Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Santa Attacks IDF. News at Eleven

Nothing like a traditional heartwarming Christmas scene. In the riot du jour at Bi'lin, a Protester dressed as Santa throws rocks at soldiers from the Israeli Defence Forces.

Just another heartwarming scene of co-existence from the Middle east this holiday season

Sunday, December 26, 2010

M. Zuhdi Jasser: U.S. wrongly sides with Muslim teacher

Yes, Virginia. There is a moderate Islam:
Orginially found here

This was written by M. Zuhdi Jasser, a doctor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant
commander, and the founder and president of the Phoenix-based
American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

The U.S. Justice Department's decision to file suit against an Illinois
school district indicates it is seriously misguided in its approach
to American-Muslim grievances. The government claims that the
Berkeley district violated the civil rights of Safoorah Khan by not
providing reasonable accommodation for her faith. This unfortunate
position will have a significant impact beyond this case.

In 2008, the math teacher asked for an unpaid three-week leave
in order to perform her Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca and a
once-in-a-lifetime requirement in the Muslim faith. The district
denied Khan's request twice because it did not meet the
requirements specified by the union contract. Khan filed an
unsuccessful EEOC complaint and then resigned because she felt the
priority of her pilgrimage outweighed her contractual commitment to
the district.

This Muslim believes that Attorney General Eric Holder's
case is misguided and that Khan's request was not reasonable. Strip
away the political correctness and all the noise of Muslim
victimization, and we are left with a case that most reasonable
Muslim employers and employees would find unreasonable.

I empathize with Khan's deep desire to complete her pilgrimage
and pray for the day that I can do the same. However, the federal
government's intrusion will do far more harm than good by lowering
the threshold of what merits action for civil rights abuse. With
this case, the government runs the risk of becoming the "boy who
cried wolf" and de-legitimizing future requests for reasonable
accommodation from Muslims or people of any faith.

In defending Khan's claim of discrimination, the Justice
Department is empowering an Islamist mindset that demands special
consideration above all others, which is unacceptable in a society
where all are equal before the law.

The conflict between Islamism (societies and states based in
Islamic law) and classical liberalism (our Western societies based
in reason) is among the most important battle of ideas in the 21st
century. The detachment of Muslim youth identification from our
secular society and the fueling of an interpretation of Islam that
is inflexible to an egalitarian society is arguably the most
important root cause toward radicalization.

Khan's request would have stepped outside of her contract and
made Muslims a privileged class. The interpretation this case
demands speaks contrary to the very principles the government is
trying to promote. The Justice Department, and now its choir of
Islamist groups, has deceptively positioned that Muslims such as
Khan "should not have to choose between their religious practice
and their livelihood."

Contrarily, I believe that employers should not have to choose
between the threat of intimidation from Islamists or the federal
government and honoring the onerous demands of any single faith
group or individual as a privileged class.

The practice of Islam is central in my own life, but I have
never demanded that others give it special consideration on my
behalf. To me, my devotional Islam is between me and God and I fear
that any government intrusion ultimately fuels theocrats and their

Khan was not given what she wanted and made a personal decision
to resign. It is exceedingly difficult to prove that "Islam"
demanded that she perform her Hajj in December 2008. The faith only
asks that once in her life she perform the pilgrimage. By refusing
her leave of absence, the district did not force her to choose
between faith and employment.

We cannot continue to allow political correctness to set us down
a path that promotes isolation versus assimilation and leaves
liberty in a vacuum while Islamism thrives. The framers wanted
justice to be blind to faith to avoid creating special rights for a
select few.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gaza's Surfer Girls

From The Atlantic

Thirteen year old Rawand Abu Ghanem is one of four girls learning to surf , as the newest members of the Gaza Surf Club.
Sitting in her family’s living room later, Rawand tries to explain: “It’s a great feeling when I surf, but I won’t surf when there are a lot of people around. It’s so weird for them to see a girl surfing. It gets crowded, and I just can’t handle everybody looking at me.” Since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, the militant group has been working to inculcate conservative Islam in an already traditional society. As a result, the daughters of the strip’s male surf community must navigate ever more treacherous waters. All of the girls surf fully clothed, prefer to practice in groups of other surfers and swimmers in an effort to avoid attention.
The girls and their parents agree—they won’t be able to surf after they turn 17.“Doing something only boys do means I’m unique. I’ll go to another hobby—that’s the way it works here,” Rawand says.

It doesn't have to be that way Rawand. It really doesn't.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gay couple in Israel's Dancing with the Stars

This makes me smile.

From Haaretz

Two Israeli women teamed up on Tuesday to become the first same-sex couple to compete in a version of the internationally popular Dancing with the Stars television series.

Gili Shem Tov, a TV sportscaster, performed the cha-cha with Dorit Milman, a professional dancer assigned by the show to perform with her.

BBC Worldwide Productions, which licenses the series' format globally, said it was the first time a Dancing with the Stars competition had featured a same-sex pairing.

Shem Tov, who is a lesbian, said "it felt natural" to dance with a woman.

"If by doing that even a few people will be more tolerant and open-minded, I achieved my goal," she told reporters.

The Dancing with the Stars format, in which celebrities are paired with professional dancers and compete for the votes of judges and viewers, is broadcast in more than 75 countries.

Shem Tov said she and Milman would take turns leading in their performances in the 12-couple competition.


Tolerance. Diversity. In many ways, Israel is so much more open than America

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bi'lin : When is a non-violent protest a violent protest?

Some photos from the Protest du jour at Bilin. (Oct 1 2010) Why is throwing rocks or using a sling shot considered non-violent? Did Dr. Martin Luther King throw rocks? Did Gandhi?

Personally, I prefer my peaceful protest, well, peaceful.

Gay Palestinian seeks residency in Israel on humanitarian grounds

from Haaretz

Majed Koka is a gay Palestinian man who came to Israel at age 14, fleeing Nablus

"If I returned to Nablus, it would be like throwing paper into a fire," said Koka, 26, who has been living in Tel Aviv for the last 12 years. "If I returned I'd be in big trouble, one long nightmare."

For the last eight years, Koka has lived with his partner, an Israeli citizen. In 2002, the two registered as married with the municipality. But its never easy. His story:

In June 2009, Koka finally asked the Interior Ministry to grant him legal residency on humanitarian grounds. Fifteen months later, he has yet to receive a response.

Since he is in Israel illegally,he has been arrested nine times over the last 12 years. Visiting his family in the West Bank is also problematic. The last time he did went he was arrested by the Palestinian police on suspicion of collaborating with Israel and subjected to severe torture - which he believes was prompted by his sexual orientation.

"There have been cases of people like me who went back to visit their families and were attacked," he said, adding that in such cases, the assailants usually begin by saying they heard the victim is gay and only then move on to accusing him of collaboration with Israel.

Caught between too many worlds in conflict. The story of Majed Koka.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My letter to a Palestinian human rights activist by Barry Shaw

My letter to a Palestinian human rights activist
by Barry Shaw
Reprinted in its entirety out of sheer laziness

So you support Palestinian rights. So do I. However, we have to define what those rights are.

Would you consider Jews, descendants of those who lived here during the Ottoman Empire or the British Mandate, as Palestinians, or Israelis? Do you call an Arab, born in Israel post 1948, Palestinian or Israeli?

You tell me you are a human rights supporter. So am I.

You live abroad. I live in Israel. Let's understand each other - clearly, fairly, honestly.

At the outset, I have to ask you why your activism for human rights is confined to the Palestinian cause?
Why have you not expressed your outrage for other, far more critical human rights disasters? More of this later.

I understand you like political adventurism. Why have you not joined a flotilla to feed and care for the thousands of dying children in Africa? Why have you not turned your attention to the horrendous human rights crimes of the Iranian regime against their own people? Beatings, tortures, killings, stoning, lashing women to death and executions of homosexuals do not seem to move you.

In fact, why aren't there flotillas and convoys to save lives in Africa? Why is it that all the flotillas I hear about want to head for middle class Gaza? Ever thought about that? Don't you stop to consider that there are millions who urgently need your activism far more disparately than people in Gaza?

What is it about the Palestinians that get you going over all other humanitarian tragedies? Could it be that you cannot incriminate Israel in human rights crimes perpetrated in Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, Russia, China, Pakistan, China, Turkey and Cuba so these abusive regimes do not get you emotionally involved?

