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Israeli Occupation Causes Terrorism (UN Report Finds)

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amnesty-report.JPGSome people ask why do people engage in terrorism. While it is never okay to justify it, it is in our interests to evaluate its root-causes and work on those, instead of trying to stop it after it has taken root. The situation in Gaza, which Amnesty and a bunch of other human-rights organizations, call the worst in 40 years (news, full-report), is the sort of situation that breeds hatred, anger and eventually terrorism.

The following piece was submitted by theManOfFewWords (who provides us with many colorful comments). He calls himself an aggressive anti-establishment blogger, a know-it-all and sometimes jerk, and also runs Islamify.com, a Muslim social news site.

So a UN commissioned report comes out and the findings are, surprise surprise, that the Israeli occupation causes terrorism. While it rightly does not condone any terroristic acts it does recognize that they are “a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation.” It also recognizes that the Palestinian resistance to Israel is legitimate and cannot be compared to al-Qaeda’s “mindless terrorism.” To be honest, while I can give the UN a heads up I think the report is a bit redundant as everybody on Earth, including many Israelis understand this to be pretty obvious. Only in America where propaganda and celebrity gossip pass as news do people have no idea what’s going on. Some even believe crazy things like the drivel published in Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, (a rip-off of From Time Immemorial) which states that Zionists settled a completely empty Palestine and that there is no such thing as a Palestinian, only Arabs that migrated to take advantage of growing Jewish prosperity and created the myth of Palestine and forged the entire history of a fictitious people, the Palestinians. Here in the US this is considered real scholarship. Needless to say, this article won’t make the front page in any major American paper. But anyway, I digress.

Let’s try and imagine how this study was conducted: A dedicated statistician wades through streets flooded with Palestinian blood while navigating around floating limbs and passing out surveys to widows, orphans and amputees in order to discover what the root cause of terrorism is in Palestine. You see it’s tough to really understand why these crazy Arabs do anything. The methodology is a little disingenius to say the least. Maybe we can suggest to the UN a study worth commissioning. Why don’t we try and understand the causes of Israeli terrorism? I would love to read about that. Why can’t Israel get along with it’s neighbors? Why can’t they share and play nice? Maybe we should examine Jewish culture, lets take a look at the radical Yeshivas and see what they teach. Is Jewish fundamentalism a cause? Are the Ashkenazi or Mizrahi Jews responsible? Is the Torah responsible for Israeli terrorism? Maybe it’s because Jews oppress their women. Do Jews preach killing of the Goyim (non-Jews)? Maybe we need a Jewish reformation. Maybe rabbis need to start condemning terrorism. I am genuinely curious. Let’s get a commission a study on that. Let’s apply the same criteria they apply to Muslims when “analyzing” them. When Jewish groups complain that these sorts of questions are “anti-semitic” we should look over, put a hand on their shoulder (slowly, they might flinch) and give them a now you know how it feels smile. Maybe Olmert will say, “Hey, now I understand how the Muslims feel and I call for an end to Islamophobia and world-wide coexistence between Jews and Arabs. I will begin by apologizing to the Palestinians giving them the right of return, citizenship with full rights and breaking down all the walls that have kept our two people apart.” Don’t laugh, it could happen, you see I’m an optimist.

Well, let’s get back to reality and take a good look at this Yahoo news article. Aside from stating the obvious there are some curious idiosyncrasies that you may not have noticed. Curiously, there wasn’t a word of comment from any Arab or Palestinian, not even to give so much as an “i told you so.” However, our friends at the Israeli embassy had the opportunity to say, “The common link between al-Qaida and the Palestinian terrorists is that both intentionally target civilians with the mere purpose to kill.” After that, in an excellent demonstration of journalistic responsibility the writer put that statement in the appropriate context by mentioning Israel’s summer bombing campaign that leveled Beirut and killed over 2000 innocent civilians and then went all analytical on his behind questioning whether it is artificial to make a distinction between “intentionally” targeting civilians and “unintentionally” doing so. Oh you didn’t see that little rebuttal in the article? Too bad, it would have been nice.

The most important thing to understand is not to let the corporate media to set the agenda for our discourse. The article discusses Palestinian terrorism but would never dare use the term terrorism to describe Israel’s activities as though Muslims have a monopoly on terror. It is important to understand that the use and control of language shapes our own thinking and to constantly think about terrorism as relating to Muslims subtly affects our own thinking. I am sure many of the people who read the Yahoo article did not ask that important question. What does cause Israeli terrorism? What kind of culture criticizes the Israeli invasion of Lebanon because it failed to destroy Hezbollah rather than because of the catastrophic and unnecessary destruction of civilian infrastructure and lives? Don’t just analyze the victims, analyze the aggressors. So while some might see this article as supporting the Palestinian cause, it is in reality a veiled paternalistic approach to affirming Palestinian resistance.

So what have we learned? Well, Arab and Muslim public opinion doesn’t count. If it did then, in a related occupation over in Iraq, US troops would have left long ago respecting the will of the people in this this shining, new Middle Eastern Democracy. Furthermore, all that rhetoric about Iraq falling apart after US troops withdraw is inaccurate considering the analysis on polls of Sunnis and Shiites that indicate national reconciliation is possible. But who cares what Arabs have to say, let’s hear what Anne Coulter thinks.

