AMP Dinner as a Community Gathering

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Silicon Valley–Your reporter’s commentary on Lauren Booth’s stirring observations on Palestine during Ramadan was part of a community Ramadan Iftar banquet presented by the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) as a fund-rising dinner.

Now, shortly, after Eid al-Adha, as your writer writes, the nearby Occupy Oakland encampment is being brutally removed.  This week (last for you) Professors (several of your reporter’s friends are  Muslims employed within the organization)  plan to have a one day strike against the California State University (ies) system brought on by the collapse of this State’s finances.  Also, related to Sacramento’s woes was the violent repression of the student demonstration at U.C. Berkeley within the fortnight.   (Your correspondent has just heard an announcement of occupy-type campus actions across he American land.)  Curiously, the  American issues your Scribe has been mentioning do relate to the Arab “Spring” where the success of the Tunisian elections is one of the bright spots!
The Islamophobic repression of the Gaza show at the Children’s Museum in Oakland has been blunted by the placement of the Gazan child depictions of Operation Cast Lead gallery in that very same city whose owner, fortunately, was sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.  Thus, the report below:

Yours truly originally drafted this piece as part of his concentration on our Holy Land of the  Night Ride going to the United Nations (U.N.) to demand her right to be an independent entity within the world’s sovereign nation-states.  Well, that has happened but, as your reported predicted, it was referred to Committee as a delaying tactic, and now that it has emerged from that Committee with a mixed report-back.  Now, its chances of succeeding in the Security Council are being obfuscated.  President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) would accept nothing less than the status of full Statehood; therefore, the option of partial recognition with all its benefits is, at this time, rejected by the Arabs of the trans-Jordan.

Simultaneously, UNESCO (the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), an important sub-section of the U.N., has recognized Ramallah as an autonomous member.  This has encouraged Tel Aviv to punish Palestine by approving 2,000 new Settlements on Arab-speaking traditional land, and to refuse to reimburse the “Occupied” Territories the taxes they collected on their behalf to finance the P.A. itself!   In essence the Jews have stolen from their neighbors their rightful wealth!  At the same time, a Bill is going through the American Congress to punish the Levant’s oppressed even further.  Please, our readers, who are U.S. citizens or residents, ask your Representatives and Senators to oppose these moves, and the President, if it should appear on his desk, to veto it!

With the recent outrageous jet attacks upon (Palestinian) Gaza with Israel, further, killing five Egyptian soldiers as “collateral damage” leading to riots in Cairo’s streets.  Bi-lateral relations between the two nations (Egypt-Israel) have never been worse since the Camp David Accords  –  besides, it was not Hamas (the unfairly vilified rulers of Gaza) who were involved, but the most likely combatants were the Islamic Jihad (org).

Dr. Hatem Bazian was the spokesman at the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine) at the Banquet that night.  Bazian is the co-founder and primary chief organizer for that night’s Iftar fund-raising dinner. 

Further, he is the co-founder of Zaytuna College of Berkeley, the only accredited Islamic institute of higher education in the United States.   He is now serving as an Academic Chair there and at U.C. Berkeley.

Bazian’s doctoral training is in Philosophy and Islamic Studies at the University of California there in Berkeley.  For five years (2002-2007) he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at U.C.’s Boalt Hall (Law School).  Presently, he is a Lecturer in both the Departments of Near Eastern Studies Lecturer and in the Ethnic Studies

His central academic interests include Islamophobia and its de-constructing and the Othering of Islam – especially in the U.S. and secondarily in the West in general.

He has, also, served as a Visiting Professor at Saint Mary’s College (directly across the East Bay hills in the town of Moraga in Contra Costa County in what is known as the Outer Bay) in Religious Studies plus he is an advisor to the University of California’s Center on Religion, Politics and Globalization.

At Berkeley, he founded the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia, too.

Dr. Bazian, a Muslim Palestinian-American, has been a player in several local (S.F. Bay Area) human rights agendas including the defense of the Americans for Disability Act (ADA), the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Anti-Globalization uprising, which, curiously, has influenced the current “Occupy Wall Street” Movement that has recently  sprung up not only here but all over the U.S.A. and elsewhere.

