Stand Up for Palestine

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Testimony of Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s Sister-in-law

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

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Lauren Booth speaks to her audience.

Newark, CA–August 14th–Ms. Lauren Booth of the United Kingdom came to this town in the Northeast Silicon Valley region of the South Bay just above San Jose to attend the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) Annual Ramadan Iftar Banquet.

Ms. Booth is amazing for many reasons; not the least of which, by any means, is her conversion and commitment to Islam.

Lauren Booth is an exceptional journalist and activist, and the poignancy of her conversion resides in the fact that she is the Sister-in-Law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is presently a Special Envoy to the Quartet (of four non-Middle Eastern political entities plus the U.N.) who have an interest in settling the Arab-Israeli imbroglio.

Ms. Booth route to Islam and this Sunday night’s dais in Northern California at this well-touted San Francisco Bay Area Indo-Pakistani Restaurant, Chandani, were circuitous.  

Lauren Booth is mother to two, and sister to Cherrie Blair (the wife of the UK’s former Prime Minister); her brother in law also, has been quoted expressing pro-Palestinian views.

Lauren Booth is the sixth daughter of the actor Anthony (Tony) Booth and Pamela Smith (Cohen).  Although Booth had Jewish antecedents, she was not raised in that tradition.

She has a C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) which your resident journalist here on these pages can only look upon with jealousy.

She has worked on such prestigious English Newspapers as the New Statesman, The Mail on Sunday (for which she served on as a feature writer and columnist). 

Further, she has been a panelist on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) “Have I got the News for You,” and is a broadcaster on other radio and television outlets.  Additionally, she is a regular reviewer of the U.K.  print news media on Sky, a satellite television network.

She remarked to our audience on the West Coast of the U.S.A. here that “The right-wing press has enabled my left-wing credentials!”  One of the most courageous stands she has taken was to publicly oppose the Iraq War while being a close relative by marriage of the architect of the British envolvement in that War, PM Tony Blair.

She began her speech by talking about the grave aggression by the Israelis in the Occupied Territories that she had beheld as a reporter.  “Something inside me [changed]… [when] I was sent to Palestine to cover the elections [there].”  An Israeli soldier from Brooklyn (Sic!) who examined her passport said, “Hey, a Brit, we love you!”  She realized something was askew in her country’s policies!

She came with what she described as Arabphobia, but she had to overcome a lifetime of propaganda within seventy-two hours. 

She was told “Don’t comfort the children because they won’t [can’t] cry…!”    She asked several Palestinian children what they would like to be as adults.  One young precocious girl replied, “I want to be a psychotherapist because we all are suffering [here].” 

The Israeli press undoes its photographic documentation [of the West Bank and Gaza] through its accompanying prose.

She told us about her first relief trip to Gaza, and how the citizens there were unaware of their arrival.

During Operation Cast Iron (the Israeli brutal assault on the mini-country during the last month of 2009 through the first month of 2010) the Israeli soldiers went as far as to loot the bodies of their Gazan victims!             
From reports directly from Gaza last month from doctors documenting abuses through their mobile phone cameras, she saw a boy wrapped by Israeli soldiers in barbed wire!  Also, a baby born with her intestines outside her body without the means for further emergency treatment!  She saw graphic images of Israeli mistreatment of the doctors themselves – even a M.D. being shot in the back!   There has been reported mass rape of Arab women, also.

She quotes a Palestinian boy replying to: “What did you do when they kicked you?  I got up, and I threw stones [at them]!”

She ended her comments in Newark (California) with “Thank you for listening.  Stand up for Palestine!”

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Violent Jihadi Imagery

July 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Your author has been commissioned to write a chapter on Violent Jihadi websites for a book on security in South Asia. He gave his initial findings at a conference in Central Florida early last April out of which came an offer to put it on the web, and, also, to expand it into a chapter.  Your scribe shall be presenting his further findings at a meeting in the upper Midwest this coming October.  After that time, he shall be glad to send on the full exercise to anyone who will e-mail me a request via the Muslim Observer where I shall be publishing a series of journalistic articles based on the research over the next several months.