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54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Amad

    Amad

    March 6, 2008 at 11:01 AM

    The report by Amnesty, Oxfam, CARE and other human-rights organizations is a scathing indictment of the collective punishment being meted out in Gaza.

    And these organizations are not Islamic organizations, they have no vested interest to be biased towards one party or the other. But, of course Israeli government officials hate when there is an objective report and will do everything to tarnish it.

  2. Pingback: UN: Israeli Occupation Causes Terrorism … Duh! |

  3. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 6, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Let me preempt any Zionist apologists who might respond to this article by saying for them what they are probably going to say anyway.

    “Amnesty International, Oxfam, CARE and the UN are anti-semitic.”

    “Gush Shalom are anti-semitic.”

    “theManoffewwords is anti-semitic”

    “MuslimMatters is anti-semitic”

    “Muslims are anti-semitic.”

    “Arabs are anti-semitic.” (though this makes little sense.

    And last but not least “the TRUTH is anti-semitic.”

  4. Avatar

    Asim

    March 6, 2008 at 2:53 PM

    lol nice ^^

  5. Avatar

    Person

    March 6, 2008 at 3:28 PM

    Manoffewwords is not a ‘know-it-all sometimes jerk’. I think he was just kidding when he said that. Yes.

  6. Amad

    Amad

    March 6, 2008 at 3:43 PM

    He calls himself an aggressive anti-establishment blogger, a know-it-all and sometimes jerk

    We didn’t put words in his mouth. We know he’s kidding (hopefully).

  7. Avatar

    Person

    March 6, 2008 at 3:51 PM

    Well you guys shouldn’t be publishing such self-descriptions. :)

  8. Avatar

    Person

    March 6, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    Its a muslimmatter to disallow a Muslim to hurt himself. I’m sort of surprised that muslimmatters.org published that.

  9. Avatar

    Person

    March 6, 2008 at 5:28 PM

    Also, ‘We know’ and ‘hopefully’ don’t go together. You either know that something is true or you hope for it to be true. In this case, knowing and hoping cannot exist simultaneously.

  10. Avatar

    aadil

    March 6, 2008 at 6:47 PM

    http://chromovision.com/films/Wall.wmv

    This video is one of the best short films (7min) I have seen on the subject of Israeli occupation and construction of their Wall.

    Some of you might have already seen it since its from 2004, but if not check it out.

  11. Avatar

    Navaid Aziz

    March 6, 2008 at 7:36 PM

  12. Avatar

    Person

    March 7, 2008 at 12:25 AM

    So, Br. Amad. Are those negative characterizations going to be edited out?

  13. Avatar

    MR

    March 7, 2008 at 1:07 AM

    There jannah is limited (this life). Our jannah in unlimited (the hereafter).

    May Allah (swt) grant the innocent and the oppressed jannah in the hereafter.

  14. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 7, 2008 at 3:23 PM

    person, it’s just a joke. Lighten up. If anyone else complains then I’ll ask Amad to change it.

    I do appreciate your intentions though.

  15. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 7, 2008 at 3:25 PM

    LOL I am a little disappointed that the only controversy my article illicited was in my description.

  16. Avatar

    Person

    March 7, 2008 at 5:14 PM

    Well…to the reader (or to me atleast) it doesn’t seem like the description was written in jest…it seems like an unnecessary public confession of personal weaknesses. Reminded me of the hadith that I quoted.

    If its all a joke, then maybe it should explicitly be stated as such. So, tomorrow if/when someone calls you a know-it-all sometimes jerk they will have no evidence to support their claim.

    Also, Br. Amad needn’t need your permission to edit the description because editing it is the professionally right thing to do. :)

  17. Avatar

    Person

    March 7, 2008 at 5:20 PM

    Actually you should be glad your post is being read so closely. Controversies started from the very top (of the post)…will get to the bottom if Allah has so willed.

  18. Avatar

    Person

    March 7, 2008 at 9:31 PM

    correction: *controversy*

  19. Avatar

    Irum Sarfaraz

    March 7, 2008 at 9:53 PM

    Br. MOFW,
    If you are keen for controversy may I suggest you do a post on ‘third wives’ ?!

  20. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 7, 2008 at 10:45 PM

    lol … Irum, how about “those whom your right hand possesses”

    Hmm … You think it would be vanity if i Islamified my own article?

  21. Avatar

    eli

    March 8, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    Haven’t seen a post about the murders at the seminary.

    Disgusting

  22. Amad

    Amad

    March 8, 2008 at 12:57 PM

    Eli, how many posts about the killing fields of Gaza appear on the Israeli supporting websites, like LGF, etc.? Let me help you. ZERO. How much of the news about the 50+ civilians killed by Israel was given the sort of coverage given to the less than 10 dead in the seminary?

    You’d have been dead or in a cave not to have heard about the seminary shootings, while you’d have be to really engaged to find out about what happened previous in this cycle of violence.

    While we have no qualms about condemning the seminary shootings, how many Zionist websites do you think have condemned the Gaza killings? ZERO. That actually is much more disgusting.

    Why don’t you condemn it for us right here? I want to hear it from you.