You say you support the Palestinians and are upset by human rights abuses against them. I tell you that your support is limited, and tainted. I tell you that my support is far broader, and more international, than yours.

You are ready to take action in support of the human rights abuses of the Palestinians in Gaza.You are ready to demonstrate, march, participate in flotillas and really get involved on behalf of the Palestinians when you feel it is the Israelis that are doing the abusing.

For me, I question the abusing by Israelis. I also suggest that you consider that the Israelis have a really good case when it comes to being abused by Palestinians - especially from Gaza. Recent killings of Israelis by Palestinians, however, took place in the West Bank (what we call Judea and Samaria). I can also send you a very long list of terrible crimes committed against innocent Israelis by Palestinians for decades, but let's put that aside for now.

Let me concentrate on the issue of your limited support for Palestinians. It seems to be confined the Gaza these days. Why? Why is it that, with the rapid improvement in the living conditions of Palestinians, you have to increasingly exaggerate a false picture of Gaza to make your point to the world? You shout, in emotional terms, about the condition of Palestinians in Gaza. Give me your email address and let me send you the numerous photographs I have on Gaza today. In fact, go to Google Earth and find them yourself. You will see Palestinian kids having fun among the slides in the Water Park, and the rides in the Lunar Park.

I also have photos and videos of Palestinian terrorists grabbing kids and using them as human shields in their fight against IDF soldiers. I didn't hear your outrage at these abuses of human rights against Palestinian children by Hamas terrorists. Why not? Maybe it's because you don't consider Hamas as a terrorist organization? If not, where do you draw the line between freedom fighter and terrorist? Do you not consider suicide bombers, deliberately targeting innocent Israelis, as terrorists? Are they not terrorists under any definition of the word? Are they not committing the most heinous human rights crimes when they target buses and shopping malls?

You scream bloody murder when Israel fires at terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, but stay silent when Hamas fires tens of thousands of rockets into Israeli civilian areas. How come? If your are truly a human rights activist, where is your humanity? Or is it a one-sided morality?

But let me return to my pictures of Gaza. You see the mansions and luxury apartments, the fine restaurants, the five star hotels, the new Gaza Shopping Mall, and the crowded and well stocked stores and markets. They clearly have the funds and the materials to build and equip these wonderful buildings. They also prove a source of income and employment for the Palestinian population. That's how it should be. But this raises two questions.

Your protest that Gaza is the biggest humanitarian crisis on earth is somewhat in conflict with the facts on the ground. The Palestinians are enjoying an increasingly good lifestyle, certainly in the West Bank and evidently in Gaza. How have they managed this if Israel's 'brutal occupation is preventing basic needs from getting through to the Palestinians'? Clearly someone has not been telling the truth here.

You can't build without supplies of building material and equipment.They are not living in tents. They are living in nice apartments and beautiful houses. They do not walk. They drive. Clearly the statements about Palestinians being deprived of building materials, equipment, furniture, appliances, was a lie. Did you help spread that lie?

They drive modern cars and trucks. I thought you told the world that they are barely surviving? How are they able to buy, drive and maintain these vehicles? Off charity? You can't complain about Palestinians not having the most basic needs when the markets and shops are brimming with the widest variety of produce and products. They are not starving. They are eating well. International statistics show that Palestinians live longer than Turks. Their infant mortality rates are better than most other Arab countries. Things aren't at all bad for Palestinians living in Gaza or the West Bank.

Things will be even better when they turn away from supporting the Islamic terror regime of Hamas, willingly supported by Islamic Jihad and other unsavory gangs sponsored and equipped by Hamas in Gaza.Nowhere do you mention peace. Do you think there will be peace if Hamas, God forbid, takes over the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority? Will you continue to champion the Palestinian cause if that happens?

It is here that I will prove to you that I care more for the Palestinians than you do.

You are completely silent on the condition of Palestinians outside of the Palestinian territories. I, on the other hand, have written and spoken out about the inhuman conditions in which they are forced to live in places like Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. After decades living in these and other countries they are denied citizenship. They are prevented from entering into the national work force. They are not allowed proper education that would allow them to study and become useful professionals in many fields.
Isn't this ethnic discrimination? Forced to live separately from the indiginous population is, surely, apartheid? Where is your protest in support of the people you claim to love?

If you really care about the Palestinian condition you should be demonstrating about the continuing saga of confining them in refugee camps in these so-called 'friendly' Arab states. So who is more international about human rights for Palestinians? You, or me?

Have a look at the children of Gaza swimming in the Olympic-sized pool in Gaza City. That's great. I live in Netanya. We have been hit by repeated Palestinian terror attacks that include shootings, car bombings, and numerous suicide bombers that have killed about fifty of our citizens and maimed over three hundred.
We don't have a municipal Olympic-sized swimming pool. Neither does Sderot, the target of thousands of rockets and mortars fired on them by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Aren't they worthy of your sympathy? Don't they deserve to enjoy facilities such as Olympic swimming pools?

Sderot does not warrant the massive amounts of aid and funding that is pumped into Palestinian society by the international community. True, diplomats make a sympathy pilgrimage to Sderot but they limit their huge budgets exclusively to the Palestinian cause. That is why I can show you the evidence of Gazans enjoying a middle class lifestyle, while the kids of Sderot barely receive trauma treatment.

Palestinian society is radically split. The internal violence is shocking. Palestinians hate Palestinians to the point of brutality, including torture and murder. I share your concern for innocent civilians. But, where was your voice when Hamas activists were throwing Palestinians off rooftops, shooting political rivals, torturing them, killing Palestinians who champion the cause of peace, firing rockets from schoolyards and from heavily populated areas? I spoke out. I did not hear you.

If you really stand up for human rights abuses why have you remained silent over the abuse of w omen's rights in Palestinian society? I have written and spoken about the repression of women under Arab and Palestinian control. Why haven't you? Why do you condone, by your silence, honor killings as respectable behavior in Palestinians households, not to mention genital mutilation of girls? If you truly stand for Palestinian human rights you should be demanding the major human rights organizations to investigate this serious tradition of abuse against women and girls.

Why don't you join me in protesting these abuses? Or is you advocacy for Palestinians confined only on issues that allow you to attack Israel? Are you simply echoing the 'Palestinian narrative' as it applies to Israel while ignoring the gross abuses they suffer from their own leadership and other Arab regimes?

As an Israeli, I can tell you that the Palestinians could have achieved their own state decades ago. They could have it today if having their own state alongside the Jewish States of Israel was a priority for them.
But it's not. Just read the Hamas Charter and you will learn what is really at the heart of the conflict here. In fact, have a look at the Palestinian National Covenant as well. They share the same aims.

Have a glance at Article 7 of the Hamas Charter. If the Palestinians want their state to be an Islamic Republic that's fine with me, as long as they respect my rights to my Jewish democratic state, but Article 7 reads:

The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"

As a human rights activist, don't you find that racist? Doesn't that national charter sound to you like incitement to genocide against my people?

And, as for peace, go to Article 13. Here it is written:

Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences: [Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad."

I ask you. Do you share these resolutions? Is this an integral part of your support for Palestinian rights?
Because, if you share these points, you also support Articles 14 and 15.

Article Fourteen:

The Three Circles: The problem of the liberation of Palestine relates to three circles: the Palestinian, the Arab and the Islamic. Each one of these circles has a role to play in the struggle against Zionism and it has duties to fulfill. It would be an enormous mistake and an abysmal act of ignorance to disregard anyone of these circles. For Palestine is an Islamic land where the First Qibla and the third holiest site are located."

And Article Fifteen:

The Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is an Individual Obligation. When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad."

I ask you. In your support of Palestinian rights are you supporting Islamic Jihad against me? There is no way of avoiding this question. I do not expect you to be a Zionist, but if you are not a Zionist, are you a Jihadist?

The 'moderate' arm of Palestinian society is headed by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, ably supported by Prime Minister, Salim Fayad. I heard Fayad speak at the annual IDC Conference on Herzlia where he was invited as a keynote speaker. He was given a warm reception by the Israeli audience who yearn for a permanent peaceful solution to the painful conflict.

But, let me read you some sections of the Palestinian National Covenant, which is their national constitution.

Article 2 states that any Palestinian state will be 'with the boundaries it had (sic!!) during the British Mandate, as an indivisible territorial unit.' Really? I thought we were negotiating a Two State Solution? Where is Israel in this equation?

