Palestinian Flag Flies in DC

We are proud to see the flag. It’s about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood is raised in the United States. We hope that this will help in the international efforts to provide recognition for the Palestinian state.

—Maen Areikat, Palestinian chief envoy to the United States

The Palestinian flag was flown for the first time over the office of the PLO mission in Washington.

It’s about time.

The event was reported by Haaretz, which adds

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow had recognized Palestinian independence in 1988 and they would continue to do so today.

World-wide, some 100 countries have declared recognition of Palestine.  Guyana has recently said it will recognize the Palestinian state. So have Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Europe may follow suit.

The Jerusalem Post and al-Arabiya (photo) also ran the story; Washington Jewish Week noted that the ceremony took place in the freezing rain and was attended by no U.S. diplomats.  The Washington Post ran the AP story.  NYT did not run the story at all.

Fly one, fly them both.

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O Palestine

Manifestos aren’t what they used to be. A new group in Gaza, Gaza Youth Breaks Out, starts their statement on Facebook with F*ck Hamas, F*ck Israel, …

We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this f*cking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

….
[via the Guardian]

Meanwhile in the conservative press, Lawrence Haas of the American Foreign Policy Council (who?) has written an opinion piece against recognizing Palestine as a state. It contains mostly unsupported and unexplained assertions, the main ones being that “a nation needs internationally recognized borders” (as if the borders of the U.S.–or any country in Europe, or Africa, or Asia–have never changed) and that recognizing Palestine would be “followed not by peace but, instead, by more conflict” (unlike the last 50 years of war, intifada, suicide bombers, proxy wars by Iran through Lebanon, and more intifadas). By Haas’ rules, only Switzerland would be allowed nationhood. Haas has not come up with very good reasons for denying statehood, but what are the real reasons conservatives seem to oppose it? Oh, and Haas thinks the existence of both the PLO ( in the West Bank) and Hamas (in Gaza) contending for power would make it hard to choose which one to throw the weight of U.S. official support behind. That to me is a no-brainer.

A Palestinian friend of mine was thrown in jail by Saddam Hussein around the time of Dessert Storm while working as a news service editor in Kuwait. He and a family member got out because they had a Jordanian passports, but the last I had heard (2001) some of his colleagues were still in jail because they lack passports and an official (Palestinian) state to speak for them.

So why, oh why, oh why is not Palestine a state already? How hard can it be? It’s a Nike thing. Just do it.

Third Intifada

Someone yesterday asked what is the Third Intifada. Some people had been chanting it in the city and they didn’t know what it meant, so they asked on a blog thread.

I’ve never heard of a Third Intifada; it sounds something like “World War Three”. There have been two Palestinian  intifadas so far, one in the 80s and one starting in 1999 when I was there, and ending 2005-ish. (Wikipedia: First Intifada, Second Intifada) The intifada is a low level attack on soft targets–suicide bombers blowing up pizza parlors, kids throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, that kind of thing. Unlike 9-11, it tends to be perceived in Jordan, whose population is 60% Palestinian,  as a legitimate military action against Israel. A few Israelis die, and 4 or 5 times as many Palestinians die, but it’s seen as the only way to put pressure on Israel. It also totally ruins Jordan’s tourism and puts their economy in a nosedive–from maybe 3% growth per year to zero–but still they support the Palestinians.  What else can they do.

I see absolutely no purpose to the intifadas, except perhaps to channel frustration away from the ruling group and help keep them in power. It makes the young people feel hopeless and suicidal (see the image of Farfur the Hamas martyrdom mouse at right), and gives the group in power an excuse not to govern.  I have long been frustrated with Palestine for not just acting as if they already had a country and just…governing it. The corruption more than anything is what encourages groups like Hamas.

Even as a vehicle for expressing frustration, I suspect the days of the intifada are numbered. Witness the nonsense over the “Intifada NYC” t-shirts that plagued principal Debbie Almontaser, the founder of the Arabic-English language Khalil Gibran International Academy elementary school. During an interview with the New York Post (big mistake right there, thanks to her bosses) Almontaser was asked a question about the meaning of the word intifada and gave the dictionary definition.  Later the reason for the question became obvious; there was an organization in the same building as an organization that supported the school, Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, and they were selling a t-shirt that said “Intifada NYC”.