Bazian began his talk by stating that Muslim students within the community should be encouraged to move away from the traditional engineering and medical doctor’s degrees into broader liberal arts and other professions of direct visibility and leadership within American society.  (This is something this paper has advocated – especially in journalism.  To achieve agency, i.e., self-determination, Islam requires prominence within the greater society and a voice in public policy and politics and elsewhere in the U.S.)

One of the central goals of the AMP is to donate books to public libraries on Islam and especially Palestine to show that “I am Palestinian, and I love freedom, too!”  The AMP is attempting to put a human face on Palestine. They wish to “Bring awareness on Palestine from a Muslim perspective.”

The “Palestinian cause is a civil rights struggle.”  Hatem continues that “The Palestinian cause is a civil rights campaign!” (Your author ascertains at this point in the resistance in the Occupied Territories within the Fertile Crescent, it is a battle for Human Rights.  There is a difference between Civil Rights and Human Right that is often blurred, and your narrator would like to delineate it in greater detail at a future time.) Nonetheless, we are talking about Human Rights here, and it is much more pungently serious! 

Further, Hatem states, “Homo Sapiens are suffering by human hand…the AMP is educating Americans [on]what our (U.S.) government is doing [that] it doesn’t want us to know…You are changing one American at a time!”

Dr. Hatem Bazian got to his business of the night.  The AMP requires money for its upcoming grandiose plans for placards within buses in every major city in the United States to tell the story of the Palestinian plight et al.

In the following week, your author received a Facebook communication from the American Muslims for Palestine that it was changing its primary emphasis from an educational group to an organization to raise money to finance their educational efforts. 

(To be quite honest, your author cannot perceive the difference.  Their end goal is to educate Americans on the plight of Palestine.  They previously have depended upon the Zakat to finance their educational efforts.  This is what this dinner was about, and it was most certainly educational, too, with Lauren Booth’s witness upon which your columnist reported in a past issue.  Your writer believes what Hatem’s post was that the AMP would be making more of an effort to finance their very ambitious projects on education on the Palestine-Israel imbroglio to change “the hearts and minds” of Americans away from the prevalent Israeli propaganda.)

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How India Alienated Kashmir

November 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Aijaz Zaka Syed, Arab News

Kashmir_mapAN unjust law is no law, warned Martin Luther King, the celebrated US human rights icon. The Kashmiris have been living with such laws for decades. At least one in every five Kashmiris has at some point or another in his/her life suffered violence, humiliation, torture and old-fashioned abuse at the hands of security forces without any recourse to justice or a distant promise of retribution.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been a license to abuse, torture and kill the Kashmiris in their own land. A law that confers “special powers” on men in uniform to do as they please and get away with it; a law that the UN says violates “contemporary international human rights standards” and a law that cannot be challenged in any court of law no matter how grave the crime.  

Following the division of the subcontinent in 1947 when India and Pakistan actively courted the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was promised a “special status” and special treatment by New Delhi. The Article 370 of Indian Constitution was supposed to protect that “special status” of Kashmir.  We made a lot of other promises as well that are too familiar to revisit here.      

And we have ensured and protected that “special status” of Kashmir by gifting them the AFSPA that offers sweeping powers to the security forces while ensuring their total immunity. This special law has turned the Vale of Kashmir that the Moguls believed was paradise on earth into a beautiful hell.

Is it any wonder then the Kashmiris today find themselves hopelessly alienated and persecuted even as our politicians never tire of pronouncing the state an “integral and inseparable” part of India?
How did we end up here? Who lost the paradise? The answer is out there and everyone knows it. In our desperation and determination to keep Kashmir with us and away from our neighbor, we have ended up losing the Kashmiri people.

Of course, the role played by Pakistani agencies, not to mention groups such as the one led by Hafiz Saeed, who have made a business enterprise of jihad, in adding to the woes of Kashmiris isn’t in anyway insignificant.