This is confirmed in Article 19 of their National Covenant which defies UN Resolution 181. It reads:

The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination."

Again, Israel has disappeared. Is this part of your support for Palestinian rights? The Palestinian National Covenant also denies the Jews biblical, historic, political, cultural rights to Israel.

Article 20:

Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood."

While wanting to create an Islamic state of their own, they deny me any national rights:

Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

Am I going to allow Palestinians to define who I am? Am I going to allow them to deny me my history? Whatever happened to the nation of Judah, to Zion, to Jewish national aspirations, throughout centuries of diaspora dispersion?

You probably share the Palestinian outrage when people rightly say that Palestinians never had a nation of their own and neither do they have any national rights enshrined in international law as do the Jewish people.
From my perspective, the Palestinian narrative is based on a lie. It is based on a deconstruction of history. It is based on rights they never had as a people. I can go on about the calls for violence to establish this Palestinian state but I want to return to our core problem.

This is our problem. The problem between you and me.

If you approve of the advancement of Palestinian rights alongside the Jewish State of Israel then we have what to discuss and agree on. Israel has, and will, make painful concessions for peace. If the issue is land, it is ours to give. It is not theirs to take.

If, on the other hand, you promote Palestinian rights over my rights to exist this letter will, doubtless, be our last communication.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Israel BDS. Its not about Peace: The attack on Pete Seeger and the Arava Institute

I've developed a dysfunctional hobby lately. Out of sheer boredom this summer, I registered to receive "alerts" for promoting truth, justice and Islam in the world today. I had no idea what I was in for.

One of the priorities of this group, apparently has been pressuring performing artists NOT to to play in Israel. It’s a simple routine. We get the names of artists performing in Israel, we do an "email Blast" and phone blast" to their agents, labels, mothers, babysitters. Anyone who might have influence. We also get links to Facebook fan pages.

There has been limited success with this routine, but lots and lots of failures as well.For every Pixies and Elvis Costello there has been Elton John, LCDS, Jethro Tull.

Some of the artists are well aware they are being manipulated and respond appropriately. I just love this quote from Johnny Rotten (aka Johnny Lydon) "Belief is a very personal thing but when someone inflicts their view on other people, they're a pig."

Well Johnny, guess what the pigs are up to now? The icon of American folk music, Pete Seeger, a 91 year old man who lives, eats, and breathes peace is under attack for daring to promote peaceful co-existence in the Middle east. He's not even playing IN Israel. It’s a virtual concert, and its a fundraiser for one of the most progressive organizations in the Middle east

The Arava Institute is the leading environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East. It prepares future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges and works towards developing a sustainable future for the region’s human and natural resources. These issues know no borders.

Seeger is slated to be the featured guest of With Earth and Each Other – A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East, to be broadcast online on November 14. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Arava Institute, a US-based non-profit organization with the primary goal of raising support and visibility for the Arava Institute

From their website : Over 600 students, including Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and others, have participated in the Arava Institute program.
According to the institute’s director, David Lehrer,

"With Earth and Each Other (WEAEO) wasn’t designed to be a political rally, but “to show the world that there is another side of the conflict in which people across borders are striving to work together for the betterment of all.”

“Although I sympathize with some of the criticism that people have about Israeli policies regarding Palestinians and within Israel itself in terms of our Arab citizens, I don’t believe the way to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the way to create a sustainable and peaceful Middle East in which everyone lives together with equal rights and opportunity is by staging a boycott,”

“It’s through dialoguing and that’s what the Arava Institute is all about. That’s what the program we’re running is doing and it’s what With Earth and Each Other is all about – bringing people together through dialogue. And you can’t do that if you’re staging a boycott.”

Whats a progressive thinker to do? We have to fight back. Join the virtual rally for a Better Middle East Thats a start. And we need more help. Right now, a battle is raging on Pete Seeger's Facebook page. Join Muslim queers, Welsh agnostics and a scattering of Zionists as we tell the world that co-existence is a worthy goal. It is through dialog, interactions and working together that we will achieve peace. It won't be easy, but its a worthy goal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BDS isn't about peace

BDS isn't about peace. I realized that when my school disintegrated into racism and chaos during our brief stint with divestment. I'm not the only one who has come to this conclusion.

Next You Will Be Telling Us Shergar is Dead

"Ella from It’s Complicated reproduces a statement from PACBI, or the Palestinian Campaign for Judenrein Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. (I will not link to their webpage, if only to impress on them the unacceptable nature of their using Zionist-developed PhP.)

“While we welcome acts of protest against any manifestation of Israel’s regime of colonialism and apartheid, we believe that these acts must be both morally consistent and anchored in international law and universal human rights. First, we believe that the exclusive focus on settlement institutions ignores and obscures the complicity of all Israeli academic and cultural institutions in upholding the system of colonial control and apartheid under which Palestinians suffer. PACBI believes there is firm evidence of the collusion of the Israeli academic and cultural establishment with the major oppressive organs of the Israeli state. Focusing solely on obviously complicit institutions, such as cultural centers in a West Bank colony, serves to shield mainstream Israeli institutions from opprobrium or, ultimately, from the growing global boycott movement that consistently targets all complicit institutions.”

Shurely shome mishtake? Surely PACBI is not a bunch of political psychopaths who exist only to punish and ostracise one nation group above all others? Whilst using Zionist-developed PhP."

Apparently- its not enough to boycott "settlements". Its all of Israel that needs to be boycotted, according to the PACBI. A statement by American artists refusing to play in Ariel, on the other side of that mythical green line just doesn't go far enough.

Will someone explain just how this promotes peace?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To My Friends of all Faiths

Keep Moving towards the source of All Light.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

US Palestinian Community Network rejects Peace- and Peace talks

Peace talks are a good thing, right? You'd expect the world to embrace the possibility of peace, and to encourage the parties involved. But its never really that simple:

An organization calling itself the US Palestinian Community Network has sent out a mass email calling for rejection of the peace process as posing a threat to the Palestinian people. All who genuinely seek peace should be appalled by this blatant rejectionism. Their email follows:

The US Palestinian Community Network calls upon all organizations, associations, and Palestinian and Arab community groups, as well as solidarity organizations, and individuals, to sign on to the below statement rejecting the resumption of direct negotiations, in the midst of ongoing Israeli structural racism and violence inflicted upon Palestinians, to take place between Palestinian Authority
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, declare our commitment to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people – one land, one people, one cause. Our people, in the West Bank and Gaza, suffering and steadfast under siege and occupation; our people in Palestine 1948, confronting racism, ethnic cleansing and political repression; and our people in the refugee camps and in diaspora around the world, struggling to return home and liberate their homeland, deserve a leadership that defends their inalienable rights, takes its legitimacy from its popular support, and upholds the liberation of its land and its people as the highest national goal. We deserve a leadership that defends our collective rights. As such, we reject the direct negotiations taking place in Washington, DC on September 2, 2010, which shield Israel as it continues its colonial and apartheid project. Negotiations in these current conditions without necessary pressure and any terms of reference amount to the barter of Palestinian cities as opposed to the defense of collective rights and to that we say: Palestine is not for sale!
These direct negotiations have not served the interests of Palestinians, who, under the conditions of the peace process have been forced into further policing of our own people already suffering under the yoke of occupation, in exchange only for worsening conditions.
Indeed, the past 17 years of the Oslo accords have witnessed the ongoing imprisonment of people of conscience, settlement-expansion, ethnic cleansing and racism against our people, while our national institutions and liberation movement have been systematically dismantled and replaced with an Authority whose primary goal is to respond to the demands of the Occupier in a Quixotic attempt to build a state without sovereignty. The Palestinian Authority should join the mounting voices and the growing movement that condemns Netanyahu’s instransigent rebuff of international law. While the international solidarity movement with Palestine is growing steadily; while reports of the international isolation of Israel, including the rising movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, multiply daily; while the conscience of the world demands justice, accountability and international prosecution of Israeli war crimes, the Palestinian Authority has chosen instead to provide cover to the Israeli occupation and its intolerable, bitter, racism, abandoning even the pretext of a “settlement freeze,” and going to direct negotiations while the occupier daily commits crimes against the Palestinian people.
Sadly, the Palestinian Authority is itself a creature of such negotiations. The vast majority of the Palestinian people, in Palestine and in exile, demand full recognition of our national rights, particularly the refugees’ right to return to their original homes, lands and properties. When the Palestinian Authority bargains our inalienable rights and puts them on the table to be carved up by the occupier, we must be heard, loudly and clearly, to say that this Authority does not represent Palestinians and will not be allowed to sell our cause and our people in our name.
As Palestinians in the United States, it is also clear that the Obama administration offers nothing new to the Palestinian people. The U.S. administration continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten the region with further war and occupation. It provides aid and has ongoing trade relations with despotic Arab regimes who, with U.S. support, can afford to repress the collective rights of their Arab populations. Additionally, it provides billions of dollars in military and economic aid to Israel on an annual basis, and unlimited political and diplomatic support to the occupier irrespective of its contravention of international law and announced U.S. foreign policy. We are not convinced by U.S. “assurances,” when the actions of the United States government have assured nothing for the Palestinian people to date but ongoing occupation and impunity for Israeli war crimes.
Today, we say – these direct negotiations pose only a threat to our people. As Palestinians in the United States, we find no voice being heard here – not the U.S. administration and not the Palestinian Authority – that represents our people, our rights, our dreams and our cause. These negotiations are a farce and doomed to failure – but worse than that, they are a cover for ongoing crimes. They discard any and all pretense of international legitimacy, relying on the goodwill of the U.S./Israeli alliance, and place our fundamental rights – particularly the right to return – up for sale. We will not allow this to happen. The Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas do not represent us, and these negotiations are illegitimate and unacceptable.
Instead, we call for international support of our people, not a “peace process” that perpetuates our dispossession and displacement and provides cover for the occupier. International isolation of Israel, boycott, divestment and sanctions, international prosecution of Israeli war criminals are necessary, as is clear support for our rights, including the right to resist occupation, the right to self-determination, and the right to return home – the key to our cause. As with all unjust and illegitimate regimes that have acted to liquidate the Palestinian cause, these negotiations and the Authority that comes to them will fail in the face of steadfast commitment to justice. Our voices must be heard now to ensure this is the case.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Purple jihad: Gay Muslims for Peace and the destruction of Israel