  23. Avatar

    Person

    March 8, 2008 at 2:24 PM

    Excuse me Br. Amad: I am waiting for a response to my question…

    Salaam alaykum

  24. Amad

    Amad

    March 8, 2008 at 2:31 PM

    Person, pls let it go. I am not changing anything unless MOFW requests it. If you wish to discuss this further, you can contact me by email; info at muslimmatters dot org. We aren’t going to bore everyone on this petty issue any longer.

  25. Avatar

    Wigon

    March 8, 2008 at 4:20 PM

    Amad, to address your comment, the US news did actually talk about the 50 dead Palestinians in Gaza from the massive military onslaught. However, they did not show graphic pictures of the dead being carried away or laying on the streets as in the seminary shooting. However, the West also sees the Palestinian deaths as “collateral dammage” while seeing the seminary deaths as direct intentional murder of innocent Jewish civilians (although some there were off-duty soldiers). Obviously, if you are a Palestinian who’s just lost your family from a tank shell “accidentally” shot into your apartment you will have a very different view of this. One has to ask what is the root of the violence on both sides and how do you end the cycle of revenge violence? Genocide?
    Hard to do that with the Israelis now that they have nukes including some on Dolphin class submarines giving them 2nd strike capability. Rather then Muslims screaming for revenge, realistic solutions need to be pushed rather then more fueling of this cycle of violence. Jihad is an obligation for Muslims but there are many types of Jihad (economic, spiritual, and through dialogue for example). There is also Dawah through leadership by example rather then lowering oneself to fight as unjustly as kafr (or worse). Remember, that Saladin is not remembered in Western history books because of how many Christians and Jews he killed, but rather by how many he saved through his mercy and justice despite how many Muslims the Crusaders killed.

  26. Avatar

    Person

    March 8, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    Alrighty….plz check your mail!

  27. Avatar

    Malik

    March 8, 2008 at 10:03 PM

    Really only one thing matters in this dispute: That the Palestinians overwhelmingly chose Hamas. Doing so they, with eyes wide open, chose a party of violent religious fanatics who openly state in their charter that their aim is the violent destruction of Israel and the murder of the Jews.

    Many Muslims (and leftists) have complained that we are not respecting Democracy by not respecting the outcome of the vote. We don’t have to respect the outcome to respect Democracy, we have to respect the process. And respecting the process is making people accountable for their democractic decisions so as to foster responsible decision-making.

    The minute they voted Hamas in with their open goals of Genocide the Palestinan population gave up their status of Non-combatants. It’s harsh but that is part of the democratic process.

  28. Amad

    Amad

    March 9, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    So, then by your logic, we should assume that all Israelis who voted in Likud on many occassions or all Israelis/Americans who are ardent Zionists and believe that there is no 2-state solution (including believing/expressing that all Palestinians need to be “removed”) are ALSO combatants? The students killed were at a seminary that is ultra-orthodox, ultra-zionist, teaching radicalism and not accepting of Palestine as a state— so were they combatants? The children and women of Palestine, are they combatants?

    Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel, wants the Israelis to go “home” where they all came from (Europe, Russia, etc.)… not much different from the aspirations of many Zionists regarding Palestinians in the occupied territories.

    Your logic, if reversed, would be considered the logic of terrorists, but of course your warped sense of humanity will not let you see right through it.

  29. Avatar

    anon

    March 9, 2008 at 3:31 PM

    “Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel, wants the Israelis to go “home” where they all came from (Europe, Russia, etc.)… ”

    To be technical, “home” for the majority of Israelis is Israel, considering that 70% of them, if not more were born there. So Hamas’ request is kind of like me asking the children of illegal mexicans born and raised in the US to go back “home” to mexico

  30. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 9, 2008 at 3:49 PM

    I remember telling Malik to “shut the hell up” in the comments section of a previous post.

    He should have listened to me because now he sounds like an extremist fanatic.

    1st he says that Hamas’s goals are genocide. I would like to see a statement by any of the current leaders of Hamas that proves his assertion.

    It’s also s funny because if you have paying attention to the news the ISRAELIS are the one calling for holocaust (shoah) of Palestinians.

    Also your version of democracy is interesting. Vote freely, but if you make the wrong choice there will be a holocaust, EVEN if you voted for the right party you are also responsible for all the Palestinians who voted for Hamas and now you and your family, yes including your babies are legitimate targets.

    One thing is for sure … victory belongs to ALLAH and he gives it to whomever he wills. Let the Zionists strut around in arrogance and oppression. If they believe they can move mountains with their bare hands, tomorrow they will see those same mountains crush them.

    Your words are meaningless Malik, your thoughts insignificant, your time wasted and your mind corrupted.

    Your accusations and ignorance are like empty foam. You are neither convincing, intelligent nor rational.

    For us victory is near, sometimes I can feel it and it gives me goosebumps. A free Palestine where Muslims can visit Masjid al Aqsa and pray there in peace.

    Hizbullah defeated the Israelis, Jews are leaving Israel in droves, the IDF is weak, undisciplined and soft. The Russians that are imported into Israel to boost Jewish numbers turn out to be Christians who lied about their religion so they could use Israel as a stopove point to coming to the US. The Zionist project has been discredited by the ENTIRE world.

    Yet you make foolish empty assertions. You should thank God that ANYONE on this site is willing to give you the time of day let alone respond to your ignorant drivel.

    Go hand out with your Zionist friends, they are soon to be homeless inshallah, maybe you can help them find housing, that is ofcourse until they steal YOUR home and put you out on the street.