Almontaser could have done several things that would have commanded my admiration. She could have condemned the intifada out of hand in no uncertain terms, which is what she did the next day after some reflection. Or she could have defended the intifada as the right of the Palestinians to self-defense, if that’s what she believes. There are plenty of people who believe that, and I can respect that point of view, even if I’m personally horrified by attacks on civilians (and for that matter, non-civilians). If nothing else, it might have been an education for some people to hear it. Or she could have just said the t-shirt belonged to a group that had nothing to do with her school, which is true enough. But when Almontaser went up against the heavy guns of the haters, she waffled, giving the win to the haters and their definition of intifada. So now “intifada” has shifted even further towards being a word that stigmatizes Arabs and Muslims.

Why anyone was chanting about intifada on American streets this week I don’t know. Clearly it was a response to the recent Israeli boarding of the Turkish ship, but other than that, I suspect it was nothing more than an expression of frustration.

Bonus photos:

Some date the beginning of the Second Intifada to the day following Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, an area known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.  When I visited the Temple Mount I asked where this place was where Sharon had stood, and the area pointed out to me was between the Mosque of Omar and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Up the stairs, I asked, pointing to the gold-domed Mosque of Omar?  No, I was told, below the stairs.

I am standing in the above photo on the left in the shadow beside the wall. In the background is the Mosque of Omar, where the Navel of the Universe is supposed to be located, and where the Ark of the Covenant may have once rested, hidden before its final disappearance.

At the bottom of the stairs is the al-Aqsa mosque, built by the Knights Templar.

Here is a closeup of the entrance, or maybe it’s the exit, depending on how you look at it.

I love this building.  My companion didn’t understand why I wanted a photograph of it, maybe because there was a very photogenic gold domed building right behind it.

After having stood in this spot, I still don’t understand why the Palestinians would want to riot when Sharon stood here.

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The Prinicipality of Palestine.

Yesterday I updated my google Reader by adding a subscription to the blog Atlas Obscura, “a collaborative project with the goal of cataloging all of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist. If you’re looking for miniature cities, glass flowers, books bound in human skin, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, phallological museums, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or homes built entirely out of paper, the Atlas Obscura is where you’ll find them.”

Already the few keyclicks it took to subscribe to the blog has paid off with information about the Principality of Sealand, a tower called a Maunsell sea fort built by England during WWII in international waters:

In 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates occupied the island and declared it a sovereign principality, appropriately named “Sealand.” For the past four decades Bates and his family, with rotating visitors, have occupied the island, named themselves Royalty, and gone about their business much like heads of state.

In 1978 a German citizen claiming to be the “Prime Minister of Sealand” attempted to take over the island while Bates was away. Bates retook the island by helicopter attack and held the German captive. First Germany attempted to negotiate with Britain, who said Sealand wasn’t their country. The Germans then negotiated directly with Bates, and after a few weeks their countryman was returned. This encounter bolsters Bates’ claim that Sealand is a nation, as Germany recognized them in negotiation.

Since this time Sealand has fired at the British Navy, issued passports, minted coins, and participated in international sporting events….

Excellent.

Now, if Mr. Bates can declare himself a nation, and get away with it, “WHY CAN’T PALESTINE DECLARE ITSELF A NATION? This is just so obvious to me; whatever is taking them so long?

But wait, there is another revelation in store.  The Principality of Sealand is not alone; in fact, there is a name for this phenomenon–”micro-nations”–and Atlas Obscura has a whole separate tag for micro-nations.  So far, they have written about no fewer than eleven micro-nations. Count ‘em, eleven. And get this,  one of them is INSIDE THE CITY OF JERUSALEM!!!1!

Are you listening, Palestinians? Are you listening, Dr. Fayad  (author of “The Salam Fayad Document: A Palestinian Initiative to Bear Responsibility”)?

Forget  “settlements”.  So what, settlements. They’re the only places it ‘s safe enough to put a bank ATM machine.  They’re the only places it’s safe enough for Arab women to walk without being harassed by Arab men. Leave them alone.  There must be plenty of “empty” land still left that can be reclaimed; there’s even a precedent for that move.  I hear the West Bank is absolutely sitting on an underground lake.

Build your own Palestinian nano-nations, but forget all that dreary intifada stuff.  Make a sweet little Arab country without  shebabs–you know the guys I’m talking about, the ones who don’t want to keep their hands to themselves. You know who they are.  Send those jerks to Gaza to live out their lives with kefeeyas wrapped around everything but their eyes.

Then build a principality with the best felafel, the best mahmoul, and that bear-claw-shaped, date-filled Palestinian bread that’s to die for.  Plant a few palm trees to sit and eat them under.  Don’t forget a mosque where the women can worship on the same floor side-by-side with men, and don’t have to hide in the mosque basement for fear the men will stare at their butts while they’re praying.  And then issue passports–and visas–for it.

