lives at risk, but he went ahead regardless. So much for America first!
CANADA AND ISRAEL
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s abstention on the recent U.N. vote against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was both predictable and firmly rooted in Canada’s history of official support for Zionism at the expense of Palestinian Arabs. Canada’s non-Jewish Zionists include Biblical literalists and other Christians seeking the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Former Prime Minister Lester Pearson worked strenuously to promote an Israel that would serve U.S. and British interests in the Middle East. He and other Canadian leaders displayed a colonialist attitude to Palestine’s Arab population, who were justifiably opposed to foreign interference in their affairs and rightly feared those incoming European Jews
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
who had every intention of displacing them to create a new state. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Canadian, American and British anti-Semitism inspired calls to route European Jews to Palestine rather than Western nations. A Pakistani U.N. official wryly noted that the world’s great powers had been very generous at the expense of the Arabs; who had played no role in the Holocaust or Europe’s historical anti-Semitism. Responding perhaps to the revealing work of historians like Benny Morris and Illan Pappé, Israeli bureaucrats continue to reseal declassified records that threaten to expose the darker aspects of Zionism and Western efforts to help Israel expand territorially. These censors may have been inspired by George Orwell, who said of history, those who control the past control the future. Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa We wonder how many North Americans think that Israel came into being only as a result of the Holocaust, when in fact Zionists and their Western sponsors and backers had been plotting since the end of the 19th century.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN DAVOS
Appreciation and agreement with this latest e-mail report [on Trump’s meeting in Davos with Binyamin Netanyahu]. I watched a minute, perhaps, on Aljazeera, of the two. Netanyahu’s satisfied expression as his puppet spoke about Palestine was too much to bear. What Trump said was too much to bear. They both are repulsive. They both are criminals in action toward Palestine. As long as they can spew their rationales about what the two do and why, as long as the news media give them this opportunity, they will continue. That’s why what you are doing is so important. Michael Severson, via e-mail The word “complicit” certainly could be applied to the mainstream media, which continues to show a pro-Israel bias, misleading those Americans who believe it to be “objective.”
TIME FOR THE CHURCH TO ACT
On Dec. 6, 2017, when President Trump declared that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and announced his plans to MARCH/APRIL 2018
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move the U.S. Embassy there, several UUJME people were in KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS he mentioned nothing about the the list of contributors. COMING! contested borders of Jerusalem, We look forward to having the Send your letters to the editor to the Washington the illegal Israeli settlements that magazine in our booth in 2018. Report, P.O. Box 53062, Washington, DC 20009 ring the city, or where the emSusan E. Nye, Treasurer, Unior e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>. bassy would be located. This amtarian Universalists for Justice in biguity was intentional. The fact that the Middle East, Cambridge, MA Netanyahu was the only world leader celWe are honored to provide the WashThe United Nations partition plan of ebrating Trump's decision implied that Is- 1947 specifically called for Jerusalem to be ington Report to conferences such as rael's prime minister understood that the a corpus separatum, to be administered in- yours. Our priority is to provide AmeriU.S. president was speaking about ternationally, not by a self-proclaimed Jew- cans with facts and analysis not availGreater Jerusalem, for which the Israeli ish state. Israel has been quick to seize able to them via the mainstream media, Knesset already approved the following upon that U.N. resolution to justify its exis- and your help in distributing the magaborders: from the north to the edge of the tence, but has chosen to ignore those zine contributes greatly to that effort. city of Ramallah, from the south to the parts of it that don’t suit its master plan. As edge of Bethlehem, from the east to the you note, however, the international com- A NOTE OF THANKS hills looking over the city of Jericho, and munity—from which the U.S. and Israel are Thank you for your wonderful magazine, the conferences you organize, the scholfrom the West to include all West increasingly isolated —isn’t buying it. arships and everything—on behalf of jusJerusalem and beyond. tice and truth. May you find the reIt is a sad day in the history of the United SPREADING THE WORD sources you need to keep going and States when our president threatens to re- Enclosed please find a check for $200. Thank you once again for contributing thrive! God bless you and your important taliate against struggling nations by denying them economic assistance if they vote issues of your magazine for our annual work. conference efforts. Your message alBill Bigelow, Chicago, IL against his wishes at the United Nations. We thank you, our angels and all our The good news is that the international ways reinforces our educational mission community has refused to be bullied. On and we are most grateful to provide free supporters for giving us the resources to keep going for more than 35 years! Dec. 18 the U.N. Security Council voted copies of the magazine. I distributed a copy of the obituary for 14 to 1 to reject Trump's declaration, calling on him to withdraw his recognition Diane Rose Cooper (October 2017 issue) NEOCONS ON C-SPAN of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The to our board, and they were very pleased Last night on C-SPAN, I watched the United States was the lone country that that it was published. I also noticed that Heritage Foundation's lecture pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. James vetoed the resolution. Phillips, moderator, introduced the two On Dec. 21, the U.N. General Assemguests: major neoconservatives Elliott bly passed a resolution rejecting the Abrams and Daniel Pipes. American recognition of Jerusalem as IsAbrams talked about the bad leaderrael's capital, with 128 member states votship of the Palestinians and their rejecing in favor of the resolution and a mere 9 tionist attitude. He also suggested voting against it, with 35 abstentions. UNRWA and others not financially supNow it is the turn of churches in the port Palestinians but send funds to other United States to send a clear message countries' refugees. Pipes said that after to Trump that we are not on board with 50 years it was time for the Palestinians him on this issue. The church must stand to admit defeat. against bullying tactics when it comes to So, this morning, I plan on writing a the future of Jerusalem and take a clear short letter to Mr. Phillips. Will tell him position on the side of international legitiabout your conference. macy, human rights, and justice for all. BTW, the conference room at the HerIsrael cannot lay exclusive claim to itage Foundation is much smaller than Jerusalem, as it is a city important to all the one at the National Press Club, and three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Chrisby the time the lecture was over the tianity, and Islam—and not just for Jews OTHERVOICESisan optional16-page supplement room was half empty. and Judaism alone. It is a city to be available only to subscribers of the Washington Judith Howard, Norwood, MA shared. Report on Middle East Affairs. For an additional $15 Perhaps that’s because we’ve heard Churches in the United States need to per year (see postcard insert for Washington Report that song before—ad nauseam, in fact. add their voices to the calls from the subscription rates), subscribers will receive Other C-SPAN did not air our conference last heads of Palestinian churches in the Voicesinsideeachissueoftheir WashingtonReport year because Congress went into emerHoly Land who urged the global Christon Middle East Affairs. gency session that Friday. We hope it ian community to reject Trump's dictates Back issues of both publications are available. To has gotten its act together by now—not and stand with international legitimacy subscribe telephone 1 (888) 881-5861, fax (714) that we’re holding our breath—and that and justice. 226-9733, e-mail circulation@wrmea. org>, or write viewers across the country will be able to Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, Atlanta, GA, to P.O. Box 91056, Long Beach, CA 90809-1056. past moderator of the 214th General Aswatch the proceedings on March 2. See sembly of the Presbyterian Church USA pp. 14 and 15 for details! ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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The Nakba Continues
Israel’s Highest Court Gives Shin Bet “a Green Light to Continue With Torture”
By Jonathan Cook
TAL COHEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
acts that they did not commit.” FOR THE FIRST time in its hisBut rights groups said the curtory, an interrogator from Israel’s rent investigation of the Shin Bet much-feared secret police agency, agent is unlikely to bring an end the Shin Bet, is to face a criminal to the long-standing impunity of investigation over allegations of interrogators, or a change in its torture. practices. It will be the first probe of the Instead, they noted, DecemShin Bet since Israel’s Supreme ber’s updated decision on torture Court issued a landmark ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court, nearly two decades ago prohibitrevising 1999’s landmark ruling, ing, except in extraordinary cirhad moved the goalposts significumstances, the use of what it cantly in the Shin Bet’s favor. termed “special methods” of interHassan Jabareen, the director rogation. (See December 1999 of Adalah, a legal rights group Washington Report, p. 49.) representing Israel’s large PalesBefore the ruling, physical tinian minority, said: “This case is abuse of Palestinians had been the exception that proves the routine, and resulted in a spate rule—one investigation after of deaths in custody. many hundreds of complaints According to human rights have been ignored. groups, however, the Supreme “It will be promoted to sugCourt ban has had a limited imgest—wrongly—that the system pact. The Shin Bet, formally known has limits, that it respects the rule as Israel’s general intelligence serof law.” vice, has simply been more careThat view was shared by ful about hiding its use of torture, Israeli onlookers in Tel Aviv are amused by an activist’s depiction of Rachel Stroumsa, head of the they say. torture techniques used to extract information from Palestinian More than 1,000 complaints prisoners, on the U.N.-sponsored International Day in Support of Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, which has submitfrom Palestinians have been sub- Victims of Torture, June 26, 2004. ted many of the 1,100 committed to a government watchdog plaints of torture filed against the Shin Bet. body over the past 18 years, but this is the first time one has led to a She said Israel was “highly unusual” in making legal justifications criminal investigation. for interrogation practices that clearly violated the United Nations Many Palestinians are jailed based on confessions either they or Convention Against Torture, which Israel ratified in 1991. other Palestinians make during Shin Bet questioning. Israeli miliThe convention forbids intentionally inflicting “severe pain or suftary courts almost never examine how such confessions were obfering, whether physical or mental” on those in detention in an effort tained or whether they are reliable, say lawyers, contributing to a to gain information. 99.7 percent conviction rate. The 1999 ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court banned torture exIn December, in freeing a Palestinian man who was jailed based cept in extremely rare cases of “necessity,” or what it termed “tickon a false confession, an Israeli court accused the Shin Bet of using ing bombs”—suspects from whom it was essential to gain infortechniques that were “liable to induce innocent people to admit to mation quickly. Jonathan Cook is a journalist based in Nazareth and a winner of the But Stroumsa said the large number of complaints from PalesMartha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is the author of tinians submitted to Mivtan, a watchdog body in the Justice MinBlood and Religion and Israel and the Clash of Civilisations (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More). istry, indicated that the Shin Bet had never stopped using torture. 8
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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The Justice Ministry has refused to divulge details of the criminal investigation, apart from saying it refers to “a field interrogation” in 2015. Field interrogations are usually conducted moments after a Palestinian has been seized by security forces. Speaking of the case in late January, Emi Palmor, director general of the Justice Ministry, said that this was “the first case that will be translated, presumably, into an indictment.” Stroumsa said the investigation was not in response to a complaint her committee had filed. Israeli media have speculated that the case may have progressed only because it was supported by testimony from another Israeli intelligence agent. Rights groups have been harshly critical of Mivtan over its consistent failure to investigate Palestinian complaints of torture. For most of its history the unit was part of the Shin Bet and employed only one investigator. But following criticism in 2013 from a state inquiry, the Turkel Commission, Mivtan was transferred to the Justice Ministry. Last year it recruited a second investigator, who reportedly speaks Arabic. Before the 1999 ruling, the Shin Bet was regularly accused of violently shaking prisoners and beating them, including by banging their heads against a wall. According to testimonies, the Shin Bet still uses physical violence, though less routinely, including choking, forcing victims into stress positions that cause intense pain, and tightly cuffing their hands to prevent blood flow. But the Shin Bet is reported now to prioritze mental torture that does not leave telltale signs doctors could identify. These include threats of physical and sexual violence, including against family members, interrogation lasting for days, sleep deprivation, and prolonged exposure to loud music. Palestinians are often denied access to daylight, sometimes for weeks, so they become disorientated. “They are completely isolated—they feel buried. They don’t know when their interrogation will end or how it will end,” said Anat Litvin, a researcher for Physicians for Human Rights–Israel. She added that it was often hard to prove torture because the Shin Bet denied requests for doctors to inspect prisoners. MARCH/APRIL 2018
“That creates a vicious circle—those who are tortured cannot prove they were because there is no documentation.” Even so, she said, doctors usually only recorded bumps and bruises, without noting claims from Palestinians that their injuries were inflicted by their interrogators. Last year an unnamed senior interrogator confirmed that the agency uses torture to the Haaretz newspaper. He said agents were required to record details of how many blows they inflicted and what painful positions they used on detainees. Interrogators concentrated on sensitive regions such as the nose, ears and lips. In an indication of high-level support for torture in Israel, he said logs were sent afterward to the attorney general, Israel’s chief law officer.
“A TORTURING SOCIETY”
“Israel is a torturing society,” said Litvin. “It requires that all levels of the system turn a blind eye—the Shin Bet, investigators, government officials, the courts, and doctors. There has to be a climate that allows this to happen.” A global survey by the International Red Cross in 2016 found more support for torture in Israel than any other country apart from Nigeria. Half of Israelis backed its use, with only a quarter opposed. Stroumsa said: “The fact is many Israelis can live with these things as long as they are being done in the dark, out of view, without any documentation. They assume all cases of torture are ‘ticking bombs.’” Efforts to prove torture have also been hampered by an emergency order passed in 2002, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, that exempts Shin Bet interrogations from being videotaped. In 2015 the cabinet justified the exemption on the grounds that taping “could cause real damage to the quality of the interrogation and the ability to investigate security offenses.” Omar Shakir, director of Human Rights Watch in Israel and Palestine, noted that, aside from the ethical problem, research showed that torture was unreliable. “Torture pushes detainees to provide wrong or misleading information just to get the torture to stop, as Human Rights Watch
has documented in hundreds of cases across the world,” he said. A U.S. Senate report published in 2014 concluded that it was “not an effective means of obtaining accurate information.” Nonetheless, the signs are that the Israeli courts are rolling back the restrictions on torture they put in place at the end of the 1990s. In December the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Assad Abu Ghosh, a Hamas activist who, the Israeli state admits, was subjected to “special methods” of interrogation in 2007. According to a petition to the court from the Public Committee, he was beaten and repeatedly slammed against a wall, and forced into the “banana position,” putting extreme pressure on his back. Abu Ghosh was left with neurological damage as a result. Human rights groups had hoped the court would close the ticking bomb “loophole” which has allowed the Shin Bet to carry on torturing prisoners, or at least more tightly control the kinds of methods they use. Instead, said Adalah’s Jabareen, the ruling appeared to give greater license to the Shin Bet to use torture. “It is now enough that the [Shin Bet] agent believes subjectively that the prisoner is a ‘ticking bomb,’ even in the absence of objective facts to support that belief,” he said. “His actions will not be treated as criminal in nature because they are assumed to be done in good faith.” Stroumsa said she found the judges’ ruling in the Abu Ghosh case “astonishing,” given the injunction in international law against torture. “The court ruled that, even if technically in international law interrogation methods were considered torture, in Israel they were not regarded as such. The judges effectively gave the Shin Bet a green light to continue with torture.” Mivtan has failed to hold the Shin Bet to account even in cases, like Abu Ghosh’s, where the state has admitted that techniques amounting to torture were used. In 2013, the unit failed to open an investigation after a Palestinian man was left with serious physical and psychological injuries. An internal Shin Bet document, seen by Continued on p. 22
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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From the Diaspora
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence
By Ramzy Baroud
ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETY IMAGES
after the Israeli army shot her cousin in the head, placing him in a coma. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, known for his extremist political views, demanded that Ahed and other Palestinian girls should “spend the rest of their days in prison.” A prominent Israeli journalist, Ben Caspit, sought yet more punishment. He suggested that Ahed and girls like her should be raped in jail. “In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras,” he wrote in Hebrew. This violent and revolting mindset, however, is not new. It is an extension of an old, entrenched belief system that is predicated on a long history of violence. Undeniably, the views of Ariel, Bennett 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi (l) protests before Israeli occupation troops in the West Bank village and Caspit are not angry statements uttered of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, after a May 12, 2016 demonstration following Friday prayers in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. On Dec. 19, 2017 she was arrested after in a moment of rage. They are all reflections of real policies that have been carried out for she slapped an Israel soldier invading her home. more than 70 years. Indeed, killing, raping and imprisoning for life are features that have accompanied the NOT A DAY passes without a prominent Israeli politician or intelstate of Israel since the very beginning. lectual making an outrageous statement against Palestinians. Many This violent legacy continues to define Israel to this day, through of these statements tend to garner little attention or evoke rightly dethe use of what Israeli historian Ilan Pappé describes as “increserved outrage. mental genocide.” Just recently, Israel’s minister of agriculture, Uri Ariel, called for Throughout this long legacy, little has changed except for names more death and injuries on Palestinians in Gaza. and titles. The Zionist militias that orchestrated the genocide of the “What is this special weapon we have that we fire and see pillars Palestinians prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948 merged toof smoke and fire, but nobody gets hurt? It is time for there to be ingether to form the Israeli army; and the leaders of these groups bejuries and deaths as well,” he said. came Israel’s leaders. Ariel’s calling for the killing of more Palestinians came on the Israel’s violent birth in 1947-’48 was the culmination of the violent heels of other repugnant statements concerning a 16-year-old discourse that preceded it for many years. It was the time when teenage girl, Ahed Tamimi. Ahed was arrested in a violent Israeli Zionist teachings of prior years were put into practice, and the outarmy raid at her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. come was simply horrifying. A video recording showed her slapping an Israeli soldier a day “The tactic of isolating and attacking a certain village or town and Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of palestine chroniexecuting its population in a horrible, indiscriminate massacre was cle. His forthcoming book is the last earth: a palestinian story. a strategy employed, time and again, by Zionist bands to compel Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter the population of surrounding villages and towns to flee,” Ahmad Aland is a non-resident scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and InterHaaj told me when I asked him to reflect on Israel’s past and prenational Studies, University of California. Visit his website: <www. ramzybaroud.net>. sent. 10
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Al-Haaj is a Palestinian historian and an expert on the Nakba, the “Catastrophe” that had befallen Palestinians in 1948. The 85-year-old intellectual’s proficiency in the subject began 70 years ago, when, as a 15-year-old, he witnessed the massacre of Beit Daras at the hands of the Jewish Haganah militia. The destruction of the southern Palestinian village and the killing of dozens of its inhabitants resulted in the depopulation of many adjacent villages, including al-Sawafir, Al-Haaj’s home village. “The notorious Deir Yassin massacre was the first example of such wanton killing, a model that was duplicated in other parts of Palestine,” Al-Haaj said. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine at the time was orchestrated by several Zionist militias. The mainstream Jewish militia was the Haganah, which belonged to the Jewish Agency. The latter functioned as a semi-government, under the auspices of the British Mandate government, while the Haganah served as its army.
However, other breakaway groups also operated according to their own agenda. Two leading bands among them were the Irgun (National Military Organization) and Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang). These groups carried out numerous terrorist attacks, including bus bombings and targeted assassinations. Russian-born Menachem Begin was the leader of the Irgun which, along with the Stern Gang and other Jewish militants, massacred hundreds of civilians in Deir Yassin. “Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue this until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest,” Begin wrote at the time. He described the massacre as a “splendid act of conquest.” The intrinsic link between words and actions remains unchanged. Nearly 30 years later, a once wanted terrorist, Begin became prime minister of Israel. He accelerated land theft of the newly occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, (Advertisement)
launched a war on Lebanon, annexed occupied Jerusalem to Israel and carried out the massacre of Sabra and Shatila in 1982. Some of the other terrorists-turned-politicians and top army brass include Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Rafael Eitan and Yitzhak Shamir. Each one of these leaders has a record dotted with violence. Shamir served as the prime minister of Israel from 1983 to 84 and 1986 to 1992. In 1941, Shamir was imprisoned by the British for his role in the Stern Gang. Later, as prime minister, he ordered a violent crackdown against a mostly nonviolent Palestinian uprising in 1987, purposely breaking the limbs of kids accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. So, when government ministers like Ariel and Bennett call for wanton violence against Palestinians, they are simply carrying on with a bloody legacy that has defined every single Israeli leader in the past. It is the violent mindset that continues to control the Israeli government and its relationship with Palestinians; in fact, with all of its neighbors. ■
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Trump Cuts Humanitarian Aid to Palestinian Refugees
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ated, so the U.N. General Assembly has regularly extended UNRWA’s mandate since then. Over time, with fading hopes that Palestinian refugees would be able to return to their homeland, and with greater needs arising from a more permanent life in their new locations, UNRWA increased its services to include education, health care, social services, infrastructure, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA also employs more than 30,000 people, most of whom are Palestinian. Most of my own family has first-hand experience with the vital services that UNRWA provides. My grandparents were expelled from their hometown in Palestine in 1948 and ended up Palestinian students in an UNRWA school classroom in Gaza City, Jan. 22, 2018. in the refugee camps of Lebanon and Syria. In this new precarious reality, living in tents in a foreign place with no job prospects, they likely would not have been able to survive if they did not receive food aid, healthcare and, eventually, their zinc-covered barracks homes built by UNRWA. It is no exaggeration to say that without By Mohamed Mohamed these services, I might not be alive today. In addition, my wife, my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, IT IS REGRETTABLE that the most basic human needs of miland almost all my relatives were educated in UNRWA schools, lions of Palestinian refugees are now being used as a weapon in and several of them now teach there. When they became sick, the Trump administration’s political assault on Palestinians. they went to UNRWA health clinics. If they needed life-saving On Jan. 16, the administration decided to withhold $65 million surgeries, UNRWA covered most of the cost. While under siege of a planned $125 million in U.S. funding for the United Nations with skyrocketing prices, UNRWA stepped in to provide food asRelief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East sistance to many of my relatives in Syria. (UNRWA). Eliminating or even reducing UNRWA’s services will be highly UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide direct relief and detrimental to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, public works programs for the Palestinian refugees who were exLebanon, Syria and Jordan. Because of the devastating Israeli pelled after the creation of Israel in 1948. For almost 70 years, Issiege on Gaza, almost one million people there rely heavily on rael has failed to address the problem of the refugees that it crefood aid from UNRWA. With an unemployment rate close to 44 percent, about 80 percent of Gaza’s population are dependent on Mohamed Mohamed is the executive director of the Palestine Center. Copyright © 2018 Mondoweiss. international assistance.
Without UNRWA I Wouldn’t Be Alive Today
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As stateless people, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are not entitled to several basic civil and economic rights. This has marginalized them so much that, among UNRWA’s five fields of operation, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestinian refugees living in “abject” poverty. Due to the violence, destruction, and poverty caused by seven years of civil war in Syria, Palestinian refugees in the country have become highly vulnerable, and almost all of them now require humanitarian assistance in the form of cash, food and other relief. Clearly, UNRWA provides some of the most basic human needs and services, and it is sad that President Trump is punishing refugees to gain political leverage over Palestinian leaders, so that they would return to so-called “peace talks.” Instead, the U.S. should force Israel to pay for UNRWA’s operations, as it is ultimately responsible for creating these refugees. Of course, the chances of Israel directly paying is almost zero, since it often makes the absurd accusation that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee problem (which is similar to claiming that soup kitchens perpetuate homelessness and should be shut down). But the U.S. could make Israel pay indirectly: by withholding the $3.8 billion in free military aid that it receives each year. Israel was proud to be recently listed as the 23rd richest country in the world, so it should show some more dignity and pay for its own oppressive military, rather than freeloading off of American taxpayers. If President Trump is serious about bringing the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, nothing will be more effective than holding Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians.
Fearing More Time in the Streets Than in School By Mohammed Omer
UNRWA, THE UNITED Nations agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, warned in mid-January that losing funds from its largest donor, the United States, could be “catastrophic.” Washington has decided to cut $65 million from its contribution to UNRWA. In 2016, according to UNRWA, the U.S. pledged nearly $368 million. In all, the agency serves more than 5.3 million Palestinian refugees, 1.3 million of whom live in Gaza. While Gaza clearly will suffer the most, a cut in U.S. support would also place increased strain on Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In addition to such basic humanitarian aid as food, education and health services, UNRWA also handles waste management and sanitation. The Gaza Strip’s nearly two million residents—80
Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports regularly on the Gaza Strip. Follow him on Twitter: @MoGaza. MARCH/APRIL 2018
percent of them refugees—fear that this cut in U.S. aid will translate into an even greater shortage of potable drinking water and will dramatically affect already limited electricity, medical supplies and freedom of movement. “We have been dependent on UNRWA food rations for a decade, since my husband died,” said Umm Ramzy, who even now cannot adequately feed her four children. “If you cut UNRWA funding,” she added, “allow me to have a state that can give my children their human rights of food, education and medicines.” “Imagine waking up without UNRWA, we will be lost,” said Abu Khaled Al Jamal. “They have made us dependent on this aid”— which, he pointed out, “is to help refugees and the powerless survive.” According to UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, reduced U.S. funding will negatively impact about 525,000 children enrolled in UNRWA schools, as well as emergency food assistance and health care for millions of Palestinian refugees. “At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees in need of emergency food assistance [as well as access to] primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community," he said in a statement. The cut will also endanger the jobs of more than 21,000 educational personnel, including teachers, at UNRWA schools— known for providing quality U.N.-monitored education to its students. UNRWA has launched an international fund-raising campaign to make up for the millions lost as a result of President Donald Trump’s decision. Belgium already has pledged $23 million, and the Dutch minister of international cooperation said she would make $15 million available to UNRWA immediately. Krähenbühl urged other donors to join together to replace the reduced U.S. funding. Meanwhile, he said, “We are working with absolute determination to ensure that UNRWA services continue,” and vowed to Palestinian students that schools would stay open “so you can receive your cherished education.” Meanwhile, in the U.S., UNRWA USA, the Washington, DCbased charity that supports UNRWA’s mandate, sent out an appeal for donations and has launched a petition urging the White House to reconsider its decision. In Gaza, Umm Ramzy insisted that punishing the refugees is not only unjust, but unethical. “By ending UNRWA services,” she argued, “you can’t really end the fact that we are Palestinian refugees waiting to return home.” Home for Umm Ramzy is the village of Aker, a 30-minute drive from Gaza. She has never seen the village from which her parents were expelled at gunpoint. But until Palestinians finally are granted freedom of movement and access—a human right to which they are entitled—Umm Ramzy has no option but to sit and wait in her refugee camp for UNRWA to help her survive. ■
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THE ISRAEL LOBBY & AMERICAN POLICY 2018 IsraelLobbyandAmericanPolicy.org March 2, 2018 at the National Press Club, Washington, DC
Israel Lobby’s Costly Demands on U.S. Explored from Multiple Angles at #IsraelLobbyCon By the Conference Committee Public opinion polls reveal Americans increasingly oppose U.S. politicians’ unconditional support for Israel. Some are even asking, will the U.S. attack Iran for Israel? Does Israel negatively influence U.S. politics more than Russia? Are evangelical Christian Zionists, like the Jewish Daily Forward says, really in the Middle East policy driver’s seat? Is the U.S. undermining the U.N. for Israel? Can the Israel lobby ever be beaten in court? Are U.S. intelligence agencies too close to Israel? Will Israel ask the Trump administration to recognize the West Bank and Golan Heights as part of Israel? That’s why we’ve put together #IsraelLobbyCon! On March 2, just two days before the Israel lobby assembles in Washington under the banner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), leading experts will once again convene at the National Press Club to explore and elucidate the costs of unconditional U.S. support to Israel, fact vs. fantasy, and better alternatives for America. Key topics at the March 2, 2018 “The Israel Lobby & American Policy” conference (#IsraelLobbyCon) include: How does the Israel lobby influence American positions at the U.N.? What does the Trump administration’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel mean for the future of the U.N.? How do other countries perceive the U.S.-Israel lockstep at the U.N., and Nikki Haley’s credibility, 14
given her long-term cultivation by Israel lobby megadonors such as Sheldon Adelson? What is the long-term impact of Israel lobby NGOs active at the U.N.? How are they a “force multiplier” for Israel’s much smaller diplomatic mission? Why is the U.S. so isolated as it pushes one-sided pro-Israel policies at the U.N.? Why will this have to change? Ian W illiams discusses “The Israel Lobby and the U.N.” Christians, like most Americans today, haven’t always been Z ionists. When and how did that change for evangelicals? Are evangelical Christians really in the driver’s seat when it comes to policymaking such as recognizing Jerusalem and moving the U.S. Embassy there, or is it really a result of the decades-long Israel lobby campaign? Since the 1960s AIPAC has heavily recruited major Christian denominations. In 1995 AIPAC and other Israel lobby groups, along with the Moral Majority, pushed the Jerusalem Embassy Act through Congress, and today are calling on the U.S. to recognize all of Jerusalem as part of Israel. But are non-evangelical Christian denominations turning away from such unconditional support of Israel? Thomas Getman discusses “When and How Did Evangelicals Become Zionists?” Pro-Israel groups such as the Lawfare Center, Zionist Organization of America and Israel on Campus Coalition are pressing colleges and universities to fire professors too critical of Israel or too pro-Palestinian, and for outright bans on Students for Justice in Palestine chapters. What threats does this present to academic freedom, student enrichment, and scholarship? What is the cost of fighting back? Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi explains “How and Why the Israel Lobby Is Suppressing Free Speech and Academic Freedom on College Campuses.”
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American media is in a feeding frenzy over allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics. But how well have outlets such as The New York Times, Politico, The Hill and The Washington Post, as well as broadcast media, covered ongoing heavy Israeli involvement, both covert and overt, in U.S. politics? Which has had the bigger impact? Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada, compares “News Coverage of Russian vs. Israeli Influence.” Will Americans really be fined and jailed for engaging in economic boycotts? AIPAC and key politicians heavily funded by the lobby, such as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), are determined to pass a law (as many states already have) targeting Americans who dare boycott Israel over its endemic human rights abuses. Lawyer and Prof. Noura Erakat explains the First Amendment implications, current legal battles, and “Why Anti-BDS Efforts by Israel and its U.S. Supporters Will Fail.” Is there any discernable difference between the Israeli Right, Left and progressive American Jewish supporters of Israel? Is the Israeli Left just as nationalistic as the Right? What are the implications for the American Jewish community, particularly those who are “progressive, except for Palestine”? Does any meaningful Israeli faction oppose the siege on Gaza? Checkpoints? Nighttime abductions? Administrative detentions, dispossession and oppression inflicted on Palestinians? “The Dean” of Israeli journalism, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, probes “The Z ionist Tango: Step Left, Step Right.” Is the CIA too close to Israel? Why didn’t the CIA help the FBI solve the investigation into the diversion of U.S. weapons-grade uranium from the NUMEC plant in Pennsylvania to Dimona in Israel? Why did the CIA ignore the implications of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty in 1967? What tradeoffs and sacrifices did counterintelligence chief James Angleton continually make to U.S. national interests as he maneuvered the CIA into a “special relationship” with Israel? Where is this clandestine relationship heading? How do Israeli views of the Middle East color “intelligence” shared with the CIA? Based on case studies from his new book, The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton, Jefferson Morley examines “The Increasingly Close, but Mostly Secret, “Special Relationship” Between Israel and the CIA.”
port, while Israel and the U.S. government, under pressure from the lobby, led an intense effort to condemn and censor it. Dr. Virginia Tilley, co-author of the report, discusses the massive Israel lobby efforts to both nullify the report and shelter Israel from further criticism over “The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Finding of Apartheid in Israel.” The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act vs. the First Amendment. Is anti-Semitism exploding across America, and in particular on campus? In November, representatives of AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (ACJ) and Christians United For Israel (CUFI) all testified “yes” in support of a new federal law defining criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism. Dr. Barry Trachtenberg, who testified at the congressional hearing, explains what is really behind the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act and Free Speech on Campus.” Col. Lawrence Wilkerson helped deliver, and later apologized for, the false pretex ts presented to the world by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq. Is history repeating itself as the U.S. builds up troops in Syria, renounces the Iran nuclear deal, increases sanctions and threatens military action against Iran? Col. Wilkerson answers the explosive question, “Is the U.S. Ramping up its Military Presence in Syria and Preparing to Attack Iran for Israel?” Register online for the Israel Lobby and American Policy conference at http://IsraelLobbyand AmericanPolicy.org. Ticketholders gain access to the exhibition hall, main ballroom for the program, and receive a box lunch and an invitation to a special post-conference networking mixer! Registration star ts at 8AM, the program commences at 9AM, lunch is served midday and networking begins at 5PM.