A friend forwarded this, with no further information. Its got to be a joke, right?
Can anyone give me more information about where this was taken, and when (and by who?)

OMG. What is wrong with this picture. Or perhaps the better question is "Is anything right with this picture?". I'm just speechless. And if you know me, you know how hard that is.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greta Berlin in Gaza

Yeah, its old news, I know that, but a friend of mine just emailed me this photo of Greta Berlin (of the Free Palestine Movement) greeting the people, er, armed freedom fighters of Gaza.

So who are the guys with the big guns? Are they Hamas policemen? Are they government soldiers? Are they just ordinary people with big big guns? IMFO, a guy (or a gal or a kid) with a big gun is a legitimate target. Was it "civilians" like this killed by Israel during Cast Lead?

If you walk around shooting big guns, people, its not non-violent resistance, and all the wishing in the world won't make it true.

Not that you asked me.

Here's those freedom fighters again. What do you think?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A death in Gaza: the Murder of Jabriyeh Abu Kanas

Its like a scene out of Salem in the 1600's.

Jabriyeh Abu Kanas, an elderly women in Gaza has been executed for ...wait for it....witchcraft. Come on, Gaza- that's so...300 years ago!

The woman, Jabriyeh Abu Kanas, had been accused by neighbors of practicing witchcraft. The accusations were reported to Hamas . Before Kanas could face her accusers, a vigilante gunned Kanas down in her own garden, right in front of her husband.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights condemned the murder in an interview with Palestinian Authority media. A police investigation was under way.

Hamas has imposed several restrictions on Gaza residents aimed at increasing observance of its strict interpretation of Sharia law.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First Female Arab Combat Soldier in IDF is Proud to Serve Israel

Part of my ongoing series of strong Arab Women Role Models

When Cpl. Eleanor Joseph, the first female Arab combat soldier in the IDF speak of Israel, she says “This will always be my home”. During moments of difficulty she would remember, “there was a Katyusha [rocket] that fell near my house and also hurt Arabs. If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs.” Eleanor belives that being a combat soldier means that she is granting all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs like her parents, a better and quieter life. “I still believe that peace will come and faith creates reality”.

Article by Rotem Caro Weizman

“Look at the beret,” says Eleanor, smiling from ear to ear, showing off the bright green beret that she earned after completing the trek which is part of her combat training in the Karakal Battalion. Her excitement is accompanied by a new historical precedent, since Elinor is the first Arab female combat soldier in IDF history.

Cpl. Eleanor Joseph was born and raised in an integrated neighborhood of Jews and Arabs in Haifa, but attended a school in which all her classmates were Arab. She later moved to Wadi Nisnas, an Arab neighborhood where she currently lives. Despite the fact that she would always wear her father’s IDF dog-tag around her neck from when he served in the Paratrooper’s Unit, she never thought she would enlist. “I wanted to go abroad to study medicine and never come back,” she said. To her father it was clear that she would enlist in the IDF, as most citizens in Israel do. This was something that worried her very much. “I was scared to lose my friends because they objected to it. They told me they wouldn’t speak to me. I was left alone.”

Despite their opposition, she decided to move forward and enlist. She explained her motive: “I decided to go head-to-head, to check who my true friends are, to do something in life that I have never done before. I understood that it was most important to defend my friends, family, and country. I was born here.” At the end of the day, she says she realized it was the right thing to do, “With time, when you do things from the heart, you begin to understand their importance.”

“I might as well go the whole way”

Unlike most teenagers in Israel, Eleanor did not undergo any kind of special preparations for her recruitment. Other than listening to some of her father’s combat stories and speaking to an IDF officer who helps minorities with enlistment, she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. She came to the Reception and Placement Base, known in IDF slang as the Bakum, and requested to be a combat medic because she decided, “If I enlist, I might as well go the whole way. I thought my father would absolve me from it, but it didn’t happen.” Despite her will to be in combat service, the response to Eleanor was otherwise. “The placement officer laughed in my face and said I was too delicate. I started to cry,” she remembers.

After fighting to receive a high enough medical categorization in order to be placed in a combat position, and following many attempts to persuade the placement officer, Elinor was informed she would be a combat soldier. She remembers that upon arrival to the Reception and Placement Base, “It was the first time I saw my father cry. But then they told me I wouldn’t be a combat soldier, so I cried again.” She says she came to Basic Training not understanding what was going on around her, “I had no preparation so I really didn’t understand what it meant to stand at attention, or to salute my commander or even stand in formation.” Despite initial shock and disappointment that she wouldn’t be in a combat unit, she decided to take a positive perspective and be the best soldier that she could be. “I didn’t want to disappoint those that supported me. I decided that if I am volunteering, I would need to prove myself and be an exemplary soldier, and I succeeded. In the end, I ended up enjoying it."....

Right now, after finishing her training, she says wholeheartedly that she does not regret any of her choices. “I sometimes wondered what would have happened if I had studied abroad as planned, but I understand that I was not as experienced and responsible then as I am now. It is a satisfaction to complete challenging things. I feel that in the army I matured a lot and became more responsible than I used to be”. She also feels satisfied from the respect she gained from the others. “Although everybody is surprised in the beginning I have always been respected, not just me but also my customs and my religion. Nobody ever disturbed me. I feel a lot of serenity and support and somebody even opened a group about me on Facebook. My parents also are very proud of me, maybe a little bit too much.” ....

Eleanor belives that being a combat soldier means that she is granting all Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs like her parents, a better and quieter life. “At the end of the day, this will always be my home too”, she says before expressing her thought that despite the conflict and difficulties, the hope for peace still exists. “I still believe that peace will come and faith creates reality”.

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Not to do During Summer Vacation: British Girls Genitally Mutilated on Holiday

British Girls Undergo Horror of Genital Mutilation Despite Tough Laws

Female circumcision will be inflicted on up to 2,000 British schoolgirls during the summer holidays – leaving brutal physical and emotional scars. Yet there have been no prosecutions against the practice. Some 140 million women worldwide have been subjected to FGM and an estimated further two million are at risk every year. Most live in 28 African countries.


Like any 12-year-old, Jamelia was excited at the prospect of a plane journey and a long summer holiday in the sun. An avid reader, she had filled her suitcases with books and was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when her mother came for her. "She said, 'You know it's going to be today?' I didn't know exactly what it would entail but I knew something was going to be cut. I was made to believe it was genuinely part of our religion."