The Micro-Nation of Palestine.

Build it and they will come.

The “revoking Palestinians’ citizenship en masse” meme

The meme of Jordan  “revoking Palestinians’ citizenship en masse”  has been recycling since last summer.   It resurfaced again last month, this time in a report from Human Rights Watch.

The New York Times:

A human rights group criticized Jordan on Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years. Concerned about increasing numbers of Palestinians, who make up nearly half the population, Jordan began in 2004 revoking the citizenship from Palestinians who do not have Israeli permits to reside in the West Bank. Human Rights Watch said Jordan stripped about 2,700 Jordanians of Palestinian origin of their citizenship between 2004 and 2008, rendering them stateless.

The Washington Post provided a possible motive for the story gaining traction now:

AMMAN, Jordan — A U.S.-based human rights group criticized Jordan Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years.

Nearly half the kingdom’s 6 million people are of Palestinian origin and Jordan fears that if Palestinians become the majority, it will disrupt the delicate demographic balance. Those concerns have been heightened by some Israeli hard-liners who argue that neighboring Jordan should become the Palestinian state and that more West Bank Palestinians should be pushed into Jordan.

The Jordanian government immediately said it wasn’t true:

The Jordanian government on Tuesday said a Human Rights Watch report on the government’s treatment of Palestinian-Jordanians was full of “fallacies” and unsubstantiated allegations…. “The Interior Ministry does not have the legal authority to withdraw the nationality of any citizen,” [Minister of State for Media Affairs Nabil] Sharif added.

…while others pointed out that the Queen herself is Palestinian, born in Kuwait.

The first instance I can find of this meme is from the Israeli newspaper, Jerusalem Post, Jul 20, 2009, “Amman revoking Palestinians’ citizenship”.  In this version, much echoed, the Palestinian population of Jordan has  swelled from “less than half” to “70%”.

The echo chamber that is the blogosphere picked it up and re-echoed it, always with the “70%” population number.  The Raw Story and Democratic Underground covered it (one commenter recommending over and over to “google Black September and Wasfi al-Tal”), as well as various Israeli blogs featuring articles about rebuilding the temple, a frequent concern of extreme right-wing Jewish groups. A month later Judith Miller and David Samuels wrote an excellent in-depth review of the situation in the The Independent, “No way home: The tragedy of the Palestinian diaspora”, restoring some factuality to the discussion, and giving Jordan due credit for its struggles with a difficult refugee problem. (I’m a bit hesitant to give it a link–Miller’s God Has Ninety-Nine Names was brilliant, but her subsequent neocon connections are disturbing.)

Oddly enough, the Jordanian government had already denied the accusations even before they were printed in the Israeli press on July 20, 2009. See the JordanTimes, July 17, 2009.  As the commenter at Democratic Underground puts it:

So in the past three years 638 Palestinians have had their yellow cards replaced with green (losing full rights of Jordanian citizenship), while in the same period 12,325 Palestinians traded in green for yellow (granting them full rights as Jordanians).

This is revoking Palestinians’ citizenship en masse?

LOL

While the Israeli paper was busy criticizing Jordan, their own Israeli government had been busy revoking papers for twice as many Palestinians as Human Rights Watch claims for Jordan. From the NYT June 12, 1997, “Israel Says Arabs Born in Jerusalem Are Aliens”

…1,000 East Jerusalem Arabs… residency permits have been revoked in the last year and a half.

and from the NYT December 2, 2009,

Separately, an Israeli human rights group said Wednesday that government statistics it had obtained showed a leap in the number of Palestinians who had their Jerusalem residency status revoked by the Israeli Interior Ministry in 2008. The group, HaMoked, said the 2008 figure of 4,577 residents of East Jerusalem whose residency was revoked equaled more than half the total recorded revocations in the previous 40 years since 1967.