#IsraelLobbyCon is solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep).
Does the U.S. unconditionally support a U.N.-designated apartheid state? The world applauded a detailed and frank 2017 U.N. human rights reMARCH/APRIL 2018
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Abbas Rejects the U.S., Failed Oslo Accords—Now What?
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ears were oh so appalled. And he said colonialism, and the self-victimizing Israelis yelled: “anti-Semitism.” Nobody said what was incorrect in his speech and what was anti-Semitic about it. Except perhaps for “the Dutch fleet that brought Jews here,” Abbas spoke the truth. It’s hard to swallow. Israel chose to shriek. It always does when it has no answers. Abbas said the Oslo agreement was over. Indeed, what is left of it, some 20 years after the final-status agreement was due to be signed? Israel did everything it could to sabotage it. Every soldier who invades Area A territories every night and every prisoner left in prison from Jordan’s King Abdullah II (r) welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Royal Palace in before the Oslo agreement is a Amman, Jan. 29, 2018. Following their meeting, the Jordanian monarch urged the international community to “fulfill its responsibilities” toward Palestinians in Jerusalem and support UNRWA, the United violation of it. The current government and Nations agency for Palestinian refugees. its supporters objected to Oslo, so now they’re offended when Abbas says it’s over? Abbas told the truth. “We will no longer accept American sponsorship,” Abbas said. Does he have any choice? What is he supposed to do, bow his By Gideon Levy head to resounding slaps? Kneel before a president who ignores the occupation? THE JOLLY CHOIR is shrieking again: Mahmoud Abbas. You Wasn’t he telling the truth when he protested against Trump’s have to see the responses to his speech to understand the exderanged argument that the Palestinians foiled the negotiations? tent to which Israel is speaking with one horrifically uniform voice, A superpower that punishes the occupied instead of the occuthe extent to which there is no more left and right, no real argupier—that’s an inexplicable matter. Instead of stopping to finance ment and no ideological pluralism—only a blind, deafening naand arm the occupier, the United States is stopping the funds to tionalistic snarl. the rescue organization assisting the occupied party’s refugees. From Nadav Eyal (“a wacky, despicable speech”) to Ben Dror It’s insane. Abbas responded with restraint. American AmbasYemini (“delusional ideology”), they all competed for who will atsadors Nikki Haley and David Friedman are indeed friends of the tack Abbas more. Nobody faced up to what he said. After all, he occupier and enemies of international law; how can those two swore at Donald Trump, the champion of refined rhetoric, “may oddballs be described in any other way? your house be demolished,” and the Israelis with their sensitive But the main shock happened when Abbas touched the rawest Copyright © Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. All rights reserved. Israeli nerves and classified Zionism as part of the colonial project.
Abbas Is Right. Why Does Israel Keep Saying He’s Wrong?
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What is incorrect here? When a sinking colonial power promises a country it isn’t ruling yet to a nation whose absolute majority doesn’t live in it, while ignoring the nation that does—what is it if not colonialism? When more than half the country is promised to less than a tenth of its residents, what is it if not a terrible injustice? It’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth. The Balfour Declaration cannot be read differently. And what is more proper than to ask the British to apologize for it and now stand beside the Palestinians after all the years of being evicted and dispossessed, beginning with Balfour and continuing to this day? Establishing Israel served the imperialist West. Abbas is right. Israel is seen as the last Western outpost against the Arab savages, as South Africa’s apartheid regime was seen by the same West as the last outpost against the communists and the blacks. Then came the Holocaust and Israel became a rightful, just refuge, but this too was at the Palestinians’ expense. The world should have compensated them by liberating them from the 1967 occupation and given them equal rights or a state. That’s what Abbas was talking about. Abbas is far from being the perfect statesman. He’s not a democrat. He’s unpopular, perhaps corrupt, certainly pathetic in his insistence on the dead two-state solution. But he’s the most peaceseeking, nonviolent Palestinian statesman imaginable. This is why he is so dangerous to Israel. This is why Binyamin Netanyahu celebrated his speech, echoed by the national choir. Israel wants everyone to be [Hamas leader and Gaza Prime Minister] Yahya Sinwar. It would make the occupation even more convenient.
Palestinians Deserve—and Will Get— a More Serious Leadership By Rami G. Khouri
THE CRUSHING IRONY for Palestinians today is that their cause remains widely supported by over 120 governments and billions of ordinary men and women around the world, yet the Palestinian leadership is a case study in hapless incompetence that verges on national shame. This was confirmed again in midJanuary, when the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) issued a policy statement after days of deliberations that is a sad example of meaningless clichés uttered by aging men whose track record of political achievement is empty—and astoundingly so, in view of the massive and sustained support around the world for Palestinian national rights. The Central Council is supposed to fill the gap between the National Council (parliament-in-exile) that represents all Palestinians around the world, and the Executive Committee that represents the major Palestinian political factions and functions like a government cabinet, headed by the president. In fact, these
Rami G. Khouri is senior public policy fellow and professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Middle East Initiative. He can be followed on Twitter @ramikhouri. Copyright © 2018 Rami G. Khouri. Distributed by Agence Global.
three organs of government and the presidency are all moribund institutions that have neither impact nor legitimacy, for the leadership has lost touch with the ordinary Palestinians whom it is supposed to represent and serve. So it is no surprise that after another fiery but hollow speech by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Central Council has decided to “suspend” its recognition of Israel, end security cooperation with Israel, effectively nullify the 2003 Oslo accords, and call on the world to work for the creation of a Palestinian state and end Israel’s colonization policies. These meaningless words by a powerless leadership will have no impact on anything. It is hard to know what else to say or do in the face of such a failed leadership of a noble Palestinian people that continues to struggle, mostly nonviolently, for their peaceful statehood and end to refugeehood and exile, alongside an Israeli state that would acknowledge those rights for Palestinians. But we must do something, because simply continuing with the same inept leadership that has excluded the vast majority of Palestinians from participating in their national decision-making only guarantees that daily life conditions and future prospects for those millions of Palestinians will only worsen with every passing month— and for those in refugee camps or under Israeli siege in Gaza, it is hard to imagine how life could get any more difficult. The Palestinians cannot force major changes in the policies of the Israeli government that continues with the same colonial, apartheid-like policies that have defined Zionism since the 194748 creation of Israel and the dismemberment, disenfranchisement and dispersal of the Palestinians. But 1.5 million Palestinians of 1948 have become nine million or so today, and they do have the power to do one thing, whether they live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as Israeli citizens inside Israel, or throughout the diaspora around the region and the world. They can and must re-legitimize their national leadership into a single movement that listens to all their views, represents them legitimately, reaches policy decisions on the basis of serious consultations and consensus that allow Palestinians to speak in a single voice, and engages diplomatically around the world with the full support of all Palestinians. None of these dynamics exists today, which is why the current leadership of the PLO under Mahmoud Abbas is not taken seriously in the region or internationally—least of all by the majority of Palestinians themselves, who have looked elsewhere for leadership in the years since the Oslo process proved to be a failure and Yasser Arafat started to lose his credibility. The leaderless condition of the Palestinian people today is reflected in how the three most dramatic examples of pubic political action in recent years have occurred without any meaningful input from the PLO, or from the Palestinian Authority (PA) which administers limited services and regions in the West Bank and Gaza where Israel gives it permission to do so. Those three examples are: the current campaign around the world to support Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from a West Continued on p. 22
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Immigration, Aid, and the Israelization of By Delinda C. Hanley America
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industry and disregard for human rights or the rule of law abroad, and policing issues like surveillance and entrapment at home, are beginning to resemble Israel’s. Both countries are facing criticism for immigration and humanitarian aid failures. Netanyahu calls asylum seekers from East Africa who crossed into Israel from Egypt on foot, before the construction of Israel’s border fence, “illegal labor infiltrators.” The Israeli government describes asylum seekers as economic migrants and not refugees, calling them dangerous. Many of them perform the manual labor Israel used to depend on Palestinians to do. There are currently about 35,000 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, and another 5,000 children of asylum seekers. Netanyahu is planning to forcibly deAfrican migrants demonstrate against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport port them to Rwanda and Uganda. Reports from Sudanese and Eritreans African refugees and asylum seekers from Israel to Uganda and Rwanda, outside the Rwandan Embassy in the Israeli city of Herzliya, Jan. 22, 2018. asylum seekers, already deported to Africa from Israel, are harrowing. They’ve been robbed, sold into human trafficking and even killed, according to BACK IN 2002, longtime reader Dr. Clyde Farris wrote a letter researchers quoted in Haaretz. A grassroots effort, including to the Washington Report in which he said, “I am greatly disHolocaust survivors, airline pilots, writers and rabbis, is fighting turbed by what I can only refer to as the ‘Israelization’ of Amerithe deportations. El Al pilot Yoel Piterbarg, wrote, “Refugees who can foreign policy. By that I mean our foreign policy resounds are already living among us cannot be thrown away like stray with a tone of belligerence and seems to lack regard for world dogs back to their countries, where suffering, rape of women and opinion. It is the attitude of ‘we are totally good and they are togirls, and agonizing death awaits them—places like South Sudan tally evil.’ It is the attitude that the life of one of us is more imporand other African countries. Let the refugees remain here and be tant than the lives of hundreds of them.” taken care of immediately, as human beings. Just like the Jews Both Americans and Israelis should be troubled by that kind were refugees once, wanting to be cared for and not thrown out.” of worldview, fueled today by both President Donald Trump and Like Netanyahu, President Trump demonizes immigrants, esPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Both leaders advocate a pecially from “s---hole countries,” and calls for a Muslim travel brutality that seems born of racism, with little concern for the ban. Like some Israelis, many Americans are protesting the bruhunger, homelessness, health and even death of those they contality of deporting immigrants, splitting up families, and evicting sider adversaries. “I find this deterioration of our moral code truly children who have grown up here. Trump has doubled down on alarming and I am concerned that someday our behavior will the deportation of noncriminal illegal immigrants, and sees none come back to haunt us. Whoever is advising our president in of the economic contributions of immigrants. Like the Israeli these matters is serving our country poorly,” Farris concluded. prime minister, he forgets that his country was made prosperous Americans are constantly reminded that Israel and the U.S. by those who came from afar. share core values. Sure enough, America’s all-powerful defense In President Trump’s first State of the Union address, he emphasized fear of gangs, criminal immigrants and foreign threats. Delinda C. Hanley is news editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Continued on p. 38 18
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The Immigration Debate We Must Not Lose By James J. Zogby
THE DEBATE OVER U.S. immigration policy is a very personal one for me. It’s about my family’s history and the hardships they faced coming to America. It is also about who we are and who we aspire to be as an American people. In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, my father’s family, like many others in the mountains of Lebanon, facing economic hardship, sent their oldest son, Habib, then only 14 years old, to America to start a new life, plant roots, and pave the way for the rest of the family to join him. A few years after Habib left, facing increased pressures from the raging World War, the family was forced to leave their village, seeking safety in the Bekaa Valley. Conditions were not good, and my grandfaThe Zogby family circa 1923. ther became ill and died in exile, leaving my program. He finally became a proud naturalized American citizen grandmother with six children, the oldest being my father, Joseph, in 1942. who was then 20. My family’s trajectory in the New World is like that of many imThe war ended, the family returned to their village, and after a migrants. I often look at the picture of my grandmother and her time learned that Habib had opened a small business and was seven children when they were first united on my father’s arrival. asking that they join him in America. They secured visas and emThey looked gaunt and a bit haggard, but with the proud smiles of barked on the arduous journey to the New World. a family that after a decade of war, loss and the hardship they had My father was waylaid in Marseille, where, in an act of great to endure, knew they were beginning a new life together. kindness, he gave his visa to a Lebanese woman who was visaFrom that little band of eight, great things were to follow. Colless and desperate to join her family in the U.S. While he thought lectively, three generations of Zogbys are an extended family that he could apply and receive another visa, he was shocked to dishas founded dozens of businesses, creating employment for huncover that visas had been frozen for Syrians (which is what the dreds of our fellow Americans. Among us are doctors, lawyers, Lebanese were called then). professors and teachers, elected and appointed officials, memIn the 1920s, the U.S. Congress was in the grips of a nativist bers of the military and law enforcement, and others who have disxenophobic fervor. Congressional debates termed Syrians as “partinguished themselves in other forms of public and social service. asites,” with one senator saying, “we don’t need any more Syrian All of them are proud contributing members of American life. trash coming here.” Visas for Syrians and other “undesirable counIn short, this is my story. I am the son of an undocumented imtries” were to remain frozen for almost three decades. migrant from a once reviled country, and a member of a family that Facing an uncertain and lonely future in France, my father sebenefited from provisions that allowed for families to be unified. cured a position on a ship leaving for Canada. On arrival, he disWhat, to me, is remarkable about our story is that it is not reembarked and eventually made his way across the border into the markable at all. Millions of Americans can tell the same story, beU.S. to find his family in upstate New York. cause it is the American story. It is who we are. Undocumented, he lived in fear for a decade, sometimes forced Given this personal history, I recoil in disgust at the way some Reinto hiding, until in the mid-1930s he benefited from an amnesty publicans and President Trump have attempted to reframe the terms of the immigration discussion and, in the process, have denigrated James J. Zogby is president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC. Continued on p. 22 MARCH/APRIL 2018
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United Nations Report
Israel’s Quest for Security Council Seat Faces Challenge in General Assembly Vote
By Ian Williams
JKENA BETANCUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
tributed to an erosion of international law, as it appears that almost every principle of global governance has an “Israeli exception,” allowing the self-proclaimed Jewish state impunity for its scofflaw behavior. Other countries frequently remark on the anomalies, so its Security Council candidacy might be an uphill struggle. To meet standards of geographical distribution, U.N. members are divided into regional groups. Under heavy American pressure, the West Europeans grudgingly allowed Israel into their regional group in 2000, since the Asian and African groups were not eager to welcome it. Israel, of course, is not West European, but for historical, British Imperial reasons, WEOG also includes Australia, New Zealand and Canada, so the group did not have a geographical excuse for excluding it. Initially Israel’s membership was only temporary, and conditional on not trying Alone together: U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley (l) listens as Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon for the Security Council seat. Once its foot addresses the Security Council after Haley vetoed a draft resolution, which every other Security Council member supported, rejecting the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the was in the door, however, Israel became a full member in 2004 in New York—alcapital of Israel, Dec. 18, 2017. though it did not finally join the WEOG in Geneva until five years ago. The significance of membership in THIS YEAR, ISRAEL is running against Belgium and Germany a regional group is many positions in the U.N. depend on geofor one of the two temporary two-year seats for the “West Eurographical proportionality, so Israel had been unable to run for popean and Other Group” (WEOG) on the Security Council. Ansitions in, for example, the Human Rights Council. nouncing the bid last year, Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny In most of the regional groups, sadly, such positions go on a Danon explained its unique qualifications: “Few countries have rotating basis, with ambassadors agreeing, decades in advance, Israel’s first-hand experience in the failures of the U.N.—and when countries will get “elected” to positions. WEOG has been acute awareness of the possibilities were this organization to be very unusual in that it does actually have contested elections, inset on the right path.” cluding for the two temporary Security Council seats. But while Danon’s chutzpah recalled the apocryphal prisoner who, after candidates must come from the groups, in elections the entire murdering his parents, asked the court for lenience—since he General Assembly votes. was now an orphan. That is not good news for the Israeli candidacy. After all, IsIn the real world, Israel’s unique and perennial defiance of inrael—which has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation ternational law and the U.N. Charter, aided and abetted by Treaty and possesses several hundred nuclear weapons— Washington for most of the last seven decades, has indeed conjumps up and down demanding international action against its enemy du jour, whether Iraq or, now, Iran. The country defiantly U.N. correspondent Ian Williams is the author of UNtold: the Real occupying territories despite repeated International Court of JusStory of the United Nations in Peace and War (available from Middle East Books and More). tice rulings, General Assembly resolutions and Security Council 20
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decisions, shamelessly demands action against others. It would not necessarily win an internal election among Europeans on its own merits, but it faces even more of a challenge in getting support in the wider, non-aligned and Muslim countries that make up the General Assembly. Israel is busily spreading rumors about how successful it has been in getting support from alleged moderate Arab and Muslim states, but the precarious regimes that have justified their inefficiencies and tyrannies for generations by invoking the struggle against Zionism are unlikely to risk a public vote in favor of Israel. Tel Aviv has been canvassing for votes widely in Africa and elsewhere, but the effects of its charm offensive are sometimes exagerrated, as Israeli politicians tend to be optimistic about the results of talks with others. This can be seen in the fact that, while their communiqués regularly report what its politicians and envoys tell others, they very rarely reproduce what they are told. Perhaps they are not good listeners. And to add to the problem, the ballot is a secret one, so countries can pocket the bribes and still vote against Israel.
NOT SO PREPOSTEROUS AFTER ALL
On the face of it, it seems unthinkably preposterous that a recidivist scofflaw country like Israel could be on the Security Council, whose resolutions it has so regularly flouted. But it is in fact a common practice in the U.N. Indonesia was on the Security Council often while it was occupying East Timor, while Morocco is equally often a member while it occupies Western Sahara. Indeed, those occupations are among the reasons countries like that want to be on the Council. Rwanda was on the Council even while its regime was under scrutiny for mass murders—including of U.N. peacekeepers. So that partially explains Israel’s determination to be on the Council, where decisions are made about its future. But there are other factors as well. If Israel were a person it would spend a lot of time on the therapist’s couch. After all, its own declaration of independence invoked the U.N.’s partition resolution as justification, and it MARCH/APRIL 2018
has always clung to any wisps of international legitimacy that it could. In the early days, when Abba Eban was the Israeli representative and the West had a secure majority in the General Assembly, it basked in respectability. But Suez in 1956, followed by the 1967 and ’73 wars, accompanied the surge in post-colonial membership and led to Israel’s isolation—and of course its close relationship to apartheid South Africa did not help. Even now the South Africans have not forgotten and are unimpressed by Israel’s “rehabilitation” in many parts of the world. Israel’s reaction was “schizophrenic.” On the one hand it dismissed the U.N. and excoriated it on every occasion, citing deep prejudices rather than the solid reasons, but on the other hand its envoys were trying desperately to normalize its position in the U.N., and particularly after Oslo it was largely successful.
But there is yet another aspect: Israeli politicians basked in the reflected glory of the U.N. They were continually dropping in at U.N. headquarters to visit Ban Ki-moon, for example, who welcomed them even as he firmly restated U.N. positions on Gaza and settlements. But as pointed out earlier, they are not good listeners! When Ambassador Danny Danon came from Israel to U.N. headquarters in New York, it seemed as if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had sidelined a domestic rival. Far from it. Danon realized that the U.N. slot is a hugely visible position both internationally and domestically. He has used the United Nations as a backdrop for his campaign for Netanyahu’s job, crowing over every minor appointment Israel secures in the spider’s web of U.N. committees and councils— and now he can claim credit for Israel’s accession to WEOG. Win or lose for Israel’s Security Council bid, Danon wins. If Israel were to win the seat, it would be a triumph for Danon. If not, then he stands like David against the Goliath of U.N. prejudice against the world’s only Jewish State. There will be a lobbying campaign from the usual suspects among pro-Israel
organizations, whose fund-raising plays heavily on alleged prejudice against poor little Israel—and that, of course, allows Danon to tap into the same reservoir for campaign contributions from many of the reactionary billionaires and organizations who bankrolled Donald Trump’s campaign. Which brings us to the other aspect: these are clearly the very people that U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley is really addressing when she is ostensibly hectoring the General Assembly. She is setting out her stall for future presidential ambitions, and acting as the adjunct ambassador for Israel is a sound basis for doing so.
The perfect occasion for this is, of course, Trump’s blitzkrieg against Palestine—and international law—aided and abetted by Haley. And once again we come to posturing/fund-raising. Several NGOs in New York might officially cheer, but will actually be rather sad, if the U.S. Embassy is in fact moved to Jerusalem, since the issue was a keynote of their fund-raising mailings— just as was Israel’s exclusion from WEOG. The Dec. 21 resolution in the General Assembly condemning the U.S. move was a classic sacrifice of diplomatic credibility for domestic (U.S. and Israeli) political expedience. We have to remember that the issue brought into prominence the oft-dismissed General Assembly—which is, after all, the body whose recommendation for the grossly unfair partition of Palestine was also tied to Jerusalem being under international control. It is that 1947 resolution which has precluded all but the occasional bribed banana republic from opening an embassy in Jerusalem. Washington has effectively declared a complete disregard for the U.N. Charter and the global rule of law, and its action will come back to haunt it. Even worse, Haley’s overt threat to countries that voted against the U.S. on the issue is worse than a crime. It is a diplomatic blunder of the worst kind. For example, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reportedly going to be one of the few “independent” countries that would vote with the U.S., but the threat made it politically untenable for Trudeau to be
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seen kowtowing to Trump. Canada and Australia abstained, while almost all U.S. allies, including Britain in its post-Blair phase, voted against. It will take a long time to repair the damage to U.S. prestige. Not least, of course, since it was followed up by the decision to halve contributions to UNRWA—another favorite posturing point for Israel. There are indeed Israelis who hate UNRWA precisely because it looks after the Palestinians they would prefer to disappear, but the rational decision-makers know that if UNRWA folds, Israel is left to pick up the pieces— either directly as the occupying power under the Geneva Conventions, or indirectly as the camps elsewhere explode. While Haley and Trump imply that this decision is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ punishment for not totally surrendering to Israel and the U.S., others in the State Department camouflage it as an attempt to force UNRWA into reforms. But the rest of the global community knows that UNRWA has nothing to do with Abbas and that Trump is gratuitously punishing the Palestinian victims yet again. Interestingly, other countries are advancing their payments to partially meet the shortfall, and each such additional payment by others is a further erosion of rapidly declining U.S. standing in the world. ■
Continued from page 9
lawyers, conceded that illegal methods had been used during his questioning. They included interrogating him for 18 hours at a stretch, with only two hours’ break, over five days. State officials admitted that the man, whose is unnamed, had been forced to kneel for prolonged periods. Mivtan also failed to investigate allegations from Ayman Hamida, a 37-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem, after he was acquitted of terrorism charges in 2011. A military court accepted that he had provided a false confession under pressure. Hamida said he had been beaten and choked in his cell, deprived of food and stripped naked. During his 40-day interrogation, the Shin Bet had also threatened 22
family members, including his sister. The court ruled that Hamida “was forced into telling his interrogators anything in order to stop the interrogation”. Palestinian children are also sometimes subjected to torture, according to a report by Amnesty International last year. It found that they were beaten, slapped, throttled, shackled painfully, deprived of sleep and threatened. ■
Continued from page 17
Bank village who is detained in an Israeli jail pending a possible military court trial, because she resisted Israeli occupation and slapped an Israeli soldier; the weeks of spontaneous popular protest last summer in Arab East Jerusalem, when tens of thousands of Palestinians there defended their holy sites at the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount, for Israelis); and the ongoing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by civil society to pressure Israel to stop its mistreatment and human rights denials of Palestinians in the three arenas of occupied Palestine, the state of Israel and the disapora. Hamas’ challenge to the PLO leadership in Gaza is another sign of the PLO’s delinquency in protecting, representing or leading the Palestinians. It is difficult now to create a whole new national leadership, given the fragmented nature of the Palestinian community. Yet the cohesion that all Palestinians feel, wherever they live, also makes it feasible to at least start consultations among themselves to find a way out of the current nightmare by giving fresh blood and new life and legitimacy to existing PLO organs. There is no reason why we should suffer this ghastly fate of being plagued by a colonial Zionist Israeli state that steadily eats up our land, ignored by a mostly caring world that is otherwise preoccupied by more pressing issues, and abandoned by a Palestinian leadership that has become powerless, dependent on donors, docile, a purveyor of empty clichés, and largely incoherent. Such situations might lull some observers to see the end of the Palestine issue, while a more likely conclusion would
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
be that this low point will mark the start of a process of re-birth for the nine million Palestinians who have never stopped struggling and working for their national rights since the 1930s. They are certainly not going to stop now, regardless of the poor quality of their current leaders. ■
The Immigration Debate Continued from page 19
our American story. “Family unification” has come to be termed as “chain migration.” The “diversity lottery” that has provided opportunities for immigrants from countries once excluded from the old quota system that favored northwest Europe, is now spoken of with a snarl (or, more recently, by our president, as immigrants from “shithole” countries). Immigrants and refugees from the country from which my family fled, escaping war and hardship, are now banned. My father would be described as an “illegal.” “Compassionate Amnesty” that allowed my father to stay and become a citizen is now a taboo term. And, if it were not for amnesty, my sister, brother and I would be seen as “anchor babies” or as “Dreamers.” And so, this is a very personal issue for me, and should be for all Americans. As I look at the Republicans who are leading the charge against immigration and those working to reframe the debate, casting immigrants and refugees in disgraceful and racist terms, I see descendants of Germans, Irish, Italians and Jews—all of whom were once reviled, locked out, and victims of bigotry. Tragically, this inclination to forget our history, to succeed in America and then try to close the door and exclude those seeking to take advantage of the same opportunities that benefited our ancestors, is also part of our American story. In every generation, these two threads of our national narrative—the one that advocated for openness and the other that was exclusionary—have been in competition. In the past, because of hard work and the fact that some leaders listened to “the voices of our better angels,” the vision of the welcoming “Lady in the Harbor” has won out. It is our fight today to make sure she wins again. The soul of America is at stake. We dare not lose. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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From Our Archives
Mathilde Krim (1926-2018): Ardent Zionist Who Influenced LBJ During Six-Day War
By Janet McMahon
STEVE FINN/GETTY IMAGES
garian Jew, David Danon, THE VAST MAJORITY of who had been brought up in mainstream obituaries for Palestine and exiled by the Mathilde Krim, a founding British for his association chairman of The Foundation with the Irgun Zvai Leumi, a for AIDS Research, or Jewish terrorist group led by amfAR, who died Jan. 15 at Menachem Begin. Danon her home on Long Island, was studying to become a New York at the age of 91, medical doctor, but spent identified her as an AIDS most of his time recruiting activist: The New York and carrying out secret Times, for example, deIrgun operations throughout scribed her as a “Mobilizing Western Europe.… Force in an AIDS Cru“Mathilde became so ensade,” while The Washingamored of the Jewish strugton Post deemed her a gle and of Danon’s daring “Scientist Turned Activist undercover operations in EuWho Helped Strip AIDS of rope that she converted to Its Stigma.” Judaism and married Danon. As longtime Washington Then she, too, became an Report readers are aware, Irgun agent.” however, before Krim was As Donald Neff reported an activist for AIDS patients, in his article “Hamas: A Pale she was an “activist”—and Image of the Jewish Irgun a very influential one—for and Lehi Gangs” (see May/ Israel. According to The New Dr. Mathilde Krim and Harvey Weinstein arrive for an AmfAR Charity Event June 2006 Washington ReYork Times, Krim “was born at the Le Moulin de Mougins during the 56th International Cannes Film port, p. 14): “The Irgun was Mathilde Galland in Como, Festival on May 22, 2003 in Cannes, France. At a gala for the Jewish led by Menachem Begin, magazine Algemeiner in September 2017—two months before the sexual the future Israeli prime minItaly, on July 9, 1926, to Eumisconduct scandal broke—Weinstein said, “I’m an Israeli in my heart and ister…[It] was the dominant gene Galland, a Swiss-Italian, mind. I love that country, I love what it stands for.” Jewish terrorist organizaand the former Elizabeth tion, both in size and the number and frequency of its attacks. Krause, an Austrian. Her father was an agronomist. The family moved Its most spectacular feat up to this time had been the July 22, to Geneva when Mathilde was 6. 1946 blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, with the “At the University of Geneva, Mathilde was a brilliant student of biolkilling of 91 people—41 Arabs, 28 British and 17 Jews.” ogy and genetics. Appalled by newsreels of Nazi concentration camps In 1953, after Krim received her doctorate, the couple emiin 1945, she sought out Jewish activists, joined the Zionist underground grated to Israel. In 1954 Krim joined a research team at the Irgun and spent a summer smuggling guns over the French border for Weizmann Institute of Science. After the birth of their daughter, resistance [sic] fighters against British rule in Palestine.” however, the marriage ended in divorce. In 1958 Krim married In an article in the June 1993 Washington Report, however, entertainment lawyer Arthur B. Krim, a Weizmann trustee whom author Grace Halsell described Krim’s adventures differently: Neff described as “president of United Artists Corporation of Holly“While a student in Geneva, she fell in love with a young Bulwood, a New York attorney and another major Democratic fundraiser. He served as chairman of the Democratic National Party FiJanet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. nance Committee and chairman of the President’s Club of New York, 24
