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Pelosi’s Treatment Of Ilhan Omar Exposes The Myth of Courage And Reach of AIPAC

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By Danette Zaghari-Mask

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, an African-American, Muslim refugee, stood up to one of the strongest and most influential lobbying firms in U.S. History – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Last Sunday, Rep. Omar retweeted Glenn Greenwald’s statement: “GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy threatens punishment for @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib over their criticisms of Israel. It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” Rep. Omar added the line: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” in reference to AIPAC, a powerful U.S. lobbying firm which works to gain support for the secular, nationalist ideology known as Zionism.

While AIPAC itself does not make political contributions (its legal status prevents such action), it puts its multi-million-dollar lobbying budget to use to buy support for Zionist foreign policies. It also plays a very significant role, linking Congress members and those who want to hold Congressional office, to Zionist donors that will directly fund Congressional campaigns.

The phrase: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” are the lyrics to a song by American rapper and producer Puff Daddy. “Benjamins” is a reference to $100 bills that feature Benjamin Franklin’s image. The reference appeared on the debut album, “Ready to Die,” by The Notorious B.I.G.

Zionism drives the illegal occupation of Palestine and relegates Palestinians to, at best, a second-class status. AIPAC’s lobbying efforts and candidate-donor linking buy Congressional and Executive Branch support for segregation and even ethnic cleansing of Christian and Muslim Palestinians. It is a system akin to Apartheid South Africa and the segregated Jim Crow era of the United States, which is why it has inspired the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) that works to put economic pressure on the Israeli government, to force Israel to adhere to international law and respect the natural rights of all people, regardless of their ethnic or religious identity.

The Pro-Israel Zionist lobby spent a whopping $14.9 million dollars in 2018 and has historically given more money to members of the Democratic party than any other political party. It was the 50th biggest spender in the last election cycle. AIPAC ensures that Zionism’s ideology receives unbridled, even bipartisan, support in the U.S. Congress through political intimidation. Within the Democratic Party, it operates very much like the NRA. Indeed, criticism of AIPAC is treated as a political death sentence. It is a cash cow and it is the sacred cow in American politics.

Yet, Rep. Omar broke all the political rules. Not only is her political career not funded by AIPAC, she also dared to openly express that there is likely a causal relationship between the outside money received and the official benefits conferred. And on top of all that, she drove home her point with a quote by a black rapper.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasted no time in responding. She claimed that her colleagues’ comment was clearly anti-Semitic. Really?

If that were true, we could never critically examine AIPAC. No special interest lobbying group should ever be off-limits. Outside money in American politics is a genuine concern.

Furthermore, Anti-Semitism is a real and present global danger. When we claim that criticism of AIPAC’s relationship with its political payees is inherently anti-Semitic, we are detracting from actual instances of anti-Semitism throughout the world. Instances in which people are targeted and harmed, simply because they are Jewish.

Pelosi’s swift reaction illustrates a very real splinter between her and many politically progressive women of color. If we want to understand that schism, we must listen to women of color and validate their experiences. Those experiences include Rep. Omar’s courageous stone-throw against Goliath moment, which Pelosi turned into a stage act for scoring her own political points.

Rep. Omar is a survivor. Against all odds, she rose to a congressional position. Not surprisingly, she uses her powerful platform to advocate for other oppressed people – in this case, the Palestinian people.

Yet, what does Pelosi do?

She presents Omar with an impossible deal. Either sign onto an apology or be crushed and eliminated. If we want to truly understand why women of color generally have so much resentment towards white liberal women, case-in-point. Too often white liberal women like Pelosi pose for the photo-op, but we do not rise to the occasion for our minority sisters.

A true ally is not created from convenience. A true ally will stand should-to-shoulder on principle and courage. Women like Pelosi will throw a woman of color under the bus, then on a more convenient occasion, snatch her back off the ground, scrub off the wheel marks and smile for the camera.

I’m not impressed if Pelosi can clap back for the camera. She’s not a role model for my Muslim Arab daughter. She is certainly not her ally. She represents privilege, pain, betrayal, and disappointment. And, personally, I’m tired of being represented by white women like Pelosi who don’t support women of color in their own parties. I’m tired of politicians like Pelosi who curate a mythology of courage around themselves while tearing down women like Ilhan Omar who exhibit actual courage and conviction.

Danette Zaghari-Mask is an attorney for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. Her views are her own and do not necessarily represent those of the organization she serves.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Raid Mohammad

    February 13, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    In my years of dealing and communicating with American Jews, most of them seemed to be very diligent and very sincere in their every day efforts to keep America secure and strong. They believe that thd strength and stability of Israel is contingent upon the strength and stability of the USA. However, and unfortunately, I can’t say that about most of us Muslims who abandon our failed Islamist countries and immigrated to the West in the last 50 years. Some of us, if not most of us, feel that the only way our failed countries can get some salvation is by weakening and destabilizing the West.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      February 13, 2019 at 8:17 PM

      ?

      Does anyone actually think this silly and rehearsed line is something to take seriously? Israel is an ethnic cleansing state. It lacks legitimacy for that reason.

  2. Avatar

    Raid Mohammad

    February 13, 2019 at 9:22 PM

    Dear Danette Zaghari-Mask, Ilhan Umar is a Somali-American not an African-American. When I talk about my origin, I say I am an Iraqi-American. I don’t say Asian American even though Iraq is in Asia. The term African-American is very specific and it is reserved to those descendants of Black slaves. It is reserved for those who struggled and sacrificed blood and treasure during the decades long civil right movement along side the American Jews to advance civil liberties and civil rights. Ilahan Umar, nor any of CAIR’s agitators, operatives and agent-provacatures, was even in existence let alone contributing an iota to achieve it. To the contrary, their exploitation of this well-intentioned acts and codes are causing even African-Americans to reconsider.