For a more in-depth look at the Jordan situation, and a discussion of the issues of Palestinians with Jordanian papers living abroad, see yesterday’s New York Times, March 14, 2010, “Some Palestinian Jordanians Lose Citizenship”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is no country that has done more for the Palestinians than Jordan.  During the 1948 and 1967 wars that forced so many Palestinians from their homes, only Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria accepted refugees.  The refugees went to hastily constructed camps. Today the Lebanon and Syria Palestinians and their descendants are still confined to those camps. They are not allowed to become citizens. Only Jordan has offered citizenship to the Palestinians who want it.  Many do not, and prefer to live in Jordan and wait for repatriation (which most observers believe is unlikely–there are some 5 million Palestinians now in exile, out of the half a million who originally left), or more probably some kind of international reparations for their exile. Many Jordanian Palestinians do have Jordanian passports–I have seen them–and many more became financially successful enough to either leave the camps and buy property elsewhere (I have been a guest in the villas with Mercedes parked on the marble driveways)  or improve the housing and living conditions they already have by rebuilding within the camps. I have seen the poor, with leaky corrugated metal roofs, and the well-off, with proper concrete housing, living side by side in the camps.  Don’t get me wrong, the Palestinians are not always treated as full Jordanians; Jordan’s 1970 civil war and the assassination attempts against King Hussein are still remembered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So why is all of this coming out now? and why is it important? It probably has something to do with the sentence I highlighted at the top of the page:

Nearly half the kingdom’s 6 million people are of Palestinian origin and Jordan fears that if Palestinians become the majority, it will disrupt the delicate demographic balance. Those concerns have been heightened by some Israeli hard-liners who argue that neighboring Jordan should become the Palestinian state and that more West Bank Palestinians should be pushed into Jordan.

The same argument was made when I was living there.  Palestinians can go to Jordan, said the extremists.  But Jordan doesn’t have the water to handle even more refugees forced out of their homes.  Even now Jordan’s sweet aquifers are turning saline from overpumping, as the adjacent saline aquifers leech into them. (You should have seen the layer of crud on the inside of my Jordanian teapot.) And isn’t there a huge aquifer that’s been discovered under the West Bank?  Hmmm.

This is the nothing more than the scheme of the old Likud right-wing groups who according to Kamal Salibi’s The Modern History of Jordan, want a

transformation of the Jordanian East Bank into a Palestinian watan badil, or ‘alternative homeland’, so that the West Bank and the Gaza strip could be readily annexed to Israel.  This watan badil theory-summed up by the slogan ‘Jordan is Palestine’ – had first been advanced in Israel in 1975;  its leading exponent was Ariel Sharon, who was minister of agriculture, and then minister of defense, in two successive Likud cabinets.  In the opinion of Sharon and his followers, the Hashemite order in Jordan was the chief obstacle to the annexation of Palestinian occupied territories by Israel.   Since 1967, the Palestinians had actually come to form a substantial majority in the Jordanian East Bank.  Thus, Sharon  argued, Jordan would automatically become a Palestinian republic once the monarchy in Amman was overthrown.  If necessary, the Israeli government could hasten the process by massive expulsions of West Bank Palestinians to the East Bank.

The Israelis who are so anxious for a return to the days of Palestinian control of Jordan would do well to remember the days back before the 1967 war when the fedayeen from Syria and Lebanon operated openly from the Jordanian Wihdat and Husseini refugee camps, and the unguarded long border with Jordan was a sieve for those who would attack Israel nightly then escape back across the border into the safe haven of a nation that was sovereign, but as yet not strong enough to be able to prevent them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is long, but I’m going to make it just a little bit longer, to make the events come full circle.  The original report in the Jerusalem Post was supposed to have been based on an interview with Jordan’s Interior Minister Nayef al-Kadi in the London based Arabic paper Al-Hayat.  To make a long story short, I can’t find any such interview in the paper’s archives, and they do go back that far.  But I did find this at the Dar al Hayat website:  “The Salam Fayad Document: A Palestinian Initiative to Bear Responsibility” written by the the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority:

This is a Palestinian initiative to bear Palestinian responsibility, and that is a bold move on the part of the Palestinians, through a clear and detailed vision, to show that they are serious in taking on the task of building the state themselves, starting with Arab and international assistance and ending with self-reliance through state institutions. It is the project of proving the Palestinians’ ability to build and respect themselves and to inform everyone that something new has happened in Palestinian thought, vision and determination.

Traditionally, the Arabs in their private meetings have often discussed the Palestinians at great lengths in a language reflecting resentment towards Palestinian leaderships. Thus they would often level accusations of constant failure at the Palestinians and make them bear responsibility for the poor state of the Arabs. Today brings the opportunity for the Arabs to say that the Palestinians have become serious and can be supported and made to bear responsibility for success, not failure.

Of course, what we speak of here is the political, financial and economic support necessary for building the institutions of the state of Palestine, support which must flow in an organized manner to the institutions of the Palestinian Authority. However, we also speak of repairing the relationship between the Arabs and the Palestinians, as well as of lifting the spirits of Palestinians on Palestinian soil.