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the most potent source of [President Lyndon B.] Johnson’s campaign funds.” (See Nov./Dec. 1996 Washington Report, p. 96.) The Krims moved from Israel to New York the following year. Fast forward to 1967. According to Neff—who interviewed Krim for his book Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More)— “Mathilde Krim stayed at the White House during much of the 1967 war and was a regular caller at the Israeli Embassy, passing reports and gossip back and forth. The Krims, like other Johnson friends, did not hesitate to advise the president on Middle East policy.” In her June 1993 article, Halsell recalled that, as a staff writer at the Johnson White House, “On occasion I saw a strikingly attractive blonde woman who, I learned, was an ardent supporter of Israel and a woman of whom the president was fond.” That woman was Mathilde Krim. “LBJ often invited the Krims to his Texas ranch,” Halsell wrote. “There also were many instances in which Arthur and Mathilde were guests at the White House, and other times when, for many days running, Mathilde—without her husband— was a guest there. The Krims built a house near the LBJ ranch known as Mathilde’s house, and Johnson often traveled there by helicopter.” Having spent the 1967 Memorial Day weekend with the Krims at his ranch, Halsell continued:
“On June 3, Johnson traveled to New York to deliver a speech at a Democratic Party fund-raising dinner. He moved on to a $1,000-a-plate dinner dance, sponsored by the President’s Club of New York, whose chairman was Arthur Krim. While at the table, fund-raiser Abe Feinberg leaned over the shoulder of Mathilde Krim, seated next to Johnson, and whispered: ‘Mr. President, it [Israel’s attack] can’t be held any longer. It’s going to be within the next 24 hours.’ “On June 4, Johnson went to the home of his close adviser and friend, Justice Abe Fortas. The following day, June 5, [Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt] Rostow woke Johnson with a phone call at 4:30 a.m. ‘War has broken out,’ Rostow said. The Israelis had attacked Egypt and Syria. “Mathilde Krim was a guest at the White House and, before going to the Oval Office, and apparently before waking Lady Bird or notifying anyone else, Johnson dropped by the bedroom where Mathilde was sleeping and gave her the news: ‘The war has started.’… “[O]n June 5, Arthur Krim wrote a memo to the president saying: ‘Many arms shipments are packed and ready to go to Israel, but are being held up. It would be helpful if these could be released.’ Johnson got the shipments on their way.… “Mathilde Krim, still a guest in the White House, left for meetings in New York. Before departing, however, she wrote out a statement supportive of Israel which she asked the president to deliver ‘verbatim to the American (Advertisement)
people.’ Johnson was sufficiently impressed with her comments to, later in the day, read some of them to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. But the president did not, as she had asked, read them to the American people.… “Meanwhile, on the night of June 7, the USS Liberty, a Navy ‘ferret’ ship equipped to monitor electronic communications, had approached within sight of the Gaza Strip so the National Security Agency personnel aboard could intercept the military communications jamming the airwaves. The president retired at 11:30 p.m., but White House logs reported that at one minute to midnight he got a call from Mathilde Krim, still in New York.” The next day Israel attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans and wounding 171. According to Neff’s 1996 account: “How influential the Krims were in forming Johnson’s Middle East policy was hinted at by notes in the president’s daily diary for June 17, 1967. The notes reported that at a dinner with the Krims and others at Camp David, Johnson openly discussed a speech he was working on that was to establish the nation’s Middle East policy for the years ahead. “According to the notes, Johnson read from various drafts of the speech around the dinner table, ‘inserting additions and making changes, also accepting comments and suggestions from all at the table.’ Thus two passionate partisans of Israel, the Krims, helped Johnson refine what was later called the “five great principles of peace,” the pillars of U.S. policy in the Middle East for the next two decades.” ■
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Neoconning the Trump White House
PHOTO COURTESY FPRI.ORG
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
OVER THE LAST year critics have warned of the returning neoconservative influence on the executive branch’s national security apparatus, each day a little less confident that President Donald Trump will keep to the seeming anti-interventionist impulses he demonstrated during the 2016 campaign. News flash: We’re already there. Of course the most garish of the pro-war set—Sebastian Gorka, K.T. McFarland, John Bolton—are easy to identify in or on the periphery of Trump’s orbit (in Gorka’s case, he was cast out of the White House, only to flak away in any media outlet that will pay attention). Meanwhile, elite neoconservative voices like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have become darlings of the “Never Trump” cadre, finding new life as conservative tokens on “Resistance” media like MSNBC. What has been less obvious, but has become much clearer in these last few months, is these neocons are quietly filling the vacuum left by Obama’s cadre of liberal interventionists. Many
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is executive editor of the american conservative. Follow her on Twitter @Vlahos_at_TAC. Copyright © 2018 the american conservative. 26
of them had taken a pass on “Never Trumping” publicly, and are now popping up at the elbows of top cabinet officials. Take Nadia Schadlow, for instance. Never heard of her? Unless you’ve been navigating the rice paddies of Washington’s post-9/11 national security enterprise for the last several years, there’s no reason you would have. But she has been at the National Security Council since last winter, and is set to replace Dina Powell as deputy national security adviser, at the right hand of NSC chief H.R. McMaster. She was also the lead on the White House National Security Strategy, released in December. This was Schadlow’s first position in government. Her résumé includes doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) under the tutelage of vocal Never Trumper and Iraq war promoter Eliot Cohen, who runs the largely neoconservative Strategic Studies program there, and whose last book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power, argued that the U.S., backed by a more robust military, must be the “guardian of a stable world order.” In that vein, Schadlow published a book last year, War and the Art of Governance, that extols the virtues of long-term military intervention for “achieving sustainable political outcomes,” requiring “the consolidation of combat gains through the establishment of stable environments.” Schadlow has repeated this for years as a mantra for reordering military strategy in the wake of the disastrous wars she and her contemporaries helped sustain, in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. Call it nation-building by another name. In a 2012 Weekly Standard commentary, she criticized the Obama administration for saying “the tide of war is receding,” and exclaimed “the line of thinking that now pervades the Pentagon avoids recognizing that combat and the restoration of political order go hand and hand.” While she gives a nod to “civilmilitary operational planning and execution,” she never utters the words “State Department.” No surprise there, either, since her neocon friends were responsible for the long slide of Foggy Bottom’s resources and influence in favor of military leadership, beginning with the “political reconciliation” and reconstruction of Iraq, and then Afghanistan. What is significant about Schadlow’s role in the White House— she’s reportedly a “trusted confidant” of General McMaster, who was lionized in the New Yorker for his T.E. Lawrence approach to
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counterinsurgency in Tal Afar in 2006—is not her bibliography, but her vast connections to Washington’s foreign policy and national security clique, especially its neoconservative elite. If one were using the metaphor of chain migration, she would have plenty of friends on either side of the Potomac to tap for high-level placement, consulting and advice. Why? As recent senior program director for the expansive, multi-million dollar International Security and Foreign Policy Program under the Smith Richardson Foundation, she has helped to fund and facilitate countless authors, conferences, think tanks and university programs since 9/11, most of which hew to the doctrine of sustained military intervention toward the goal of U.S. global power and influence. That includes preemptive war strategy, counterinsurgency, democracy promotion and the continued push for bigger military budgets and solutions to regional conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. If there was a prominent player in the U.S. security community over the last 20 years, you can bet Schadlow and Smith Richardson were more often than not connected to him. But it goes back so much further than that. The foundation has a rich history cleaved to neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol, father of Bill, who in his own memoirs credits the philanthropic institution and its then-director Randall Richardson (heir to the Vicks fortune) with helping him jumpstart the Public Interest, known as the premier neoconservative organ, a label Irving fully embraced. The foundation also served as a key backer of Commentary magazine after Norman Podhoretz took the helm in 1960. It is in international affairs that Smith Richardson has made some of its biggest impacts, during the anti-Communist Reagan era and into the Middle East conflicts under Presidents Clinton, Bushes, Obama and Trump. To say the foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement. Example: Former Smith Richardson
research director Devon Gaffney Cross became a director of the Project for a New American Century, the intellectual vehicle that drove the removal of Saddam Hussain and shaped George W. Bush’s foreign policy. In 2000, Cross was listed as one of the participants in PNAC’s seminal treatise, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” The rest of the contributors are a who’s who of Washington’s war theocracy, most of whom have benefitted from Smith Richardson support. Meanwhile, since 1998, the foundation
tute ($6,032,230), the Jamestown Institute ($5,779,475), the Hoover Institution ($3,645,314), and the Center for a New American Security ($1,595,000). Totals have been adjusted to include 2016 numbers. The last one—CNAS—is more indicative of Smith Richardson’s broader strategy, in that it doesn’t only give to hard-line neoconservative outfits like, say, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (which has received no less than $500,000 since 2014 and says it helped write Trump’s new Iran policy). On the contrary, Smith Richardson has been a major patron of the conventional establishment, too, even largely Democratic think tanks like CNAS, Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment—all of which invariably host scholars and programs that promote America’s military-driven global influence, counterinsurgency doctrine (CNAS was a virtual hothouse for COIN early in Obama’s presidency), and democracy promotion in places like Russia and Ukraine, a major yet failed project of humanitarian interventionists in the Obama administration. No surprise, then, that the worldview of people like Nadia Schadlow is no different from the wider Washington policy orbit that has enjoyed a pipeline of patronage from her former employer. She is not only affiliated with the Foreign Policy Institute, but is a full member of the Council on Foreign Relations. When she was named to the NSC staff in March 2017, along with “Kremlinologist” and former Eurasian Foundation strategist Fiona Hill, national security establishment courtier Thomas Ricks called them both “well-educated, skeptical, and informed. In other words, the opposite of the president they serve.” You know the “right” kind of operator has arrived in the White House when establishment commentariat like Ricks and Josh Rogin get all gushy about their calming, “soft power” influence over Trump, which sounds like a lot of bunk when you consider their well-documented points of view. Continued on page 34
The Smith Richardson Foundation
has a rich history cleaved to neoconservative pioneers. has given over $10 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI was built, literally, on Smith Richardson money), which fielded many of the Iraq war architects and promoters, including Frederick Kagan, John Bolton, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, David Frum and Danielle Pletka. Just as telling is Smith Richardson’s continued backing of the Institute for the Study of War, headed by Kimberly Kagan, wife of Frederick, with whom she was a “de facto adviser” to General Petraeus for a year as he set about his then-vaunted COIN strategy in Afghanistan. ISW, chaired by retired Gen. Jack Keane, known as the “godfather of the surge,” was founded in part by the generosity of Smith Richardson in 2007. It not only promoted more troops, but an extended occupation in Afghanistan, regime change in Syria, and ongoing hostilities with Iran. No surprise, then, that ISW has numerous intertwining relationships with the military and the defense industry. It received $895,000 for program work from Smith Richardson between 2014 and 2016 alone. According to Philip Rojc of Inside Philanthropy, other recipients of Smith Richardson grants since 1998 include the Hudson Insti-
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Clean Break II: Iran Hawks Decide to Burn it All Down
By Derek Davison and Jim Lobe
fringe figure, being CEO of the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA)—suggests just such a strategy for countering Iranian influence in the Middle East: Maintaining Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen in their existing forms is unnatural and serves Iran’s interests. There is nothing sacred about these countries’ borders, which seem to have been drawn by a drunk and blindfolded mapmaker. Indeed, in totally disregarding these borders, ISIS and Iran both have already demonstrated the anachronism and irrelevance of the borders. Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen are not nation-states as Americans understand them, but rather post-World War I artificial constructs, mostly created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in a colossally failed Michael Makovsky (l), CEO of the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security of experiment by Western leaders. With their deep ethno-sectarian fissures, America (JINSA), at a September 2013 meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. these four countries have either been held together by a strong authoritarian hand or suffered sectarian carnage. THE 20TH CENTURY was rife with partitions, many of them inIt is astonishing to read neoconservatives, who have done litvolving European powers carving up colonial possessions in Africa tle else since the 1970s but lobby for exerting American hegeand the Middle East with what often appears to have been little or mony in the Middle East, decry the results of the exertion of Euno concern for local realities. Perhaps the most famous of these ropean hegemony in the Middle East. It reads like an artificial infree-hand attempts at state creation is the Sykes-Picot Line, whose telligence that just briefly verges on full self-awareness before legacy is very much still with us (and not for the better). But Sykespivoting and falling back to safer ground. It’s particularly rich for Picot is far from the only example of European colonial borders that Makovsky, whose JINSA predecessors promoted the ouster of are still causing problems decades after they were drawn. two of those “strong authoritarian hands” in former Iraqi leader But who cares about all of that? It doesn’t seem to be an issue Saddam Hussain and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah for at least some of America’s anti-Iran hawks. In response to Saleh, to bemoan one result of their ouster. Iran’s rising profile in the Middle East, fueled mostly by a war But let’s focus on the proposal Makovsky makes: redrawing those neocons ardently championed and the striking ineptitude borders in the Middle East, creating what he calls “loose conof the hawks’ new favorite Persian Gulf monarchy, the intellecfederations or new countries with more borders that more natutual heirs to the men who drew those ill-fated borders are proposrally conform along sectarian lines,” in order to counter Iran. The ing, long after it might have done any good, to re-draw them. proposal strongly resembles recommendations found in “A Writing for Fox News on Dec. 25, Michael Makovsky—who is no Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a 1996 Derek Davison is a Washington-based researcher and writer on interpublication of the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Stratenational affairs and American politics. He previously worked in the gic and Political Studies that was prepared in collaboration with Persian Gulf for The RAND Corporation. Jim Lobe served as the Washseveral other neoconservative think tanks—including JINSA. ington, DC correspondent and chief of the Washington bureau of Inter “A Clean Break,” the conclusion of a task force that included Press Service (IPS) from 1980 to 1985. Copyright © 2017 LobeLog. All rights reserved. such Likudnik geniuses as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and 28
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David Wurmser, argued in part that Israel should work with friendly governments in Turkey and Jordan to contain regional threats, particularly coming from Syria. It concluded, among other things, that Israeli leaders should pursue “removing Saddam Hussain from power in Iraq—an important objective in its own right—as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” “Syria” in this context serves as a stand-in for “Iran.” Long-term, the report envisioned the formation of a “natural axis” of Israel, Turkey, Jordan and a “Hashemite” Iraq serving as “the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.” Even a cursory glance at the state of the Middle East since the end of the Iraq war shows that ousting Saddam Hussain achieved the opposite of the report’s stated goals. The idea of a Hashemite restoration in Shi’i-majority Iraq was ridiculously farfetched, and Iraq’s democratically elected government has—justifiably—greatly improved the Baghdad-Tehran relationship. Makovsky, who wants to reverse this trend, argues that the United States should “declare our support and strong military aid for an eventual Iraqi Kurdish state, once its warring factions unify and improve governance. We could support a federation for the rest of Iraq.” In Makovsky’s imagination, the new Kurd-less Iraqi federation would presumably wish Erbil well and send it on its way. In reality, another serious Kurdish move toward independence would probably lead to a civil war, as it nearly did in October over the status of Kirkuk. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s first foreign trip after his dramatic capture of Kirkuk was…to Iran. If the United States were to come out in full support of an independent Kurdistan, it would almost certainly push the rest of Iraq more firmly into Iran’s orbit. Speaking of Kirkuk, does Makovsky imagine that independent Kurdistan would be given the city and its surrounding oil fields? If yes, then that only increases the chances of a war with Baghdad. If no, then there are serious questions about whether that hypothetical Kurdish state would be economically viable. MARCH/APRIL 2018
REDRAWING THE MAP OF SYRIA?
For Syria, Makovsky says that “we could seek a more ethnically coherent loose confederation or separate states that might balance each other—the Iranian-dominated Alawites along the coast, the Kurds in the northeast, and the Sunni Arabs in the heartland.” He might want to check a recent map of Syria, because while “heartland” is obviously a subjective term, by almost any definition Syria’s “heartland” now belongs to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies. This includes the country’s five largest (prewar) cities: Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Hama. How does Makovsky propose any of that territory be taken from Assad so as to be turned over to “Sunni Arabs,” even in a confederate sense? If the answer is “war,” then his Fox News thinkpiece is burying the lede, to say the least. Makovsky then recommends that the U.S. strengthen relations with Shi’i-majority Azerbaijan, in order to “demonstrate we are not anti-Shi’i Muslim.” Yes, that should do the trick. Of course, that’s not the only reason: An added potential benefit of this approach could be a fomenting of tensions within Iran, which has sizable Kurdish and Azeri populations, thereby weakening the radical regime in Tehran. You might even say that it could threaten Iran’s territorial integrity. Make a Clean Break, if you will. The dangers of the United States trying to redraw Middle Eastern borders—Makovsky graciously allows that America “cannot dictate the outcomes” but should instead “influence” them—should be obvious. For one thing, there’s the immediate likelihood that attempting to draw new borders would intensify regional instability. For another, there’s little reason to expect that the United States would get the new borders any more “right” than Britain and France did a century ago, particularly not when the process is being managed by the same people who brought us the invasion of Iraq. For still another, the most recent example of such Western “influenced” partitioning isn’t exactly a positive one. But we can’t leave Makovsky’s piece without mentioning its most jaw-dropping paragraph (emphasis ours):
Artificial states have been divided or loosened before with some success, such as the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, which are all post-WWI formations. Bosnia and Herzegovina have also managed as a confederation. Czechoslovakia divided peacefully of its own accord. The Soviet Union more or less did likewise, though that dissolution hasn’t been quite so peaceful in recent years. As for Yugoslavia—well, maybe Dr. Makovsky’s definition of “success” is a bit different from most other people’s. To be fair, though, if the breakup of Yugoslavia is his template for the future of the Middle East, this piece makes a lot more sense. But if Makovsky believes in federalizing existing Middle Eastern states along “ethno-sectarian” lines, why not start with Israel and the occupied territories, a notion that would seem logical to any 21st century mapmaker? After all, occupation of one people by another via a “strong authoritarian hand”—in this case the IDF— would seem to be a prescription for a “colossally failed experiment,” no? Perhaps Makovsky’s experience as a former West Bank settler may make it difficult for him to see the relevance. ■
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Trump’s Iran Statement: A View From Europe
By Peter Jenkins
SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. This is an extraordinary way to treat longstanding allies. It amounts to putting a metaphorical gun to their heads. If the criminal underworld is paying attention, it will surely elect President Trump gangster-ofthe-month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right: the time has come for Europe to wean itself from the United States. Equally shocking, but less surprising because, alas, we have grown accustomed Federica Mogherini (c), high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and to this tendency, is a disregard for the sovSecurity and vice president of the European Commission, between meetings on Capitol Hill ereign rights of states and for the legally during which she lobbied Congress not to kill the Iran nuclear agreement, Nov. 7, 2017. binding international treaties and U.N. resolutions that limit those rights. Iran has a sovereign right to possess the means to enrich uraIT IS WITH some reluctance that I write about President Donald nium. Currently that right is limited in two ways. The Nuclear NonTrump’s Jan. 12 statement on Iran, because the statement is so Proliferation Treaty (NPT) binds Iran to using enrichment technolfull of half-truths, untruths and logical fallacies that it is bad for ogy solely for peaceful purposes and in conformity with a nuclear one’s blood pressure to have to dwell on it for any length of time. safeguards agreement. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 enI will try to limit damage to my constitution by focusing on just dorses tight limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity, and production of a few of the statement’s most disturbing features. enriched uranium, until the start of 2031. The statement reveals a shocking attitude toward the EuroIran also has a sovereign right to develop and possess mispean allies of the United States. For months these allies have siles for the purpose of delivering conventional (non-nuclear) been telling the Trump administration that the July 2015 Joint warheads. There are no international treaty restrictions on this Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a satisfactory and right. UNSC Resolution 2231 “calls upon” Iran not to develop useful nuclear non-proliferation instrument, and that they attach missiles that would be capable of delivering nuclear payloads but the highest importance to preserving it. does not legally bind Iran in this respect. (So, contrary to PresiPresident Trump’s statement does not just ignore what his Eudent Trump’s claim, Iran’s missile tests and related activities are ropean allies have been saying. It threatens these allies with the not “illicit” or violations of any U.N. resolution.) very outcome they want to avoid—the demise of the JCPOA—if It follows that President Trump has no right to dictate limits or they decline or fail to bend to the president’s will: restrictions over and beyond those just described. Instead, if he Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sancand his advisers believe that the sunset clauses of the JCPOA tions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement (certain restrictions on Iran’s enrichment right lapse between Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following 2026 and 2031) and Iranian missiles threaten international studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in peace and security, they must convene the U.N. Security CounVienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. Copyright © 2018 LobeLog. All rights reserved. Continued on page 34 30
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Trump’s Threat to Cut Palestinian Aid Met With Uncharacteristic Muted Response
By Shirl McArthur
ISRAELI SECURITY AND defense officials and analysts were quick to decry President Donald Trump’s Jan. 2 ill-conceived threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians. They pointed out that it would weaken Palestinian security cooperation with Israel and worsen humanitarian conditions, especially in Gaza, fueling extremism. Some U.S. analysts said that, in the context of Trump's threat to cut all aid, the Jan. 16 announcement that the U.S. payment to UNRWA would be $60 million instead of the planned $125 million is better than feared. Congressional reaction was muted. No new anti-Palestinian legislation has been introduced, and senior congressional leaders have been silent on the subject. Previous anti-Palestinian measures continued to progress, however. As reported in the previous issue, the House on Dec. 5 passed H.R. 1164, the so-called “Taylor Force Act” (after a former U.S. army officer reportedly killed in a Palestinian attack), introduced in February by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). It would prohibit certain aid to the West Bank and Gaza unless, among other things, the PA stops making payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned or killed by Israel. It was sent to the Senate and placed on the Senate calendar. Its Senate companion, S. 1697, introduced in August by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), still has not been passed by the full Senate, but its text was inserted into S. 1780, the Senate’s version of the foreign aid appropriations bill. It remains to be seen whether it will make it into the final version of the Omnibus appropriations bill, which still has not been passed. H.R. 1164 had 170 co-sponsors when passed, and S. 1697 now has 30, including Graham. As previously reported, H.R. 3542, condemning the use of human shields by Hamas and introduced in July by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), was ordered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to be reported to the full House on Nov. 15, but that has not yet happened. It now has nine co-sponsors, including Wilson. The positive bill introduced in November by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), H.R. 4391, continues to gain co-sponsors. It would “require the secretary of state to certify that U.S. funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.” It now has 22 co-sponsors, including McCollum.
JERUSALEM ANNOUNCEMENT GETS PREDICTABLE REPUBLICAN SUPPORT
Trump’s irresponsible and ill-considered Dec. 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and starting the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was met by a strong U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolution rejecting the U.S. position, but also by congressional Republican measures of support. (For a full discussion of Trump’s action see the Jan./Feb. 2018 Washington Report, p. 8.) Legislatively, the most comprehensive bill is H.R. 4718, “to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer to Jerusalem the U.S. Embassy located in Tel Aviv,” introduced Dec. 21 by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and 29 all-Republican co-sponsors. The bill would proclaim it U.S. policy “to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” In addition, it would give “the sense of Congress” that, among other things, official U.S. government documents listing countries and their capital cities “shall identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” and the U.S. Embassy in Israel shall be relocated to Jerusalem no later than Jan. 1, 2019. Also, two resolutions would express “strong disapproval of the adoption of UNGA Resolution A/ES-10/L.22, which rejects U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” H.Res. 671 was introduced Dec. 21 by Lamborn with 25 Republican co-sponsors, and H.Res. 684 was introduced Jan. 11 by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and two co-sponsors. Wilson went further Dec. 13 in introducing H.Res. 662, “emphasizing disapproval of six anti-Israel United Nations resolutions and reaffirming U.S. support for the State of Israel and its people.” The identical measures “affirming the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem and condemning efforts at UNESCO to deny Judaism’s millennia-old historical, religious, and cultural ties to Jerusalem” have gained support. H.Res. 570, introduced in the House in October by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), now has 20 co-sponsors, including Gaetz. S.Res. 291, introduced in October in the Senate by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), now has nine co-sponsors, including Cruz.
Previous anti-Palestinian measures contine to progress, however.
Shirl McArthur is a retired foreign service officer. He lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. MARCH/APRIL 2018
OTHER PRO-ISRAEL BILLS LANGUISH
The previously described “Combating BDS” (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) bills that claim to be pro-Israel but in fact are about
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H.Con. Res. 92, U.S.-Israel Friendship. Introduced in November by Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), “recognizing the deep and abiding friendship between the U.S. and Israel.” It was passed by the full House on Nov. 15 and forwarded to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it remains.
S. 1595, H.R. 3329 and H.R. 3342, attacking Hezbollah. The bills attacking Hezbollah and, directly or indirectly, Iran were passed in October and referred to the other chamber of Congress. S. 1595, introduced in July by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments” bill, was referred to three House committees; its companion bill in the House, H.R. 3329, introduced in July by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), was placed on the Senate calendar, but no action has been taken, and H.R. 3342, introduced in July by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), “Sanctioning Hezbollah’s Illicit use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields,” remains in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. doing business in the settlements, not Israel—S. 720, introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) in March and H.R. 1697, introduced the same month by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL)—continue slowly to gain support. As reported in previous issues, both the ACLU and Amnesty International have expressed their opposition to the bills, but members of Congress supporting the bills continue to ignore those objections, as well as decades of bipartisan distinction between Israel and the settlements. S. 720 still has 52 co-sponsors, including Cardin, and H.R. 1697 now has 270 co-sponsors, including Roskam. Of the bills that would encourage states to adopt anti-BDS measures, S. 170, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in January, still has 47 cosponsors, including Rubio, and H.R. 2856, introduced in June by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), now has 107 co-sponsors, including McHenry. H.R. 1159, encouraging U.S.-Israel space cooperation and introduced in February by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), was taken up by the full House on Dec. 20 and passed under “suspension of the rules.” When passed it had 26 co-sponsors, including Kilmer. It was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Foreign Relations Committee. 32
H.R. 469, No Pay Iran. The “Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements” bill, introduced in January 2017 by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) in response to the Obama administration’s 2016 payment to Iran of $400 million of the $1.7 billion owed Tehran to resolve a 1979 arms deal signed before the fall of the shah, was passed on Oct. 25 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it remains.
H.Res. 393, Pro-Peace. Introduced in June by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), it would express “support for addressing the ArabIsraeli conflict in a concurrent track with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” rather than dealing with Israeli-Palestinian peace before dealing with regional peace. It now has 37 cosponsors, including Hastings.
H.R. 377, Muslim Brotherhood. Introduced in January by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and aimed at designating the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, it now has 76 cosponsors, including Diaz-Balart. —S.M.
NEW IRAN SANCTIONS BILLS INTRODUCED
As previously described, in October the House passed H.R. 1698, the major non-nuclear sanctions bill introduced in March by Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA). It was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it remains. But three new Iran sanctions bills have been introduced. On Dec. 7 Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), with 15 co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 4591 “to impose sanctions with respect to Iranian persons that threaten the peace or stability of Iraq or the government of Iraq.” On Dec. 18 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), with no co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 4676 “expanding sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.” And on Jan. 9 McCaul and five co-sponsors introduced H.R. 4744 “to impose additional sanctions with respect to serious human rights abuses of the Government of Iran.” H.R. 1638, the “Iran Leadership Asset Transparency” bill, introduced in March by Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), was taken up and passed Dec. 13 by the full House by a roll call vote of 289-135. It was sent to the Senate and referred to the Banking Committee. Identical bills were introduced in the House and the Senate aimed at killing
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Iran’s deal with Boeing. On Nov. 9 Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) with 12 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 4324, and on Nov. 28 Cruz with two co-sponsors introduced S. 2167. Both bills would “require the Secretary of the Treasury to make certifications with respect to U.S. and foreign financial institutions’ aircraft-related transactions involving Iran.” The House passed H.R. 4324 on Dec. 14, and it was sent to the Senate and referred to the Banking Committee. On Nov. 3 Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4238, the “Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions” bill, which would impose sanctions on two Iraqi paramilitary groups reportedly affiliated with Iran. It has 11 cosponsors, including Poe. Reps. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) on Nov. 30 introduced H.R. 4498 “to prohibit military assistance to countries that engage in arms transfers and activities with respect to Iran.”
NO ASSISTANCE FOR ASSAD’S SYRIA
Just in case there was any doubt, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and four co-sponsors on Dec. 19 introduced H.R. 4681 “to limit assistance for areas of Syria controlled by the Government of Syria or associated forces.” ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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A U.S.-Turkish Clash in Syria?