    When that happens you can complain to some Palestinians, they will know exactly how you feel. Maybe they will even offer to help.

  31. Amad

    Amad

    March 9, 2008 at 3:57 PM

    anon: that is interesting isn’t it? So some people come to a nation forcibly and take it over, displacing other people. Then these people have kids. The displaced people also have kids. So, now the people who were displaced and originally from the location have no right to return, let alone their kids. While the people who forcibly took over the land become its “rightful” owners.

    I understand its not the occupiers’ kids’ faults. So let them stay there. But where is the justice of leaving out those who were originally displaced?

  32. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 9, 2008 at 4:12 PM

    I disagree with Amad, let all those Ashkenazi Jews rediscover their European roots. Besides an “Israel” with a sudden influx of 2 million Palestinians is going to make a lot of Jews leave anyway … something like 60% dont want to live with Arabs in their neighborhoods.

  33. Avatar

    Person

    March 9, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    Amad…was the email suggestion your way of quieting me down? Very disappointing.

    I replied to your email yesterday. You need to check your spam/bulk box. If you did receive it, then I have nothing more to add. As I said, let it go. -amad

  34. Avatar

    DrM

    March 10, 2008 at 9:55 PM

    Eli, why should anyone with conscious care about a bunch of dead jewish terrorists in Jerusalem? Turns out that little “seminary” of yours was nothing but a zionist terrorist training camp.
    Good bloody riddance I say.

    **Dr. M, Islam condemns the killing of non-combatants, regardless of their ideology. So as Muslims, we cannot support the killing of non-combatants. -MM**

  35. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 11, 2008 at 8:10 PM

    You know this is an issue I was interested in. What was the nature of this Yeshiva? Why was it targeted specifically?

    Does anyone have any information on it?

  36. Avatar

    dario

    March 11, 2008 at 8:24 PM

    According to Wiki their is a specific committee that deals with the issue of military exemption and Yeshiva students. It basically said that at the age of 22 all Yeshiva students are given a year to decide whether they want to go to work or continue with their studies at the yeshiva. If they choose to continue with their studies they are exempt from military service. If they decide they would rather work they must choose between a 4 month stint in the IDF, reserve duties in the military, or a civilian service of one year without salary. And this is for all yeshivas in Israel not just this one. I doubt that there was anything special about this particular yeshiva. It was probably the most accessible

  37. Avatar

    dario

    March 11, 2008 at 8:27 PM

    Also, one more thing, according to wiki this yeshiva “Merkaz harav” iwas founded in 1924 and is commonly regarding as the flagship of yeshivas in israel. So the guy choosing this yeshiva in particular might have been symbolic because of that. Who knows

  38. Amad

    Amad

    March 11, 2008 at 8:47 PM

    This is basically a jewish madrassa with all the negative connotations that the west has imposed on this arabic word for school.

    This madrassa was strongly tied to the settler i.e. steal/occupy/then-insult arab neighbors movement. They were teaching extremist zionist teachings.

    Had roles been reversed, the israeli propaganda machine with its US allies would have made this front and center: of how this islamic madrasa was teaching extremists and basically deserved nothing less. It is amazing how quiet this fact has been kept.

  39. Avatar

    dario

    March 11, 2008 at 9:02 PM

    Sorry, one more comment that basically goes into some of what amad said

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/962041.html

  40. Avatar

    DrM

    March 11, 2008 at 11:38 PM

    In response to my earlier comment, jewish settler terrorists are heavily armed and have a history harassing and murdering Palestinian civilians, including school children, hence they are hardly “non-combatants.”

  41. Avatar

    dario

    March 12, 2008 at 4:02 PM

    I wasn’t aware 15 and 16year olds sitting in a building reading the torah were heavily armed. Thanks for the heads up

  42. Avatar

    Solomon2

    March 14, 2008 at 3:56 PM

    Hi, guys! Long time since I’ve been here. The report is interesting. I can’t find where it states, “Israeli Occupation Causes Terrorism.” I have found the passage where it says the current Israeli policy of the embargo isn’t working.

    Since that policy dates from a time long after Israelis and Israel’s armed forces departed Gaza, a natural conclusion is that the report’s authors are blaming Gaza’s woes on the end of Israeli occupation. The authors make it clear that circumstances were better when Israelis ruled the territory.

    However, the authors still hold that Gaza is somehow “occupied” so Israel is still responsible under the 4th Geneva Convention (probably the sections which Israel isn’t a party to, I guess.) That Gaza is “occupied” is a sick fiction. Where are the Israeli troops? When done with their raids they depart. That is not occupation. Nor does Israel control Gaza’s border with third countries – Hamas demonstrated that. Since these are precisely the conditions of “occupation” premised in the report, the current reality undermines its criticism of Israel – but not its criticism of the Palestinian Arabs.

    Living in Gaza can be difficult, I’m sure. But how much progress can be made towards improving people’s lives if they exist in a dream world?

  43. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 14, 2008 at 10:08 PM

    Solomon, Israel is able to cut off electricity, supplies, imports, access to the sea and travel outside of Gaza. As for the last point, both Jordan and Egypt, ALLIES of Israel by the way, cooperate with the siege. Egypt recently relented due to domestic pressure that is why Palestinians were allowed to pour into Egypt.