For example, Salam Fayyad’s plan of building an international airport in the West Bank, one in which Air Force One would land, carrying Barack Obama to the state of Palestine, is one of raising the spirits of Palestinians and of strengthening imposing Palestine as a de facto state. Thus it is necessary for Arab countries to extend their assistance and to lift the restrictions imposed on their citizens, so that they may visit Palestine as it builds its institutions, walk in the streets of Jerusalem, speak the Arabic language, stay at Palestinian hotels and eat at Palestinian restaurants. Such was the cry of Faisal Husseini: Come to Jerusalem to save it.

Palestinian vision.  I love it.

A review of the plan by former ambassador Edward S. Walker is here, analysis by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) is here, an interview by Christian Science Monitor is here, and the full text of the plan is here.
Says Dr. Fayyad:

“If we don’t do anything, people will criticize us, and if we come up with something that’s proactive, we’ll also have critics,” shrugs Fayyad. “Is this realistic? We’ll never know unless we try.”

Palestinian independence.  It’s a Nike thing.  Just do it.

Palestine should be printing their own frigging passports.

Zogby is back

zogbyJames Zogby is one of the freshest columnists there is who writes about the Middle East. When I was in Jordan his column appeared regularly in the Jordan Times and I always devoured it.  Returning to the U.S., I found his column was hidden in the back pages of the Arab American Institute, and very hard to find as the Zogby family polling enterprise would always come up first in google. Now you can read him at Huffington Post and subscribe to his feed here.

There are a lot of columnists who write about the Middle East. Often they have a solidified point of view, choosing a particular “party line” and  presenting whatever the current talking points are. This type of columnist, whether you’re looking at Juan Cole on the left or Daniel Pipes on the right, might be interesting if you want to follow all the political footballs as they are tossed back and forth, but in the long run, they don’t shed any light on anything. They cling to dogma to advance a particular side, but reveal little of what is actually going on in real time–the kind of information needed for problem solving.

Zogby thinks for himself, and is able to extract nuggets for thought out of the entrenched, convoluted mess that is Middle East politics.  The first Zogby post that appeared in my  Google feedreader when I subscribed last week was “The Evolution of the Acceptance of a Palestinian State”.  A good subject.  I have spent a good deal of effort advancing the idea of a two state solution across the blogosphere, based on what I saw when I lived in the Middle East. Says Zogby,

Even here in the US, it is a near “article of faith” to project a two-state solution as the only acceptable outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Zogby then traces the idea of Palestinian statehood through the various presidents and departments of government. He sums up:

We are now in the 43rd year of the occupation. The landscape of the occupied lands has been dramatically transformed: a half million settlers reside there; a network of settler only roads, coupled with an intrusive barrier wall, has cut the territory into cantons; Jerusalem is burgeoning with settler colonies and is cut off from the West Bank; and the long physical and now political separation of Gaza from the West Bank has made unity of Palestine’s parts more difficult.

The Palestinians are often their own worst enemies.  Does no one in the Middle East hire consultants to burnish their image? Still, living with them has convinced me of the basic justice of the position. It is not reasonable to expect the Palestinians to live spread across the Arab landscape, in countries that refuse to give them passports, and only grudgingly allow them to live in the refugee camps they have occupied since both the ’48 and ’67 wars.  And it is certainly not fair to Jordan, the one country that has welcomed refugees and given them Jordanian passports (and the one Arab country the U.S. still has a decent relationship with) to overthrow their government in order to give it to the Palestinians, who the last time they got close to having their hands on the reigns of the Jordanian government in 1969 tried to use it to wage war on Israel from across the border. By the same token, it is simply not possible to turn back the hands of time to a period before all the population shifts happened.  That type of thinking is totally unrealistic but all too common among Palestinians.  Some right wing American Jewish interest groups have also been slow to give up the idea of a single state solution with themselves in the leadership and everyone else forced out of the coutnry.  They still control blogs at places like Widdershins and Pumapac, whose latest contribution to cross-cultural acceptance and understanding is the adoption of the slogan “Islam sucks”.  I no longer comment at places like that–partly because I don’t want to be associated with that type of viewpoint  (and if you google their readership numbers, they are most satisfyingly down to unmeasurable lows) but  mostly because I agree with Zogby that Palestinian statehood is done deal.