I was sent a remarkable semi-confidential website study entitled The Islamic Imagery Project published (“pasted”) by an academic Committee of the Combating Terrorism Center within the Social Science Department at West Point in March 2006.  The document is an e-book, and as a student of such things, there are assumptions that are questionable within while, at the same time, the report is quite enlightening. 

The Obama Administration is questioning the purpose and tactics of the struggle in the Middle East and South Asia with what we vulgarly term “terrorism.”  The study of this document can be of value in creating new, more effective approaches in confronting the irregular clashes that often target civilians.  On March 12 2009 Aljazeera and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that the new government in Washington had decided to drop the designations of the “War on Terror” and “enemy combatant.”  Vocabulary can tell us much on how this struggle is changing, and on how counter-terrorism (i.e., counter-insurgency) should and /or could be waged more effectively. 

Information on the modern imagery of politically violent radical Islamic groups – especially as it appears on “Jihadi” websites — is imperfect.   Those conversant in Arabic know that Jihad mostly translates as a spiritual struggle within.  Thus, in correct parlance a Jihadist is one who is in spiritual struggle to find an inner “Truth,” but in Wahhabi Islam, which was born and nurtured in Saudi Arabia, and spread to become a foundation to fight against the Colonial powers in the Nineteenth, Twentieth and now in the Twenty-first Centuries, Jihad has become a physical struggle.  Today it fiercely fights against (Western) Post-Modernism (as it opposes the majority of other diverse forms of Islam).  Therefore, Jihad, also, denotes in this context to resist against the “kafir,” or non- Muslims, in contemporary radical Islam.  The “non-Muslim” is too often considered by them as “hetero-orthodox” Islam — such as the Shiites — as well. 

On the other hand, in Shiite and increasingly in modern Sunni Islam, the closely related concept of Itijihad is gaining parlance.   Since September 11, 2001, Islam has been grossly misunderstood, and it is the duty to change this through Itijihad as the junior Pakistani academic Rana Eijaz Ahmad argues.  Itijihad is a non-violent struggle of enlightenment.

These violent Jihadi organizations have had a brief – so far — but prolific history in the production and distribution of visual “propaganda” as the Committee, who created The Islamic Imagery Project, oversimplifies these images  The web masters have created their own distinct genre of Internet-based Islamist imagery.  The understanding of this sort of embedded iconography is at an early stage; and, thus, there is much to be done by the practioneers of various disciplines.  Within this particular study, the visual “propaganda” (i.e., visual “speech”) is more than textual messages; rather, the visual communicates explicitly, as the written word does. The radical Jihadi imagery has become a prime vehicle for communications and the essential tool for the diffusion of Jihadist ideals to diverse scattered cells – not only in South Asia – but throughout the world, but the modern violent Jihadi Movement had arisen in Afghanistan and now,  also, resolutely resides in the Northwest Provinces of Pakistan, but, also, has spread worldwide operating in secretive detached cells much as the classic Communist did during the Second World War where one cell may not be aware of the make-up or placement of an adjacent grouping making it hard for the counter-terrorist (anti-insurgents) to break the structures up, thereby, to destroy the resistance.

In future essays we shall observe how select pictures keep and break Islamic injunction using both Islamic and Western sources.

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Marwa Al-Sherbini

July 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

A thirty-one year-old Egyptian Muslim pharmacist plaintiff — four months pregnant with her second child — while wearing her traditional Hijab, was viciously stabbed eighteen times, and died in a Dresden courtroom on July 1st — by an alleged naturalized German attacker.  Previously, he had accused her of being a “Terrorist” because of her Islamic dress, and ripping her hijab off her head.  Unfortunately, such Islamaphobia is only too common in Europe even though Germany, with its horrendous history of instigating the Holocaust against the Jews and other minorities during World II, has some of the most stringent hate-crime laws in the world.