    This is all not mentioning the repeated attacks and incursions by Israelis in Gaza. Gazan airspace is under total control by the Israeli airforce as is the coast. Palestinian fisherman cant even fish because of the Israeli navy.

    Who is in the dreamworld bro?

  44. Avatar

    Solomon2

    March 15, 2008 at 8:59 PM

    mfw, I’m the one who read the report that was incorrectly characterized as, “Israeli Occupation Causes Terrorism”. So how can I be the one in the dreamworld?

    That said, I’m glad you agree with my presentation of the facts. Under international law, the measures you cite may constitute a siege (they aren’t nearly complete), but they do not mean that Gaza is in any way “occupied” by Israeli forces, any more than Gaza can be characterized as “occupied” by Egyptian forces. (Too many Gazan Arabs who poured through the exploded breaches in the Egyptian wall have long since aroused the ire of the Egyptian government, and are now being penned in as before, it seems.)

    Of course, some people do say that Gaza is currently “occupied” by the openly Iranian-trained militia of Hamas. These same people usually blame Israel for this, citing Israel’s role in promoting Hamas decades ago when it was merely a vehicle for providing social services to the populace. The Israelis didn’t appreciate that Hamas was really something like the orphanage out of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Come to think of it, a lot of Muslim institutions seem to work that way…

  45. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 15, 2008 at 11:51 PM

    Ok i will ignore your strange take on “a lot of Muslim institutions” as well as your unsubstantiated and hypocritical claim of Hamas being an Iranian-trained militia.

    Let’s say that Gaza is not occupied. What is it then? An independent state with an internationally recognized government, embassies world-wide and a right to an army to defend itself? What is it, a principality, satrap, bailiwick, beylicate, province, region, territory, bantustan? Boardwalk, maybe?

    Honestly i dont even know why i respond sometimes … i’m only asking for you to return with a more preposterous answer which I will then have to shoot down with my lovable mix of sarcasm and irreverence.

    Thus an ugly cycle that gives me carpel tunnel, overloads your neurons and exposes you to ridicule.

    This is precisely why we should eliminate public education and tv. The combination of the two makes everyone think they know something when they dont and make them misunderstand their God-given faculties of speech for a right to spout nonsensical opinions.

    May your fingertips sprout fuzzy follicles. I shall call them fingerstaches and laugh at you when you try and be serious. How can I take a man seriously with fingerstaches?

    If that last paragraph made little sense to you then you know how I felt reading your entire last post. Just remember, don’t lick your fingers after eating, it would be a disgusting sight and further undermine your “it rains when I fart” opinions.

  46. Avatar

    DrM

    March 17, 2008 at 10:27 PM

    A link to neocon “pajamas media” site, eh solomon? It never fails to amuse me how utterly disingenuous jewish fanatics are when it comes to promoting their racist narrative. Gutter snipes like Phylis Chesler and Michael Ladeen? Nuff said. Somebody is definitely in a “dream world” and it isn’t the Arabs.

  47. Avatar

    Phil

    March 24, 2008 at 5:46 PM

    Levelled Beruit you wrote. What a load of rubbish like so much of your pathetic piece. I wonder if you have you even visited the city? Israel does not target innocent civilians. It’s Hamas who uses civilians as human shields and hope some get killed as it helps their cause to create ‘martyrs’. The Palestinian people are become unwilling martyrs. Every missile aimed at Israel hurts the Palestinain cause. When will their evil leadership realise that fact or do they even care?

  48. Avatar

    theManOfFewWords

    March 25, 2008 at 7:28 AM

    Phil, I want to know what you are on. Seems like good stuff, do you know where I can get me some?

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  54. Avatar

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    November 2, 2012 at 2:54 AM

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‘Indian Muslims have nothing to fear. No one knows what CAA/NRC is all about. They are simply protesting because they are misled’, thus proclaimed a former classmate of mine who himself left India for brighter prospects during PM Narendra Modi’s regime but continues to believe in his promise of ‘acche din’ (good days).

Today the whole of India is divided over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which is to be followed by the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Thousands of students from India’s premier institutions like Jamia Milia Islamia, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University, Delhi University, IITs and IIMs are thronging the streets to protest against the bigoted law.

The ripple effect has even reached top educational institutions across the world including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and MIT. From lawyers to celebrities to academicians, people across the world, belonging to different religions are raising their dissent against the law which is deemed to be against the secular fabric of the Indian Constitution.

What is this law all about?

The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) provides an accelerated path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religious minorities from three countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is an official record of all those who are legal Indian citizens. So far, such a database has only been created for the northeastern state of Assam which has been struggling with the issue of illegal immigration for a long time. In Assam 1.9 million people were effectively rendered stateless after NRC and were put into detention centers. Out of these 1.9 million, around 0.6 million are Muslim.

On November 20, Home Minister Amit Shah declared during a parliamentary session that the register would be extended to the entire country.

Why the uproar?

At first glance the CAA seems to be a harmless law, which the government claims was made to help those who are facing religious persecution. However, the question arises why only those suffering religious persecution? Millions of people are suffering persecution in the name of race, region or language in India’s neighboring countries.

Even if we talk about just religious persecution, why does the law only accommodate those from three neighboring countries? Rohingyas are suffering brutal persecution in Myanmar. Christians are suffering in Sri Lanka. Tibetans have been persecuted because of their beliefs.