But if an entire generation of Kashmiris has grown up loathing all things Indian it is because of the excessive presence of the security forces in the Valley and their heavy-handed approach to the local population. And if there is one thing that epitomizes all that has gone wrong with India’s Kashmir affair, it is the AFSPA. This black law has created a dangerous, ever deepening disconnect and gulf between the Kashmiris and the rest of India. A draconian law that belongs in a police state, not in the world’s largest democracy.

Thanks to these “special powers”, just about anybody could be picked up from anywhere any time, kicked, abused, raped, killed in broad daylight or simply disappeared and no one including the state government can do anything about it.

Security forces are a law unto themselves. And you see their power in full display all across the state including in capital Srinagar. There are more soldiers than tourists or even locals constantly reminding the Kashmiris of the original sin of being born in this land of incredible beauty. Peaceful protests last year saw scores of young people, some of them as young as nine, felled by the bullets of the forces that are supposed to protect them. In the course of fighting terrorists and cross-border infiltrators, we have turned this beautiful land into a permanent war zone and its proud people a hostage in this never-ending conflict with the neighbor. This war has claimed more than a hundred thousand Kashmiris over the past two decades, not to mention the tens of thousands who have gone “missing.”

If the 2,730 unmarked mass graves recently discovered across the state had been found elsewhere they could have shaken the world, as they did in Srebrenica, in Iraq and Rwanda. But they were met with stony silence in the ever-shrill Indian media and its self-righteous Western counterparts.

Human rights groups including the State Human Rights Commission that finally acted on the complaints of thousands of families of “disappeared persons” unearthing graves with hundreds of bullet riddled bodies fear this may be a tip of the iceberg. The dead in Kashmir have finally begun to speak up, as Arundhati Roy so evocatively puts it.  But justice may still elude the victims as long as the AFSPA reigns in Jammu and Kashmir.  And India’s powerful security and defense establishment, including the army, are determined to retain it. And why wouldn’t they? It’s this law that allows the security forces to rule and treat Kashmir as their fiefdom without anyone, including the elected government, questioning their authority and excesses. Despite being a fine and vibrant democracy with robust democratic institutions and judiciary that we can justifiably be proud of, we are yet to realize that no people can be governed at gunpoint. Not in this age and time. Not with black laws like the AFSPA and not by constantly waving half a million guns that have contributed to the alienation of Kashmiri society and radicalization of its youth.  If India is to win Kashmiri hearts and minds, it could do so only with love, compassion, respect and justice.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is a Middle East-based commentator and can be reached at aijaz.syed@hotmail.com

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Egypt Detains Former Minister over Pesticides

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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Egypt’s former agriculture minister, Youssef Wali, arrested over charges that he allowed the import of cancer-causing pesticides. (File Photo)

CAIRO, July 10 (Reuters) – An Egyptian investigating judge ordered a former agriculture minister detained for questioning over accusations that he allowed the import of cancer-causing pesticides, the state news agency MENA reported on Sunday.

The agency said Youssef Wali, who served as agriculture minister under former President Hosni Mubarak from 1982 to 2004, was also suspected of squandering 200 million Egyptian pounds ($33.6 million) of state funds by selling a plot of land to businessman Hussein Salem for less than the market price.

MENA said Wali is accused of “bringing in 37 brands of pesticides that were proven to cause cancer”. It said the chemicals had been banned  from entering the country in 1996, but were allowed entry in 1998 under Wali until 2004.

Wali has denied the charges.

Prosecutors have been investigating business transactions of officials under Mubarak since mass protests forced him to resign on Feb. 11.

A prosecutor froze Wali’s assets in April in connection with the sale of 100,000 feddans (420 million square metres) of land to Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in a deal which Egyptian authorities suspected had also violated the law.

Salem, a close aide to Mubarak, was arrested in Spain last month on an international warrant, suspected of squandering public funds by selling gas to Israel below market prices.