Special Report By Patrick J. Buchanan
DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
THE WAR FOR dominance in the Middle East, following the crushing of ISIS, appears about to commence in Syria—with NATO allies America and Turkey on opposing sides. Turkey is moving armor and troops south to Syria’s border enclave of Afrin, occupied by Kurds, to drive them out, and then drive the Syrian Kurds out of Manbij further south as well. Says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “We will destroy all terror nests, one by one, in Syria, starting from Afrin and Manbij.” For Erdogan, the Kurdish YPG, the major U.S. ally in Syria, is an arm of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey, which we and the Turks have designated as a terrorist organization. While the Kurds were our most effective allies against ISIS in Syria, Turkey views them as a mortal peril and intends to deal A wounded Syrian Kurdish boy lies in an Afrin hospital bed following treatment of injuries with that threat. reportedly suffered during Turkish rocket fire, Jan. 31, 2018. If Erdogan is serious, a clash with the But who authorized this strategic commitment, of indefinite duU.S. is coming, as our Kurdish allies occupy most of Syria’s borration, in Syria, when nearly two decades in Afghanistan have der with Turkey. failed to secure that nation against the return of al-Qaeda and Moreover, the U.S. has announced plans to create a 30,000ISIS? man Border Security Force of Kurds and Arabs to keep ISIS out Again and again, the American people have said they do not of Syria. want to be dragged into Syria’s civil war. Donald Trump won the Erdogan has branded this BSF a “terror army,” and President presidency on a promise of no more unnecessary wars. Bashar Assad of Syria has called BSF members “traitors.” Have the American people been had again? This U.S. plan to create a BSF inside Syria, Damascus declared, Will they support a clash with NATO ally Turkey, to keep “represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity armed Kurds on Turkey’s border, when the Turks regard them and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.” as terrorists? Does not the Syrian government have a point? Are we prepared for a shooting war with a Syrian army, Now that ISIS has been driven out of Raqqa and Syria, by what backed by Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shi’i militias from Iraq, authority do U.S. forces remain to arm troops to keep the DamasAfghanistan and Pakistan, to hold onto a fourth of Syria’s terricus government from reimposing its authority on its own territory? tory in alliance with Kurds? Secretary of State Tillerson gave Syria the news Jan. 17. The U.S. coalition in Syria said in mid-January that the BSF The U.S. troop commitment to Syria, he said, is now open-ended. will be built up “over the next several years” and “be stationed Our goals: Guarantee al-Qaeda and ISIS do not return and set along the borders...to include portions of the Euphrates river valup sanctuary; cope with rising Iranian influence in Damascus; ley and international borders to the east and north.” and pursue the removal of Bashar Assad’s ruthless regime. Remarkable: A U.S.-created border army is going to occupy Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White and control long stretches of Syria’s borders with Turkey and House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Iraq, over Syria’s objections. And the U.S. military will stand beDivided America Forever. Reprinted by permission of Patrick J. Buchanan and Creator’s Syndicate, Inc. hind the BSF. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Are the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria really up to that task, should the Turks decide to cleanse the Syrian border of Kurds, or should the Syrian regime decide to take back territory occupied by the Kurds? Who sanctioned this commitment to a new army, which, if Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies, and the Turks, do not all back down, risks a major U.S. war with no allies but the Kurds? As for Syria’s Kurds casting their lot with the Americans, one wonders: Did they not observe what happened when their Iraqi cousins, after helping us drive ISIS out of Mosul, were themselves driven out of Kirkuk by the Iraqi army, as their U.S. allies watched? In the six-year Syrian civil war, which may be about to enter a new phase, America faces a familiar situation. While our “allies” and adversaries have vital interests there, we do not. The Assads have been in power for the lifetime of most Americans. And we Americans have never shown a desire to fight there. Assad has a vital interest: preservation of his family regime and the reunification of his country. The Turks have a vital interest in keeping armed Kurds out of their border regions adjacent to their own Kurdish minority, which seeks greater independence. The Israelis and Saudi royals want the U.S. to keep Iran from securing a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus to Lebanon. The U.S. War Party wants us to smash Iran and remain in the Middle East forever to assure the hegemony of its favorites. Have the generals taking us into Syria told the president how and when, if ever, they plan to get us out? ■
Neocon Corner Continued from page 27
Simply put, after years of cross-pollination brought on by a slush fund of wealthy private donors like Smith Richardson and an even more eager defense industry, neoconservative views are no longer distinguishable from the sanctioned goals of the Washington policy establishment. 34
They are all working, really, as proper stewards of the military-industrial complex, which is essential for advancing their (sometimes competing) visions of world power politics and American exceptionalism. There is little room for realism and restraint, as voiced by The American Conservative and other critics. That is why there seemed to be such relief upon the recent release of the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy, with Washington scribblers lauding it as “well within the bipartisan mainstream of American foreign policy” and “a well crafted document that should reassure allies and partners.” What it actually does is to reinforce Trump’s turn toward a harder line against Iran, as evidenced in McMaster’s recent speeches. Nikki Haley, ambassador to the U.N., is threatening fellow members on the Security Council, and the Trump administration is seen as taking sides with Israel in the fragile Middle East peace process (or what’s left if it). Meanwhile, the White House has just given a green light to arming Ukraine against Russia. Call it the new “adults in the room,” if you want, or peg it as the neoconservative influence that it is. Strikingly, Dan Drezner writes that the NSS is “Straussian” in that its “subtext matters at least as much as the text.” The pre-eminent scholar Leo Strauss is considered one of the key founders of the neoconservative movement, a fact the Washington Post columnist should be well aware of. Like most of the elites here in Washington, however, Drezner is trying to have it both ways—calling it neocon without having the guts to say it outright. ■
Trump’s Iran Statement Continued from page 30
cil and submit for the Council’s consideration a resolution that would give legally binding effect to the restrictions and prohibitions they consider necessary. That is how the Trump administration ought to proceed. The probability of it doing so is close to zero, however. Even this administration is capable of perceiving that the Council would decline to adopt
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
any such resolution. Why? In 2018 there is no evidence that an expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after 2030 (if it takes place) will threaten international peace and security—or that Iranian possession of short- and mediumrange missiles poses any more of a threat than their possession by Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Korea and Brazil, to name but a few. Only after the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded a root-and-branch investigation into the totality of Iran’s nuclear program, and produced findings, can the Council reasonably form a view on whether some kind of successor to the JCPOA (and/or missile restrictions) is needed to head off a threat to peace and security. A third feature of the statement is the damage that it will do to the international standing of the United States. Many states will be worried about the statement’s implications for the law-based international order to which they are attached. The last thing they want is a world in which the president of the United States feels entitled to form a posse and go after whomever he chooses. They will also be worried that this statement suggests that President Trump is a man possessed by demons. One of those demons is his hatred of President Barack Obama. Trump’s desire to destroy one of Obama’s achievements is obvious from the statement. Less obvious is President Trump’s faith in what he hears from those he has chosen to befriend. Anyone looking for a summary of the anti-Iranian propaganda churned out in recent years by Israel, Saudi Arabia and associated Washington think-tanks need look no further than this statement. To the rest of the world this suggests that it is idle to look to the current White House for balanced, objective, rational analyses of international situations. That is disquieting. The hope now must be that Europe, Russia and China, with the backing of most of the world, can persuade Iran to scorn the U.S. provocation that now seems inevitable: U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and the re-introduction of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Turkey’s Arabian Nights
Special Report By Jonathan Gorvett
OZAN KOSE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
WHILE, RECENTLY, MUCH of the world’s attention has been focused on Turkey’s military operations along the northern borders of the Middle East, Ankara has been playing an increasingly assertive role along the region’s eastern, western and southern frontiers as well in recent months. Indeed, while Turkey has been pursuing a more engaged policy in the Gulf and Red Sea for some time now, since last June, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt moved to impose a blockade on their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member, Qatar, Turkey’s regional military involvement has reached levels unprecedented since the end of the Ottoman Empire. In part, these moves are elements of a more long-standing, grander strategy to A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighter stands guard at a checkpoint as a family passes on put Turkey back on the Middle Eastern and motorbike in the Syrian town of Azaz on a road leading to Kurdish-controlled Afrin, Feb. 1, 2018. North African maps. Yet they also likely represent a less considered and more reactive scramble for influThe most recent unexpected development concerned ence in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable geography. Turkey’s strongest regional ally, Qatar. After a series of agreements on basing rights concluded in 2015 and 2016, yet never BASING UP followed up, last June the Turkish parliament fast-tracked a deployment of forces to the Al Udeid military base outside Turkey’s Middle Eastern regional policy, which had long Doha. This came following the start of the blockade and ruplayed second fiddle to Ankara’s relations with Europe and the mors that there might be an immanent invasion of Qatar by West, has loomed much larger in the last few years, thanks in Saudi and UAE forces. Turkish troop levels at Al Udeid— part to a series of unforeseen developments. which is also home to the U.S. Central Command—have inThese began with growing Turkish soft power in the Arab creased since then, with more soldiers arriving late last Deworld following the 2002 election of the first pro-Islamist Justice cember, and a target of 3,000—brigade strength—in mind. and Development Party (AKP) government, and Turkey’s subseTurkey has also been boosting its military relations with Kuwait, quent economic take-off. The “Arab Spring” then seemed to prea GCC member that has so far tried to take a mediating role in the sent Ankara with a golden opportunity to firm up this influence dispute between Qatar and the four blockading states, often reinto real political power, with a series of movements, such as the ferred to as the “Arab Quartet.” Turkey has sold Kuwait weaponry, Muslim Brotherhood (MB), being natural allies of the AKP. while meetings between defense ministers have increased in freYet that was then. The years that followed 2011 saw this quency and friendliness since the start of the Qatar crisis. In Octoopportunity vanish in horrific conflict. Yet Ankara’s desire to ber 2017 the first joint general staff meeting was held. extend more influence over the region remains—a desire Meanwhile, Turkish soldiers can also now be seen on the given added impetus by the recent effective collapse of the other side of the peninsula, with a base established at the encountry’s decades-old attempts to join Europe, along with an trance to the Red Sea, in Somalia. A $50 million construction, increasing conflict of interest with the U.S. over Iraq and Syria. the Mogadishu camp is now home to 200 soldiers, who are to Jonathan Gorvett is a free-lance writer based in Istanbul. train some 10,000 Somali troops, ostensibly in the fight against MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Al Shabaab. Up the coast, in Djibouti, last December saw that country’s ambassador to Turkey, Aden H. Abdillahi, declare that “possible steps from Turkey to build a military base in the country would be welcomed.” Turkish naval vessels already work out of this key port as part of their contribution to international anti-piracy efforts in the Arabian Sea. Further up the Red Sea coast, in Sudan, a December 2017 visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended with an agreement for Turkey to construct a port on Suakin Island, an old Ottomanera naval base, with this drawing concern from Cairo in particular, worried that the island might be about to resume this historical role. This concern was voiced after Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters that the two countries had agreed “to build a dock to maintain civilian and military vessels.” Erdogan (Advertisement)
later denied any specific military objective to the rebuilding of the island, but Turkey and Sudan did also sign a raft of military and civilian cooperation agreements. Suakin is also close to territory disputed between Sudan and Egypt—the Halayeb Triangle and its largest town, Shalateen—adding to its sensitivity and leading to speculation in the Egyptian state press that Turkey was backing Sudan’s claim. That press also pointed to the presence of the Qatari foreign minister alongside Erdogan during his trip to Khartoum, as Qatar also had just signed an agreement with Sudan over Suakin’s port development. Qatari finance was thus widely thought to be behind a deal to bring Turkish muscle to the region.
paper Okaz with a leading official from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the guerrilla group Turkey has been fighting since the 1980s. Relations between Turkey and the Kingdom have thus also been frosty—as evidenced by the low-level Saudi delegation dispatched to Istanbul for the 2017 Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit. Ankara also maintains an ambivalent attitude toward Saudi Arabia’s stated main rival, Iran. Joint hostility toward Kurdish nationalist groups and the apparent looming victory of the Iraniansupported regime in Syria have led to improved relations between Ankara and Tehran in recent months, all of which has also been deeply troubling for Riyadh.
BRICKS AND MORTAR
This latter concern also illustrates the wider strategic picture in which these Turkish moves are taking place. Since the 2013 overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt—a government supported by Erdogan and his AKP—relations between Ankara and Cairo have not been good. Qatar, too, supported Morsi and the MB, while also working with Turkey to support the government in Tunisia, and a range of Islamist groups in Syria and Libya. Increased Turkish and Qatari warmth toward Sudan occurs in this context. Ankara also has increasingly troubled relations with the other members of the Arab Quartet. While Erdogan initially tried to present himself as a mediator in their dispute with Qatar, this rapidly broke down, with major mistrust on all sides. In fact, pro-AKP papers in Turkey (and nowadays there is little else) have accused the UAE of financing the failed July 2016 coup that sought to overthrow Erdogan. Last August Fethullah Gulen, the self-exiled cleric who leads the group the Turkish government blames for the coup, was indeed interviewed by a leading Saudi journalist with close ties to King Salman—a move interpreted in Ankara as a reprimand for Turkey’s support for Qatar. A further officially sanctioned interview was then done by the Saudi news-
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Yet despite these political and military changes, Turkey and the Arab Quartet have numerous joint interests as well. First of all, there are the major economic opportunities that they present to each other, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain being longstanding markets for Turkish goods and construction companies in particular. Turkey also offers a strong attraction for Gulf investment. As for Turkey’s bases on the Red Sea, they also represent part of Ankara’s ongoing effort to develop new markets for Turkish products and companies in Africa. This drive has gained impetus as a result of deteriorating Turkish-EU relations, along with the until-recent sluggish recovery of European markets. Diversification of trade is thus a major driving force behind this Turkish expansionism. Yet there are likely larger goals as well. For example, Suakin Island may well end up as a staging point for Turkish pilgrims to Mecca, who may fly out there to visit lovingly restored Ottoman buildings before crossing over to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. This symbolizes something more than just a new travel stop, as it also means Turkey somehow being more in control of this pilgrimage than it used to be. That thought has not gone unnoticed in the Kingdom, or elsewhere in the opinion columns of the Arab Quartet. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Trump Turns on Pakistan
Special Report By Eric S. Margolis
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
HENRY KISSINGER RIGHTLY noted that it’s often more dangerous being an ally of the United States than its enemy. The latest victim of this sad truism is Pakistan, a loyal ally of the U.S. since the dawn of our era. President Donald Trump’s visceral hatred of Muslims (never mind what kind, or why, or where) erupted on New Year’s Day as he ordered some $900 million in U.S. aid to Pakistan to be abruptly cut off. Trump accused Pakistan of lying and deceiving the U.S. and providing a safe haven to Afghan resistance forces of the Taliban (“terrorists” in U.S. speak) battling American occupation forces. Frustrated and outwitted in Afghanistan, U.S. imperial gener- Activists with the Difa-e-Pakistan Council shout anti-U.S. slogans at a protest in Karachi, Jan. 2, 2018. als, Pentagon bureaucrats and In a rare public rebuke, Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador to complain about President Donald politicians have been trying to Trump’s New Year’s Day remarks. cast blame on anyone they can istan’s principal port, Karachi, then up twisting mountain roads find, with Pakistan the primary whipping boy. Next in line is the and across the torturous Khyber Pass into Afghanistan. The notorious Haqqani network, which is blamed for most U.S. milihuge amount of logistical supplies required by U.S. troops could tary failures in Afghanistan, though its active combat role is modnot be met by air supply. It cost $400 per barrel for one gallon of est. I knew its founder, old man Haqqani. In the 1980s, he was gasoline delivered to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and as much the golden boy of the CIA/Pakistani-led effort to oust the Soviets as $600,000 per sortie to keep a single U.S. warplane over from Afghanistan. Afghanistan. Without 24/7 air cover, the U.S. occupation force Why has Washington given billions in aid to Pakistan? In 2001, would have been quickly defeated. Washington decided to invade Afghanistan to uproot or destroy Invading Afghanistan without Pakistani cooperation would the Pashtun resistance movement, the Taliban, which was have been impossible. Pakistan at first refused to let U.S. armed wrongly blamed for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washingforces cross its borders. But as Pakistan’s former military leader ton. The ethnic Pashtun warriors President Ronald Reagan had Gen. Pervez Musharraf told me, “the U.S. put a gun to my head hailed as “Freedom Fighters” became “terrorists” once the West and said let U.S. troops enter and use Pakistan or ‘we will bomb wanted to occupy Afghanistan. you back to the Stone Age.’” But invading land-locked Afghanistan was an awesome unThat was the big stick. The carrot was some $33 billion in U.S. dertaking. U.S. troops there had to be supplied through Pakcash to secure “Ground Lines of Communication” (the KarachiEric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated Bagram route) and “Air Lines of Communication.” In fact, Pakcolumnist and the author of american raj: liberation or dominaistan briefly closed them in 2011 after U.S. warplanes killed two tion? resolving the conflict Between the West and the muslim dozen Pakistani army soldiers. Pakistan could do it again unless World (available from AET’s Middle East Books and More). Copyright © 2018 ericmargolis.com. Washington stops treating it like an enemy state. march/april 2018
Washington report on middle east affairs
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Trump and his men just don’t understand that Pakistan has paramount national security interests in next-door Afghanistan. Thirty million Pakistanis are ethnic Pashtuns. They dominate Pakistan’s armed forces. Another 1.4 million Pashtun are refugees in northern Pakistan. Narrow-waisted Pakistan sees Afghanistan as its strategic hinterland in a next war with old enemy India. The U.S.-installed regime in Kabul routinely blames Pakistan for its glaring failures. Its powerful Communist-dominated intelligence agency routinely spreads untruths about Pakistan, claiming it supports “terrorism.” In fact, the warlike Pashtun tribes along the Durand Line, the artificial border between Pakistan and Afghanistan imposed by the British colonialists, have been on the warpath since the 19th century. Winston Churchill even approved the use of poison gas on the “unruly tribesmen.” The wonderfully named Faqir of Ipi kept threatening to ride down from the Hindu Kush Mountains and put to the sack the British garrison at Peshawar. Today, one hears threats in Pentagon circles that the U.S. may begin bombing “Taliban sanctuaries” (actually villages where these Pashtun locals live) and then send in air mobile U.S. troops to attack them. This would make the longest war in U.S. history even longer. Washington just can’t seem to accept that its military machine was defeated in Afghanistan, wellknown as the Graveyard of Empires. It’s also clear that the U.S. has not given up its ambition to neutralize or destroy Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Attacking socalled terrorist enclaves in northern Pakistan would offer a perfect cover for a major U.S. air and ground assault on Pakistan’s nuclear complexes and dispersed storage sites. India and Israel have long been pressing the U.S. to attack Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure. Any major U.S. moves against Pakistan are very likely to push it closer to Beijing and expand Chinese influence in the region. China is unlikely to allow old ally Pakistan to be torn apart by U.S. power. Unlike the U.S., China remembers its old friends. ■ 38
Israelization of America Continued from page 18
He implied that America has put immigrants ahead of its own citizens, the “forgotten men and women” of America. Trump invited the parents of two AfricanAmerican girls murdered by MS-13 gang members to his Jan. 30 address. As the parents wept, he promised to put MS-13 gang members in prison or on deportation flights. He also condemned “chain migration,” which he claimed allows immigrants to bring “virtually unlimited” numbers of family members to the U.S. Trump went on to blame the Diversity Immigrant Visa, also known as the green card lottery, for terrorist attacks in the U.S. (During Trump’s campaign he called for a border wall like Netanyahu’s, which Mexico would pay for. Instead, U.S. taxpayers will once again foot the bill, just like they did for Israel.) Trump didn’t talk about the immigrants who came to America, many of them fearing for their safety, who have been sent back to their home countries, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, to violent deaths. He didn’t mention that, days earlier, immigration officials deported Amer Othman Adi, 57, a Palestinian businessman who had been living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. After a routine ICE meeting, Adi was put on a plane to Amman. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who fought Adi’s deportation, said, “Amer was a pillar of the [Youngstown] community and brought commerce to a downtown that craved investment...In a highly irregular rebuke of congressional authority by ICE, Amer Othman was ripped from his four daughters, his wife, and the country that he has called home for over 30 years...I hope President Trump comes to realize that when his words become public policy in places like Youngstown, families like Amer’s are ripped apart,” Ryan said. “I’m sad that America, and the American presidency, has become a place where politics outweighs doing what is right.” “A year of Trump’s ‘America first’ agenda has radically changed the U.S. role in the world,” Griff Witte and Michael
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Birnbaum wrote in a front-page article published in the Jan. 22 Washington Post. The U.S. transformation “from a global leader working with partners to try to shape the world to an inwardly focused superpower that defines its international role more narrowly” is diminishing America’s role in the world, according to diplomats interviewed in the Post article. A Gallup poll conducted in 135 countries, released on Jan. 18, showed that international support for U.S. leadership in the world dropped from a median of nearly half of people approving, under President Barack Obama, to fewer than a third under his successor. A letter to the editor published in the Jan. 24 Washington Post, from Albert Fairchild, a retired U.S. diplomat, stated that Trump’s “undisciplined mouth can undo in seconds years of constructive work by U.S. diplomats and development experts.” Trump took another move from the Israeli playbook this winter by cutting U.S. aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates schools, health clinics and other community projects (see p. 12). UNRWA’s Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbü hl said, “It is very clear that the decision by the United States was not related to our performance. This has to be part of the debate that took place around Jerusalem.” Whenever Israel gets the urge to punish Palestinians, it cuts off electricity to Gaza, compounding the misery of Gazans already enduring Israeli restrictions on food, medicine, building supplies and freedom of movement. President Trump’s cut in aid to Palestinians will worsen already dire humanitarian conditions for refugees in Gaza and Lebanon. The world is growing weary of global crises, including famines in South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, and conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine. Need is growing and leaders like Netanyahu and Trump who place security and the interests of a wealthy minority above everybody else are destroying our moral code. Peacemakers, legislators, voters and donors need to step up to repair what our leaders are breaking. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
cartoons_39_March/April 2018 Cartoons 2/1/18 4:18 PM Page 39
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THE WORLD LOOKS AT THE MIDDLE EAST
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Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky
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Daily Star, Beirut, Lebanon
National Post, Toronto, Canada MARCH/APRIL 2018
Der Standard, Vienna, Austria WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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JERUSALEM ANNOUNCEMENT IS NO CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION
TIME FOR THE U.S. TO PUSH ISRAEL ON PALESTINIAN RIGHTS To The News Journal, Jan. 19, 2018
On Dec. 31, 2017, the ruling radicalright Likud party in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party, passed a party resolution to annex the illegally occupied West Bank. The West Bank does not, nor has it ever, belonged to the State of Israel. It is not recognized by the international community as being part of Israel, yet it continues to be illegally occupied and the people of Palestine continue to endure widespread and systematic dehumanization through such policies as the imprisonment of Palestinian children and the demolition of their homes. Netanyahu has said several times he will not allow a Palestinian state on his watch. To seize the West Bank while continuing to deny Palestinian’s full human rights will not only eliminate the two-state solution, but will solidify Israel’s apartheid rule. Perhaps it’s time for the U.S. to move forward and push for Palestinian equal rights in the one state that exists instead of sending $10 million a day in military aid to support apartheid. Joan French, Newark, DE 40
To The Tennessean, Jan. 1, 2018 Re: “Jerusalem: The obvious is now the obvious,” by Stephen Morris, Dec. 24. Stephen Morris is “teary-eyed with joy” over Trump’s announcement that the American Embassy will move to Jerusalem. But do only the joyous tears of Jews and their Christian allies matter? What about the sorrowful tears of millions of Palestinians? Apparently, they can be written off. Israel has already taken a large percentage of the land of Palestine, and continues to nibble away at what remains of the West Bank. What happens now to millions of increasingly homeless and destitute Palestinians, the majority of them women and children? Is this the “will of God,” or yet another nightmarish example of how bad religion and bad politics can create hell on earth? Christians should remember that Jesus Christ said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” After all, he was born a refugee child in the West Bank. Michael R. Burch, Nashville, TN
FOLLOWING THAT LOGIC...
To The Bradenton Herald, Dec. 19, 2017 Mr. Trump says that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was meant to increase the chance of peace. It seems logical, therefore, that if he wants to further increase the chance of peace, he should recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. John Steinmeyer, Bradenton, FL
DOES THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REALLY SUPPORT IRANIANS?
To The Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2018 While claiming to support the Iranian people, Vice President Pence neglected to mention the devastating impact of the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban and steep cutbacks in refugee admissions. The Trump administration’s policies are discriminatory and based on false claims that people from certain majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, have not been screened. I have worked on hundreds of cases of Iranian asylum seekers and others seeking resettlement in the United States. Many Iranians have been awaiting resettlement in the United States for years, after having undergone thorough vetting by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and multiple layers of screening
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
by U.S. agencies. These include members of persecuted religious minorities such as the Baha’i community and those who have experienced human rights abuses for their peaceful activities. Iranians who had been granted asylum and refugees resettled in the United States have contributed to their communities and to this country in many ways. They are not potential enemies. I hope that the current administration will correct its harmful policies so that the United States will welcome and truly support those who have suffered repression. Elise Auerbach, Chicago, IL. The writer is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA.
U.S. WRONG TO DENY REFUGEES AT TIME OF GREAT GLOBAL NEED
To the Lexington Herald-Leader, Jan. 26, 2018 Jan. 27 marked the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s first travel ban, which prohibited immigrants from seven Muslimmajority countries from traveling to the United States and banned all refugees from entry for four months. Since then, U.S. immigration policy has been a tangle of challenges by appeals courts and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, uncertainties for resettlement agencies and sporadic admissions. As things now stand, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on immigration in April. Meanwhile, in this era of huge numbers of people displaced by wars, disasters and persecution, what is happening to refugees who want to come to this country and may have endured years of vetting? According to Refugee Council USA, admissions have fallen to the lowest levels since the 1980s. In October, Trump capped refugee admissions at 45,000 for the fiscal year 2018, fewer than half the number admitted during the previous year. Even so, the administration has been stealthily working to reduce reception of refugees even further. Only 5,323 refugees were admitted during the first quarter of the fiscal year. In today’s world, it does not seem fitting that our country has so severely constricted opportunities for legal immigration. Martha Park, Lexington, KY
YEMEN WAR IS POINTLESS
To The New York Times, Jan. 4, 2018 Re “The Yemen Crucible” (editorial, Dec. 28), about the Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government and the terrible toll its actions are taking on the country: MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Saudi Arabia will never emerge victorious in Yemen. Yemenis have a rich civilization, heritage, and cultural and natural treasures. The country’s geography and proud people make it impossible for Yemen to be colonized. Those who have tried to conquer the country in the past have learned this lesson. The continuation of the current war means further human misery, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, extremism, radicalism, famine, diseases and regional insecurity. It is indeed ridiculous to think that slaughtering Yemenis will alleviate suffering, bring peace in the Middle East and persuade Iran to stop its expansionist ambitions and nuclear program. The sooner the international community realizes this, the better. Munjed Fraid al Qutob, London, UK
THE U.S. WILL NEVER DEFEAT THE TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN
To The Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2018 Regarding the Jan. 17 front-page article “No rest for U.S. air blitz in Afghanistan”: Yet another “new” strategy in Afghanistan said to be a “game-changer.” And, thus, the enhanced pounding of the Taliban from the air joins the long list of supposedly conflict-altering strategies employed by the United States in Afghanistan for almost 17 years. This shift in policy supposedly signals to the Taliban that the United States is “here to stay.” But the game remains the same. U.S. casualty totals continue to mount; billions in U.S. resources are expended; U.S. strategic capital is surrendered to Russia and China; and the Taliban forces wait. They wait because they know that U.S. policymakers will eventually conclude that there exists no viable strategic purpose for an indefinite U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan based on the post-9/11 contention that such a presence represents the only effective means by which to deter future Afghanbased terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. They wait because they know that, despite its best efforts, the United States will never succeed in fostering a functioning democracy in Afghanistan. They wait because, as noted by the Center on International Cooperation’s Barnett Rubin, they cannot leave their country, and the United States can and ultimately will. David E. Graham, Charlottesville, VA
TIME FOR CONGRESS TO HOLD TRUMP ACCOUNTABLE FOR WARS
To the Bangor Daily News, Jan. 4, 2018 For 17 years, our country has engaged MARCH/APRIL 2018
in endless war under the authorization for the use of military force granted to the president by Congress in 2001. This abdication by Congress of its constitutional mandate, under Article I, Section 8, to be the only authority to declare war has provided a blank check for three presidents to bomb and invade any country on the globe. To date, 37 military actions in 14 different countries have taken place under the cover of this authorization. For 16 years, there also has been a continuous weekly silent vigil for peace in Houlton, without a week missed—one of a dozen around Maine. As 2018 begins, it is surely time for Congress to take back its mandated sole responsibility to declare war. Please encourage our four representatives to Congress to make this effort a priority in the new year. Harrison and Marilyn Roper, Houlton, ME
THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS IMMORALITY OF GUANTANAMO
To the Finger Lakes Times, Jan. 7, 2018 “Guantanamo Bay is the anti-Statue of Liberty.”—Thomas Friedman Last week Defense Secretary James Mattis visited troops at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station for the holiday. This visit came after recent U.N. reports of torture there, but the secretary insisted that he was only going to meet with the troops to thank them for their service. The Pentagon confirmed that Mattis would not inspect detention facilities or discuss detainee policy. Wouldn’t the secretary of defense be interested in the conditions of the world’s most infamous prison? Wouldn’t any CEO of his/her organization want to know what is happening on the ground, face to face? It has been 16 years since another secretary of defense (Donald Rumsfeld) visited Gitmo, and since then, nearly 800 prisoners have been held at the facility; 731 of these detainees were released without charges; 15 were children under age 18; and 9 have died by suicide or other causes. According to Human Rights Watch, of the 41 detainees that remain at Guantanamo only 7, Abd-al-Rahim al-Nashri, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, and five Sept. 11, 2001 co-defendants, face any formal charges. Again, considering the facility’s history of torture, arrests without charges, locked up juveniles, and deaths of detainees, wouldn’t Mattis want to give the place a good look through? Or does the
secretary not want to know what goes on there? Guantanamo Bay is still one of the most effective propaganda tools in the world for militant Islamic fundamentalists. The maximum security prison, based in Cuba, was set up by the Bush administration in January 2002, apparently in response to the attacks of 9/11. But as former President Jimmy Carter has stated: “What has happened at Guantanamo Bay...does not represent the will of the American people...I’m embarrassed about it, I think it’s wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use despicable means to hurt innocent people.” President Barack Obama made this case in even stronger terms. “I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength...We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend.” Along with Carter and Obama, the vast majority of Americans know that keeping Gitmo open is tactically misguided and blatantly immoral. Americans also know that it gives terrorists an opportunity to say, “Why can’t we torture? You do.” It makes our entire constitutional system of due process look ridiculous. So why, after 16 years, have we failed to muster the moral and political courage to shut down this global symbol of evil? George Cassidy Payne, Rochester, NY ■
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Tunisia at Home and Abroad SOCIOECONOMIC ANGER
FETHI BELAID/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
In fact, the economic situation has worsened since 2011. The country’s public debt jumped from 39.2 percent of the GDP in 2010 to 60.6 percent in 2016. The Tunisian dinar, the local currency, lost around 40 percent of its value to the U.S. dollar. Unemployment persisted, especially among youth (around 35 percent now). The prices of basic goods have been continually rising. Tunisians of all walks of life complain that their living conditions are deteriorating and that they are unable to make ends meet each month. This is the main trigger of today’s protests. And in a way, Tunisians wave their national flag as they gather on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis on Jan. 14, 2018 it was also the trigger of most of to mark the seven-year anniversary since the uprising that launched the Arab Spring. the demonstrations the country has witnessed for the past seven years. What sparked this wave of protests is the finance law which came into effect on Jan. 1. The parliament passed the law last year and, although it was disBy Youssef Cherif cussed in the media, it did not catch the public’s eye. It was only when prices went up that people paid attention. JAN. 14 MARKED the seventh anniversary of the fall of Tunisia’s A group of mostly young activists launched a protest campaign dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But instead of celebrating, against the law called "Fech Nestanaou" (What are we waiting for?). Tunisians were out in the streets again. What went wrong? They were a few dozens whose actions were limited to tags on walls The dictatorship established in the 1950s, which morphed into and distributing tracts. The police, unreformed and still working with a police state in the later decades, banned politics and pushed the Ben Ali-era methods, harassed, brutalized and arrested (briefly) citizens away from their country’s public affairs. The Tunisian revmany of them. A smear campaign against the movement followed. olution swept away that closure and created the Tunisian homoBut because of the latent anger, many people went out demonpoliticus. Since January 2011, Tunisians have become incredibly strating, independently from "Fech Nestanaou." Leftist political politicized and the political system has been opened to all. Yet groups, some of them with anarchist tendencies, joined the movewhat the Revolution did not do was create a Tunisian homo-ecoment as well. Protests spread in the streets of Tunis, Sfax, Jebenomicus. The Tunisian economy remained mismanaged. niana, Sousse and other cities across the country. Criminal eleAnger boiled over when the political opening reached its limits ments managed to take advantage of the situation and there were and that mismanagement was no longer tolerable. incidents of looting in some areas.
Why Are Tunisians Protesting?
Youssef Cherif is a Tunis-based political analyst and member of the Carnegie Civic Research Network. Copyright © 2018 Al Jazeera Media Network. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 42
A POLITICAL ELITE WITHOUT A PEOPLE
This latest crisis comes amid a larger one which has gripped the country since the fall of Ben Ali’s regime.
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The elections of 2014 elevated two winners: centrist party Nidaa Tounes and the Islamist Ennahda. Nidaa Tounes, whose political campaign was built on countering Ennahda, agreed to form an alliance with the latter. This led to a general disappointment among the party grassroots, and a wave of resignations ensued. Then, when party leader Beji Caid Essebsi left the party to become president of Tunisia, a succession crisis erupted and the party fell apart. The alliance was, therefore, from the beginning a weak one and based on mistrust. The “consensus,” which was mainly the result of agreements between Caid Essebsi and Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi, could not go deep into the constituencies of the two parties. It remained purely nominal. Ministers and members of parliament were disconnected from their bases, and many laws and measures they passed reflected their self-interest and had limited reach. But while weakened as a political party, Nidaa Tounes remained symbolically strong. For many “secular” Tunisians, it is the secular alternative to Ennahda. For members of the Tunisian bureaucracy, it is the old state-party. For the international community, it is the “modernist” facade of Tunisia. As for Ennahda’s leadership, fearing the local and global hostility toward Islamism, Nidaa Tounes was a good smokescreen behind which to hide. The “consensus,” as dysfunctional as it is, remains the best alternative for two exhausted enemies. Therefore, when the parliament examined the finance law drafted by the government and largely inspired by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there was very little opposition among the “consensus” MPs. They voted for the law, but they did not defend it in public and could not present it to their constituencies. Additionally, due to disagreements between Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and the leadership of the political parties within his coalition government, communication about the finance law and its implementation was limited. His relationship with the president is also said to be rather dysfunctional, which adds another level to the existing deep-rooted crisis.