Many people opine that the CAA is not problematic in itself. It becomes problematic when it’s seen in conjunction with NRC. When NRC is implemented, millions of people will be declared illegal due to lack of documents in a country where the masses live in villages and documentation is a complicated bureaucratic process with a high error rate. According Professor Shruti Rajagopalan, the State Of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 by IDinsight, covering 2,947 households, found that 8.8% of Aadhaar holders reported errors in their name, age, address or other information in their Aadhaar letter (Aadhaar is the identity number issued to Indian residents). In the NRC, a spelling mistake can deprive one of citizenship and 8.8% affects over 120 million people.

They will be rendered stateless and sent to detention centers with inhumane conditions. Out of these ‘illegals’, everyone but Muslims can seek accelerated citizenship under CAA.

The fact is that even if we view CAA alone, the very act of offering citizenship on the basis of religion goes against the fundamentals of secularism and equality as mentioned in the Indian constitution.

UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has termed the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory”.

In this context, it’s also relevant to understand the revolt that is happening in the north eastern state of Assam. While the rest of India is against CAA and NRC for exclusion of Muslims, the people of Assam are protesting against the inclusion of 1.3 million undocumented Non-Muslims, as identified in the NCR. According to them, if these foreigners are granted citizenship under CAA, they pose a threat to the language and culture of Assam.

Police brutality against protesters

Student fraternity across the world was shocked when students of Jamia Milia Islamia who were peacefully protesting against the CAA were brutally attacked by police forces. Police accused students of destroying public property and fired tear gas shells, beat them up mercilessly and even open fired at them. They barged into the library, mosque and even the women’s hostels without authorization.

Video footage shot by students and reviewed by Reuters show students, including women, hiding beneath desks in the library, cowering in restrooms, jumping over broken furniture in an attempt to flee. It was later verified that none of the students had anything to do with some of the buses that were set ablaze outside the campus.

Reports of even more horrific police brutality surfaced from Aligarh Muslim University. A student’s hand had to be amputated after a tear gas shell hit him and exploded. Hundreds of students were severely injured.

Section 144 of the Criminal Code which prohibits any gathering of 5 or more people has been imposed across the entire state of UP. Internet has been shut down in several parts.

Videos showing police destroying properties of innocent Muslims in UP have surfaced which the ‘Godi media’, a term coined for PM Modi’s lapdog media, refuses to acknowledge. Innocent youth are being dragged out of their homes and their properties are being seized on the accusation of destruction of public property. Death toll has crossed 22. Thousands are in custody.

It’s not surprising that Narendra Modi is being compared to Adolf Hitler.

India’s secular ethos

Religion based politics is nothing new in India, the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi issue and Gujarat riots being two of the most glaring examples.

However, in day to day life ‘Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, Aapas mein sab bhai bhai’ (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians are all brothers) has not just been a slogan but a way of life.

Muslims in India have held prominent positions in every sphere of life, be it arts, literature, sports or leadership and have been admired by Hindus and Muslims alike.

The current BJP government aims to change all of that with its RSS-inspired fascist ideology of Hindutva – Hindu nationalism andHindu rashtra’ (nation).

India’s faltering economy and dejected youth

One of the heartening aspects of the CAA/NRC uprising is that it is not being seen as just a Muslim struggle. It is rightly being seen as a struggle to uphold the secular ethos of the Constitution of India. However, there is more to this struggle which is being led by the youth of the country.

Underlying the CAA-NRC struggles is the country’s deep disappointment with PM Modi’s lofty promises of ‘acche din’ (good days) which gave the country a new hope . Among other things he promised to make India an economic superpower. Today the nation’s economy is in doldrums which has led to frustration and dejection in the youth.

IMF’s last forecast for India was 6.1% growth in 2019. This has slumped to 4.9%. Unemployment is at a 45-year high and industrial growth rate is negative.

One of the major reasons for the economic slowdown has been the government’s radical decision of demonetization in 2016 which sent the entire country in a turmoil and failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. Small businesses took a further hit with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

At a time when the government’s primary concern should have been the faltering economy, the government diverted the country’s attention to the Babri Masjid -Ram Janmabhoomi issue. As soon as that ended it announced the CAA and NRC, continuing its propaganda of Hindu nationalism as opposed to real issues faced by the nation.

At this critical junction the economy can be expected to take a further hit by the cost of the implementation of the CAA and NRC exercise.By conservative estimates, nationwide NRC will cost Indians a whopping 500 billion rupees in admin expenses alone. Add to it the massive cost of building and maintaining detention centers across the country and the nation looks set for an economic and logistical nightmare.

Today the educated youth of the country is voicing its frustration at the price the country has been paying due to the government’s fascist ideologies. They no longer want the world to know India for its age old mandir-masjid disputes, mob lynchings, communal riots, human rights violations, poverty or illiteracy.

The current uprising is not just against one particular law.The people, especially the youth of India are protesting for their rights to work together as one nation to take the country towards being an exemplary democracy and an economic superpower.

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A Closer Look At The Congressional Hearing on Human Rights in South Asia

Kashmir hearing in Congress
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Expectations on Capitol Hill were pretty low going into the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation’s historic hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia”. Previously, hearings on India have not been critical and the Kashmiri Muslim point of view has not been discussed.