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Community News (V13-I28)

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Islamic school opens near New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS,LA–The Islamic School of Greater New Orleanswas officially  opened this week in Kenner. “Everyone is so excited,” Director Ahmad Siddiqui told the Times-Picayune. “We have been dreaming for this day for a long time. We bought this land in 1997, and we were supposed to start in 2002 and 2003. After Hurricane Katrina, our donations were down and we were trying to secure enough funds to complete construction.”

The new site at 2420 Illinois Ave. sits on more than five acres of land. The building is 15,000 square feet and boasts 12 classrooms, science and computer laboratories, a library, teacher’s lounge, assembly area, conference room, and offices for administration and support staff.

It can accommodate more than 250 students from pre-kindergarten to seventh grade, Siddiqui said.

A gymnasium and multipurpose hall with more than 10,000 square feet also were added. The attached building will house student activity as well as community functions.

“This building is for the entire community and the kids,” Siddiqui said. “This is a great place for everyone to get together and enjoy different occasions.”

The inauguration ceremony attracted more than 500 people. Among the dignitaries were the Mayor, police chief, council woman, and a judge from the Circuit Court.

Atlanta Muslims send message of peace

ATLANTA,GA–Members of metro Atlanta’s Muslim community spent part of the Fourth of July holiday spreading a message of peace and unity, WSBTC reported.

Organizers of a small gathering at the Bethak Banquet Hall in Duluth said they want to move beyond recent controversy surrounding the proposals to expand and build mosques in Lilburn and Alpharetta.

But Monday’s event wasn’t about politics, but patriotism.

“I’m here to say the Pledge of Allegiance,” said Gwinnett teen Suha Rashied. She was among a group of children who lead the gathering with a salute to the American flag.

The families who gathered Monday said the show of patriotism was more important than any fireworks.

“We wanted to remind everybody, yes, we are your fellow Americans and we are sending a message of peace and harmony,” said organizer Shamina Voora.

Voora said Monday’s celebration of the nation’s Independence Day is a first in metro Atlanta, a chance for local Muslim to send a message of peace. That was echoed by civil rights leader and Baptist minister the Rev. Gerald Durley.

“When we communicate, we eradicate the ignorance. When we eradicate the ignorance, we eradicate the fear,” said Durley.

Drs. Abdullah Daar and Ali-Khan’s research recognized with $10,000 prize

TORONTO,CANADA–Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2000, there has been debate in biomedical literature about the use of race and ethnicity in genetic research potentially resulting in racial/ethnic stereotyping. Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan examined the 2005 Admixture Mapping study, which looked for risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in African Americans and European Americans, a disease that is extremely rare in Sub-Sahara Africans, common in populations of European desent, and of intermediate frequency in African Americans.

Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan examined the ethical and social issues raised by the Admixture Mapping project and used these to draw up a series of recommendations and points for policy makers and researchers to consider when undertaking population-based genomics studies.

“We are extremely pleased to be awarded this prize by OGI and have our work recognized,” commented Dr. Abdallah S. Daar, Senior Scientist and Director of Ethics and Commercialization, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, and Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. “Working to encourage public understanding of genetic diversity, which goes beyond simplistic racial or ethnic stereotypes, is crucial to extract the maximum benefit from newly emerging genetic knowledge. We very much hope that our paper may function as a key reference document for those working in this field.”

The paper, titled Admixture mapping: from paradigms of race and ethnicity to population history, published in August 2010 in the HUGO Journal, examined the social and ethical issues, the benefits and the risks of Admixture Mapping, and more generally, of population-based genomic methods. Over the course of the study, Drs. Daar and Ali-Khan conducted interviews with researchers at the forefront of genomics and bioethics, including representatives from the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium, the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and members of the African American MS community.

“The findings examine issues that are also directly relevant to the development, testing and marketing of drugs aimed at specific population segments,” commented Dr. Sarah Ali-Khan, who was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in genomics and bioethics at MRC at the time of the study. “Our work provides practical guidelines to mitigate and negotiate potential pitfalls around fears of discrimination in genetic studies, and therefore may facilitate better population-based studies and assist in moving beyond racial and ethnic stereotyping.”