She went on: "I came to the living room and there were loads of women. I later found out it was to hold me down, they bring lots of women to hold the girl down. I thought I was going to be brave so I didn't really need that. I just lay down and I remember looking at the ceiling and staring at the fan.

"I don't remember screaming, I remember the ridiculous amount of pain, I remember the blood everywhere, one of the maids, I actually saw her pick up the bit of flesh that they cut away 'cause she was mopping up the blood. There was blood everywhere."

Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be "cut" or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to "cutting parties" for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise.

Then the girls will return to their schools and try to get on with their lives, scarred mentally and physically by female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that serves as a social and cultural bonding exercise and, among those who are stitched up, to ensure that chastity can be proved to a future husband.

Even girls who suffer less extreme forms of FGM are unlikely to be promiscuous. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM "endured" rather than enjoyed sex.

Cleanliness, neatness of appearance and the increased sexual pleasure for the man are all motivations for the practice. But the desire to conform to tradition is the most powerful motive. The rite of passage, condemned by many Islamic scholars, predates both the Koran and the Bible and possibly even Judaism, appearing in the 2nd century BC.

Although unable to give consent, many girls are compliant when they have the procedure carried out, believing they will be outcasts if they are not cut. The mothers believe they are doing the best for their daughters. Few have any idea of the lifetime of hurt it can involve or the medical implications.


Female genital mutilation: the facts

■ Female genital mutilation, also known as cutting, is practiced in 28 African countries. The prevalence rate ranges from 98% of girls in Somalia to 5% in Zaire. It also takes place among ethnic groups in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand.

■ Until the 1950s FGM was used in England and the US as a "treatment" for lesbianism, masturbation, hysteria, epilepsy and other "female deviances".

■ A survey in Kenya found a fourfold drop in FGM rates among girls who had secondary education.

■ Reasons for the practice include conforming to social norms, enhancing sexual pleasure for men and reducing it for women, cleanliness and chastity.

■ No European country accepts the threat of FGM as a reason for asylum.

■ In Sudan, 20%-25% of female infertility has been linked to FGM complications.

■ In Chad, girls have begun to seek FGM without pressure from their immediate family, believing that to be "sewn up" proves they are virginal and clean. The fashion has led to uncircumcised girls being labelled "dirty".

Full article here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Looking for a strong Arab woman role model?

Look no further than Jordanian body-builder Farah Malhass, 26 who aspires to become one of the few Arab woman to enter international body-building.
She'll be following in the footsteps of Dina Ali Fahad Al-Salim Al-Sabah (born February 28, 1974) from Kuwait- the first female Arab athlete to ever stand on the Olympia stage.
Malhass began training at 20, but soon came up against the disapproval of her family, who could not understand why she should chose to "deform my body and make myself look ugly."

Lets applaud Farah, and all Arab women who are attempting to break the mold of societal expectations

Friday, July 16, 2010

Attempted Rape of American Peace Activist silenced by Palestinians

Omar Aladdin claims his attempted rape of a Palestinian activist was "marginal and normal."

The Palestinian Authority, as well as the leaders of the Palestinian popular protests in villages such as Bil'in, Na'alim, Umm Salmuna, have been trying to keep the following story away from both public knowledge and the media's eye: One of the more prominent Umm Salmuna activists – a village south of Bethlehem, long entrenched in a battle against the West Bank separation fence – is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of the local protest.

Omar Aladdin, who had been arrested three months ago over suspicions he had attempted to rape the U.S. citizen, was subsequently released after agreeing to apologize to the young woman. However, Haaretz had learned that representatives of both the popular protest movement and the PA have since applied pressure on the American peace activist as to prevent her from making the story public.

During his stay Aladdin allegedly attempted to rape a Muslim-American woman, nicknamed "Fegin" by fellow activists. The woman escaped, later accusing the popular protest man of the attempt. One villager who had encountered the American following the incident said she had been in a state of shock.

Aladdin then refused to apologize for the incident, when news of it reached the village's popular committee, the popular protests' governing body, allegedly saying that the incident had been marginal and normal. The American activist then asked the committee to notify authorities of the attempted rape, a request which resulted in the man being arrested by security forces in Bethlehem. After agreeing to apologize for the incident, Aladdin was released from custody by the PA police.

The U.S. citizen was then convinced to retract her complaint, as to avoid tainting the image of the popular protest, which had attracted praise from around the world in recent months.

And the world remains silent.
Read the full story at Haaretz

Work from Home Promoting Islam.

Bored? Tired of Playing Farmville? No one to Chat with?
Looking for a way to fill those empty hours?
Have I got a task for you!

Promote Islam from your very own computer. We'll teach you to spam Facebook (Take THAT, Jethro Tull fan club!)We'll teach you to optimize the Google Rankings of acceptable sites. We'll have you promoting the Religion of Peace and fighting for the cause of Truth Justice and , well not likely the American way, but you get the drift, don't you?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Joel Benin on a Future Palestinian State

Do I think that it's really gonna be a great thing for the Palestinians if they get their own state, wherever it's gonna be? No. It'll probably be a miserable state with dictatorial tendencies and all sorts of corruption and other horrible things that I will be one of the first people to criticize."

Joel Beinin, Stanford University history professor and former president of the Middle East Studies Association, speaking at Stanford University on June 2, 2010.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Honor killing. Domestic Violence. Crimes of Passion. Nope. First degree murder

From the Toronto Globe and Mail:
An article by Kate Allen and Joe Friesen

Just two days before she was killed, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez went to the movies for the first time.

She had fought her parents for the right to wear Western clothing, and to jettison the hijab they wanted her to wear. She was going to apply for a part-time job, something her father refused to allow. Then she ran away from home for the second time in three months. The first time, her father had sworn on the Koran he would kill her if she ever ran away again.

Yet on the morning of Dec. 10, 2007, Ms. Parvez went home. Thirty-six minutes later, her father called 911 saying he had killed her. When police arrived, they found Ms. Parvez’s mother crying hysterically and her father with blood on his hands.

In a Brampton courtroom Tuesday, Ms. Parvez’s father, Muhammad Parvez, 60, and her brother, Waqas Parvez, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney “We want to underscore that multiculturalism is not an excuse, or a moral or legal justification, for such barbaric practices. Multiculturalism does not equal cultural relativism.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

A feminist in Gaza

From an article in the LA Times

Naila Ayesh is a rare voice for women's right and progressive values in Gaza.
Today Ayesh, 49, founder of the Gaza Strip-based Women's Affairs Center, has become one of the only feminist voices in the seaside territory that was seized three years ago by Hamas, an armed Palestinian group that aspires to impose Islamic law.

Besides being married to Jamal Zakout, a top advisor to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority — Hamas' political rival that rules the West Bank — Ayesh also raises eyebrows in Gaza as she moves in public without covering her head and sometimes even partakes of a shisha water pipe.

Read the interview. Ayesh discusses violence against women , the humiliating trend of collective weddings and the rise in honor killings in Gaza

No, its not easy to be a feminist in Gaza

Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Nathalie Morin

Nathalie Morin was born in 1984 in Quebec. She is a Canadian citizen who is being held against her will in Saudi Arabia by the father of her children, Saeed Al Sharahni, since March 2005. She is physically and psychologically abused and lives under lock and key in an apartment for which only Saeed Al Sharahni has the key. Her 3 young children, Samir, Abdullah and Sarah endure the same treatment.

MWA Joins Call to Action in Support of Saudi Guardianship Reform and Release of Nathalie Morin

Saudi journalist and activist, Wajeha Al Huwaider will lend her support at Saturday's protest.

Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) urges the Muslim community to join Muslims for Progressive Values and the Comit´e de Soutien `a Nathalie Morin, on Saturday, June 26,2010 , at 1:30 PM for a protest in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, 601 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20037, denouncing the involuntary confinement of Canadian National Nathalie Morin and her three children—an issue related to the ongoing call of MWA for guardianship reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pertaining to male control or 'guardianship' over women.
Nathalie Morin, 26, and her three children have been willfully held within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by her common-law husband since 2005; a victim of conjugal violence, confinement and abuse—bound by an archaic law that necessitates any emancipated (or not), sane, married, or unmarried female be enslaved by 'guardianship', regardless of the fact that by the law of the Kingdom's own faith (Islam), grants these same free-willed women the right to chose their partner in marriage, the right to divorce, the right to hold jobs, own property, give birth, etc.—in utter disregard for these basic human rights, the Kingdom's 'guardianship' laws allow for women to be involuntarily and even forcefully held against their God-given free will.
"President Obama, when you welcome Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to the White House on June 29, I invite you to revisit words from your June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, made from Cairo, Egypt, wherein you stated having 'an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak mind and have a say in how are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as choose'—and in recalling your words, I implore you to ask King Abdullah to address the need for guardianship reform within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," stated MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz.
Schwartz added, "I put King Abdullah on notice in February 2007 that I would remain steadfast in support of guardianship reform in the Kingdom when I petitioned him online in support of a Fatima Azzaz and Mansour Al-Timani, a couple forcefully divorced in abstentia, based on allegations of 'tribally incompatibility', lodged by male 'guardian' family members. Nearly five years later the lower court decision was overturned and the couple reunited, however, it remains a travesty of justice that the initial court decision was granted and this family torn apart by a 'judicial system' in dire need of reform. And yet today, there remain cases such as that of Nathalie Morin, and many more, held against their will; virtual prisoners of fractured judicial system.
"President Obama, MWA stands in solidarity with Muslims for Progressive Values and the Comit´e de Soutien `a Nathalie Morin, in declaring to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Government, that Americans are demanding the release of Nathalie Morin and her children, as well as any other foreign nationals involuntarily held captive by their 'male guardians'. We further call for their immediate release and safe passage to their countries immediately, in respect for the human rights that you spoke so eloquently of in Cairo; to quote you, 'these are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere'."

MWA's support of guardianship reform within the Kingdom was cited in the 2008 Human Rights Watch report titled, "Perpetual Minors: Human Rights Abuses Stemming from Male Guardianship and Sex Segregation in Saudi Arabia".

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

This remarkable book has already been translated into 16 languages and is available for free download

Nujood Ali, a ten-year old Yemeni girl forced into marriage with a repulsive older man, refuses to put up with the injustice of the terrible abuse she suffers daily at his hands. Against tremendous odds, she will not back down until she gets what she wants: a divorce.
Najood tells her own amazing story with the help of co-author Delphine Minoui
Bucking the forces of age-old customs, family disapproval, and the tabu of "bringing shame to her family", Nujood's bravery and determination never flicker nor flag. She is completely sure of the justice of her cause, of her own self worth, and her faith in God. Really, Nujood is just an regular kid, like any other; she likes to play, to draw pictures and learn to read, and she loves her family--not so different really than millions of other girls who live in this mostly impoverished society, where men have the final word, no questions asked. But she has an internal strength to never question herself, and the simple belief that right will win out.
I think that, although Nujood's world may seem impossibly remote to our own, her book has universal appeal. It's the story of courage, of human rights, of passion and of compasssion. Little Nujood manages to find powerful allies within the justice system, including a remarkable attorney named Shada, and international support from women's and human right's groups, such as Oxfam. Her success has already inspired a few other young girls in similar situations to obtain justice. And it can inspire people like me, who, by comparison, live blessed lives, to believe in, and stand up for ourselves.
Thankfully, Nujood is recovering from the trauma of her ordeals. Hopefully, she will still enjoy being a child for a while longer. Gratefully, she has been able to return to school and sate her thirst for learning. Wonderfully, she has found a great reservoir of compassion for others who suffer. Inspiringly, she has set her sights on higher education and tireless work in the cause of justice, as an attorney or, possibly a journalist. You go, Nujood, the world is watching!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Anti-Semitism is hate rally, UC Berkeley April 30, 2010

A rash of swastikas recently appeared on campus. Its debatable if they have anything to do with the divestment nonsense thats going on , on campus. But they are a potent symbol of hate, and a multi-cultural group of students and community members decided to mobilize.

It was a low key event, until a Professor, later identified as Andrew Gutierrez began screaming at the gathering. I don't know how anyone could be opposed to an anti-hate rally, but Prof. Gutierrez made quite a spectacle of himself, until a campus policewomen lead him away. His bizarre reaction shows just how overly sensitive and fragmented our campus has become in the wake of the recent divestment fiasco.

Apparently Prof. Gutierrez has a long history of harrassing students on campus. Thanks, "S" for this photo.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UC San Diego : President Says NO to Divestment

Utsav Gupta gets it. I hope our ASUC does the right thing tonight, as well.

UC San Diego, LA JOLLA, CA 92093-0077

It is not often that a student association has an opportunity to consider legislation and take a stand on issues of national and international import. As an Association, we have passed resolutions to promote what we believe and hope will make a better world. We have taken stances against sweat shop labor, unfair trade practices, and violations of civil rights. We aspire not only to be students in support of the progress of our own nation, but to also be global citizens who answer the call for aid. It is a basic civic duty awarded to us as a representative government, and one that is codified in our Constitution.

However, these past few days, I have watched as our campus climate has gotten worse. I have witnessed the creation of two competing groups and camps around a singular contentious issue: the consideration of a resolution at our ASUCSD Council meeting today. In many ways, I am watching history repeat itself.

Last year, when a resolution was proposed concerning the conflict in Gaza, two student groups came to several ASUCSD Council meetings, passionately defending and advocating for their world point-of-view their perspective on an issue that even our best international leaders have yet to successfully resolve.

Some of these students believed they were compelled to come to this meeting to defend a country they hold dear. Others came to the meeting advocating for peace and human rights, hoping to lead the Association towards what they argued was progress. What is tragic is that both groups were correct, incorrect, misinformed, and made some good and bad points. The issue was a complicated one, something that the ASUCSD Council was obviously ill-equipped to solve.

Now that a year has passed, we are still ill-equipped to resolve this issue. Consideration of this resolution today will only prove again for us one thing: that it is divisive. It is dividing our students, pitting groups against each other who are fighting to be represented by their student association. They should not have
to fight for the voice of our Association. We could not call any resolution approved through this process representative of the students at our university. And thus, I do not believe our student association can or should take a stance on this resolution.

I am not here to choose or argue sides. For me, the most important consideration is the welfare of the student body at the University. Passage of this legislation will create a divide that violates the goals and purposes of our Association. To this end, I will be voting against the passage of this resolution. I urge my colleagues to do the same.

I am truly proud to be a part of the extraordinary institution that is UC San Diego. The University has given us these words to live by: Local Impact, National Influence, and Global Reach. Issues such as these prove that, as a student body, we are strong and passionate. Despite what happens in our Council tonight, remember that, together, we are Tritons, and that we will continue to make an impact wherever we go.

Sincerely yours,

President, Associated Students
University of California, San Diego

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky come tumbling down

Recently, an Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi blamed the spate of earthquakes on women's scandalous behavior.

Now women are being urged to put that theory to the test by donning low cut tops and short shorts on Monday April 26 to see if they can spark a tremor.

The campaign to trigger a 'Boobquake' was begun by American student Jennifer McCreight who has so far got 40,000 people to sign up to the idea on a special Facebook page (where another 150,000 have been invited) and has attracted a large following on Twitter.

She decided to take action after reading Sedighi's comments last Friday, when he told a prayer meeting: "Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes."

He went on to ask. "What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

McCreight, who is an atheist, responded with a call to arms announcing that she would be wearing the "most cleavage-showing shirt I own" on Monday. "I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts," she said. "Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty.

"With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake," she said. "If not, I'm sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn't rumble. And if we really get through to him, maybe it'll be one involving plate tectonics."

The 22-year-old science student at Purdue University in Indiana said that on Monday, after changing out of her immodest clothes, she would look at the earth's seismic activity and compare it to the norm. "If an earthquake reduces only my bedroom to rubble, I'd also take that as sufficient evidence for God's wrath. I'm not too worried," she said.

McCreight said that there was a serious reason for her attempts to trigger a tremor. She explained: "I think people were fed up with ridiculous anti-science and anti-women claims like the one made by Sedighi, and sometimes light-hearted mockery is the best solution."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Irshad Manji "Do homosexual Muslims deserve happiness?"

Irshad Manji continues to amaze and inspire me.

“Do homosexual Muslims deserve happiness?”
That question comes from a Muslim teenager in Norway. Here’s the entire, abrupt, email:

Salaam, Irshad Manji

But I have to say that there is something bothering my mind and soul. Do homosexual Muslims deserve happiness? From a teenage Muslim in Norway.