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Pumasphere 2.5

nijma-star-icon1-d986d8acd985Some time ago Riverdaughter (riverdaughter.wordpress.com) wrote about the breakup of the liberal blogosphere prior to the election. Many of the bloggers who now write for Puma blogs started writing on liberal blogs. When some blogs decided to support Obama, the writers who were undecided or supported another candidate got unceremoniously kicked off the blog on some pretense or another. Now another breakup is happening. I almost didn’t see it because it was disguised as a personality conflict but really now, does that type of thing really happen on political blogs? What I’m talking about is what is known as the P/I issue. As in “Palestine Israel”.

Maybe this is time for a little disclaimer about who I am. I am Christian, of the non-literalist variety, but I take spiritual vitamins from other traditions. I believe in dinosaurs. I believe in the Two State Solution. I believe peace in the Middle East will happen in my lifetime. I believe my actions in the blogosphere can help make that happen. I believe the biggest threat to peace today (and the long-term security of Israel) is the right wing Israel lobby. If someone else does not believe this, please do explain it to me.

So back to the Palestine/Israel Pumasphere breakup. The first breakup was at the Confluence a few weeks ago when there was a discussion about the anti-semitism on the Cannonfire blog. Cannonfire was removed from the blogroll, but nonetheless, several Jewish Pumas left the Confluence. They’re blogging at Widdershins, but I so far I haven ‘t seen any hard hitting middle Eastern commentary that would justify their migration. (Cannonfire, who sets off all my internal anti-tolerance alarms, is now back on the Confluence sidebar.)

Meanwhile, over at PumaPAC (pumapac.org), two commenters, BrianH and sue66, had kept up a storm of right wing Israeli settler propaganda of the most offensive sort. It took the form of massive numbers of links to right-wing Israeli hate publications and videos. It was also about this time I recieved this hate mail (NSFW), using a Swiss-based  anonoymous email service. Then, suddenly they were told they could no longer post the links. They immediately disappeared. It looked like PumaPAC was making a play towards the center and more respectability. Now, suddenly, inexplicably, out of the clear blue sky, two new commenters have appeared, with the same old tired anti-Islamic schtick. No video links this time–they’re linking to racist hatebaiting standards like Sweetness and Light and Religion of Peace. They’re not sneaking in the back door late at night, either. They’re right out there in broad daylight and PumaPAC appears to have embraced them.

If there was any doubt at all left, it evaporated in the 4-7-09 blog talk radio/free us now broadcast. The guests were none other than Marcia Pappas and Dr. Phyllis Chesler, talking not about the recent legal changes in Afghan law but about Buffalo beheading of Aasiya Z. Hassan by her husband way back in February. Then, halfway into the talk, I started hearing little buzzwords like dhimmi and sharia, words that show up on right-wing Israeli propaganda websites. So who are these guys anyhow?

From Dr. Phyllis Chesler’s website: “Some of you might be most interested in my recent work about Islamic gender and religious apartheid, the psycho-analytic roots of Islamist terrorism, or in my work about anti-Semitism and Israel.” Hmmm. Her biography also notes that she is “an affiliated Professor with Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities” (in Israel) and has been profiled in Jewish Women in America.

So let me get this straight. PumaPAC wants to influence Moslem thinking by quoting someone who is Jewish? This is just insane on so many levels. Unless of course, the real agenda isn’t about the women at all.

I’m not against anyone Jewish having a role in Puma, not at all. For instance, jenniforhillary has done a noteworthy job in the past with explaining voter fraud. It’s just that I don’t believe someone from outside any religious tradition can really explain it adequately, especially to someone inside the tradition.

And who is the other one, this Marcia Pappas? She’s the director of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. When she started talking about beheadings back in February, the Muslimnista posted this open letter:

…your comments that Ms. Hassan’s murder is a “terroristic version of honor killing, a murder rooted in cultural notions about women’s subordination to men” and that “too many Muslim men are using their religious beliefs to justify violence against women” are a disservice to our community, to people of diverse cultures and faiths, and to our daily work as advocates for survivors of domestic violence from South Asian and Muslim communities.

In this particular scenario, Ms. Hassan had an order of protection, law enforcement officials confirmed a history of domestic violence, and the crime occurred after she filed for divorce. Would you call a Christian woman in this same scenario murdered by gun violence a victim of an honor killing? Femicide is femicide and this tragedy is one more disturbing face of domestic violence.

Your comments eclipse domestic violence for what it is. As we know from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in this country every day, on average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends and in 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. We should, together as women’s rights advocates, be able to name domestic violence when we see it. When we do not, it reinforces the silence around domestic violence and stigmatizes minority communities by condoning “cultural” excuses for violent behavior.