EMPTY POLITICAL PROMISES
The finance law was, furthermore, a blow to many Nidaa Tounes voters’ expectations. During the 2014 electoral campaign, Nidaa Tounes rallied its supporters with the promise not only to counter the Islamist Ennahda, but also to strengthen the state. Its followers saw in this promise the comeback of the strong state as it was under Tunisia’s nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba (in power 19561987). They imagined an idealized past—where the state would provide jobs, subsidies, social security and so on—coming back. Likewise, expectations were high among those who voted for Ennahda; many were expecting better distribution of wealth, social welfare and more social projects. In reality, however, the Nidaa Tounes-Ennahda government gradually applied austerity measures, decreased subsidies and limited public sector employment. This situation has been repeating since 2011. Economic problems lead to popular anger. Popular anger leads to popular reMARCH/APRIL 2018
volt. Political parties exploit that anger to gain power by means of false promises, and then fail to alleviate the economic problems. It is a vicious circle. Solving the current crisis will not be easy. The angry citizens will hardly accept another series of promises. Suspending the finance law may help calm the streets, but it will slow down the economy even more. The government might be sacked and Caid Essebsi and Ghannouchi might agree on appointing another prime minister, but that would mean perpetuating the vicious cycle. Moreover, this dead-end may bring back the old practices from the dictatorship era and trigger the rebuilding of the police state. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Amnesty International have recently warned the Tunisian government against such attempts. There is, therefore, an urgency to find a solution, perhaps by forming a government of technocrats similar to the one that led the country to its 2014 elections, in order to organize the May 2018 local elections and the late 2019 legislative and presidential elections. The country’s hope is that these elections will bring in fresh blood and different, more representative and able politicians.
Tunisia Feels Heat From the GCC By Giorgio Cafiero and Khalid al-Jaber
ON DEC. 22, tension between Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) heated up. Citing “credible security information” about militant female members of the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) planning on entering the UAE with Tunisian passports, the Dubai-based airline Emirates banned Tunisian women on all Dubai-bound flights. Due to pre-existing friction in bilateral relations, Emirati authorities avoided informing their Tunisian counterparts in advance. Two days later, Tunisia’s government suspended all Tunis-bound Emirates flights. Then, in this tit-for-tat spat, the Emiratis responded by indefinitely cancelling all flights between the UAE and Tunisia. Although officials in Tunisia, which is home to 3,000-6,000 foreign recruits who joined IS ranks in Iraq and Syria, acknowledged legitimate security concerns, the ban has created outrage in Tunisia. Tunisian unions and women’s rights groups have pressured the country’s politicians into taking a unified stance against the UAE’s decision, as have scores of civil society groups and social media users who strongly condemned the blanket ban. The spat is heightening tension in Tunis-Abu Dhabi relations, which has built up since the 2011 Jasmine Revolution. Although not an economic, cultural, or political center of the Arab world, Tunisia is widely recognized as the catalyst of the Arab Spring
Giorgio Cafiero is the CEO and founder of Gulf State Analytics, a Washington, DC-based geopolitical risk consultancy.Khalid al-Jaber is the director of Gulf International Forum (@GulfIntlForum), an independent institute based in Washington, DC that is aimed at educating the public on the Gulf region. Copyright © 2018 LobeLog. All rights reserved.
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revolts that the UAE has seen as highly destabilizing. Moreover, the North African country’s transition since 2011 has alarmed the UAE due to Tunisia’s impact on the greater Arab world’s future. Specifically, the UAE opposes the “Tunisian model” based on inclusion of all nonviolent elements of the political spectrum, including Islamists who respect pluralism and democratic practices. Officials in Abu Dhabi are deeply unsettled by the possibility of Libya, where the UAE has high stakes, and other Arab countries embracing the “Tunisian model.” The UAE, like other Arab states, has a history of Islamists pursuing political and social aims that unsettle the rulers and have led to widespread crackdowns and jailing of Muslim Brotherhood figures. Thus, the UAE is worried that Islamists could cement power in Tunisia and in other countries in the Maghreb, from where the Ennahda Movement can either directly or indirectly add momentum to Islamist movements in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Tunisians currently angry with the UAE understand Abu Dhabi’s action as merely the latest pressure imposed on their country by the UAE since Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 2011 ouster. In 2015, for example, UAE authorities denied visa applications of businessmen from Tunisia at a time when Tunisians already had difficulties re-
newing permits to work in the GCC country. Interestingly, like December’s female passenger ban, the stated purpose was Tunisian militants who joined IS, yet none of the Tunisian nationals denied visas had any affiliations with violent extremism. Tunisia was a close ally of the UAE under Ben Ali’s reign. After the Jasmine Revolution, however, Tunis shifted away from Abu Dhabi and toward Doha. Al Jazeera’s critical coverage of Ben Ali over the years won Qatar favor with Tunisia’s new government, and the Qatari stateowned network certainly influenced realities on the ground during the anti-regime protests of 2010 and 2011. By 2012, Doha and Tunis signed 10 agreements in investment and construction, and Tunisian armed forces took part in military drills in Qatar. The UAE was unsettled by Qatar’s growing influence in Tunisia and other Maghrebi states where Doha backed certain Islamists, a factor that helped drive the UAE and other Arab states to blockade Qatar last June. The GCC’s Qatar rift, coupled with mounting tension between the UAE and Turkey, added new friction to Tunis-Abu Dhabi relations last year. Tunisia has maintained an officially neutral position in the Qatar crisis. Yet by staying out of the Saudi/UAE-led bloc—known as the AntiTerror Quartet (ATQ)—and expressing support for Turkey’s futile efforts to mediate
A PProject roject of Middle East Children’s Children’s Alliance
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between the ATQ and Doha, Tunis has clearly not been on the same page with the UAE. Ultimately, Tunisia and Qatar maintain close ties, rooted in Qatar’s investments in the North African country that started in the 1990s. Qatar’s support for Tunisia following the 2011 revolution is another major reason why Tunis has responded to the GCC’s row neutrally without succumbing to any Emirati/Saudi pressure to sever ties with Doha. Simultaneously, Tunisian firms have played an important role in cooperating with Qatar in agriculture and aquaculture, helping Doha meet new food security requirements since the ATQ’s blockade went into effect in June. Not only is Tunisia’s amicable relationship with Qatar fueling more tension in Tunis’ ties with Abu Dhabi, but Tunisia’s relations with Turkey and Iran are doing so too. In light of harsh rhetoric exchanged between Turkey and the UAE throughout 2017—most recently underscored by the fallout from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Jerusalem summit in Istanbul— and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s December visit to Tunis, the UAE perceives Tunisia as too close to Qatar and Turkey and other states in the region that sponsor groups that Abu Dhabi designates as terrorist organizations. Indeed, Tunis’ diplomatic engagement with Tehran shortly after the Qatar crisis erupted illustrated how Tunisia does not share Abu Dhabi and Riyadh’s vision of uniting the Sunni Arab world against Tehran on their terms. Ultimately, the UAE may find it difficult to pressure Tunisia into pivoting away from Abu Dhabi’s regional adversaries. Tunisia’s top import and export partners are China, European Union members, and fellow North African countries—not the UAE or other GCC states. How much economic leverage Abu Dhabi can actually wield over Tunis is unclear. Tunisians generally favor Doha in the ongoing GCC crisis, although a minority is sympathetic to the ATQ and staunchly anti-Qatari. Nonetheless, unless Tunis and Abu Dhabi can settle this recent spat, odds are good that more Tunisians will see their country as a victim of Emirati geopolitical maneuvers that may push Tunis closer to Doha. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Return to the “Homeland”: Syrian Armenian Refugees in Armenia
By Shannon Tawoos
KAREN MINASYAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
SITUATED IN THE south Caucasus is the small nation of Armenia. Once part of the Soviet Union, and only a fraction of historical Armenian lands, the republic has become the “homeland” for the global Armenian diaspora. Speaking at an Oct. 12, 2017 World Affairs Council event at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian said that about 25,000 refugees have been admitted into Armenia since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011. Many of these refugees are Syrian Armenians, but Yazidis and Assyrians have also entered Armenia. According to the UNHCR, in October 2017 there were more than 5 million registered Syrian refugees, most of them living in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. By comparison, 25,000 refugees may seem Syrian Armenian silversmith Levon Keoshkerian, 47, who came from Aleppo to the Armenian caplike a small number; but given Armenia’s ital in 2015, displays handicrafts for sale at an outdoor flea market in Yerevan, March 31, 2016. population of no more than 3 million, it notably the frozen conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagornomeans that the nation has let in more refugees per capita than Karabakh. That conflict is a consequence of the Soviet use of most others. the “divide and rule” tactic: the region is majority Armenian but For the Syrian Armenians, the conflict serves as a reminder of was placed within the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, which led how a large portion of the Armenian community came to settle to a violent conflict once the U.S.S.R. fell. This resulting conflict in Syria in 1915 as a result of the Armenian genocide. For cenis about both land and history, as Turkey continues to deny that turies, Armenians lived throughout Anatolia—today’s Turkey— the Armenian genocide occurred and supports Azerbaijan. but during World War I, many were forced out of their historical Hovhannissian admitted that issues exist, explaining that Arhomeland and forced to march south to the desert. Syria and menia believes that refugees need to be taken care of, but the Lebanon became a refuge and new home to the Ottoman Armecountry’s economic situation prevents the government from taknians, who joined the small historical Armenian communities in ing care of them in the way they deserve. Given that “limited cacities such as Aleppo. The marches and massacres resulted in pacity, I think we’ve done quite well,” said Hovhannissian, who the death of 1.5 million Armenians, and the collective memory of prior to joining the Armenian foreign service worked for the these massacres has become intertwined with Armenian identity. United Nations, including serving as the U.N. High CommisIn his talk, the Armenian ambassador also mentioned the effect sioner for Refugees in Yerevan. that genocide has had on Armenian identity. According to the World Bank, Armenia’s GDP in 2016 was The diaspora has hoped to one day return to the homeland, about $10.5 billion; its GDP per capita was about $3,600—makand the formation of the Republic of Armenia, while much ing it the poorest of the three south Caucasian republics (the smaller than was promised in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, gave other two being Georgia and Azerbaijan). Further, Armenia’s unthe Armenian diaspora a homeland to support. employment rate as of June 2017 was 17.8 percent. Its 1990 However, moving back to the “homeland” is not a perfect picpopulation of approximately 3.6 million has since declined to just ture. The Republic of Armenia faces its own challenges, most under 3 million, as Armenians emigrate elsewhere for education Shannon Tawoos is a Washington Report intern. and better economic opportunities. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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However, Hovhannissian explained, he believes Armenia is “up and running”: despite its economic and security challenges, he said, it no longer is reliant on foreign aid. The ambassador did express concern over U.S.-Russian relations as well as U.S.-Iranian relations. Given that Armenia’s borders are closed by two of its neighboring four countries, increased trade with Iran would have a positive impact on the Armenian economy. Armenia will abide by the international community’s decisions regarding sanctions against Iran, Hovhannissian said—since it is such a small country it must abide by the international consensus. Speaking about the changes in U.S. foreign policy, Hovhannissian stated that the U.S. is “dear to Armenians” due to the approximately two million strong Armenian-American population and the help Armenians received from Americans during the genocide. Economic challenges aside, even though many of the refugees from Syria are Armenian themselves, language and cultural
barriers exist. There is a stark difference between the Eastern Armenian dialect spoken in Armenia and the Western Armenian dialect spoken in the Middle East, creating barriers for entering the workplace. In addition, many Armenians speak Russian, sometimes shifting between the two languages, causing further confusion for the refugees. Classes in Eastern Armenian are offered to help lessen this divide; however, according to the government, subsidized Russian-language courses for refugees were halted due to low attendance. The Syrian Armenians have made a very visible impact in Armenia. The most visible change is the opening of restaurants in Yerevan and the availability of new foods and products. The number of Syrian Armenians who have remained in Armenia is debated, with several sources claiming that as many as half the refugees have moved on to countries with better economic opportunities. The Armenians are not the only ones facing cultural barriers. Issues with integration are also being faced by the small num(Advertisement)
ber of Iraqi Yezidis who have moved to Armenia. Yezidis constitute Armenia’s largest minority, with a population of about 35,000 (making it just over 1 percent of the Armenian population). The villages populated by Yezidis are often mixed between them and Armenians, and Armenian Yezidis have become integrated with the rest of Armenian society. Over the years, Armenian Yezidis have also begun to worship differently than their co-religionists in Iraq. Additionally, there is only one temple for Armenia’s 35,000 Yezidis; however, in 2016 construction on the Quba Mere Diwane, which will be the largest Yezidi temple in the world, began in the Armenian village of Aknalich. The ongoing conflict in Syria has brought many Armenians back to their “homeland,” but that return is marred by economic and cultural challenges. Despite this, according to Ambassador Hovhannissian, the Armenian government is doing what it can to take care of the small number of Syrian refugees it can afford to welcome. ■
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Islam and the Near East in the Far East
Mahathir Is Opposition Candidate for Malaysian Prime Minister—Officially, at Least
By John Gee
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
AS EXPECTED, MAHATHIR Mohamad has been chosen as the candidate of the Malaysian opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Coalition of Hope), for prime minister. If the PH wins this year’s general election—which must be held on or before Aug. 24—he would become the world’s oldest head of government, at age 92. The PH is a fourparty alliance composed of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PeoFormer Malaysian prime minister and current opposition candidate Mahathir Mohamad (c) leaves the Cheras ple’s Justice Party, or Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur after being denied a visit with former Malaysian opposition leader Anwar PKR), Parti Pribumi Ibrahim, Jan. 10, 2018. Bersatu Malaysia ences, on which there is unlikely to be a meeting of minds. Cer(Malaysian United Indigenous Party, or PPBM), Democratic Actainly, Mahathir continues to present the years of his leadership tion Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (National Trust as a great time for Malaysians and has next to nothing to say in Party, known as Amanah). self-criticism: he portrays the years since he stepped down from The PKR was founded by ex-Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim, office as ones in which the country had a weak leader (in the after he was sacked by then-Prime Minister Mahathir in 1998. It form of Abdullah Badawi) followed by a conspicuously corrupt presents itself as a democratic and reformist party that wishes leader in the form of current Prime Minister Najib Razak. to do away with corruption and unethical practices within the With Anwar in prison until June, the leader of the PKR is his Malaysian political system. Critics point out that this was the syswife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who the PH has adopted as its tem through which Anwar originally rose to high office, and that candidate for the post of vice prime minister. The leadership was managed by Mahathir during his decades as the country’s agreement hammered out by the coalition stipulates that, should leader. Given that it was a government headed by Mahathir upon it be victorious in the elections and Mahathir become prime minwhich the PKR had trained its sights when it was founded, but ister, he will relinquish the post to Anwar once the latter is able to that the PKR has now assented not only to cooperate with him take it up. Anwar was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five but to back him for the premiership, it is not surprising that a deyears’ imprisonment. In the normal course of events, he would gree of skepticism may be found among wide sectors of the elecbe barred from standing for any political office for five years from torate. This is no doubt why the PH’s component parties choose the date of his release, but he would become eligible for election to focus entirely upon the future and not dwell upon past differand office if a royal pardon was granted by the Malaysian king in response to a request from a new government. John Gee is a free-lance journalist based in Singapore, and the The PH evidently sees winning Malay support away from the author of Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians and Israel. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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ruling Barisan Nasional/UMNO government as crucial, and all its election planning emphasizes that. The allocation of seats to be contested by the coalition parties reflects this. Of 165 constituencies in West Malaysia (consisting of the Malay peninsula), 51 will be contested by PKR, 52 by Mahathir’s PPBM, 35 by the Chinese-based DAP and 27 by the Islamist reformist Amanah. In addition, PKR will contest a number of seats in East Malaysia, consisting of Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan, in northern Borneo. How many is not clear at the time of writing, and it may well be that the PH does not wish to finalize arrangements for the 57 constituencies there without trying first to find local allies and agree on an apportionment of seats with them. Political life in East Malaysia, which accounts for just over 20 percent of Malaysia’s population, differs significantly from that in peninsular Malaysia. Unlike in Western Malaysia, where Malays form a clear majority, less than 15 percent of its people are (Advertisement)
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Malays. The proportion of Chinese is roughly similar, while slightly over half the population belong to indigenous people of Borneo. Understandably, issues of the status and rights of Malays that can fire up the electorate in peninsular Malaysia have less resonance in Eastern Malaysia. In the past, the Barisan Nasional has largely been able to regard Eastern Malaysia as a safe vote bank. In 2013, when it lost its two-thirds majority in the federal parliament following heavy losses of seats in Western Malaysia, it retained 47 of the 57 seats in the east, making up over one in three of its federal total of 147. It can be expected to do all that it can to defend its patch there. One instrument that it can use is the laws of Sabah and Sarawak that allow them to control the movement of citizens from elsewhere into their territories (including between the two states). They have been used in the past to bar politicians from opposition parties who are resident in Western Malaysia from travelling to Eastern Malaysia to campaign. This has made it difficult for the PKR and other opposition parties to build up support in these territories that could decide the outcome of the next election. The PH certainly faces an uphill struggle. Gerrymandered constituencies meant that, in the 2013 elections, the BN/UMNO government lost the majority of the popular vote but retained a safe majority of seats—and that was in an election in which nearly all electoral races were twohorse contests between government and opposition candidates. This time around, however, due to the exit of the Islamist party, PAS, from the opposition coalition that fought the 2013 election, there are likely to be numerous three-cornered contests that will split the opposition vote. The Merdeka Center opinion pollster suggests that the outcome of the election may well be an increased share of the popular vote for opposition parties, coupled with the BN achieving a two-thirds majority of parliamentary seats. As to issues in the election, although race, religion and democratic rights all figure as elements among the public’s con-
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
cerns, a Merdeka Center poll conducted between Nov. 4 and 7, 2017 indicated that the main concerns for 72 percent of the electorate were economic. It was perhaps significant that young people, who might be most expected to take an interest in political reform, were the age group found to be the most stressed when contemplating their economic future.
U.N. JERUSALEM VOTE: ASIA CONDEMNS TRUMP MOVE
Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was overwhelmingly opposed when the U.N. General Assembly voted on the resolution by Turkey and Yemen criticizing the move on Dec. 21. In Asia (excluding the Middle Eastern countries), not a single state voted with Israel and the U.S. Twenty-three, including such U.S. allies as Japan, Singapore and South Korea, voted in favor of the critical resolution. Perhaps in response to the threats made by Trump and Washington’s U.N. representative, Nikki Haley, to take account of countries’ votes in providing aid, the Philippines abstained, and a number of other Asian countries—Bhutan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Timor Leste and Turkmenistan—were absent when the vote took place. Earlier, immediately following Trump’s announcement, critical statements were issued by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, attending the Bali Democracy Forum, donned a black-and-white keffiyeh and declared her country’s condemnation of the move. “Indonesia will always stand with Palestine,” she said. Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry said that the decision could have “grave repercussions” for the region’s security and stability. A Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said, “The status of Jerusalem is a sensitive and complex issue with a long history. Any premature and unilateral action to alter the status of Jerusalem will impede progress for a peaceful resolution of the Middle East and Palestinian problem.” ■ MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Christianity and the Middle East
Tensions Mount Between Middle Eastern Christians, American Evangelicals
By Gregory Aftandilian
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
THE DENUNCIATIONS BY leaders of Middle Eastern Christian churches of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital underscore sharp differences between those denominations and the American evangelical community, which sees Vice President Mike Pence as its champion. Although Pence grew up in an IrishAmerican Roman Catholic family, he became an evangelical while in college and has been outspoken about his faith since then. Pence played a crucial role in persuading the evangelical community to back Trump for president in 2016 (Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical vote) despite misgivings over Trump’s personal behavior. Pence told an “In Defense of Christians” conference in October in Washington that Israelis greet evangelical Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem during the annual support march for the Trump administration would focus on Israel organized by the International Christian Embassy and the Jerusalem municipality on protecting Christians in the Middle East as the Jewish Sukkot holiday, Oct. 10, 2017. part of its national security priorities. tianity before Armageddon. “Christianity is under unprecedented assault in those ancient These beliefs led many evangelicals to wholeheartedly favor lands where it first grew,” Pence said. “Across the wider Middle Israel and be uncritical of its policies. They say Israel has an exEast, we can now see a future in many areas without a Christian clusive right to the Holy Land, and have little sympathy for Palesfaith but tonight, I came to tell you: Help is on the way.” tinian rights. Thus, evangelicals were very pleased when Trump He said the United States would “hunt down and destroy” the announced on Dec. 6, with Pence standing behind him, that the Islamic State (ISIS), which has carried out atrocities against both United States was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Middle Eastern Christians and Muslims. Middle Eastern Christians, who represent many Christian deWhile such anti-ISIS rhetoric and the highlighting of the terror nominations, however, do not believe that Israel has an exclusive group’s persecution of Christians are generally welcomed by Midright to the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, which is holy to all dle Eastern Christians, other aspects of the Trump administration’s three monotheistic faiths—Christianity, Judaism and Islam. They agenda are not. This includes the Jerusalem decision. generally do not take a literal interpretation of the scriptures. American evangelicals have a very different view of Israel and Hence, they find the evangelical belief of a gathering of Jews into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than Middle Eastern Christian comthe Holy Land for mass conversion to Christianity to be absurd. Inmunities do. Many, if not most, evangelicals believe in a literal instead, they see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in political terms, a terpretation of the Bible. In their understanding, the second comconflict that needs to be rectified through a political settlement. ing of Christ can only take place after all Jews have gathered in the One Palestinian Lutheran minister recently told The WashingHoly Land, where they would undergo a mass conversion to Christon Post: “The Bible originated in Palestine, not in the Bible Belt Gregory Aftandilian is a lecturer at the Pardee School of Global [of America], but people in the Bible Belt read the Bible in a way Studies at Boston University and a former U.S. State Department that makes our lives difficult.” Middle East analyst. Copyright © 2017 The Arab Weekly. Distributed by Agence Global. Continued on page 71 MARCH/APRIL2018
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Israel and Judaism
Adelson-Funded IAC and Other Groups May Soon Rival AIPAC for Influence, Power
By Allan C. Brownfeld
full-page ad headlined, “Secretary Rice: Don’t Promote a State for Palestinians.” A more recent vehicle for Adelson to promote his views is the Israeli-American Council (IAC), launched in 2007 as a Los Angeles nonprofit focusing on organizing the local community of nearly 200,000 Israelis or ex-Israelis living in the area. The IAC presented itself as a bipartisan, largely non-political organization. All of this changed in 2013 when, IAC cofounder and CEO Shoham Nicolet wrote in The Times of Israel, “Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson were introduced to the IAC and overnight decided to drive its nationwide growth. During an event in their home, several months before last year’s presidential election, Mr. Adelson, (L-r) Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson and former Gov. Mitt Romney at the inaugural standing before an IAC crowd, smiled and said: ‘You all know who Miriam and I Israeli-American National Conference in Washington, DC in November 2014. voted for, it is probably not a secret.’ The AS SUPPORT FOR the Israeli government and its 50-year ocaudience laughed...He continued and emphasized that to win cupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem diminishes the fight for Israel and the future of the Jewish people, we must among American Jews, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelhave everyone as part of the IAC—Democrats and Republison has stepped up his efforts to defend Israel’s right-wing govcans alike.” ernment and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Originally, Haim Saban, another billionaire supporter of Israel, As a major contributor to AIPAC, Adelson helped underwrite who contributed large sums to Hillary Clinton’s campaign—and, many congressional trips to Israel sponsored by AIPAC’s educalike Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-American—was also involved tional affiliate and contributed funds for its lavish new headquarwith the IAC. Both Adelson and Saban share a tough line on ters in Washington. In November 2007, however, he learned that Iran. At IAC’s 2014 meeting, Saban said Israel should “bomb AIPAC was supporting a congressional letter, signed by more the living daylights out of those sons of bitches.” But they disthan 130 House members, urging the Bush administration to inagreed on Palestine. Saban said that without a two-state solucrease economic aid to the Palestinians—an initiative the govtion, Israel would be forced to choose between being a Jewish ernment of Israel also supported. But Adelson was outraged. state and a democratic one. Adelson responded: “Israel isn’t Having always rejected the idea of a two-state solution, Adelgoing to be a democratic state—so what?” A year later, in Octoson has said there is no such thing as the Palestinian people. ber 2015, Saban ended his support for IAC. He has been a major contributor to the far-right Zionist OrganiIn an Oct. 31, 2017 article headlined, “Adelson-funded Israel zation of America (ZOA), which opposed the 2007 peace conLobby Group IAC Could Soon Rival AIPAC,” the Israeli newspaference in Annapolis. With Adelson’s support, the ZOA ran a per Haaretz reported that, “Congress is where the IAC is now setting its sights. In 2016, another organization, Israeli-AmeriAllan C. Brownfeld is a syndicated columnist and associate editor of can Coalition For Action was founded. It focuses on political lobthe Lincoln Review, a journal published by the Lincoln Institute for bying in Congress on issues such as Iran and fighting Boycott, Research and Education, and editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).” 50
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According to the New York Jewish Week, IAC “is the driving force and political architect of anti-BDS laws.” Showing its growing influence in this country, IAC’s 2017 conference featured, for the first time, a prominent U.S. government speaker, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, as well as Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon. Other speakers included Israel’s far-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and its equally extreme Deputy Foreign Minister (and Likud MP) Tzipi Hotovely—whose appearance came shortly after she attacked American Jews for “assimilating” into American society, saying they do not understand Israel because they “never send their children to fight for their country.” She was criticized for her remarks by Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin—who himself once described Reform Judaism as “idol-worship, and not Judaism.” There was no criticism of Hotovely from Sheldon Adelson. The IAC is not the only Adelson-funded organization attempting to silence opposition to Israeli occupation policies and promote the interests of the settler movement. Alpha Epsilon Pi, or AEPi, known as “the Jewish fraternity,” is expanding to Israel. It recently chartered its third branch in Israel at Tel Aviv University, Israel’s largest academic institution. Others are already active at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, known for its significant English-speaking student body, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While officially apolitical, AEPi relies on funding from Adelson. According to The Forward, it “played a role in blacklisting the liberal lobby J Street from joining the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and his group, The World Values Network, is another Adelson favorite. It runs full-page ads to describe critics of Israel as “anti-Semites.” According to The Guardian, “Boteach has accused numerous high-profile figures and institutions whose views on Israel and Israeli occupation he disagrees with of being anti-Semites, including the former MARCH/APRIL 2018
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who he accused of ‘devaluing Jewish lives’ and ‘appearing to justify the spilling of Jewish blood’ over his pursuit of an Iranian nuclear deal.” Ironically, alt-right leader Richard Spencer finds Israel and its ethnocentric policies worthy of praise—a virtual model for the Aryan homeland he wants to create in the U.S. Speaking at the University of Florida last October, he said: “The most important and most revolutionary ethno-state, and it’s one that I turn to for guidance...is the Jewish state of Israel...the Jewish state of Israel is not just another country in the Middle East. It is a country for Jews and for Jews around the world.” He described his desire for a white European enclave in North America as “white Zionism.”