To be candid, I didn’t know how to answer — not because I don’t believe gays and lesbians deserve to be happy, but because the question itself opens up so many possible responses.

Do I offer my interpretation of what the Qur’an says (or suggests) about homosexuality?

Do I talk about democratizing the spirit of ijtihad, Islam’s tradition of independent thinking, so that any of us with wrenching questions feel the permission to seek responses through our own consciences?

Do I reconcile Islam and human rights, faith and free will, duty towards others and fulfillment of self?

Do I analyze “happiness”?

Do I ignore the question altogether, given my tight book-writing deadlines and a slew of other commitments? But if I ignore the question, am I intensifying the isolation that a potentially queer Muslim teenager may be feeling right now? How does exacerbating someone’s pain serve my integrity as a person of deep faith in God?

As if on cue, landing in my inbox this week was an email that answers the question more convincingly than I could have. It comes from a religious Muslim who’s also a lesbian. Despite her broken English, you’ll grasp the wholeness — the integrity — in which she now exults:

I always denied that I am gay. It is sinful. How can a religious girl like me being a lesbian? I knew which is Haram [forbidden] in Islam and which is not…

Every time, I pray to Allah. I asked Him, why He give me this test? This is too much for me. Allah gave me everything I wished. I am a bright girl. But why Allah tests me with the very sinful thing in Islam, being a lesbian?…

I met one girl and we both loved each other so much. She is my true love and my soul mate. She is the ONE for me. We lived together for many years and we kept it as a secret. No one knew, as both of us are lady-like and wear scarf.

Last year, we broke up and I was totally a mess. I lost my feet. I nearly insane because I just can’t live without her. But, she already made her decision, even though I beg her, she stick with her decision. I lost so much weight. For months I was in pain.

Until one day I asked for a help from one of my friends. They brought me to see a counselor. There are a few questions from the counselor that really, really woke me up. She asked me, Why am I afraid to accept that I am a lesbian, and I answered, Because this is one of the biggest sin in Islam, I don’t want to dishonor my family, and Allah will also send me to hell.

The counselor asked me the second question, How I measure my goodness, and I said, by serve and praise Allah.

And the last question she asked me, Even you know you are gay, did you still pray and feel the connection to Allah when you pray, and I said YES, I still feel it.

So, she said, Allah still love you and you are one of His creation, being a lesbian is not your choice, you just got it from HIM. So accept who you are and keep serving Allah.

The next day, I performed my morning prayer and I just can felt that Allah is closer to me than before. I just like a new born baby, and by accepting that I am a lesbian, has changed my personality and life for 180 degree. I am totally a brand new person.

For all of my life, I am questioning Allah why I love and like women more than men, and now I found the answer… Allah is not cruel to human. He LOVE us. Only Man discriminate people like us.

There is no word to describe my feeling of happiness.

Happiness: It appears that the Almighty believes she deserves it. And if she deserves it, why not the Muslim teenager in Norway, too?

In their new book, Made for Goodness, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Rev. Mpho Tutu, tell us that “God’s call to be perfect is not just a command — it is an invitation.” An invitation, that is, “to something life-giving, something joy-creating.” Far from being flawlessness, “Godly perfection is wholeness.”

In short, to be one with yourself is to be one with God. May The One go with you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

At the Roxie Theatre: Here is the execrable Kate Raphael about to unhinge her jaw and eat a Zionist.
I particularly liked these two posters that SF Voice for Israel displayed at their counter-protest to QUIT at the Roxie Theatre. I love satire. Yes, lesbians who prefer Hamas to Israel are like turkeys for Thanksgiving. There was even a dyke from Iran who was with QUIT to protest the excellent treatment of LGBT people in Israel. Why isn't she still in Iran? Oh yes, there are no gay people in Iran!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Won't QUIT, quit? Please?

Ok, Ok, I'll do it. I'll write about QUIT. This is difficult for me, since I know many of the people involved through solidarity work, but I'l try not to judge.
San Francisco's QUIT (Queers UnderminingISraeli Terror) is the perfect example of an organization that plays a zero-sum game with respects to the Israel/palestinian conflict.

Israel is the best place in the Middle East for gays. There. I've said it. Unless you are in a fundementalist religious community, living life openly gay is not a problem. Same sex marriages from elsewhere are recognized, we can adopt children, serve in the miliatry. Its not so bad.

Queer Life in Israel

Queer Life in Iran

Its really not so bad, especially when you consider the neighborhood.

But for QUIT, rather than embracing the fact that Israel gets this right, not perfect, but certainly moving in the right direction, attacks everything Israel.
There is a LGBT cultural Festival this month in San Francisco, "Out in Israel" Films, classes, cooking, art. Its a nice mix. Yet QUIT insists on protesting it.

QUIT! Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorismpresents
Queer Eye for the Palestinian Village
outside the opening night of the Out In Israel LGBT Cultural Festival
Thursday, April 8
6:15 p.m., Roxie Theater
16th between Valencia and Guerrero, San

All queers wanted! Let's bring our creativity and spirit to say No Queerwashing of War Crimes!
It's not about being Out in Israel, it's about getting our community and our money Out of Israel!

Sorry, QUIT, it is about being "Out in Israel". Its not about your need to protest anything that doesn't fit your pre-conceived notions of "political correctness". Why can't you accept that its not about winning or losing? Why can't you accept the notion that like all countries, Israel has good and bad qualities? Embrace the good. Reject the bad. Work towards change. Your defacto rejection of everything Israeli paints you into a corner with extremist groups. Its not where I want to be. And if you thought about it for more than 10 minutes, I'd guess its not where you want to be, either.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ANSWER Rally in San Francisco last week

I went to the ANSWER rally in San Francisco last Saturday and was dismayed to see so many people holding pro-Hamas signs. Don't they know that Hamas is enforcing Sharia law in Gaza? Women are under pressure to cover up so as to be "modest." To be out as a lesbian in Gaza is to be a dead woman. Yet progressive activists, who I am sure must support feminism and LGTB rights, support Hamas! There is a huge disconnect here. I am really frustrated by the LGBT group called QUIT: they also support regimes that kill and torture lesbians and gay men.

We Arab/Muslim lesbians must talk to QUIT members and find out why they support the supporters of Sharia law.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Demonstration Against Palestinian Honor Killings

In Honor and in Memory of
Reem Abu Ghanem (murdered in 2006)
Halima Ahmed (murdered in 2009)
Abeer Abu Damous (murdered in 2010)
and too many others

Sixty Israeli Bedouin women came in busloads from the Negev to join a total of 500 Israeli Arabs in a protest against honor killings in their communities. They constituted the largest continent of women, thanks to the work of Hind el Sana, a lobbyist in Shatil’s Bedouin Women’s Leadership Project. The demonstration was held in the city of Nazareth.

Israeli MKs (Members of Parliament)and the mayor of Nazareth attended this rare demonstration for Women's rights. A diverse and multi-generational group carried signs and banners in Arabic, many bearing the names of murdered women.

The demonstrators called for an “end to the murder of women who are thought to sully the honor of their families by violating traditional, patriarchal restrictions on relationships between men and women. A young woman who dates a young man without her parents’ consent falls into this category.”

“There is no honor in this crime” declared MK Masoud Ghanayem.
MK Muhammad Baraka added: “Whenever someone kills his sister, his daughter, his wife, he does not become more honorable, but he becomes a murderer and villain.”

Seven women were killed to protect "family honor" in the Palestinian territories in the first month of the year 2010. The Palestinian Authority applies the Jordanian Penal Code in the West Bank , but this reduces the penalty if a murder is committed under the pretext of "issues of honor".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas committed to changing this law by International Women's Day of 2010. It has not yet happened

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

True Muslims Support Israel

Have you seen this youtube?

True Muslims Support Israel

Not all of us are doctrinaire haters. But you knew that. Tell me you already knew that?

Banned in the UAE!

My little neglected blog has hardly gotten started- and I feel guilty about it everyday. But I just received a bit of significant news. I've already been banned in the UAE!

After all, gay Arab women don't exist there, and thats their story, and they are sticking to it.

I'm not terribly concerned. At least somone noticed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whipped for Appearing in Court without a Man. Saudi Justice

Read about it here

Sawsam Salim has been sentenced to 300 lashes and one and a half years in jail for appearing in court without a male chaperone and filing complaints against government officials who harassed her for doing so. Salim first appeared in court unchaperoned in 2004 requesting to get her husband, who could have been such a chaperone, out of prison.