Your comment dangerously re-casts focus on culture, religion, and particularly American stereotypes of Islam. As multi-faith advocates, we reject the idea that any faith condones violence. In fact, we have been working for years to change the language around “honor killing” for we reject the notion that there is any honor in killing – and many of our community members agree. We would hope that an organization as esteemed as NOW would not reinforce stereotypes in the media – especially when this is how many of our fellow Americans shape their understandings of our communities as well as domestic violence.

Well said, Fatemeh. Violence against women is not an Islamic problem; it is a world problem.  Moslem women may be even more reluctant to come forward with reports of abuse if they fear it maybe used as a political tool against their ethnic group.

I suppose I should post that on PumaPAC, but it looks like they’re having a little technical difficulty:

puma-login1

Invalid username, huh. Well, I hope they get it straightened out. Do you suppose one of PumaPAC’s political enemies hacked into it? They’re always bragging about “separating one from the herd” and all the provocative comments they have posted at PumaPAC with fake aliases.

Well, back to Islam.

Suppose you read the words “I have declared war on homosexuals.” Would that work for you? What about “I have declared war on Jews”? Or what about “I have declared war on blacks”? Or women?  Murphy over at PumaPAC says,

i AM fighting (my own tiny personal little) war against islam.

War against Islam? I’m not gonna touch that one.

I have been blogging for a while now, but I have never invoked Godwin’s law. It’s time. Neimoller, where are you?

First they came for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

They just came for the Moslems.

first-they-came-martin_niemoeller1

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Jordan’s King Abdullah: “Israel is at a critical juncture…”

Jordan’s King Abdullah was optimistic as usual about the possibilities of peace in the Middle East when he talked to NPR’s Michele Kelemen yesterday.  The transcript and a link to the audio are here.  Some notable sound bites:

The core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli- Palestinian one. From that resonates all the other problems that we have and most people in the Middle East understand that this is the core issue. And so we’ve got to be very careful that if economic outreach is going to be a substitute for a two-state solution, then it’s not going to work.

On the Palestinian side, more than 85 percent want their Palestinian leaders to have a negotiation of peace with the Israelis. Even in Israel the overwhelming majority of the population still wants a negotiated settlement. And so it’s really empowering the people to convince their politicians that peace is the only way out as opposed to the other way around at this stage.

…Israel, I think, is at a critical juncture: whether it wants to be …integrated into the neighborhood or whether it wants to continue to be Fortress Israel. And what Fortress Israel means is no two-state solution; therefore, tension and violence between Israelis and Arabs/Israelis and Muslims, which nobody can afford. This is a small world and we’re all affected by it

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Palestinians

“How can I find out about what Palestinians think”, I was asked on another thread. Well, there’s the Jordan Times. And I forgot to mention all of King Abdullah’s speeches. What an intellect.

And what about this issue and that issue that people keep bringing up? You can’t really talk about it in a short quip on a thread. Sometimes it’s more complicated and takes time to explain. So here is a list of sources I recommend as well as what is on this blog about Palestinians so far. Sort of an index.

amman-message-kufi-logo

News sources

The Jordan Times-Jordanian online newspaper in English (the King reads this paper)

The Maan News Agency- Palestinian news service, because you know it’s not going to be on the evening news.

bitterlemons-international.org-Middle East round table–op ed’s reprinted from various international publications.

The Christian Science Monitor-always in depth and reflective when they write about the Middle East

The Israel Lobby

Chomsky Ditches Rockefeller Chapel, Politics is Still Local-Chomsky, the Israel lobby, and professors Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee

J Street–a new American Jewish lobby for a two state solution- not all American Jews are neocons who oppose the formation of a Palestinian state

Chomsky, Israel Lobby co-author Mearsheimer to speak at Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel in October 2007-book: Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Policy. Is the Israel lobby the only thing preventing the formation of a Palestinian state?

A Moslem Conspiracy: Brigitte Gabriel’s frightened war-zone vision of population politics-Gabriel is a Lebanese Christian who grew up in a war zone in Lebanon and was helped to asylum by Israeli sources.


Arab Extremists

Jordan stops flirting with Hamas…for now-sequel to “American loses it last Arab friend” about the unfortunate “Jordan as Palestinian homeland” provocation

America loses its last Arab friend-Jordan talks to (gasp!) Hamas. Yup, it’s about that “Jordan as Palestinian homeland” business again

Hamas takeover of Gaza- “Follow the money–another proxy war between Iran and the U.S.”