Prior to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Eli Clifton, writing in the Israeli journal +972, noted that, “Trump’s biggest campaign contributor, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is showing growing impatience with Trump’s slowness in moving the embassy...Adelson was reportedly furious with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in May for suggesting in a ‘Meet The Press’ interview that moving the embassy should be contingent on the peace process...Adelson and his wife
Miriam spent more than $80 million on Republicans in 2016 and he gave $15 million to Trump’s inauguration...According to Newt Gingrich in 2012, unconditional support for Israel is Adelson’s ‘central value’ when Adelson was funding his presidential campaign’s Super PAC.” Adelson once said that, while he served in the U.S. Army, he wished it had been the Israeli army instead. He has poured more than $200 million into Israel Hayom, the loss-making give-away tabloid he founded in 2007 and which is now Israel’s largest newspaper, widely known as the “Bibiton,” or “Bibiton-daily.” The paper’s role in Netanyahu’s 2009 election victory seemed so clear that his opponents called for an investigation into its funding under Israel’s election financing laws. In fact, Adelson has always been to the right of Netanyahu and publicly criticized his 2009 Bar Ilan University speech endorsing Israel’s official policy of a twostate solution. In financing the parties in power in both Israel and the U.S., Sheldon Adelson seems to have become the arbiter of Middle East policy in the two countries. In this enterprise, the long-term interests of both Israel and the U.S. have been put in jeopardy, international law has been repudiated, and a just solution for the conflicting claims of Israelis and Palestinians has been rejected. ■
Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a grassroots communitybased Palestinian health organization, founded in 1979 by Palestinian doctors, needs your support today. Visit our Website <www.pmrs.ps> to see our work in action. Mail your U.S. Tax-Deductible check to our American Foundation: Friends of UPMRC, Inc PO Box 450554 • Atlanta, GA 31145 For more information call: (404) 441-2702 or e-mail: email@example.com WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
DIPLOMATIC DOINGS Palestinian Ambassador: Jerusalem Announcement a “Lethal Bullet”
Ambassador Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO’s General Delegation to the United States, used his Jan. 25 appearance at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC to denounce President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In March 2017, the Gaza-born diplomat noted, Trump promised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. was committed to being an unbiased arbiter between Israel and Palestine. As a result, Palestine gave its full commitment to working with the administration, Zomlot said, and began holding meetings with U.S. officials. Palestine’s confidence in the new U.S. administration was short-lived, however, Zomlot added, as it quickly became clear that U.S. officials were not serious about starting negotiations. “We, since May, have been literally nagging for this [negotiations] to happen with no success,” he said. “So when I hear that the Palestinians walked away from negotiations, I just pause. It was us for all these months, in every meeting, in every encounter, saying that we’re ready, don’t waste another day.” When Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, Zomlot said Palestine realized why the U.S. refused to initiate negotiations: because they were planning on unilaterally siding with Israel. The ambassador said Trump’s announcement signaled the end of the U.S. commitment to the 26-year-old peace process aimed at achieving a two-state solution and resolving the “final status” issues, prominent among them being Jerusalem. “President Trump reneged not only on the long-held U.S. and international policy, but reneged on his own promises [not to impose and tell the two sides what to do],” Zomlot stated. “He came all of a sudden and decided to take the heart of the two-state solution out, the core of all issues, the mother of all the issues—Jerusalem—unilaterally.” Zomlot said the U.S. decision to impose 52
an outcome was the final straw for the long frustrated Palestinians. “We have kept that engagement with the U.S. despite the fact that the performance of the U.S. during these 26 years was dismal, was not honest, could not bring itself to the level of an honest mediator,” he said. “America was Israel’s lawyer for all these years,” Zomlot continued. “America would always start talking and negotiating with Israel. America would always present Israeli proposals, always. America would always find it easy to blame the victim…Yet, we kept firm in our engagement with America as the mediator. You know why? Because since Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot said 1991 [the Madrid peace conferPalestine remains committed to the two-state solution. ence], until the 6th of December 2017, America did not change its policy. he insisted. “Even if we are the last samuThat, despite the dishonesty, was enough rai, we believe that international resolutions have not come for no reason, they for us to continue the engagement.” In Zomlot’s opinion, Israeli Prime Minis- are the result of many decades of sufferter Binyamin Netanyahu’s fingerprints are ing and blood on both sides, and we want all over Trump’s Jerusalem decision. The to clench onto our vision of a solution Israeli leader and his ruling coalition have based on the 1967 borders and resolving publicly stated their opposition to two all our legitimate issues, including the states, he noted, and knew that Trump’s issue of refugees, the right of return.” —Dale Sprusansky announcement would “fire that lethal bullet at the very heart of the two-state solution.” Netanyahu “knows that Jerusalem is HUMAN RIGHTS the heart of the two-state solution,” Zomlot said. “If you want to kill it, aim there.” Women’s Rally for Ahed Tamimi Palestinian leadership has decided that And Palestine it must redefine its relationship with Israel, the ambassador explained. “It’s going to More than 200 protesters attended the Jan. take time, but we can no longer accept the 6 “Women’s Rally to Free Ahed Tamimi logic that our engagement with the current and all Palestinian Child Prisoners” in front Israeli government is really leading us into of the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. a solution,” he said. “We have to redefine Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, who called our relationship in every sphere. Not in a in to address the crowd, compared the reactionary way, but in a way that will take struggle for Palestine to the anti-apartheid us to a different place.” Specifically, he movement in South Africa. said that President Abbas has advocated The event was co-sponsored by Jews for for reaching out to the Israeli people in- Palestinian Right of Return and Al-Awda stead of the Israeli government. (the Palestine Right to Return Coalition), Despite the upheaval caused by and endorsed by Jewish Voice for PeaceTrump’s decision, Zomlot said Palestine Los Angeles, North America BDS, Ameriremains committed to the two-state solu- can Indian Movement (AIM), Black Lives tion. “We are not going to change course,” Matter (BLM) Pasadena, Code Pink and
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PHOTO COURTESY MEI
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(L-r) Karen Pomer of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Amani Barakat of the Al-Awda coalition and Lydia Ponce of Idle No More and the American Indian Movement at the Women’s Rally for Ahed and Palestine in Los Angeles. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). Karen Pomer of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return introduced Mary Hughes Thompson of the Free Gaza Movement and Women In Black-Los Angeles. Hughes Thompson was a passenger on the first boat to break the siege of Gaza in August 2008 (see November 2008 Washington Report, p. 15). Describing the 33hour sail from Cyprus to Gaza, where they were greeted by 45,000 Palestinians, she said, “I was 68 years old when I became involved in the Palestinian cause and went to the occupied West Bank to help with the Palestinian olive harvest. I was beaten by the Israeli settlers and shot using rubber bullets, which are actually live bullets.” “We know what oppression looks like. We know what genocide looks like,” said Idle No More organizer Lydia Ponce, citing the parallels to the Native American oppression in the U.S. Another speaker at the rally, Estee Chandler of Jewish Voice for Peace-Los Angeles, declared: “There are two systems of justice in Palestine. Israelis are governed under and represented by Israeli law, so if an Israeli child (or adult) violates the law, they are tried within the Israeli justice system. However, if a Palestinian child, or adult, ‘breaks the law’ they are imMARCH/APRIL 2018
mediately subjected to a military tribunal.” That system of justice is what 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi is facing today, in prison and denied bail as she awaits trial—possibly for months—for assaulting Israeli soldiers. That is the system that on Dec. 15 caused the severe disfigurement of Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin, who was shot in the head by Israeli military police at close range with a rubber bullet. Ahed Tamimi had just heard that news an hour before she slapped and kicked the Israeli soldiers outside her home.
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“Israel has a 99.7 percent conviction rate of Palestinians,” added Chandler, referencing the “10,000 children since 2000 who have been arrested and detained in Israeli prisons for refusing to submit to occupations or surveillance.” A Palestinian woman named Abir El Zowidi shared her experience: “I lived in Palestine, and I saw the truth. Palestine and its people need your support. I witnessed the young mothers of my family suffering, watched their kids being captured by Israeli soldiers. I remember seeing them, crying and brokenhearted.” The rally concluded with organizers calling on attendees to back H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, in Congress. The bill, introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), requires the certification that U.S. taxpayer funds will not be used to support Israel’s violation of international humanitarian law against Palestinian children. —Samir Twair
Activists Demand Israelis Release Ahed Tamimi
Some 50 human rights defenders rallied inside Washington, DC’s Union Station during the Jan. 10 evening commute, calling on Israel to release Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian children from Israeli prisons and detention centers. At least 400 Palestinian children are presently being held in Israeli jails. Often arrested during the night, no
Human rights defenders rally for Ahed Tamimi in Washington, DC’s Union Station. WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
family member is allowed to even speak to the child—who, once in custody, often is subjected to physical, psychological and verbal abuse and humiliation. Tamimi was arrested in her home in Nabi Saleh in a pre-dawn raid on Dec. 19. The previous day, a video of the 16-yearold slapping an Israeli soldier outside her home, following the point-blank shooting of her 15-year-old cousin in the face by Israeli soldiers, went viral on the Internet. Chanting “Free, Free Palestine,” “We want justice for Ahed” and “Not another nickel, not another dime—No more money for Israel’s crimes,” many activists held signs reading “Free Ahed” and “Stop the Show Trial.” An array of groups sponsored the event, including Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, American Friends Service Committee, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Veterans for Peace. —Elaine Pasquini
Activists Demand Closure of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center
Sixteen years after the opening of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 41 men—the majority of whom have never been charged with a crime, and 5 of whom have been cleared for release—remain incarcerated there. On Jan. 11, human rights activists, torture survivors, Guantanamo attorneys, exmilitary officials and members of diverse faith communities gathered in Lafayette Square in front of the White House calling for the closure of the facility, cessation of torture and the immediate release of cleared detainees. Activists handed out flyers informing passersby that “Guantanamo remains a blight on the U.S. reputation and a provocation for hostility against us.” “It is a credible shame for our democracy to have a prison like this,” said Rabbi Charles Feinberg, executive director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights. “It is a threat to our security; enrages those who are our true enemies, and, therefore, endangers Americans around the world.” Amineh Safi, national government affairs coordinator for the Council on American-Is54
Author and former national intelligence officer Mark Fallon calls for ending torture and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. lamic Relations (CAIR), reminded the crowd of America’s core tenants of “respect, dignity and justice” for all. “We ask God to help us speak the truth and implement justice regardless of who is the victim and who is the perpetrator,” she said. Mark Fallon, former NCIS deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, former deputy commander of the Department of Defense task force established by President George W. Bush to bring suspected terrorists to justice before military commissions at Guantanamo, and author of Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture, bemoaned “our national policy of state-sponsored torture.” “I am saddened at the injustice, torture and oppression I see going on at Guantanamo,” he said. “The prison should be shuttered, the rule of law restored and we should adhere to our obligations to hold those responsible accountable.” Just hours before the rally, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Reprieve, representing 11 detainees, filed a major challenge to Donald Trump’s continued detention of Guantanamo prisoners. The filing argues that continued detention is unconstitutional because any legitimate rationale for initially detaining these men has long since expired. CCR notes that Trump’s proclamation that he will not release any detainees during his administration reverses the approach and policies of both
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President Bush and President Barack Obama, who collectively released 730 men. Unless the courts intervene now, Trump’s blanket policy guarantees three, or even seven, more years of imprisonment. The Justice for Muslims Collective, Witness Against Torture and other human rights groups organized the noontime event. —Elaine Pasquini
Human Rights Defenders Protest Drone Warfare
As they have done the second Saturday of each month, members of Pax Christi and other human rights groups gathered in front of the White House Jan. 13 to protest the U.S. government’s use of drone warfare. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Act drafted by the George W. Bush administration in September 2001 has consistently been criticized by civil rights groups because hundreds of innocent men, women and children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Libya. Pax Christi, an international Catholic organization that rejects war, violence and racism, contends that drone killings fuel terrorism and perpetuate violence rather than deterring it. Several organizations, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal (a news website), New America and Bureau of Investigative Journalism, attempt to track the number of MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Outside the White House, activists protest drone warfare.
Women’s March in Washington, DC Ends at White House
This year the second annual Women’s March on Jan. 20 continued building excitement for women-related issues all across the country with large crowds in hundreds of cities voicing their concerns and impatience with the present administration in Washington. Women and their supporters came out in large numbers to support meaningful change on issues like reproductive rights, sexual harassment, political issues, gun violence, immigrant rights, environmental concerns and impeachment. The march in Washington began with an enthusiastic rally at the Lincoln Memorial where speaker after speaker addressed MARCH/APRIL 2018
women’s issues and encouraged those gathered to vote and run for public office to make a real change in America and
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drone airstrikes and casualties, but without accurate results, as journalists have limited direct access into how the U.S. government classifies these deaths. In the U.S., the manufacture of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), has grown in conjunction with the winding down of combat operations, and is predicted to grow with President Donald J. Trump’s demonstrated support of the use of UAVs. Israel also has a thriving drone manufacturing industry, although the Israeli company, Aeronautics Ltd., currently is under criminal investigation for alleged corruption and purported dealings with the Myanmar military, which is accused of ethnic cleansing for its treatment of the Rohingyas. —Elaine Pasquini
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American politics. The issue of voting revolved strongly around mid-term elections and the need to get out the vote to remove the Republican majority in the House and the Senate. Trump’s cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin was the fodder of many signs with Trump in the subservient role. His “shit hole” comment in reference to certain foreign countries was probably the most used in mocking him and his insensitivity and lack of civility. Solidarity among demonstrators was best summed up by one woman who proclaimed, “Seeing so many people gathered all discussing the same issues and feeling the way I do is refreshing.” Some carried signs advocating for Muslim and immigrants’ rights and for justice for jailed Palestinian teenager, Ahed Tamimi, and other Palestinian children
Women’s March protesters at the White House supporting Ahed.
Seeking justice for seven-year-old Pakistani rape and murder victim Zainab Fatima Ameen. WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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held unjustly in Israeli prisons. After arriving at the White House, the large crowd began loudly chanting, “This is what democracy looks like” with many holding their signs facing the building where Trump could not have disregarded their presence. As the march began to wind down, many of those leaving placed their signs on the fence surrounding the Andrew Jackson statue across from the White House in Lafayette Park creating an impromptu shrine to change. —Phil Pasquini
MUSIC & ARTS Jerusalem Growing in Size and Depravity
Given its deep significance to the world’s three major monotheistic religions, outsiders often view Jerusalem through the prism of faith, as a place defined by ancient events. In her new book, Jerusalem Without God: Portrait of a Cruel City, Italian journalist Paola Caridi doesn’t dismiss or downplay the city’s august spiritual significance. Rather, she sets aside the city’s religious aura to reflect on the everyday functioning of today’s modern, earthly city. Her conclusion is a solemn one; she portrays a Jerusalem bereft of humanity, where cruelty reigns and the very basic characteristics of a city are absent. Caridi began her Nov. 16 talk at Georgetown University’s Washington, DC campus by observing that “Jerusalem has more geography than history.” On its face, this is a strange assertion, given the traditionally small size of this history-rich city. Indeed, she noted, her statement is a provocation, a restructuring of Israeli professor Avishai Margalit’s 1991 statement that “Jerusalem has always had more history than geography.” The intention behind Caridi’s prodding comment is not to question the historical validity of Margalit’s statement, but rather to highlight how Israel’s post-1967 actions have altered the concepts of space and community in Jerusalem. Since it captured Arab East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has perpetuated the sublime image 56
Jerusalem Without God: Portrait of a Cruel City
of a “unified Jerusalem” that serves as the country’s “undivided capital.” In reality, Caridi noted, Israel’s strategy has been to Judaize the city by promoting Jewish immigration, isolating Palestinians in heavily concentrated areas, and expanding the city’s municipal borders. “The city’s entire political destiny is caught up in its expansion,” she said. “The borders, already modified and expanded immediately after 1967, have been gradually stretched like elastic.” It is this physical expansion of the city that leads Caridi to proclaim Jerusalem, once defined by the walls of the ancient Old City, to have “more geography than history,” as modern political ambitions have dramatically redefined the scope of the city. Beyond the physical reality, Caridi explores in her book how post-1967 Jerusalem, suffocated by “invisible lines” and a dearth of shared spaces, casts a cold chill over the ethos of the city. The people of Jerusalem, she writes, “brush against each other without touching, pass along the few streets in which the diverse communities must inevitably meet each other, in this web of separate streets and invisible traffic signs that indicate to the residents where they may go and where, on the other hand, is for the ‘others’ to go.” Israel’s “unified Jerusalem,” she contends, is much more divided than it is united.
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Reflecting on this depravity, she—again provocatively—suggests that Jerusalem is not a city—at least according to the most virtuous definitions of the concept. She juxtaposes Jerusalem’s reality against the archetype of the “heavenly city” offered by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan. He defined the perfect city as “a place where men live in harmony, in a weave of complex and constructive relationships…[and] there is a need for squares, for agora, where people can meet and understand each other and exchange intellectual and moral gifts of which no one is deprived.” This, she said in her talk, is the opposite of Jerusalem, which she described as “an urban body where the ongoing conflict has changed the parameters of coexistence, moving from open and shared social spaces to closed social spaces where access is limited according to ethno-religious affiliation.” Another morbid feature of modern Jerusalem is the centrality of the city’s new wall of division, Caridi told her audience. Once defined by its ancient walls, which were meant to protect the city from outsiders, the city’s new wall serves to fracture and divide the city’s own residents. “Jerusalem is still a city within walls, that is, the archetype of an anti-modern city,” she said. “The ancient walls of Suleiman the Magnificent [in the Old City] contain ‘only’ the religious and tourist dimensions of one of the most contested places in the world. Third millennium Jerusalem is enclosed by ‘the Wall,’ a concrete wall of separation to the Palestinians and a ‘defensive barrier’ to the Israelis. As a newly equipped fortress, Jerusalem is now caged inside a security system composed of the Wall and checkpoints, guarded entrances, terminals—postmodern drawbridges.” As Jerusalem endures its schismatic modern day reality, Caridi proposes a more universal and inclusive approach—one that magnifies rather than mocks the values of the faiths that cherish the city. “Jerusalem belongs to many, not to one,” she writes. No country or group can lay sole claim to the city. “It belongs to everyone….The city is not only Israeli, not only Palestinian, not only Jewish, Muslim or Christian.” MARCH/APRIL 2018
The faithful may long for the perfect “heavenly city”—known as the “Heavenly Jerusalem” in Christian eschatology—but Caridi simply recommends trying to humanize the earthly Jerusalem. “Jerusalem cannot be divided because it is multiple,” she concludes in her book. “Jerusalem cannot be made sacred because it is made of flesh and blood inhabitants. Further than the faiths, a Jerusalem without God lives its daily drama. To this city, few unfortunately give heed.” Jerusalem Without God: Portrait of a Cruel City is available from Middle East Books and More. —Dale Sprusansky
Ghassan Kanafani’s Masterful Fiction Opens Doors to Palestinians Living in Exile
Six members and Cherry, a guest from Vietnam, fought the cold to attend Meeting #1 of the Palestine Book Club at the Washington Report’s cozy, comfy and cultured Middle East Bookstore on Jan. 2. Readers mainly focused on “Returning to Haifa," one of the legendary Ghassan Kanafani stories in Palestine’s Children. The Palestinian journalist/novelist inspired a whole generation both during and after his lifetime. Israel’s Mossad assassinated Kanafani and his teenaged niece in 1972 by car bomb in Beirut. Although a fierce and implacable foe of Zionist Israel, Kanafani’s Palestinian refugee characters are depicted without flattering bias. Indeed, the refugee couple, Said and Safiyya, returning to their old home in Haifa in search of their son, are confused, intimidated and passive. In fact, readers thought their behavior in 1948 and until 1967 was pathetic and strangely unfocused. The characters themselves admit to being weak, cowardly and ineffectual. The Jewish Israeli woman, Miriam, is depicted as kind, sensitive and strong. Although her husband is insensitive, he’s not cruel, and their son, Dov, is intelligent and honest, but rigid and defensive. Said experiences a huge awakening to the truth of his plight as a Palestinian, but his conversion to supporting armed struggle at any cost may not be quite tenable. Even though Kanafani’s commitment to the Popular Front for the Liberation of MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Among the book club members are (l-r) Monica Burnett, Steve France, Cherry, and Ahmed Hmeedat.
Palestine (PFLP) was very deep and he expressly rejected dialogue with Israel, readers felt that the humanist writer in him gave Miriam the last word: “You can’t leave it like this. We haven’t talked about it enough,” she says. To which Said says, “There is absolutely nothing more to say.” This reader worries Said is charging off in a negative direction. I think his profound sense of shame and loss has pushed him into the first steps of inhumanity: zero sympathy for Dov, and an overeagerness to launch his younger son Khalid into war and martyrdom. Readers discussed the creepiness of the Israeli characters living in the Palestinians’ home surrounded by all their stuff. I suggested that perhaps it was in part a gesture by Miriam of respect for the owners and acknowledgment of the cruel truth of how her family came in. Readers also mulled why Kanafani’s narrative digressed into the story of the Jaffa man returning to find the photo of his 1948 KIA brother still on the wall, revered or “adopted” by the Israeli Arab occupant. One reader, Ahmed Hmeedat, shared his experience of reading Kanafani’s Men in the Sun in a stifling bus under a scorching sun in Jerusalem. He said many young people in Hmeedat’s refugee camp regarded Kanafani as a cult figure. Club members agreed that reading masterful Palestinian fiction gives an understanding of the lived human reality of the people in a deep way that even the
best nonfiction doesn’t, although really strong memoirs may come close. The Club will stay with fiction, for now at least, and members decided to focus on another book of Kanafani’s short stories, Men in the Sun on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. They also agreed to read Sahar Khalifeh’s The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant next, with some discussion of it beginning Feb. 6. Join the club as it meets the first Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. at Middle East Books and More, 1902 18th St, NW in Washington, DC. —Steve France
P is For Palestine Helps Children And Parents Love their Heritage
P is for Palestine, an adorable alphabet book by Dr. Golbarg Bashi illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi, has received praise from globally renowned authors and activists— including Linda Sarsour, Annemarie Jacir, Dr. Rashid Khalidi, Marwan Bishara and the late Dr. Jack Shaheen. They agree that this is a badly needed book that will help young Palestinians around the world appreciate their heritage. “I can’t wait to buy copies for my niece, and her friends. P is for ‘Palestine’ and also for ‘Proud,’” wrote Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, the Palestinian-American Emmy-nominated journalist and senior correspondent for AJ+. Knowing that P is for Palestine would fly off our shelves, the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More Bookstore tried to get copies before Christmas. No such luck. The first edition was sold out
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and there’s a waiting list for the second edition, which won’t be available until spring. Dr. Bashi, an Iranian-born professor of Middle Eastern history in New York who was raised in Sweden and educated in the U.K. and the U.S., said she believes in the value of progressive children’s literature. Illustrator Nafisi, born in Isfahan, Iran, is very engaged in her country’s art scene, documenting daily life and politics, as well as working as an animator and puppet maker. Incredibly, this charming book has caused a crisis, according to an article published in The New York Jewish Week on Jan. 27. When Book Culture, a chain of independent New York City bookstores, promoted the book and held a book reading in November 2017 for author Bashi, some New York mothers called the book anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda. “The charge of anti-Semitism is a very severe one and it is not something I take lightly," Dr. Bashi countered. “This is a book written from a place of love not a place of hatred. It is a book celebrating Palestinians and empowering their children without an iota of animus towards any other people—Israelis included.” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, a vocal pro-Israel voice at a New York Reform synagogue, threatened to cancel an upcoming book fair unless Book Culture apologized—which it did! The booksellers also stated they condemned violence against Israelis and declared their support for Israel’s right to exist. Next, pro-Palestinian activists at nearby Columbia University pledged to boycott Book Culture until it apologizes for its apology. The store owners promise to continue to sell P is for Palestine. “Where’s the beef?” readers may wonder. Is it on pp. 15 and 16: “F is for Falafel, fresh, fast food, everyday’s good fuel!”? No. What is firing up and infuriating pro-Israel thought police can be found on pp. 21 and 22, which concern the letter “I,” illustrated with a father and child making peace signs next to a barbed wire fence: “I is for Intifada. Intifada is Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or a grownup!” Well, worried readers will have to turn to p. 50—“W is for Wallahi, I swear to God!”—in exasperation. And patiently wait 58
P is for Palestine will be available soon, unless the second edition is sold out before it leaves the printer. in line, along with the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More bookstore, to buy multiple copies of P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book for the children in their lives, as well as the children they want to reach in libraries and schools across the country. —Delinda C. Hanley
New Book Challenges Mainstream Narrative on Sectarianism
University of Denver professors Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, editors of a new scholarly volume titled Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East, appeared at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC on Nov. 21 to present the core arguments of their book. The two scholars fundamentally reject the “ancient hatreds” thesis, which asserts that Sunni and Shi’i Muslims have been engaged in perpetual conflict since the death of the Prophet Muhammad. “Major world leaders, public intellectuals, policy analysts and media commentators have sought to explain the current turmoil and instability in the Middle East today as a function of ancient blood feuds rooted in primordial hatreds and antagonisms between Sunni Muslims and Shi’i Muslims,” Hashemi noted. “The problem with the ancient sectarian hatred thesis,” he explained, “is that it assumes something constant about religion and culture
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and its propensity to produce violence, while failing to explain the stark variation in civil conflict over time.” Put simply, he said, the “ancient hatreds” thesis fails to explain why sectarian violence has only escalated in recent decades. Postel pointed out that contemporary sectarianism in the Middle East is actually a relatively new development. For instance, in 2006 public opinion polls revealed that the two most popular people in the Sunni Arab world were Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—both Shi’i. As another example, he noted that before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iran and Saudi Arabia, currently viewed as bitterly opposed sectarian rivals, got along well. “There’s nothing inherent, or necessary or intrinsic or inevitable about the Saudi-Iranian rivalry,” Postel stated. “It’s a geopolitical story.” The recent rise of sectarianism is evidence that the phenomenon is largely the result of modern politics, Postel and Hashemi contend. To this point, the scholars argue that the contemporary Middle East should be analyzed through the prism of “sectarianization” rather than “sectarianism.” Sectarianism, Hashemi said, implies “a static, trans-historical force, an alleged enduring and immutable characteristic of Arab and Muslim societies from the seventh century until today.” Sectarianization, on the other hand, is “an active process, shaped by political actors operating within a specific context, pursuing political goals that involve the mobilization of popular sentiments around particular identity markers,” he said. “Class dynamics, fragile states, and geopolitical rivalries also shape the sectarianization process.” The principal forces behind this sectarianization in the Middle East are authoritarian regimes, the authors argue. “Authoritarianism, and not theology, is the critical factor in the sectarianization process,” Hashemi said. “Authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have deliberately and purposefully manipulated sectarian identities in various ways as a strategy of deflecting demands for political change and perpetuating their hold to power.” Authoritarian leaders are the primary source of sectarianization, Postel clarified, MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Editors Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel reject the “ancient hatreds” thesis.
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but not the sole source. “There’s also sectarianization from below,” he said. “There are sectarian entrepreneurs. There are imams and social formations that actually take the bait, or have their own sectarian agendas.” Hashemi also noted that sectarianism has been on the rise at the popular level since 1967, when the defeat of the Arab armies at the hands of Israel led to widespread disaffection with secular Arab nationalism and a corresponding revival of religious identities. While this may seem to suggest that modern-day leaders are not responsible for sectarianism, Hashemi ar-
Models wear Firyal al Kilidar fashions. MARCH/APRIL 2018
gued that authoritarian leaders, viewing politicized Islamist groups as rivals, have employed a strategy of sectarianization to delegitimize these groups and create scapegoats for the failures of their regimes. While one can debate the extent to which systems of government impact the development of sectarian sentiments, Hashemi and Postel hope readers of their book rethink simplistic narratives about the region. “Our book forcefully challenges the lazy Orientalist reliance on sectarianism as a catch-all explanation for the ills afflicting the Middle East today,” Hashemi said. “Sectarianism, in and of itself, fails to explain the current disorder and instability in the Middle East.” Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East is available from the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More. —Dale Sprusansky
Iraqi Americans Enjoy a Journey Through Their Fashion History
Al-Diwan Al-Iraqi, an Iraqi American cultural organization in Washington, DC, hosted “A Historic Journey Through the Fashions of Mesopotamia,” on Jan. 14 at the Northern Virginia Cultural Center in Annandale, VA. Yasir Shallal, an Iraqi-American engineer, welcomed Iraqis to the fashion show, which, he told the Washington Report, brought together Iraqis living in DC, Virginia and Maryland, regardless of the political dif-
ferences they’ve left behind in Iraq. The AlDiwan Al-Iraqi vision is to build an Iraqi American Community Center that will provide social, cultural and educational services for all Iraqi Americans and build bridges of understanding and cooperation both within and outside their community. Iraqi-American poet Omar Alhadithi introduced Firyal al Kilidar, the former head of the Iraqi House of Fashion (Dar al-Azya Aliraqia), who described her own journey. In 1970 she was a hobbyist in the world of fashion. Today she is a cultural envoy, educating the world about Iraq’s rich history. In between, she and her team of skilled dressmakers produced handmade costumes inspired by Iraqi history. Kilidar’s designs, cuts and embroidery work reflect Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Hatra and Islamic civilizations. Her vibrant garments aren’t for sale but travel the world in exhibitions. Kilidar’s fashion show helped the appreciative audience members take their own journey from ancient Mesopotamian images, to fashions from the vaults of museums, and ending in stunningly exquisite modern styles. For more information on future events visit <www.aldiwanaliraqi.org>. —Delinda C. Hanley
Ian Williams’ Latest Book: UNtold
The World Affairs Council and Just World Educational co-hosted a talk at the Ronald Reagan Center in Washington, DC on Jan. 25 by Ian Williams, U.N. correspondent for the Washington Report since 1991. His latest book, UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War, published by Just World Books, is a much-needed and engaging guide to the U.N. Since its founding in 1945, Williams said, the U.N. has been criticized, treated with respect, indifference or outrage by media. He should know. Williams has covered the U.N. since 1989, and he admitted it’s been hard to make the U.N. interesting. “The U.N. is like virtue— boring. People like scandal,” the writer said, “and you never hear about its successes.” According to Williams, the U.N.’s real role is to be the universal scapegoat: it’s responsible for the world, but it can’t deliver. Governments refer their hopeless cases to
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votes. If the U.S. follows through with its threat to cut funding to the U.N., Williams warned, it will reduce Washington’s power. “When the U.S. steps back others—like China—step up,” he warned. In the few weeks after Trump cut aid to Palestinians via UNRWA, Belgians and Swedes stepped up, and as a result U.S. power in the IsraelPalestine issue diminished. Ian Williams tells all in his latest book, UNtold: The Real Grant Smith, director of the Story of the United Nations in Peace and War. Institute for Research: Middle the U.N., then other governments get to Eastern Policy, asked if Williams has seen veto its decisions. Neither the General As- pro-Israel lobbyists at work in the U.N. sembly nor the International Criminal Court Williams answered that while Jews origican make binding decisions, Williams nally supported the U.N., today candidates noted, but the good news is that countries for public office who complain or grandstand about a detestable, anti-Israel U.N. continue to refer their issues to the U.N. Williams presented the pros and cons of earn big donations to their campaigns. In possible U.N. reforms to the Security addition, nations believe that if they want to Council, including adding more permanent get the U.S. on their side they should members (including an EU seat), extend- “stroke Israel.” They’ve been warned by ing the tenure of temporary members to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley longer than just two years, and more rep- that if the U.S. is responsible for their defense, they won’t get their money unless resentation for developing countries. He then proceeded to zero in on U.S. in- they vote with Israel and the U.S. UNtold: The Real Story of the United fluence on the international body. It’s hard for nations to uphold interna- Nations in Peace and War is available tional laws and persuade others to do so, from the Washington Report’s Middle East saying “thou shalt not kill,” when your own Books and More Bookstore. Williams will country is “knee-deep in blood,” Williams discuss Israel and the U.N. at the March 2 said. When President Donald Trump de- Israel Lobby conference in Washington, —Delinda C. Hanley fied international law to declare Jerusalem DC (see p. 14). the capital of Israel, it sent a message to other countries: “I’m breaking the law, but you have to abide by the law.” Williams re- MUSLIM AMERICAN ACTIVISM minded the audience that the U.N. (not the U.S.) wields a unique legitimizing power, MPAC Bridges the Divide pointing out that “you don’t have title to a Themed “Bridging the Divide: Religion, property until the U.N. says you do.” Race, and Politics,” the Muslim Public AfThe purpose of the U.N. is not to help fairs Council (MPAC) held its 2017 convenmembers go to heaven but to stop them from tion Nov. 5 at the Los Angeles Westin going to hell. It’s up to all of us to make sure Bonaventure Hotel. Nearly 1,000 people the U.N. works properly, Williams concluded. gathered for an extraordinary day of learnDuring a lively question-and-answer ses- ing and hearing powerful calls to civic action. sion, Williams noted that the U.S is the U.N.’s “American Muslim communities and number one financial contributor, providing American immigrant communities are going 22 percent of its core budget. The permanent to be our salvation,” declared Connie Rice, a five members of the Security Council pay an leading civil rights attorney and co-director extra price for having veto power over U.N. of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles. 60
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Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints Church of Pasadena called for more MPAC chapters. Prof. John Esposito of Georgetown University commented that Islamophobia has grown recently to a much higher level. MPAC board chair Seema Ahmad described Sue Obeidi, MPAC’s Hollywood bureau director, as a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey, George Takei and others. Obeidi, who writes about the industry’s inclusion and representation of Islam and Muslims, works with studios to create accurate and humanizing portrayals of Islam and Muslims in film, television, and on digital platforms. Salam Al-Marayati, president of MPAC, opened his speech by saying: “Our nation has never been more divided since the Vietnam War, and maybe since the Civil War.” He added, “Sometimes I read about myself being attacked by the right and the left on the same page! That means I’m moderate, and MPAC is taking the middle ground.” Al-Marayati went on to note that President Donald Trump traveled to the Middle East talking about religious tolerance with the dictators, while instead he could have talked to American Muslims right here on the South Lawn of the White House. “Religion is like water,” he continued. “If you suppress it, it becomes stagnant, but if you let it flow, it will purify the surroundings. Tyranny suppresses religion, and freedom liberates it.” He concluded by saying, “Whoever says that Islam is at war with the West, I say it’s a lie. Islam proved it can talk to Christianity.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Greenleaf Christian Church, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and architect of the Moral Mondays Movement, delivered an impassioned call to action. It is our responsibility, as people of faith, to collectively organize in addressing the pressing challenges of our nation, he emphasized. “God says that if we do God’s work well, He will use us to change the moral narrative of this nation, and to help us. Together we will save the soul of America, and the soul of this democracy. I’m calling on you to render a moral challenge for the moral crisis that we face in America.” “There is a link between Islamophobia and racism,” Rev. Barber stated, and what we’re seeing today has been going on for the last 50 years. Ever since the Nixon MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Fear is a choice, and it is Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, and defending everyone’s right to support Palesnot on my list.” While she has been tinian civil society’s Boycott, Divestment called un-American be- and Sanctions movement. OneJustice received the Gamechanger cause she speaks up, Sarsour proclaimed she of the Year Award for its work organizing would always be on the attorney volunteers and partner organizafrontline because “I be- tions who stood vigil at San Francisco and lieve in our right to be Los Angeles international airports after imMuslims. We deserve to plementation of the Muslim bans. Followbe treated with dignity and ing the Dec. 4 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding President Donald Trump’s respect and nothing less. “Dissent is the highest Muslim travel ban, OneJustice is again orform of patriotism in a ganizing legal support at airports. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II calls for civic action to save America. country like the United The Asian Americans Advancing JusStates,” she added. tice–Asian Law Caucus was presented Era, the plan has been to play every "When you do not speak up in the face of with the Empowering American Muslims American against the other and divide our injustice, racism and xenophobia, that Award for exceptional work in protecting society. He concluded: “Christian national- makes you a coward. As Muslims our re- the rights of individual Muslim Americans ism is a public statement wrapped up in sponsibility is to protect the most margin- and advocating for laws to protect all Americans. Working alongside CAIR, the the flag of big business. This kind of reli- alized among us.” Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first group has provided legal aid at airports gion has justified slavery for more than 200 years. We’ve got to make a change, Somali-American state legislator in the U.S., and represented individuals visited by law it’s our time now to stand up to save Amer- discussed her life from her childhood in So- enforcement agents. Co-recipient of the Empowering American ica.” —Samir Twair malia and then living in a refugee camp in Kenya before relocating to the United States. Muslims Award was the Silicon Valley ComWomen Speakers Headline CAIRCAIR-SFBA executive director Zahra munity Foundation, for funding local non-profSFBA Annual Banquet Billoo and president Spojmie Nasiri also its led by Muslims and people of color, dePowerful women topped the line-up of delivered inspiring words to the audience. spite an onslaught of criticism against them Next, community service awards were for funding CAIR-SFBA and Islamic Relief. speakers at the Council on American-IsSiraj Wahhaj, imam of Brooklyn’s Masjid lamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area presented by CAIR-SFBA to the following (CAIR-SFBA) annual banquet Dec. 9 at the outstanding individuals and organizations. Al-Taqwa and one of the most popular John Crew was awarded the Promoting fund-raisers in CAIR’s history, entertained Santa Clara, CA convention center, where a capacity crowd of 1,300 guests honored Justice Award for assisting CAIR in challeng- and inspired the crowd while raising CAIR’s 23 years of protecting civil liberties, ing the San Francisco Police Department’s $320,000 for CAIR-SFBA. empowering American Muslims and build- participation in the FBI’s Joint ing coalitions that promote justice and mu- Terrorism Task Force. Crew also initiated a national camtual understanding. In her keynote address, Linda Sarsour, paign against the FBI’s targeting MPower Change co-founder and national of marginalized groups, includWomen’s March co-chair, encouraged ing the Muslim community. Laurel Beecher received the guests to become involved in politics. “If you wake up and you are Muslim and you are Volunteer of the Year Award breathing, you are political,” the Palestinian- for offering her time and valuAmerican activist told the crowd. “You have able support to the CAIRno choice but to be political, be engaged SFBA office ever since the and be a part of the resistance to defend our November 2016 election. Jewish Voice for Peace was rights to be Muslims in the United States of America.” Noting the increase in racism and recognized with the Enhancing hate crimes against Muslims in the past Understanding Award for its year, she exclaimed, “I don’t know how steadfast commitment to endmany mosques have to be burned down for ing Israel’s occupation of Linda Sarsour speaks at the CAIR-SFBA annual banquet in us to rise up and say ‘enough is enough!’ Palestine, organizing against Santa Clara, CA. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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Special musical entertainment was provided by Nasheed artist Wendell Uthman Ames. —Elaine Pasquini
WAGING PEACE Golden Globe Racer Will Sail for Palestine
Palestinian-American Nabil Amra, 43, is a successful banker in Minneapolis, MN. But he’s leaving his job for nearly two years to train and race for Palestinians. Born and raised in the United States, Amra had a brief taste of life in Palestine when his father decided to move the family back to the West Bank so they could get to know their relatives. Amra attended the Friends Boys School in al Bireh, Ramallah from 1987 to 1990—
Nabil Amra shares his Golden Globe racing dreams during a visit to Middle East Books and More. 62
we will come out of this unjust occupation stronger.” Amra is using his savings to refit a boat in England, rig it with the necessary equipment to survive, and train for the grueling race, which starts in Falmouth, England on June 14. Competitors must sail solo, using the same type of yacht and gear available 50 years ago—no modern equipment to communicate, cook or navigate. His father, a lieutenant commander surgeon in the Navy, was also an adventurer and might have loved the idea of his son’s goal, but Amra admits the rest of his family has great apprehension. Washington Report readers can help make this race a reality by donating to Amra’s “Go Fund Me” page. He hopes you’ll also encourage him by visiting his website, <www.sailingwithnabil.com>, or following his progress on the Golden Globe website. Local schools in Minnesota plan to write him letters in advance that he can read when he feels alone and low during the next year. Amra hopes that sailing in this race will give Palestinian children something to cheer for as he raises global interest in his effort. —Delinda C. Hanley
just as the first intifada got underway. Family time turned into a “bury your cousin time,” he told the Washington Report. After Israeli soldiers killed his 14-year-old best friend and cousin, Amra’s parents decided it was time to get back to the States. That brief sojourn in his family’s homeland left a mark that hasn’t faded. Amra grew up watching the Olympics, he said, but there was never a Palestinian team to root for. After he took up the sport of sailing, he wondered why Palestinians, who have a long tradition of sailing, don’t race. The heart-wrenching answer, he discovered, was that the Israeli air force destroyed the Palestinian Sail and Surf Federation boating fleet which was training for the Olympics, citing national security risks, and pointing out that Gazans aren’t permitted to travel anyway. Palestinians face an untenable situation, but American-raised Amra realized he should take advantage of his own opportunities. He will be sailing under the Palestinian flag in the upcoming 2018 Golden Globe Race. This race marks the 50th anniversary of a non-stop single-handed round-theworld yacht race, one of the most demanding races in the world. In 1968 nine sailors started the 27,000-nautical mile, one-year race—and only one sailor finished. That was the last time the race took place. “It requires unyielding grit, endurance and perseverance—all traits engrained in Palestinian refugees and those living under occupation,” Amra said. “What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger, and I have faith that
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Zionism has Distorted U.S. Foreign Policy, Says Allan Brownfeld
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Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at CAIR-SFBA annual banquet in Santa Clara, CA.