Chairman of the sub-committee Brad Sherman (D-CA) wasted no time setting the stage for where he wanted to go with this hearing, stating, ”the entire world is focused today on what is happening in Kashmir.” He also pointed to the state of the 2 million-minority population in Assam. Missing from his opening statements were remarks on the state of the rest of the minorities in India, esp. Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Muslims. Ranking member Ted Yoho (R-FL) was soft on the gross realities of the occupation, highlighting one case of a Kashmiri constituent, and referred to the abrogation of Article 370 as an internal matter of India. He also brought up the Indian talking point of economic progress in the region but this concept was thoroughly dismissed by later testimony and Q&A.

The State department veteran Alice Wells, Acting Secretary on South and Central Asian Affairs seemed woefully ill-prepared for the critical nature of the hearing. Both Wells and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Destro could not or did not present solid facts and figures about detention and tried to explain away the oppression as “inconveniences”. They were unable to comment or provide clarity on the situation on the ground in Kashmir, with Destro saying, “we are in the same information blackout as you are.” Some of Sec. Wells’s comments were of direct Indian government persuasion.

Several of Justice For All’s talking points were raised during the hearing.

There was commentary on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked about the anti-Muslim program. She questioned the panel on the public statements by Indian officials that only Muslims have to prove their birth records. Rejecting the notion that a democratic ally cannot be policed, she said that the United States does that in many situations and “this should not be an exception.”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman Sherman, along the same lines.

Destro observed that the appeals process “may disadvantage poor and illiterate populations who lack documentation”. “We are closely following this situation and urge the Government of India to take these issues into consideration,” he added.

”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman ShermanClick To Tweet

Wells testified that “violence and discrimination against minorities in India, including cow vigilante attacks against members of the Dalit and Muslim communities, and the existence of anti-conversion laws in nine states” are not in keeping with India’s legal protections for minorities.

Congresswoman Alice Spanberger, (D-VA) a former CIA intelligence officer, asked whether India has shared examples of terror attacks and incidents that have been thwarted due to the communications blockade. When Wells stated that she could not comment, Spanberger asked for a classified hearing so that US officials could give their assessment on the validity of the national security argument of the Indian government. Chair Sherman associated himself with her questioning and vowed to take her suggestion seriously.

Chairman Brad Sherman, as well as several other Congresspeople both on and off the House Foreign Relations Committee, asked several pertinent and critical questions.

Questioning the Indian Government narrative Chairman Sherman asked if the United is “supposed to trust these government of India officials when the government of India doesn’t allow our diplomats to visit?” Representative Sheila Jackson asked if reputable Indian diplomats or journalists had ever been denied entry into any state in the United States?

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) referred to a report about the detention of dozens of children in Kashmir and said detention without charges is unacceptable. She expressed her concerns about religious freedom in India and said that she proposes to bring a bipartisan resolution in Congress.

Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and David Cicilline of Rhode Island both had a heavy human rights approach to the questioning. Congresswoman Lee asked Assistant Secretary Destro if he would describe the situation as a “humanitarian crisis,” Mr Destro said, “Yes, it is.” She then went on to call the United States government to stop a potential genocide.

Washington has not changed its stance on the designation of the Line of Control. Chairman Sherman brought up the issue of disputed territory to the State Department.“We consider the Line of Control (LoC) a de facto line separating two parts of Kashmir,” answered Wells. “We recognize de facto administrations on both sides of LoC.”

The subcommittee focused on personal testimonies as well as human rights organization Amnesty’s testimony during the second half of the hearing.

Though no Kashmiri Muslims testified, the panel presented electrifying testimonies from Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri and Dr. Angana Chatterji, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Bearing witness to the rising fascism and Hindu nationalism’s grip on India, both witnesses brought up beef lynchings, with Chatterji raising the concern of the genocidal inclinations of the Modi government. 

“Hindu majoritarianism – the cultural nationalism and political assertion of the Hindu majority – sanctifies India as intrinsically Hindu and marks the non-Hindu as its adversary. Race and nation are made synonymous, and Hindus –the formerly colonized, now governing, elite – are depicted as the national race,” said Dr. Chatterji.

Kashmiri witness Dr. Nitisha Kaul stated in her testimony that “human rights defenders, who were already under severe pressure, since August 5 are unable to function in Kashmir. For instance, every year on 30 August, the UN Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons led by Ms Parveena Ahangar, organises a vigil protest involving hundreds of elderly women and men whose sons had become victims of for instance, in the most recent parliamentary elections, the voters’ turnout was very low and in many booths, not a single vote was cast.”

Kaul emphasized the extension of the oppression, by highlighting that this year the peaceful gathering of elderly parents mourning and waiting for their disappeared sons was not allowed. She shared Ahanga’s quote: “This year we have been strangled, and there was no coming there was no coming together because, through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”

Ilhan Omar challenged Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s take that the siege was in place to save Muslim women from “terrorists.” This is a trope that is often used to wage war and is especially used in the so-called “war on terror.” “It is a very colonial move on the part of the nation-states around it as if they are “liberating Kashmiri women,” said Dr. Kaul.