Vintage 1969 Middle East Fanaticism Quotation-the secretive Miles Copland

Palestine just a pawn in Copeland’s 1952 Game of Nations-Promoting stability in the Middle East. “After Nasser’s successful Egyptian coup, his people were again in touch with American diplomats and eventually they came around to the American view of the necessity of using Israel as the scapegoat to unite the country…”

Speeches by Abdullah II, King of Jordan.

amman-messageThis guy is my hero. Seriously. His photo is above my computer, and I have archived a lot of his old speeches from back when the Jordan Times articles were only online for a week.  When I take a notion to monitor the use of this website, I can see people from university IP’s looking at these speeches for long periods of time, so I know I’m not the only one who appreciates both his scholarship and his street wisdom. The King has some of the speeches (like the Amman Statement about moderate Islam–oh wait that has its own website) on his official website as well, also some op-ed pieces he has written for major western publications. He believes in Palestinian statehood, and his confidence makes me sure it can happen now, in this election cycle.

The Amman Message: how Jordan understands Islam–text of remarks by King Abdullah II, November 2004

Text of King Abdullah’s message to U.S. congress March 7, 20007

Transcript of Interview, Jordan’s King Abdullah 4-10-07

Transcript of interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah May 9, 2007 with Egyptian Al Ahram daily

Prosperity, stability, a crucial model for other countries: Text of King Abdullah II remarks at opening of Dead Sea G-11 Economic Summit 5-19-07

Remarks by King Abdullah 5-21-07 to Nik Gowing, BBC World, at the side of G11 Economic Forum

Text of Jordan’s King Abdullah’s remarks to Al Ghad daily July 1, 2007

Text of Jordan King Abdullah’s remarks at Canadian Foreign Ministry 7-13-07

Text of Jordan King Abdullah II interview with JTV 8-31-07

Text of remarks by King Abdullah II to the World Economic Forum at Sharm al-Sheikh 5-19-08

Palestinian Statehood

U.S. pledges $900 million at Gaza conference-Hillary says money will not go to Hamas

Palestinian Scuttlebutt: “Mish Harb”-sniffing the Arab Street in Chicago after the Gaza military action

If Mahmoud Darwish wrote the Palestinian Declaration of Independence–where is it?- by the end of the rant I have found the link–yes, it’s real.

Remembering Mahmoud Darwish-the Palestinian poet who wrote the Palestinian Declaration of independence–links to poems that are incredible even in translation.

Palestine screws up again, rejects statehood- a rant against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for rejecting an offer of statehood as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leaves office–because of Jerusalem.

Palestine Independence: Who would provide security?

Obama weasels on Palestine-parsing Obama’s campaign speech in Amman and his answers to questions that seem evasive on second glance, and I’m afraid another rant.

Obama: remaking the world is not for Woman-Obama campaigning in Israel and writing an inscription–but not with gender neutral language

Does John McCain want to destroy Jordan?-A report that an aide to presidential candidate John McCain wants to “turn Jordan into a Palestinian state” is apparently a hoax on the part of a website dedicated to “Destroying the kingdom of Jordan peacefully”.  I like Jordan.

The Palestinian State: Parsing King Abdullah-still trying to figure out the mystery of what exactly is holding up statehood for Palestine–it sure isn’t the King.

Palestinian Independence: Waiting for the Pole to Turn Green-a meaningless rant expressing impatience with the Palestinians for not unilaterally declaring independence.

Is a Palestinian State Offensive?- a rant against Palestinian apathy about statehood

U.S. pledges $900 million at Gaza conference

“Who pays the piper calls the tune”?

From ABC News:

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt: Speaking to an international donors conference set up to aid the Palestinians in war-torn Gaza, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today pledged $900 million in U.S. aid, saying, “We gather today to address the humanitarian and early recovery needs of the Palestinian people after the recent conflict and the United States joins with others in generously stepping to help.”

Only a third of the U.S. money — $300 million — is directly slated for Gaza, and Clinton said there would be tight restrictions to keep the money out of “the wrong hands.” By “the wrong hands,” Clinton means the militant group, Hamas, which controls Gaza.

“We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure that our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended,” Clinton said.

Excellent. Another $600 million to the Palestinian Authority–$400 million for reform and development $200 million for wages.

Just for comparison, the amount the U.S gave to Jordan during the time of King Hussein was $150 million, and after his son Abdullah became king, $300 million. Israel and Egypt each get over a billion.

Clinton today also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, saying, “Time is of the essence. We cannot afford more setbacks and delays or regrets about what might have been had different decisions been made. Now is not the time for recriminations. It is time to look ahead.”

Finally.  A U.S. policy in the Middle East that makes sense.
It will be money well spent.

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