Her husband, who tried to intervene, was, also, stabbed by the attacker and, then, shot in the leg by a security officer who “mistook” him for the attacker.  Al-Sherbini, who was not only pregnant, but was, also, cruelly murdered in front of her three-year old son!

She was about to testify against her impending murderer when this vicious assault took place. The prosecutor at the proceedings had just described the accused as having a deep hatred against Muslims.

Your reporter is a regular listener to Deutche Velle, but they and most of the German privately owned media there largely ignored or played down the incident.  The BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation) gave suitable examination of the episode as did the Islamic press and media.

In a press release from The Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB), they “…urged political leaders and opinion formers to end their muted response to the recent wave of anti-Muslim violence…”

The Middle Eastern Institute’s Editor’s Blog noted that the case “…has been little noted in the Western media [especially in the U.S.]…the crime itself has outraged the Egyptian[s]…her body was met at [the] Cairo airport; thousands…turned out for her funeral in Alexandria……the opposition forces … [are]…particularly incensed [especially the Muslim Brotherhood who have called her the head-scarf martyr]…the official media as well…these popular…outcries… [have become a]…backfire on the unpopular [Mubarak] Regime…”

The Tehran Times described the unofficial response to the martyred Mother’s death in Saxony with spontaneous demonstrations on the Streets of the Iranian capital which included protests in front of Deutschland’s Persian Embassy, and a funeral in replication of hers in Alexandria both in protest and to honor to her soul.  Officially, “….The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador…to protest…the murder…of the woman.  Iran criticized the German government for its slow response…and…that Germany is responsible for… insuring the security of minorities…including Muslims…”

In April 2007 I was privileged to attend a conference organized by Hatem Baziam of U.C. Berkeley on Islamaphobia.  Your scribe has never had a chance to comment about the perceptions expressed there on the European version of the phenomenon which are different than the American practice in that, because of the former European form of Colonialism over Muslims lands– which for the most part the Americans did not follow – the social class on the other side of the Atlantic include more individuals – with the right to emigrate — in competition with the traditional nationalities of their new countries for working class jobs. This does not follow in the Sherbini case because they were professionals, but that in itself might been the issue that shot off her attacker to violence in a society where its brutal former right-wing is once again reasserting itself.

The Western scholar on Islam, Peter Gottscalk, noted that “Islamophobia is the making of Muslims into enemies.”  He talked about the Danish cartoon which so outraged the Islamic ummah by portraying the followers of Mohammed (PBUH) with hedonism in contrast to Occidental secularism.  Political cartons, such as that are powerful negative weapons.  This one was applied against Islamic immigrants.  A cartoon’s symbolism can caricaturize and stereotype another people.  Fundamentalist Christians often associate Muslims with their (the “Christian’s”) simplistic theological concept of “Satan.”  Modern Islamophobia has re-manipulated the female into an oppressed one, too.   This makes the violence done to Marwa totally illogical even in the relation to Islam-bashing, and, furthermore, it became no more than gratuitous aggression.  Thus, on the whole, it is felt that Islam is an “… omnipresent…posing a threat;” therefore, “…violent
actions against…Muslims… [are made]…more palpable.”

A Mohammed Tamigid pointed out that both Islamaphobia and Islamaphillia are both elements of the West’s [neo-]Imperialism, and are part of a systemic racism.  The cultural economy  of the hate/love relationship here in the West have encouraged a carrot and stick methodology within contemporary Imperialism.  This (trade) Imperialism (which includes Globalism and neo-liberalism) has been expanding about the planet.  Even to Saxon province, where the former European Colonials are free to settle, to the resentment of the traditional citizens of the Nineteenth Century nation-state of that and other in other European regions, and with this crumbling worldwide economy can only lead to resentment, and to simplistic racist / sectarian blame – especially amongst the lower classes of the guest nations.  Islam has had differences with Europe from the beginning – both in religion and imperialistic structures.  Islamaphobia and Islamaphillia are two sides of the same coin.  “Islamaphobia only gives reasons for the powerlessness” of the Metropoles (Centers of the Empire).

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