Chatterji bore witness to the woes of Kashmiri women who bear the brunt of the Indian occupational forces’ sexual brutality. “The woman’s body becomes the battlefield,” she said replying to a question by Congresswoman Houlahan from Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaul stated that the 1944 new Kashmir manifesto contained an entire section on gender rights. She spoke on the equity and equality in Kashmir: “They go to protests. Women become heads of households because of dead husbands.”

She also reminded the committee that BJP’s Amit Shah, also part of the government in 2002 and responsible for the program on Muslim community stated that Western human rights cannot be blindly applied here in India.

Representative Wild from Pennsylvania asked why the Indian government would not allow transparency. When human rights organizations and journalists can work in active war zones, she rejected the anti-terrorism narrative pushed by Ravi Batra, a last-minute BJP addition to the panel. “When there isn’t transparency something is being hidden and this is what really concerns me terribly,” said Wild.

A Sindhi-American witness spoke on minority rights in Pakistan, especially the forced conversion of Hindus. This is a concern that needs to be tackled by Muslims as there is no compulsion in Islam and is antithetical to the religion.

During the hearing, Amnesty International reported thousands in detention under the Public Safety Act while the State Department numbered it at hundreds. Dr. Asif Mahmoud, a key organizer, presented the health situation in Kashmir.

The overall situation of the Rohingya was covered and links were made to the start of the genocide in Burma and the parallels in India. The members of the House referred to it as genocide with the State Department still calling it ethnic cleansing.

Although the hearing focused on the current state of Jammu and Kashmir and not much was brought up about self-determination or the plebiscite, Kashmiri-Americans and their supporters left the hearing room satisfied that their voices were heard for the first time in the halls of the US Congress.

What was most concerning point of the entire hearing was that Kashmir was not brought up categorically as disputed territory and the issue was referred to as an integral matter of India. This needs deep, consistent and long-term work by advocates of Kashmir. With the continuous rise of RSS, Indian minority issues need a much sharper focus, and a regular pounding of the pavements of Congress to educate the Foreign Relations committees.

Some action items for American Muslims post-hearing.

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Prayers Beyond Borders Offers Hope to Separated Families

border wall in tijuana
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On the border of San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico, several families live their lives torn apart—they were born on the wrong side of a wall. Now, faith groups are joining together to give them hope through prayer. Since the Mexican-American War in 1848, the boundary that divided the two countries transformed from an imaginary line, to a monument, to a simple barb-wire fence where people on either side could meet, greet, hold hands, or exchange a warm smile, to a heavily monitored steel wall stretching across almost 15 miles between San Diego and Tijuana. 

In recent years, crime, drug trafficking, an influx of undocumented workers, and increasingly white nationalism created stricter immigration policies in the U.S., directly impacting those who live straddling both sides of the border. Included in these are families whose loved ones have been deported – parents, spouses, children, and other relatives – to Mexico, undocumented workers providing for their families, and relatives who have not made physical contact with each other in years, sometimes decades. They gather along the steel mesh barriers of the border wall at Friendship Park to touch each other’s fingertips and pray.

The documentary, “A Prayer Beyond Borders,” produced by CAIR California, MoveOn, and Beyond Borders Studios captured some of these emotive moments during a Sunday prayer service held by the Border Church in partnership with the Border Mosque. Christians and Muslims came together in solidarity at Friendship Park on September 30, 2019, and held a joint bilingual ceremony, led by Reverend John Fanestil, Pastor Guillermo Navarrete, Imam Taha Hassane, and Imam Wesley Lebrón.

Imam Lebrón, National Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for WhyIslam, witnessed the nightmare families separated at the border endure when he was invited to participate in this first meeting of the Border Church and Border Mosque. As a Puerto Rican, U.S. born citizen who never experienced the hardships of immigration, he was moved by what he witnessed. He said, 

“I entered Mexico and reached the border at Friendship Park and immediately noticed families speaking to each other through the tiny spaces of an enormous metal wall. They were not able to touch except for their fingers, which I later learned was the way they kissed each other.”

He described families discussing legal matters and children crying because they could not embrace a parent who traveled for days only to speak to them briefly behind the cold steel mesh partition. 

“Walls are meant to provide refuge and safety from the elements and they are not meant to prevent human beings from having a better life,” he explained, “As I stood behind that wall, I felt hopeless, angry, and had many other mixed emotions for our Mexican brethren who have been completely stripped of the opportunities many of us take for granted.” During the service he addressed the crowd gathered on the Mexican side of Friendship Park and recited the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer. It was the first time the call was heard in Friendship Park, but not the last. 

The Border Church and Border Mosque will continue to provide a joint service on the last Sunday of every month and are calling for a binational day of prayer on Sunday, October 27th. They will be joined by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and indigenous spiritual leaders to “Pray Beyond Borders.” The event will be filmed and possibly live-streamed to a global audience with the objective of raising awareness and requesting financial support to address issues related to family separation in the region. 

On October 7th CAIR California with MoveOn, Faith in Action, MPower Change, and a social media team and distribution partners released the film “A Prayer Beyond Borders,” With the digital launch of this film in English and Spanish they wish to reach millions of viewers in telling the story of the Border Church and the Border Mosque and bring more faith leaders and activists on board to protect families’ right to gather. Please join them at Pray Beyond Borders – A Binational Day of Prayer – Sunday, October 27th at Friendship Park. 

when the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles(Psalm 34:17 – NIV).

“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah ]” (Qur’an 2:45)

Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash

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