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Washington Report columnist Allan C. Brownfeld (see p. 50), also the editor of Issues, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism, spoke Jan. 11 on Zionism and Jewish-American relations with Israel at Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Club. The Committee for the Republic hosted the well-attended evening event. Briefly reviewing the history of Zionism, Brownfeld pointed out that when the nationalist movement first arose in the 19th century in Europe, the majority of Jews rejected it. “Historically, Zionism was a minority movement in Judaism,” he claimed. “If it had not been for the rise of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Zionism would most likely have been a minority view among Jews and the state of Israel never would have been created.” He went on to describe the Palestinians as “the final victims of the Holocaust,” notMARCH/APRIL 2018
ing that “People who were sitting in the Middle East minding their own business, having nothing to do with it, have paid the price.” In the late 19th century when Zionism began, he said, “Jews constituted only 4 percent of the population of Palestine. Even in 1948, when the United Nations created the Jewish state, Jews represented a minority in that state. This is a very important point to be made, because many people do not view Zionism as a settler colonial movement, which is, indeed, what it is.” Regarding President Donald J. Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Brownfeld said: “From my own research, it seems to me that Sheldon Adelson was the major reason for the decision being made at the present time, because of the massive amount of money he contributes to the Republican party.” The casino magnate contributed $5 million to Trump’s inauguration. Also in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the appointment of David Friedman—a man who rejects the creation of a Palestinian state— as U.S. ambassador to Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has voted to annex portions of the West Bank, Brownfeld said. Discussing U.S. aid to Israel, Brownfeld noted, “In September 2016 the U.S. agreed to provide Israel a record $38 billion in new MARCH/APRIL 2018
military aid over the next decade. The agreement equates to $3.8 billion a year, the largest bi-lateral aid package ever.” This represents a 20 percent increase from the previous agreement of $3.1 billion annually. Roughly 20 percent of the United States’ entire foreign aid budget goes to Israel. It has been the largest recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War II. Israel recently banned all groups which support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement from entering Israel—including the American Friends Service Committee, which, during World War II and the Holocaust, rescued large numbers of Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe and today are doing the same thing for the Palestinians, Brownfeld told his audience. At the end of World War II, Brownfeld noted, the U.S was highly thought of in the Arab world. “We were an anti-colonial power, and under our influence the British and French left Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, which became independent countries,” he pointed out. “Our anti-colonial tradition, I think, was abandoned when we imposed Israel upon the Middle East. Continuing to support the settler colonial state in the Middle East set us back and fuels ISIS and other terrorists around the world. It will be even worse if Israel annexes the West Bank.” On the controversial topic of Judaism as a religion rather than a nationality, Brownfeld considers Judaism to be a religion of universal values, not a nationality. “I believe that American Jews are American by nationality, and Jews by religion,” he said. “But, if you believe that Jews are a people and Israel is their homeland, you have every right to believe that and immigrate to that homeland.” Warning his audience not to be pessimistic about the future, Brownfeld noted that within the American Jewish community, especially young people, there is growing outrage at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its 50-year occupation. “Hopefully, in the future,” he concluded, “Judaism will return to the moral and ethical standards it brought into the world.” —Elaine Pasquini
Sabeel Conference Calls for Palestinian Human Rights
The Friends of Sabeel–North America’s Northern California conference, “Challenging Oppression, Working for Justice from Palestine to the USA,” was held Dec. 1 and 2 at Santa Rosa’s St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and Dec. 3 at San Francisco’s St. John’s Presbyterian Church. Sabeel—Arabic for “The Way”—is a Jerusalem-based international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. More than 40 Bay Area organizations co-sponsored the event, which featured an impressive array of speakers and programs. Breakout session topics included “Everything You Wanted to Know About BDS, but Did Not Know Who to Ask,” “Palestine and the Role of Churches,” “Jewish Resistance to Occupation,” “Take Action for Palestine,” “The Movement for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel,” and “Zionist Harassment and Legal Warfare: SFSU Case Study.” Huwaida Arraf, former chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, which was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, addressed the audience on “Marching Together Toward a Free Palestine.” Today, despite Israel’s claims that Palestinians living in Israel—and who represent 20 percent of the Israeli population—have equal rights, “we are, at best, a tolerated minority that Israel considers a
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Allan C. Brownfeld speaks at a Committee for the Republic event at Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Club.
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Huwaida Arraf addresses the Sabeel Conference in Santa Rosa, CA.
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(L-r) Lara Kiswani, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Alicia Sanchez, Rev. Michael Yoshii and Dr. Hassan Fouda at Sabeel Conference in Santa Rosa, CA.
demographic threat,” said Arraf, who is also an Israeli citizen. And to continue to maintain a country that is 80 percent Jewish, the 750,000 Palestinians driven out in 1948 are not allowed to return to their homes, and Israel has had to create laws to make sure that Palestinians do not constitute more than 20 percent of the population. “There are at least 50 laws on Israel’s books right now that discriminate against a non-Jewish population,” the Palestinian–American attorney explained. “In order to change the situation on the ground in Palestine, we have to change our thinking about what is happening there,” Arraf told her audience. “And what’s happening in Palestine is called settler colonialism. Almost 60 years after the United Nations declared the inalienable rights of Palestinians to self-determination, we are witnessing the expansion of a colonial project that is being funded by U.S. tax dollars and enabled by silence and the complicity of the international community.” Alicia Sanchez, president of KBBF bilingual public radio station, and Madonna Thunder Hawk, a member of the Oohenumpa band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project, likened the struggle for human rights in Palestine to those of Native Americans and people of color in the U.S. Rev. Michael Yoshii, pastor of Alameda’s Buena Vista United Methodist Church, related his experiences as a Japanese-American whose parents and grandparents were 64
incarcerated in Japanese internment camps within the United States during World War II to those of the Palestinians he has been working with as one of the founders of Friends of Wadi Foquin, an organization supporting the town’s residents in their fight against the Israeli government’s occupation, settlement building and land appropriation, in addition to other quality of life issues. “For me, when I was connecting with Palestinians on a personal basis I could resonate so much of the angst that the people were feeling: about how people were being targeted, and stereotyped; how history was being squashed and the truth was being diminished not only in Palestine, but around the world; and how that narrative continues to have its reach around the world, but particularly in the United States,” Yoshii said. “Viscerally, there were things about our past experiences that spoke to me and continue to speak to me today.” Lara Kiswani, a founding member of Students for Justice in Palestine and executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, discussed why the Palestinian cause is important. “Palestinians are struggling against ethnic cleansing, displacement, settler colonialism and Zionism,” she said. “And why we are struggling against Zionism 100 years after the Balfour Declaration is because of the U.S.-Israel partnership.” Linking the Palestinians’ struggle for respect and self-determination to that of immigrants, people of color and the working class in the United States, Kiswani asserted, “We all
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have stakes in the liberation of Palestine and bringing down apartheid Israel.” Other speakers included Dr. Mona ElFarra, director of Gaza projects of the Middle East Children’s Alliance and head of Gaza’s Rachel Corrie Children’s Center; Tarek Abuata, executive director of Friends of Sabeel–North America, and Dr. Hassan Fouda, among a dozen others. —Elaine Pasquini
Activists Rally in Des Moines— Hands Off Jerusalem!
Despite bitter cold and winds, some 35 human rights activists rallied in front of the Neal Smith Federal Building in Des Moines Dec. 8, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and plans to move the U.S. Embassy there. “The president’s attempt to legitimize colonization and occupation is a dangerous move that breaks with 70 years of U.S. policy and international consensus,” Kathleen McQuillen of the Middle East Peace Education Coalition told the crowd. “This unilateral move isolates the U.S. and makes clear that under the Trump administration the U.S. cannot and will not be a credible partner in the work for peace in the Middle East.” Iowa State District 35 Rep. Ako AbdulSamad of Des Moines told his audience that when he was in Palestine he was able to visit the Wailing Wall, to walk where Jesus walked, and to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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District 35 Iowa State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad speaks at a sidewalk rally in front of the Neal Smith Federal Building in Des Moines.
“They are all in close proximity, they are all back to back,” said Abdul-Samad. “One of the things we have to understand is that our president, Donald Trump, has set back peace negotiations. We have to put human rights in front. We have to have human rights,” he emphasized. We want Israelis to have a state of their own, Abdul-Samad added. We want Israeli children to live in peace, but you can’t have that if you’re not asking for the same thing for the Palestinians. We have to have a level playing field for everybody, he explained. “It’s not about the numbers that are here today standing in the cold. It’s how we make these numbers count. We need change, and we have to do it by action. When we leave here, meet somebody who you don’t know. Hug somebody you don’t know. Offer your services to somebody you don’t know. Next week, go to the mosque, go to a church, go to a synagogue, go somewhere you are not comfortable. Reach out to people and say, ‘We need to talk. I want to understand your views,’” said Abdul-Samad, before leading the crowd in a chant for human rights. “Americans are the only people in the world who are deaf to the Palestinian narrative,” Maria Filippone told the Washington Report. “Jerusalem wasn’t his to give away. Americans don’t understand how serious this is. There may be a third intifada now,” she warned. A physician who has visited Gaza several times, Filippone said the issue is one of equal rights and human rights. “I’m not MARCH/APRIL 2018
just pro-Palestinian; I’m for human rights for everybody. I’m pro-Israeli rights too. They have to find a way to give the Palestinians the same rights they have, in that same land,” she insisted. “There are some wonderful Jewish Israeli voices in Israel such as B’Tselem, also Jewish voices here working for equal rights and justice for Palestinians. They are a minority in Israel, but I am hopeful,” Filippone said. “If Palestinians can stay positive, if Gazans can remain hopeful, I have no right not to have hope.” The event was organized and sponsored by the Middle East Peace Education Coalition, a growing Iowa nonprofit group dedicated to a just peace in Palestine/Israel based on human rights, self-determination and international law. Coalition member organizations include Catholic Peace Ministry, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Stop The Arms Race Political Action Committee, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Des Moines), and the Middle East Peace
The Syrian American Council-Los Angeles (SAC-LA) held a Syrian Forum event on Dec. 10 at the California Islamic University (CIU) in Fullerton, CA. SAC-LA president Monier Shukairy opened the event with a short introduction about SAC's work and achievements in 2017. He then introduced Dr. Ammar Kahf, executive director of Omran Center for Strategic Studies, one of the six nonprofit organizations that make up the Syrian Forum, which raises funds for aid and advocates for Syrian refugees. The purpose of the Syrian Forum is to empower the community, said Dr. Kahf. It works to help Syrians take the lead in securing their own social, cultural, economic and political security and prosperity, based on contemporary standards that are consistent with Syria’s cultural heritage. Trying to describe what is happening in Syria today, Kahf said, “It is not a black and white situation! There are many militias controlling Syria. [President Bashar] Assad is not in control of most of Syria today.” Next, Syrian Forum president Ghassan Hitto discussed the importance of empowering the Syrian community and building the capacity of the Syrian people. The Forum’s six member organizations—Ihsan, Rizk, Bousla, Fener, Omran and ALSOURIA.net (an independent media outlet)—cover all aspects of life in and outside Syria today. They provide humanitarian aid, training, job placement services and policy briefs. The Syrian Forum was established in 2011, expanded in 2013, and began delivering services in 2014, spending first $7 million, then $25 million in 2015, and $34 mil-
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SAC-LA Hosts Syrian Forum
Dr. Ammar Kahf (l) and Ghassan Hitto describe the work of the Syrian Forum at an SAC-LA event on Dec.10 in Fullerton, CA. WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
lion in 2016. “Only 287,000 refugees are living in camps,” Hitto said, “while 2,250,000 Syrians are living in the rest of Turkey. More than a million Syrians received medical treatment through our organizations.” Hitto concluded, “We are starting to build Syria! We expect more than half of the refugees in Turkey to go back to Syria with better skills, experiences and knowledge.” During the question-and-answer period, Hitto was asked what the Syrian Forum is doing in terms of education. “We created 60 schools and later added 40 more,” he replied. “We provided teachers’ training and tried to help all Syrians regardless of their religion or ethnicities. We also gave some scholarships to Syrian students in Turkey.” For more information, visit <www.syrianforumusa.org>. —Samir Twair
Making Sense of the Iran Protests
On Dec. 28, 2017, protests began in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and home to the shrine of Imam Reza. Initially aimed at President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, protests quickly spread out of control to smaller cities such as Bandar Abbas, Ahvaz, Shiraz and Rasht. The country-wide protests led to the deaths of 21 people and the arrests of more than 400. On Jan. 5, 2018, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on “The Protests in Iran,” moderated by POLITICO columnist Susan Glasser. She described the protests as “remarkable but little understood” developments which “seemed to surprise just about everybody.” According to Maziar Bahari, founder of IranWire.com, “no one knows who exactly” is protesting, as there have been various slogans being chanted, including some in support of the Pahlavis and some in support of Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who played a key role in the 1979 Islamic Revolution and was set to be Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s successor prior to a falling out between them. Bahari, whose memoir, Then They Came for Me, (available from the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More) describes his experience being arrested in Iran during the 2009 Green Movement, added that Iran is experiencing widespread discontent that is 66
(L-r) Susan Glasser, Maziar Bahari and Suzanne Maloney discuss the Iran protests. “fertile ground for protests.” In comparison to 2009, Bahari said, the protesters today “do not have a clear objective,” which has kept the middle classes from supporting them. Furthermore, the regime and Revolutionary Guards are “struggling for answers” as well as for a narrative—the protests have been called a plan of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S. Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, added that the protests have a “lack of an obvious figurehead” and are much smaller than the protests of 2009. However, the protesters are largely coming from the lower classes, which is the base of the Islamic Republic, Maloney noted, and “it’s got to be deeply unnerving” for the regime. While Bahari argued that the protesters do not separate the reformists and hardliners in the government, Maloney described President Rouhani as “the last best effort” for reform in Iran. Rouhani, however, has “run up against what’s possible in the Islamic Republic,” Maloney said. Further, she added, the JCPOA nuclear agreement was sold to the Iranians as something that would open the economy, and that has just not happened. On whether or not President Donald Trump was right to voice his support for the demonstrators, Bahari stated that “they are going to blame America for everything in Iran” no matter what the president does. Bahari emphasized that, for one thing, the travel ban needs to be lifted, as it created anger toward the U.S. Maloney added that in 2009, during the Green Movement, she supported President Barack Obama’s decision to stay silent, but has since come to regret it, calling
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it a “reasonable calculation” at the time because Obama did not want to do anything that would hurt the potential for nuclear talks. Maloney also stated that the U.S. “should never stay on the sidelines” when it comes to the rights of people, and that “sometimes we simply have to do what is right to do.” The most recent protests largely faded after a week, and the long-term effects or continuation of the protests is unclear. Just as it was when the protests began, the future may be hard to predict. —Shannon Tawoos
Yemen Peace Prospects Examined
Journalist Peter Salisbury spoke Jan. 18 at Washington, DC’s Arab Gulf States Institute (AGSIW) on “Yemen: National Chaos, Local Order.” His December 2017 50-page assessment of the situation in Yemen of the same title was published by Chatham House, where he is a senior consulting researcher in its Middle East and North Africa program. Salisbury is also a non-resident fellow at AGSIW. In his talk, Salisbury challenged current thinking on Yemen’s civil war as a binary conflict between the exiled government of President Abd Raboo Mansour Al-Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia, and the now collapsed alliance between the Houthis—followers of Zaydism, a branch of Shi’i Islam —and Yemen’s deceased former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Instead, Salisbury argued, “We need to start thinking of a mediation strategy that includes all the different players and incentives to move it forward.” These players include Islah, a Sunni-Islamist party which is the best organized opposition MARCH/APRIL 2018
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group, and loyalists or allies of Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a key part of the Saleh regime who split from the regime in 2011. â€œThere is a secessionist movement in southern Yemen,â€? Salisbury explained, â€œbut it has not been very good at becoming a coherent, single unifying force over the last two decades. You have various different networks across the south that have been able to take over areas of territory where they are indigenous or local to that area and driven by internal politics, but cooperate with key security figures in Aden. Aden remains really a contested zone between figures backed by the Hadi government and southern secessionists sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, who is the main sponsor of most of the military groups across the tribal south.â€? Salafists, tribal groups, women and the youth must all be represented in any peace talks, he insisted. In addition, in Hadramawt, the Hadrami Elite Forces took over from al-Qaeda at the beginning of 2016 and built a power base in the south, Salisbury pointed out. â€œYemen has really been divided into multiple zones of influence, control and power with different external allies and in-
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Peter Salisbury speaks at Washington, DCâ€™s Arab Gulf States Institute.
ternal allies,â€? he noted. â€œMany different groups control different areas on the ground and have different agendas.â€? Explaining the importance for all parties to be included in peace talks, he added: â€œEven if the war against the Houthis were to succeed in some way and they would be disarmed, then you have won the large war but have basically opened the door to a dozen small wars all across Yemen. There is a lot of chatter that the war can be won militarily in 2018, which I do not believe is going to happen.â€? (Advertisement)
Salisbury concluded by telling his audience: â€œIt is really hard for me to be optimistic about what happens in Yemen in the next few years, simply because when you take all of these groups on the ground and all of these external actors and you look at their agendas and where they are at psychologically, Yemen is not ripe for peace right now. I think an escalation in the conflict worsens a really terrible humanitarian situation. The only solution is a diplomatic solution.â€? Salisbury did not address Yemenâ€™s continuing humanitarian crisis, often described as the worst in the world. Humanitarian relief flights are allowed to fly to Sanaâ€™a only from Saudi Arabia, which severely hampers aid efforts. Yemenâ€™s Health Ministry estimates that since August 2016 more than 10,000 people have died from lack of desperately needed medical care, food and supplies. According to the World Health Organization, there are currently more than 1,029,700 cases of cholera in Yemen, a country of 29.5 million people. Thousands of civilians have been injured and displaced from their homes due to the continued violence. â€”Elaine Pasquini
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bookreview_68_Book Review 2/1/18 6:25 PM Page 68
B •O •O •K •S A Palestinian Theology of Liberation
By Naim Stifan Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017, paperback, 192 pp. MEB: $20.
WARNING: Dr. Naim Ateek’s latest book is dangerous in the extreme. Please do not read A Palestinian Theology of Liberation unless you are willing to rethink the “Israeli colonization” of Palestine—or for that matter, a similar history of annexation in your own country. Do not even open this book unless you are prepared to practice a more radical action-driven life on behalf of the occupied, marginalized and persecuted inhabitants of the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps inside Palestine and surrounding countries. Your actions for justice will be required for the liberation of the occupiers as well as the occupied. The rapid momentum of Ateek’s sparely written but powerful message carries one on to certain action. Rarely does a book appeal so powerfully to the conscience.
Reviewed by Thomas R. Getman Nearly every line calls out for urgent acts of compassion and mercy. Theological and biblical students will find careful exegesis of the classic scriptural passages from both Testaments that reference covenants regarding the Holy Land and her people. This is done with uncommon directness and refreshing enlightenment. Incarnational theology, rooted in Scripture, has been interpreted by Ateek and his colleagues at Sabeel over the last 40 years. It reminds us of their continuing inspired prophetic revelation which provides clear, authentic, urgent and nonviolent marching orders for justice. Ateek’s message points a way toward reversing monumental wrongs and violations of international law. The Balfour Declaration, U.N. fumbling, brutal unnecessary wars, relentless ethnic cleansing and the tightening noose of occupation have brought trauma to all the Children of Abraham. While working for an NGO, I was on a relief run in 2000 to the closed city of Hebron (the result of the incursion of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif by thencandidate for prime minister Ariel Sharon). A suitable illustration was provided to me about the traumatized and xenophobic society of Israel/Palestine. A frightened, heavily armed young Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier was stopping all entry into the desperate Old City. He blocked our vehicle and stuck his machine gun into my face while saying, “sha lom.” With some fear myself, I asked him to put his gun to
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
the side while greeting me with peace before he questioned my intent. After I explained our mission, he said, “Oh you probably are here just to help the Arabs!” I answered, “To the contrary, we are here to assist the relief workers and all the citizens of Hebron, Israeli and Palestinian alike.” His response was memorable. “Then would you please help me get out of here, for I hate what we are doing?” I took his honesty to apply generally to Israelis. Over the years, I have encountered many troubled Israeli citizens who also seek a more generous and less angry fearful expulsion or imprisonment of their Abrahamic bothers and sisters. There are a multitude of helpful books presently available on the now 100-yearold (since Balfour) “conflict,” many of which are listed in this book’s thorough bibliography. But, one must ask, how many truly equip us as thoroughly as Naim Ateek has to bring progress and healing to the conflicted relations in the present context, where potential partners for peace are wrongly perceived as enemies? Many basic questions remain, and they are elucidated by Dr. Ateek. They include: 1. “It remains to be seen how long the world will allow Israel to continue down this cruel and destructive road”—and, I would add, this suicidal course. As the Psalmist proclaims, where “their feet are caught in the net they have hidden…ensnared by the work of their hands.” Psalms 9:15-16 2. Is it possible for the “achievement of a just resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly resolutions?” 3. If Israel insists on being “the only democracy in the Middle East,” why does Continued on page 71 Tom Getman, after nearly a decade of employment on Capitol Hill, worked for 25 years with major NGOs and the U.N. on African and Middle East conflicts. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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• EAST • BOOKS • AND • MORE MIDDLE Literature Films Pottery Solidarity Items More *
WINTER 2018 The Wall and the Gate: Israel, Palestine, and the Legal Battle for Human Rights by Michael Sfard, Metropolitan Books, 2018, hardcover, 528 pp. MEB: $30. From renowned human rights lawyer Michael Sfard comes an unprecedented exploration of the struggle for human rights in Israeli courts. The Wall and the Gate offers a radically new perspective on a much-covered conflict and a subtle, painful reckoning with the moral ambiguities inherent in the pursuit of justice.
Finding Jesus Among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic by Jordan Duffner, Liturgical Press, 2017, paperback, 162 pp. MEB: $18. Drawing from church teachings, stories of saints and martyrs, and extensive personal experiences living among Muslims in both the United States and the Middle East, Duffner explains why all Christians are called to participate in a “dialogue of life” with Muslims. Duffner’s scholarly and articulate approach makes her a welcome voice on some of the most important social and religious questions of our day.
Shell Shocked: The Social Responses to Terrorist Attacks by Gérôme Truc, Polity, 2017, paperback, 280 pp. MEB: $28. In this timely book, Truc sheds new light on recent terrorist attacks around the world, looking deeply into the ways in which ordinary individuals lived through and responded to these attacks. Shell Shocked will appeal to students and scholars of sociology and politics, and to anyone interested in understanding the impact of terrorism on contemporary societies.
Bethlehem: Biography of a Town by Nicholas Blincoe, Nation Books, 2017, hardcover, 288 pp. MEB: $25. Blincoe tells the history of Bethlehem through the experiences of living there, taking readers through stone streets and desert wadis, monasteries, aqueducts and orchards to show the city from every angle and era. His portrait of Bethlehem sheds light on one of the world’s most intractable political problems, and maintains that if the long thread winding back to the city's ancient past is severed, the chances of an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict will be lost with it.
The Privatization of Israeli Security by Shir Hever, Pluto Press, 2017, paperback, 256 pp. MEB: $25. Between 1994 and 2014, Israel’s security service was transformed, becoming one of the world’s most extreme examples of privatized security. Through the lens of political economy, Hever shows how Israel’s security elites turn violence into a commodity in order to preserve their status and wealth, providing a fresh new perspective on the Israeli occupation.
Iraq + 100: The First Anthology of Science Fiction to Have Emerged from Iraq by Hassan Blasim, Tor Books, 2017, paperback, 224 pp. MEB: $16. Iraq + 100 poses a question to Iraqi writers: What might your country look like in 2103, a century after the disastrous foreign invasion? Using science fiction, allegory and magical realism to challenge the perception of what it means to be “The Other,” this groundbreaking anthology contains stories that are heartbreakingly surreal, and yet utterly recognizable to the human experience.
Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring by Bassem Youssef, Dey Street Books, 2017, paperback, 304 pp. MEB: $15. The Egyptian author rose to prominence with his satirical news program “Al-Bernameg” (The Program), which chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, including the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. In Revolution for Dummies, Youssef takes readers through dramatic and inspiring stories of the Arab Spring and the modern Middle East.
Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom by Norman Finkelstein, University of California Press, 2018, hardcover, 440 pp. MEB: $30. In his latest meticulously researched book, Finkelstein shows that although Israel has justified its assaults on the besieged territory in the name of self-defense, its actions are, in reality, blatant violations of international law. Finkelstein continues to demonstrate how the traditional guardians of international law, from Amnesty International to the U.N. Human Rights Council, have also failed Gaza.
The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes That Make America Great by Leyla Moushabeck, Interlink Books, 2017, hardcover, 224 pp. MEB: $30. This beautifully photographed cookbook features appetizers, entrees and desserts—some familiar favorites, some likely to be new taste experiences—by renowned chefs from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe, offering a culinary celebration of the many ethnic groups that have contributed to America’s vibrant food culture. The publisher will donate a minimum of $5 from the sale of each book to the American Civil Liberties Union to support its immigrants rights project.
SHIPPING RATES Most items are discounted and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders accepted by mail, phone (800-368-5788 ext. 2), or Web (www.middleeastbooks.com). All payments in U.S. funds. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Please send mail orders to Middle East Books and More, 1902 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, with checks and money orders made out to “AET.” U.S. Shipping Rates: Please add $2.50 for the first item and $2 for each additional item. Canada & Mexico shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. International shipping charges: Please add $15 for the first item and $3.50 for each additional item. We ship by USPS Priority unless otherwise requested. MARCH/APRIL 2018
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O• B • I • T • U • A • R • I • E • S
Compiled by Nathaniel Bailey and Janet McMahon
Lawrence Stager, 74, died Dec. 29 at his home in Concord, MA of injuries suffered in a fall. A prominent archeologist, he was known for unearthing evidence of the Old Testament’s legendary “golden calf.” Born in Kenton, Ohio, he was recruited by the Harvard Club of Dayton to become the first member of his family to attend college. After excavating a site while on a post-graduate fellowship, Stager decided to study biblical archeology instead of pursuing a law degree. He participated in and led archeological digs around the world, including in Tunisia and Cyprus. In 1990, while excavating Canaanite ruins from the second millennium B.C. in a ruined temple in the city of Ashkelon, Israel (before 1948, the Palestinian village of Majdal), Stager discovered a four-and-a-half-inch-long icon of a bull, similar to the golden idols denounced by God in the Old Testament. Alan Hart, 75, died Jan. 15 of undisclosed causes. He had been in ill health for some time. The well-known author and reporter was a former Middle East chief correspondent for Independent Television News and a former BBC “Panorama” presenter specializing in the Middle East. He began his career as a reporter in Central Africa, and later served as a war correspondent in Vietnam. Through his work, he came into contact with many world leaders, including Golda Meir, Yasser Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan. Among the books he authored are Arafat: Terrorist or Peacemaker?, about what he described as “the miracle of Arafat’s leadership,” and the three-volume opus Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews (available from the Washington Report’s Middle East Books and More), in which he expounded on “the difference between Zionist mythology and real history, and the difference between Jews and Judaism on the one hand and Zionists and Zionism on the other.”
Oliver Ivanovic, 64, was killed Jan. 16 in Mitrovica, Kosovo. A prominet Serb politician in Kosovo and leader of the Citizens’ Initiative Party, he was shot five times in the
chest outside the party’s offices. Although viewed as a moderate in Serb politics in Kosovo, he also faced war crimes charges that his party disputed as being politically motivated. The Albanian-majority Kosovo government condemned the killing, while in Brussels, after hearing news of the assassination, a Serb delegation walked out of European Union-mediated talks regarding normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Tensions have escalated in Kosovo recently as the nation prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary of statehood.
Landrum Bolling, 104, a journalist, college president and Quaker peace activist, died Jan. 17 of congestive heart failure in Arlington, VA. Born in Parksville, TN, he graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1933 and earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago in 1938. He joined the faculty of Earlham College in Richmond, IN in 1948 and served as its president from 1958 to 1973. In 1968 he accepted a special assignment from the American Friends Service Committee to examine what role Quakers could play in promoting peace in the Middle East, and published the group’s findings in Searching for Peace in the Middle East. He was involved in peace efforts by the administration of President Jimmy Carter (1977-81), who recalled on Bolling’s 100th birthday: “Knowing of his personal acquaintance with Israeli and Arab leaders and his experience in the region, I turned to him for advice and assistance while negotiating the Camp David Accords.” Stansfield Turner, 94, died Jan. 18 at his home in Redmond, WA of undisclosed causes. Born in a suburb of Chicago, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. As a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University he earned a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics. He proceeded to rise through the ranks during the Korean and Vietnam wars, eventually becoming commander of the Navy’s Second Fleet and, upon receiving his fourth star, NATO commander in southern Eu-
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rope. As head of the Central Intelligence Agency during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, who as a candidate had called the CIA a national disgrace, Turner overhauled the agency, dismissing 825 officers in the clandestine service. He oversaw the effort to aid the Afghan resistance to Russia’s invasion, including providing weapons to Osama bin Laden. In 1979, four members of the CIA station team in Tehran were among the American hostages held for 444 days. They were released on the day President Ronald Reagan, to whom Carter lost his bid for reelection, was inaugurated.
Pat McDonnell Twair, 82, died Jan. 20 in Los Angeles after a long illness. Born in Long Beach, CA, she had been an activist and advocate for the Palestinian cause since 1971, and a columnist for the Washington Report since 1987. She first went to Syria in 1977 while working on her doctorate in archaeology from UCLA. While there she fractured her ankle on an expedition near Deir ez-Zor, and ended up staying in Syria for six years as a freelance journalist, publishing 1,800 stories covering all aspects of Syrian life. Her book Two Thousand and One Syrian Nights is scheduled to be published posthumously. She is survived by her husband of 35 years, Samir, her brother Dr. Jerry McDonnell, nephew Casey McDonnell, niece Keegan McDonnell, greatnephew Mason McDonnell and greatniece Harper Maeve McDonnell. Joseph R. Haiek, 84, died Jan. 25 of pneumonia in a Cairo hospital, three days before his 85th birthday. The founder of the Arab American Historical Foundation had traveled there with his daughter Caterina to receive an award from the Association of Egyptian American Scholars, and fell ill following the reception. A native of Jerusalem, he used to joke that he, a Palestinian refugee, fell in love with Terese, an Armenian refugee, in a refugee camp, and they married and had refugee children. When the children were young, MARCH/APRIL 2016
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the family moved to Glendale, CA. In 1972 Haiek began publishing The News Circle Arab American Affairs Magazine. He became publisher/editor-in-chief of the six editions of the Arab American Almanac series and the Mideast Business Guide beginning in 1974, and was founder and president of the Arab American Historical Foundation in 1978. An historian, journalist and publisher who served the ArabAmerican community for more than 45 years, he was also a recipient in 2011 of the NECO Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Robert Parry, 68, died Jan. 27 at a Virginia hospice facility. He had suffered the first of three strokes on Christmas Eve, and was later found to be suffering from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer. The founder and editor of Consortiumnews.com was born in Hartford, CT and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Colby College in Maine. He joined the Associated Press in 1974 and a decade later, as a member of an AP investigative team, won the George Polk Award for national reporting, and was a finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize, for disclosing that the CIA had provided an assassination manual to rightwing contras in Nicaragua. That year he also broke the story of Lt. Col. Oliver North’s involvement in the Iran-contra affair, in which proceeds of sales of U.S. arms to Iran were used to fund the contras. In 1987 Parry left the AP for Newsweek, and also worked on documentaries for the PBS series “Frontline,” incuding one on the “October Surprise”—Iran’s freeing of American hostages on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. In 1995 he founded Consortiumnews.com, which reported on Washington’s involvement in overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government and on the role of Syrian rebels in sarin gas attacks on civilians. Parry often criticized and corrected inaccurate reports in The New York Times, in particular. The author of six books, he was awarded the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence in 2015 and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2017. ■ MARCH/APRIL 2016
The fears of Middle Eastern Christians are not only that Islamist extremists such as ISIS but also more mainstream Islamist groups will use the evangelicals’ uncritical support of Israel to tarnish the image of Christians as a whole. Over the past several decades in the Middle East, because of wars, terrorism and instability, many Christians have left the region, having been targeted or fearing for their future. At least two-thirds of Iraqi Christians have left Iraq in the post-2003 period. Christians who remain in the region do not want the evangelicals, and by extension the Trump administration, making their situation worse. Hence, not only have such Christians denounced the Trump position on Jerusalem, they have stated loudly that they would not meet with Pence when he visits the region. Coptic Pope Tawadros II, for example, said the U.S. decision on Jerusalem came “without the consideration for the feelings of millions of Arab people.” The White House announced on Dec. 18 that Pence’s trip to the Middle East had been postponed to late January, ostensibly because his presence was required in Washington for the passage of a tax bill. In reality, the schedule change was because so many political leaders such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Christian and Muslim leaders in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Middle East said they would not meet with him. The White House may have been hoping a delay would allow feelings to cool down. That is wishful thinking. That Trump is indicating he wants to punish all the countries on the U.N. Security Council who voted on Dec. 18 for a resolution rejecting the U.S. decision on Jerusalem does not bode well for a cooling of tensions. It does nothing to support Pence’s claim that the administration is giving priority to protecting Christians. In fact, it has put them more in jeopardy. As the saying goes, with friends like these— evangelicals and Trump officials—who needs enemies? ■
it not finally have a constitution that gives all citizens of Israel and the occupied territories equal rights? 4. How can Israeli society avoid civil war if it cannot manage extremist settlers who insist that God’s law requires them to drive out or kill all non-Jews, even those who are the indigenous people of the land? On these questions and numerous others, Ateek declares that there has never been a time when the inclusive nature of God’s grace and compassionate mercy has been so important to embrace. “Authentic understanding of the people of God rejects the exclusionary forms of racial superiority and accepts that all people are God’s people.” Authentic religion and faith, defined by both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, assert a fuller and more appreciative “chosen-ness” and inheritance so that Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians alike “will inherit the land together in justice and peace and enjoy the good earth that God has give them.” Ateek’s heartfelt and prophetic word is not just wishful thinking. Having thus firmly grounded his vision in the timeless authority of the scriptural tradition shared by all the faiths of the land, he goes on to provide concrete guidance in the form of resources and a toolkit for action. Again, be forewarned! To open this book is to be called to transformation, whatever your backgrounds. It contains a clear renewed appeal to commitment and to membership in an acting working community within which one can find courage, engagement and hope. We are called to challenge existing American policy that enables, finances and now, clearly, since the president’s announcement about Jerusalem, the settler colonial vision, and the resulting slow cleansing of the Palestinians. These issues about which we are complicit are damaging to both the Palestinians and the Jewish people. I urge you to acquire Naim Ateek’s latest compendium of wisdom with due haste and anticipation. ■
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WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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AET’s 2017 Choir of Angels
Following are individuals, organizations, companies and foundations whose help between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017 is making possible activities of the tax-exempt AET Library Endowment (federal ID #52-1460362) and the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Some Angels helped us co-sponsor the conference “The Israel Lobby and American Policy.” Others donated to our “Capital Building Fund.” We are deeply honored by their confidence and profoundly grateful for their generosity.
HUMMERS ($100 or more)
Catherine Abbott, Edina, MN Dr.& Mrs. Robert Abel, Wilmington, DE Jeff Abood, Silver Lake, OH Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Atlanta, GA Rizek & Alice Abusharr, Claremont, CA Miriam & Stephen Adams, Albuquerque, NM Diane Adkin, Camas, WA James C. Ahlstrom, Stirling, NJ Asadullah Ahmad, Joplin, MO Aglia & Mumtaz Ahmed, Buda, TX Sohail & Saba Ahmed, Orland Park, IL Qamar Ahsan, Flint, MI Bulus Paul Ajlouny, San Jose, CA Ali Akbar, Oakland, CA Mohammad & Shaista Akbar, Orwigsburg, PA Robert Akras, North Bay Village, FL Saleh Al-Ashkar, Tucson, AZ Dr. & Mrs. Salah Al-Askari, Leonia, NJ Joe & Siham Alfred, Fredericksburg, VA Tammam Aljoundi, Saint Louis, MO Jafar Almashat, Martinsburg, WV Nazar Al Quraishi, San Jose, CA Ali Al Shihabi, Long Beach, CA Dr. Bishr Al-Ujayli, Troy, MI American Muslims for Palestine, Bridgeview, IL Edwin Amidon, Charlotte, VT Abdulhamid Ammuss, Garland, TX Sylvia Anderson De Freitas, Duluth, MN Anace & Polly Aossey, Cedar Rapids, IA Julie Arnold, Bemidji, MN* Muhammad Ashiq, Cypress, CA Dr. Robert Ashmore, Jr., Mequon, WI Mr. & Mrs. Sultan Aslam, Plainsboro, NJ Robin Assali, Cypress, CA Mostafa Aswad, Verborn, MI**** Ahmed Ayish, Arlington, VA Robert E. Barber, Parrish, FL Lina Barkawi, Vienna, VA Stanton Barrett, Ipswich, MA Allen & Jerrie Bartlett, Philadelphia, PA Francois Basili, Hawthorne, NJ Lisa Beach, Waukee, IA Lisa Bean, Waukee, IA Mr. & Mrs. Robert Beckmann, Seattle, WA
David Bentley, Long Beach, CA Linda Bergh, Syracuse, NY Heath Blackiston, Melbourne Beach, FL* Elizabeth Blakely, Cambria, CA Aston Bloom, Tucson, AZ†† Ed Brooks, Mount Airy, MD Gordon & Louise Brown, Washington, DC James Burkart, Bethesda, MD Frank Calabrese, Wheeling, WV Barbara Candy, Loomis, CA Lynn & Aletha Carlton, Norwalk, CT William Cavness, Falls Church, VA Ouahib Chalbi, Coon Rapids, MN Glen Cockrell, Tulsa, OK Dr. Robert G. Collmer, Waco, TX Robert Cooke, Faith Forum, Gaithersburg, MD A.L. Cummings, Owings Mills, MD Darcy Curtiss, Herndon, VA Peter & Linda Dobrzeniecki, Wolverine Lake, MI**** David Dubois, Acworth, GA Ron Dudum, San Francisco, CA Ibrahim Elkarra, San Francisco, CA Kassem Elkhalil, Arlington, TX Richard & Maria Ellis, Ardmore, PA Dr. Mohamed Elsamahi, Marion, IL Barbara Erickson, Berkeley, CA Dr. & Mrs. Hossam Fadel, Augusta, GA Family Practice & Surgery, Eatonton, GA Yusif Farsakh, Arlington, VA Zamin Farukhi, Orange, CA Ronald Lee Fleming, Cambridge, MA Donald Frisco, Wilmington, DE Dr. William Fuller, Valdosta, GA Ahmad & Shirley Gazori, Mill Creek, WA William Gefell, Tunbridge, VT Barbara Germack, Brooklyn, NY Burhan Ghanayem, Durham, NC Michael Gillespie, Maxwell, IA John & Alice Goodman, Bethesda, MD* Raymond Gordon, Venice, FL Richard N. Groh, Chicago, IL**** Marina A.P. Gutierrez, Kensington, CA Alice H. Hall, Duxbury, MA Dixiane Hallaj, Purcellville, VA Dr. Safei Hamed, Columbia, MD Ibrahim Hamide, Eugene, OR
WAShIngTOn REPORT On MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Delinda C. Hanley, Kensington, MD† Shirley Hannah, Queensbury, NY Prof. & Mrs. Brice Harris, Pasadena, CA Angelica Harter, N. Branford, CT Steven Harvey, Manchester, NH Nicholas Heer, Seattle, WA John Hendrickson, Albuquerque, NM Clement Henry, Moorestown, NJ A.H.M. Hilmy, Kew Richman, Surrey, UK Helen Holman, Litchfield, ME M.D. Hotchkiss, Portland, OR Dr. Sami Husseini, Ithaca, NY Zafer & Juhayna Husseini, Dallas, TX Mr. & Mrs. Azmi Ideis, Deltona, FL Mustafa Issa, Montreal, QC, Canada Mary Izett, Walnut Creek, CA Talal Janbay, Boulder Creek, CA Bilquis Jaweed, West Chester, OH Ronald Jaye, Watsonville, CA Janis Jibrin, Washington, DC Curtis Jones, Chapel Hill, NC Dr. Jamil Jreisat, Temple Terrace, FL Omar & Nancy Kader, Vienna, VA James Kawakami, Los Angeles, CA Mazen Kawji, Burr Ridge, IL Ghazala Kazi, Columbia, MD Rev. Charles Kennedy, Concord, NH††† Susan Kerin, Rockville, MD Dr. Mazen Khalidi, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI Faizul & Maimun Khan, Silver Spring, MD Ismath & Mohamed Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI Javed Khan, Saratoga, CA Dr. M. Jamil Khan, Bloomfield Hills, MI M. Yousuf Khan, Scottsdale, AZ Fouad Khatib, San Jose, CA Dr. Mohayya Khilfeh, Chicago, IL Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Kilgore, Auburn, AL Elaine Knox, East Lansing, MI Mary Lou Kostielney, Phoenix, AZ Ronald Kunde, Skokie, IL Matt Labadie, Portland, OR Kendall Landis, Wallingford, PA James A. Langley, Washington, DC* John Lankenau, Tivoli, NY
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William Lawand, Mount Royal, QC, Canada David & Renee Lent, Hanover, NH Edward Lesoon, Jr., Pittsburgh, PA Fran Lilleness, Seattle, WA William Lord, Pittsburgh, PA Joseph Louis, Los Gatos, CA Alice Ludvigsen, Oslo, Norway J. Robert Lunney, Bronxville, NY Robert L. Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI A. Kent MacDougall, Berkeley, CA Ramy & Cynthia Mahmoud, Skillman, NJ Dr. & Mrs. Gabriel Makhlouf, Richmond, VA Dr. Asad Malik, Bloomfield Hills, MI Mr. & Mrs. Hani Marar, Delmar, NY Ted Marczak, Toms River, NJ Amal Marks, Altadena, CA Martha Martin, Paia, HI Tahsin Masud, Tucker, GA Carol Mazzia, Santa Rosa, CA Shirl McArthur, Reston, VA Gwendolyn McEwen, Bellingham, WA Bill McGrath, Northfield, MN Dr. John Mearsheimer, Chicago, IL Caroline & John Merriam, Washington, DC* Robert Anton Mertz, Bethesda, MD Aspasia Merza, Garden City, NY Susan Kay Metcalfe, Beaverton, OR Tom Mickelson, Neshkoro, WI Dr. Samuel Milham, Olympia, WA Arthur Miller, Spring City, PA Lynn Miller, Amherst, MA Nabil Mohamad, Washington, DC John & Ruth Monson, La Crosse, WI Maury Keith Moore, Seattle, WA John Moriarty, Manassas, VA Isa & Dalal Musa, Falls Church, VA Raymond & Joan Musallam, Wilton, CA John Najemy, Albany, NY Sara Najjar-Wilson, Reston, VA Stephen L. Naman, Atlanta, GA Jacob Nammar, San Antonio, TX Nisrin Nasrallah, Gatineau, Canada Donald & Geraldine Ness, Leesburg, FL**** Mary Norton, Austin, TX Susan Nye, Watertown, MA**** Kamal Obeid, Fremont, CA Tom O’Connell, Brooklyn, NY Anne O’Leary, Arlington, VA Rawhi Omar, Crestwood, KY Akram M. Omari, San Francisco, CA John L. Opperman, Ridgecrest, CA Edmund Ord, Oakland, CA Khaled Othman, Riverside, CA Edmond & Lorraine Parker, Chicago, IL
Gennaro Pasquale, Oyster Bay, NY Phil & Elaine Pasquini, Novato, CA Patricia & Michael Peterson, Washington, DC* Jim Plourd, Monterey, CA Barbara A. Porter, Boston, MA Barry Preisler, Albany, CA Brian & Colleen Price, Radnor, PA Clarence Prince, Austin, TX Cheryl Quigley, Toms River, NJ Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem, Palestine Beatrice Rames, Mesa, AZ Marjorie Ransom, Washington, DC Kenneth Reed, Bishop, CA Mr. & Mrs. Edward Reilly, Rocky Point, NY Robert Reynolds, Mill Valley, CA Paul Richards, Salem, OR Neil Richardson, Randolph, VT William Rose, Birmingham, AL Amb. Christopher Ross, Washington, DC Brynhild Rowberg, Northfield, MN Dr. Mohammed Sabbagh, Grand Blanc, MI Rafi M. Salem, Alamo, CA Irmgard Scherer, Fairfax, VA Hamida Schulze, Laxenburg, Austria Mona Serageldin, Cambridge, MA Dr. Abid A. Shah, Sarasota, FL Richard J. Shaker, Annapolis, MD Thomas Shaker, Poughkeepsie, NY Carl Shankweiler, Valley View, PA Lt. Col. Alfred Shehab, Odenton, MD Kathy Sheridan, Mill Valley, CA Dr. Mostafa Hashem Sherif, Tinton Falls, NJ Nancy Taylor Shivers, San Antonio, TX Zac Sidawi, Costa Mesa, CA Teofilo Siman, Miami, FL Deborah Smith, Durham, NC Jean Snyder, Greenbelt, MD Damian Sokol, Arrowsic, ME William R. Stanley, Lexington, SC Peter & Joyce Starks, Greensboro, NC Gregory Stefanatos, Flushing, NY Viola Stephan, Santa Barbara, CA Rev. John J. Sullivan, Maryknoll, NY Mushtaq Syed, Santa Clara, CA Dr. Joseph Tamari, Chicago, IL Joanie Tanous, Boulder, CO Doris Taweel, Laurel, MD J. Tayeb, Shelby Twp., MI Zuhair Thalji, Willow Springs, IL Charles Thomas, La Conner, WA Robert Thomas, Fredericksburg, VA Jerry & Jane Thompson, Bemidji, MN* Robert J. Tollefson, Storm Lake, IA
Michael Tomlin, New York, NY Joan Toole, Albany, GA Thomas Trueblood, Chapel Hill, NC Aziz Shalaby Ttee, Vancouver, WA Charles & Letitia Ufford, Hanover, NH Unitarian Universalists for Justice, Cambridge, MA Ruth Vail, Ann Arbor, MI Paul H. Verduin, Silver Spring, MD V.R. Vitolins, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI Robin & Nancy Wainwright, Severna Park, MD Lawrence Waldron, Berkeley, VA Carl Walker, Orinda, CA Rev. Hermann Weinlick, Minneapolis, MN Thomas C. Welch, Cambridge, MA Hugh Westwater, Columbus, OH Willard White, Phoenix, AZ David Williams, Golden, CO Sarah & Robert Wilson, Reston, VA* Robert Witty, Cold Spring, NY Lorie & Wilbur Wood, Vancouver, WA Thomas M. Wunderlich, Cambridge, MA Asma Yousef, Alexandria, VA Dr. & Mrs. Fathi Yousef, Irvine, CA Bernice Youtz, Tacoma, WA Mahmoud Zawawi, Amman, Jordan Vivian Zelaya, Berkeley, CA Hugh Ziada, Garden Grove, CA Fred Zuercher, Spring Grove, PA
ACCOMPANISTS ($250 or more)
Mohammed Ahmed, Waterville, OH Mazen Alsatie, Carmel, IN Mohamed Alwan, Chestnut Ridge, NY Nabil & Judy Amarah, Danbury, CT Louise Anderson, Oakland, CA Kate Bisharat, Carmichael, CA Dr. Isa Canavati, Fort Wayne, IN Joe Chamy, Colleyville, TX Ted Chauviere, Austin, TX Patricia Christensen, Poulsbo, WA Larry Cooper, Plymouth, MI**** Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA*** L.F. Boker Doyle, New York, NY Sarah L. Duncan, Vienna, OH Dr. David Dunning, Lake Oswego, OR Mervat Eid, Henrietta, NY Mr. & Mrs. Majed Faruki, Albuquerque, NM E. Aracelis Francis, St. Thomas, VI Raymond Gordon, Venice, FL Erin K. Hankir, Nepean, ON, Canada Susan Haragely, Livonia, MI Dr. Walid & Norma Harb, Dearborn Hts., MI
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
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Dr. Kamal Hasan, Davison, MI Ribhi Hazin, Dearborn, MI Dr. Raymond Jallow, Los Angeles, CA Jeanne Johnston, Santa Ynez, CA Zagloul & Muntaha Kadah, Los Gatos, CA Mr. & Mrs. Basim Kattan, Washington, DC Nazik Kazimi, Newton, MA Tony Khoury, Sedona, AZ Omar Khwaja, Mountain View, CA Loretta Krause, Southport, NC Michael Ladah, Las Vegas, NV Sandra La Framboise, Oakland, CA David & Renee Lent, Hanover, NH Anthony Mabarak, Grosse Pointe Park, MI Tahera Mamdani, Fridley, MN Joseph A. Mark, Carmel, CA Georgianna McGuire, Silver Spring, MD Donald & Jeannette McInnes, Cambridge, MA**** Darrel Meyers, Burbank, CA Ben Monk, Saint Paul, MN Audrey Olson, St. Paul, MN Nancy Orr, Portland, OR Amb. Edward & Ann Peck, Chevy Chase, MD Hertha Poje-Ammoumi, New York, NY Phillip Portlock, Washington, DC Nuhad Ruggiero, Bethesda, MD Dr. Ahmed M. Sakkal, Charleston, WV James & Lisa Sams, Bethesda, MD Dr. Dirgham H. Sbait, Portland, OR Lisa Schiltz, Barbar, Bahrain Yasir Shallal, McLean, VA Qaiser & Tanseem Shamim, Somerset, NJ Lewis Shapiro, White Plains, NY Dr. William Strange, Bandera, TX Thomas & Carol Swepston, Englewood, FL Eddy Tamura, Morago, CA Benjamin Wade, Saratoga, CA John Van Wagoner, McLean, VA Raymond Younes, Oxnard, CA
TENORS & CONTRALTOS ($500 or more)
Michael Ameri, Calabasas, CA Edward Briody, Jackson Heights, NY Colette Burghardt, Bethel Park, PA Forrest Cioppa, Moraga, CA Duncan Clark, Rockville, MD Andrew and Krista Curtiss, Herndon, VA*,** Mo Dagstani, Redington Beach, FL Joseph Daruty, Newport Beach, CA Robert & Tanis Diedrichs, Cedar Falls, IA 74
Joseph & Angela Gauci, Whittier, CA Dr. Wasif Hafeez, W. Bloomfield, MI George Hanna, Santa Ana, CA Mr. & Mrs. Sameer Hassan, Quaker Hill, CT Brigitte Jaensch, Carmichael, CA Fahd Jajeh, Lake Forest, IL Les Janka, Leesburg, VA Ghazy Kader, Shoreline, WA Issa & Rose Kamar, Plano, TX Azzam & Shadi Kanaan, Portage, MI Richard Kaplan, Lakewood, OH Gloria Keller, Santa Rosa, CA K. Kittredge, Quilcene, WA Tony Litwinko, Los Angeles, CA George & Karen Longstreth, San Diego, CA Nidal Mahayni, Richmond, VA Bill & Jean Mansour, Corvallis, OR Tom & Tess McAndrew, Oro Valley, AZ Dr. Charles W. McCutchen, Bethesda, MD Gerald & Judith Merrill, Oakland, CA Corinne Mudarri, Cambridge, MA Anees Mughannam, Petaluma, CA William & Nancy Nadeau, San Diego, CA Claire Nader, Winsted, CT Mr. & Mrs. W. Eugene Notz, Charleston, SC Audrey Olson, Saint Paul, MN Herbert & Patricia Pratt, Cambridge, MA Sam Rahman, Lincoln, CA Amani Ramahi, Lakewood, OH Bassam Rammaha, Corona, CA Fred Rogers, Northfield, MN Jalal & Gabrielle Saad, Long Beach, CA Mae Stephen, Palo Alto, CA Vita Wallace, New York, NY Dr. Robert Younes, Potomac, MD Dr. James Zogby, Washington, DC
BARITONES & MEZZO SOPRANOS ($1,000 or more)
Drs. A.J. & M.T. Amirana, Las Vegas, NV Asha A. Anand, Bethesda, MD Lois Aroian, East Jordan, MI Graf Herman Bender, North Palm Beach, FL Karen Bossmeyer, Louisville, KY Harvie Branscomb, La Jolla, CA G. Edward & Ruth Brooking Jr., Wilmington, DE* Center for Arab American Philanthropy, Dearborn, MI Rev. Ronald C. Chochol, Saint Louis, MO
WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS
Forrest Cioppa, Moraga, CA Henry Clifford, Essex, CT Rajie Cook, Washington Crossing, PA Edouard C. Emmet, Paris, France Gary R. Feulner, Dubai, UAE Ronald & Mary Forthofer, Longmont, CO Evan & Leman Fotos, Istanbul, Turkey Dr. Hassan Fouda, Berkeley, CA Dotti Gerner, Indianapolis, IN Hind Hamdan, Hagerstown, MD Julester Haste, Oxford, IA Salman & Kate Hilmy, Silver Spring, MD Sufian & Barbara Husseini, Salem, OR Ghazy Kader, Shoreline, WA Dr. Jane Killgore & Tom D’Albani, Bemidji, MN* William Lightfoot, Vienna, VA Jack Love, San Diego, CA John Mahoney, New York, NY Roberta & John McInerney, Washington, DC* Ralph Nader, Washington, DC Mary Norton, Austin, TX Mary H. Regier, El Cerrito, CA Betty Sams, Washington, DC* Dr. M. F. Shoukfeh, Lubbock, TX Yusef & Jennifer Sifri, Wilmington, NC Gretel Smith, Garrett, IN Dr. Imad Tabry, Fort Lauderdale, FL Norman Tanber, Dana Point, CA Donn Trautman, Evanston, IL
CHOIRMASTERS ($5,000 or more)
Patricia Ann Abraham, Charleston, SC Donna B. Curtiss, Kensington, MD*,** Dr. & Mrs. Clyde Farris, West Linn, OR*,** John & Henrietta Goelet, New York, NY Estate of Andrew I. Killgore, Washington, DC John McGillion, Asbury Park, NJ
*In Memory of Andrew I. Killgore **In Memory of Richard H. Curtiss ***In Honor of John F. Mahoney ****In Memory of Diane Cooper †In Memory of Prof. Jack Shaheen ††In Memory of Rosemarie Carnarius
†††In Memory of J. Paul Shenk
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American Educational Trust Washington Report on Middle East Affairs P.O. Box 53062 Washington, DC 20009
March/April 2018 Vol. XXXVII, No. 2
Afghan mourners gather in Kandahar province around the coffin of Mufti Ahmad Farzan, a member of the High Peace Council, who was killed in a Jan. 20 attack by armed insurgents on Kabulâ€™s Intercontinental Hotel, Jan. 22, 2018. JAVED TANVEER/AFP/Getty Images
Interpreting the Middle East for North Americans • Interpreting North America for the Middle East