“In Saudi Arabia, being a woman going about her legitimate business without a man’s protection is apparently a crime,” Nadya Khalife, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The government needs to free Sawsan Salim and keep its promise to end this discriminatory system.”

The system requires women to get permission from a male relative to go to classes, work, to travel, open a bank account or receive non-emergency medical care. It also requires a woman to be accompanied by a male guardian to conduct public business, HRW said.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Intifada in Berkeley

UC Berkeley's Hatem Bazian once infamously called for an Intifada in America. This year, Students for Justice in Palestine has taken up the battle cry, plastering Intifada stickers throughout the campus in honor of "Israel Apartheid Week".

As an Arab Woman, I find it deeply deeply offensive that the image of a subjugated, veiled woman is juxtaposed alongside that of a "resistance" fighter, as if the two were somehow morally equivalent.

Perhaps it is time for an Intifada- a moral intifada, not only in America, but throughout the world. Its time for Muslim women, Arab women, all oppressed women to cast away the veils, the nijabs, the burquas, the symbols of male dominance over our lives.

Someday, maybe I'll organize a good old fashioned veil burning. Maybe you'll join me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gendercide Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared—and the number is rising

From the Economist

...The destruction of baby girls is a product of three forces: the ancient preference for sons; a modern desire for smaller families; and ultrasound scanning and other technologies that identify the sex of a fetus. In societies where four or six children were common, a boy would almost certainly come along eventually; son preference did not need to exist at the expense of daughters. But now couples want two children—or, as in China, are allowed only one—they will sacrifice unborn daughters to their pursuit of a son. That is why sex ratios are most distorted in the modern, open parts of China and India. ....

It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions—aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now.

...All countries need to raise the value of girls. They should encourage female education; abolish laws and customs that prevent daughters inheriting property; make examples of hospitals and clinics with impossible sex ratios; get women engaged in public life—using everything from television newsreaders to women traffic police. Mao Zedong said “women hold up half the sky.” The world needs to do more to prevent a gendercide that will have the sky crashing down.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Study Finds Gains for Women’s Rights in the Middle East

Freedom House reports

Despite continuing resistance from religious and cultural elites, women in the Middle East and North Africa have made modest progress in achieving certain rights over the past five years. While women in the region suffer from greater inequality than do women elsewhere, they now enjoy more economic opportunity, fewer barriers to education, and expanded ability to participate in the political process than they did five years ago. These are the conclusions of Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, a new study released today by Freedom House.
“These findings remind us of the complexities of women’s status in the Middle East,” said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House. “There are more women entrepreneurs, more women doctors, more women Ph.Ds, and more women in universities, than ever before. However, substantial roadblocks remain for women pursuing careers. For instance, women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to earn law degrees, but not to appear in court on behalf of their clients.” She continued, “and these same women are still subject to abuse at home, lack child guardianship rights, and are legally compelled to be ‘obedient’ to their husbands.”

According to the study, 15 out of the 18 countries in the region recorded some gains in women’s rights over the past five years. Kuwait, Algeria and Jordan saw the most significant progress while Iraq, Yemen and the Palestinian Territories—countries enduring internal conflict and the rise of religious extremism—are the only countries to record overall decline.

Some important developments include:

· Kuwait: In 2005, women received the right to vote and run in elections as candidates. In 2009, they reached another milestone when four women were elected to the parliament for the first time in the country’s history.
· Jordan: Advocacy efforts by women’s rights activists helped to secure the Family Protection Law in 2008, which provides key safeguards against domestic abuse, although some of the law’s most important provisions are not yet enforced. The government also established a specialized court in July 2009 to hear cases involving so-called “honor crimes”.
· Algeria: The 2005 personal status law introduced important changes benefiting women. The new law prohibits proxy marriages, limits the role of a woman’s guardian during marriage proceedings, recognizes the parental authority of custodial mothers, and removes the requirement that a wife obey her husband. Also in 2005, the government enacted the new nationality law, which allows women to transfer their citizenship to their children and foreign husbands, subject to certain conditions.
· Qatar and UAE: Family law was codified for the first time. Before the codification, issues impacting women—such as marriage, divorce, and child custody—were determined based on individual judges’ personal interpretation of Islamic law. While seen as an improvement, the new laws in many instances preserve previous discriminatory practices. Women in both countries experienced notable gains in education and employment, and in the UAE more women were appointed to government posts.
· Bahrain: The first female judge was appointed in 2006 and the government rescinded a law requiring women to gain a male guardian’s approval to obtain a passport. The government passed its first personal status law in 2009, but the law is only applicable to the Sunni population.
· Iran: Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, restrictions regarding modest attire and gender segregation in public places have been more strictly enforced. Restrictions on free speech have led to the closure of prominent women’s rights publications, and participants in peaceful women’s rights demonstrations have been routinely jailed.
· Iraq: Violence against women—particularly “honor killings”, rapes, and abductions—significantly escalated during the coverage period. But there were also some improvements: women currently hold 25.5 percent of the seats in the parliament, and a new nationality law allows women to transfer citizenship to their children and foreign-born husbands.
· Morocco: The sweeping changes engrained in the 2004 family law have been unevenly enforced, and many women—particularly those who live in rural areas or are uneducated—continue to face discrimination in practice. The new nationality law enables Moroccan women married to noncitizen men to pass their nationality to their children if certain conditions are met. Women also made some political gains, and a 12 percent quota was implemented for the June 2009 local elections.

Full report here

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Moderate Islam breaks the Silence. Fatwa issued against Terror

An article by Jerome Taylor in the Independent

Sheikh issues fatwa against all terrorists

Muslim leaders urged to denounce suicide bombers as hell-bound 'unbelievers'

British imams must do more to condemn terrorism without any "ifs or buts" and should pronounce suicide bombers as "unbelievers" who are destined for hell, a leading Islamic scholar declared yesterday.

The comments were made during a remarkable assault on the ideology of violent Islamist extremists by Pakistani-born Sheikh Tahir ul-Qadri, a prominent theologian who launched a seminal fatwa in London yesterday condemning terrorism in all its forms.

The 59-year-old scholar, who has written more than 400 books on Islamic jurisprudence, told fellow Muslims: "Terrorism is terrorism, violence is violence and it has no place in Islamic teaching and no justification can be provided for it, or any kind of excuses of ifs and buts. The world needs an absolute, unconditional, unqualified and total condemnation of terrorism".

Its about time. I want to see all moderate muslims get behind this.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

International Women’s Day

A friend forwarded me this notice. She knows how I personally, and my group, ALAH, communally, have been struggling to become more public with our viewpoints. We had an inaugural event in December, testing the waters so to speak, and most of us felt in the closet was the most comfortable place for us to be now. Why are we condemned as disloyal when we speak for equality and moderation? Why do we need to fear for our lives and our safety when we speak our minds? And where are our allies in this struggle?

So we're silenced and marginalized by our own, and we're silenced and marginalized by the feminists as well.

International Women's Day in San Francisco is most notable for what is not deemed worthy of protest:
Their announcement follows:

Mothers Speakout…with grandmothers, non-biological mothers & other women doing caring work… an action for Mothers March Globally!

United Nations Plaza, San Francisco, 4-6pm

Market St & Hyde (nr Civic Center BART)

Make our voices heard on * criminalizing poverty * racism * war and occupation * anti-mother, anti-caregiver policies * housing * welfare * valuing payment for caring work * pay equity * fighting for justice * immigration policies which attack children and break up families * prostitution & other struggles for survival * the right to home care by those of us who are older &/or have a disability * children unjustly taken from mothers by social services * healthcare * rape & violence * breastfeeding * childcare * lesbian/gay/bi/trans discrimination & violence ….The voices of women must be heard

Coups, wars and occupations continue from Palestine to Iraq and Afghanistan, Haiti and Honduras…and everywhere, as the economic crisis deepens and cuts are made across the board, mothers must pick up the pieces, to ensure everyone’s survival….

Whats missing, sisters? If you are tackling international issues, what about female genital mutilation? What about honor killings? What about child marriages? What about polygamy and its destruction of the social order?

Yeah, sisters. I'll be waiting for an answer, and until I get one, I won't be marching with you.