  3. Avatar

    delphia blize

    February 14, 2019 at 2:19 PM

    ilhan has a history of using stereotypical language and tropes when discussing this issue, that is the problem, not the content of her critique. pelosi handled it fine, ilhan handled it fine and took responsibility for learning about this language. let’s move on. Ilhan is neither a victim who needs to be rigidly defended (in this instance) nor a villian who made some sort of unforgiveable gaffe. she’s a human who made mistake and corrected herself, a human with some bias – certainly not the first or last pol to reveal bias. we don’t need to go to such extremes in thinking about nuanced issues. i doubt Ilhan would apologize unless she felt it was warranted, she’s pretty hard to force to do anything, so let’s look at this as a great example of someone who cares about the impact of her words and learn from her leadership.

  4. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    February 14, 2019 at 9:21 PM

    This kind of talk would mean a lot more in an American context if we had Muslims openly criticizing Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. When you only want to speak about Palestinians and refuse to say a single word about racist fake Muslims who happen to be black, that is the opening where non Muslims look and see anti-semitism. If you want people to take the anti Zionist talk from Muslims in a serious manner, we have to have the courage to stand against bigots in the black community who lie and say they are with us, especially when everyone and their mother knows they are a group of black American bigots who hate Jews. Our silence puts us with the black American bigots and renders criticism of the Israel useless.

  5. Avatar

    Gaetano BonGiovanni

    February 16, 2019 at 3:35 AM

    Sister,

    “A true ally is not created from convenience. A true ally will stand should-to-shoulder on principle and courage. Women like Pelosi will throw a woman of color under the bus, …”

    That you assert this is about a woman of color is, for me, a distraction. I believe Madame Chairperson Pelosi will ‘throw any man or any woman under the bus’ who disrupts the caucus and unity of the House Democrats.

    While I am sure you did not mean that bus thingee literally, I suggest you note that America is a republic, and one in which to effect democracy in this republic requires courage as well as comprise, manners as well as truthfulness, and mature consideration along with youthful spontaneity.

    Peace in,

    @guyatree

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#Current Affairs

Malaysians Ask China To Free Uyghurs, Close The Camps

Hena Zuberi

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Free Uyghur Malaysia

By Gulnaz Uighur

Muslims are standing up for Uyghurs, protests held in Malaysia.

5th of July could be just like another day for people but for Uyghurs, it brings back dark memories of a bloody past. This day, in 2009, thousands of Uyghur students were massacred by Chinese police in Urumqi. These young students were demanding an investigation into the rising number of homicides in a toy factory. These people only wanted justice. They were also upset by the ongoing discrimination in the employment sector. Graduates were denied jobs because of their Uyghur ethnicity. After the protests, China started abducting the Uyghur youth and no one knows where the missing went. Its been 10 years since that horrifying incident and the condition of Muslims have devolved in a genocidal nightmare.

Communist Government in China Has over 2 Million Uyghurs in Concentration Camps

Beijing has now locked over 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. People in these places are forced to denounce Islam, forget the teachings of Quran, prohibited from praying, asked to learn Xi Jinping’s speech and tortured for not obeying these orders. Sadly, Islam is being treated as a disease in China and most of the Islamic nations are turning a blind eye to it.

So Malaysia came as a breath of fresh air when Muslim NGOs organized an anti-China protest against Uyghur persecution.

On 5th July 2019, a coalition of 34 Malaysian NGOs gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to protest the persecution of Uyghurs. The organizations prepared a memo of protest to be submitted to Chinese officials. In the memo, they demanded Beijing to ‘Respect the human rights of the Uyghur people, in particular, their right to life and freedom of religion and belief.’ , ‘immediately stop the persecution and extreme repression of the Uyghur people.’ and close the camps. They also called upon the International community to increase the voices of protest and disfavour upon the Chinese government and to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions.

The protesters shouted slogans like ‘Me Too Uyghur’ and ‘Save Uyghur’. In a media interview, president of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim asked immediate freedom for all those who have been detained in concentration camps.

Malaysians Stand With Uyghurs

Abim secretary Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz accused the Chinese government of concealing the plight of the Uyghurs by offering NGOs and government agencies free trips and painting a rosy picture of the camps. Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, chairman of the Malaysian Consultative Council Of Islamic Organizations (Mapim), said the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs could not be denied or disguised. The Group of NGOs also included Ikram Association and the Malaysian Youth Council among others.

Though no Chinese official came out to accept the memo, the message was clear that now people won’t keep quiet about the Uyghur persecution. There is a dire need for Muslim countries to break their silence on this issue. There is enough evidence to prove that something unholy and inhumane is happening with Uyghurs. If these countries consider China their friend then ask it to stop being a Shaitan. The leaders must realize that their first duty is towards the Ummah and not towards China.

Now is the time to stand for Uyghurs before nothing is left to be saved.

This protest in  Malaysia has proved that people in Muslim countries do support Uyghurs even if their governments are silent and are upset with Beijing’s policies. This event proved that governments may fail to fight but people won’t.

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir

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war with Iran

Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.

When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions.  Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”

war, iran, America, Climate change, pentagonWith tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.

Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:

  1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
  2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
  3. Emissions caused by US military industry   — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
  4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum,   namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
  5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
  6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
  7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including   Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.

This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.

The Rules of War

Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed his soldiers:

  1. Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  2. Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
  3. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
  4. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
  5. If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  6. Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  7. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  8. Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
  9. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
  10. Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)

A verse in the Holy Qur’an

4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”

How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?

Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘

War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq

Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.

There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”

Fighting Earth

With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.

In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).

This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.

A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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