Dr. Mark Poznansky, President and CEO, OGI, said: “It is fitting that the potential of population-based studies be recognized. Such studies hold the promise to yield important biomedical knowledge, which may otherwise be hindered by fears of discrimination. We may all be 99.9% the same in our genetic make-up, but the 0.1% really makes all the difference, and we need to recognize this if we are to move towards fulfilling the possibilities of personalized medicine.”

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Drafting a Land Contract 101

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

As the banking industry continues to monitor with great strictness on who is a prime candidate for a mortgage, more and more people are turning towards an alternative method when it comes to purchasing real estate – a land contract.

A land contract is an agreement between the buyer and seller, whereby the seller provides financing to the buyer for the buyer to purchase the property on an agreed upon purchase price. Typically, once such an agreement is drafted, the buyer puts a minimal down-payment, and subsequently agrees to make monthly installments to the seller that goes towards the total purchase price; and after a certain period, the buyer is to make a balloon payment for the balance remaining. Under such an agreement, the seller continues to hold legal title to the property; however the buyer is entitled to possession of the home. It is only after the buyer pays the total purchase price that the seller transfers legal title over to the buyer.

As it remains difficult for people to be approved for mortgages, a land contract provides the buyer with the luxury of not having to go through a lending institution for financing. Therefore, if you are someone with a poor credit rating, you can still purchase a home through a land contract without your rating being reviewed, as the contract is strictly between the buyer and seller.
If you, or someone you know, are currently involved in a land contract transaction, or are on the verge of entering into one, it is always advised to consult with a professional attorney to make sure you have a sound agreement in place. However, as a starter, the following are three (3) commonly overlooked headings that often don’t get the attention they deserve in an agreement, but can cause substantial problems down the road.

1.    Names and Purchase Price: Too often people forget to include the names of the parties involved in the agreement. As important as it is, people tend to overlook this information. In addition to including the names of the parties, it is imperative to include, with clarity, the breakdown of the purchase price, including the down payment, monthly payments, interest rate, whether there is a balloon payment expected, and the term of years.

2.    Description: Another commonly overlooked heading is the description of the property being sold. Aside from the actual address of the property, it is highly advised to include the legal description of the property.

3.    Possession: Remember, throughout the period where the buyer is making payments to the seller, the seller has full legal title to the property; however the buyer has possession interest. Therefore, in order for the buyer to become the actual owner of the property, they must satisfy the terms of the contract and then receive title ownership from the seller.

4.    Utilities: Far too many people assume the buyer (or seller) will be paying for utilities. Having such a clause in your agreement will avoid future issues and will make it explicitly clear on whose responsibility it is. In the event the buyer fails to make consistent payments on its utility bills, the seller has the necessary evidence to prove it was the buyer’s responsibility; therefore the buyer must reimburse the seller for any payments made.

Despite the many advantages a land contract can offer, without the proper drafting it can just as easily be a disadvantageous document. It is therefore always advised to consult with a professional prior to signing any such contract. It is always better to seek counsel once and live with the peace of mind of knowing that the agreement is sound and drafted to serve your best interest.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

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III. A Progressive Israeli Argument for the Two-State Solution

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

San Francisco–Home at last!  Home at last with a thick new notebook.

During the past week (6th-12th), the initial reports were that the casualties of the Palestinian demonstrators at the Syrian border by the Jewish Strata on  the Golan Heights has increased to twenty-seven — mowed down with live bullets from the other side of the barbed wire with several seriously wounded, furthermore,  by the by the IDF (the Israeli Defense Force) at the express orders to employ the ultimate violence against the non-violent demonstrators from the Prime Minister (P.M.) Netanyahu. In North Africa the rebels are hedging more closely to Tripoli, the Libyan nation’s traditional capital…  Although Gaddafi has been accused of rape as a weapon war by his soldiers, the “Colonel” has stated,” I’ll stay in Tripoli whether I live or die!’  While two Imperial powers, Britain and France, are preparing a resolution in United Nations (U.N.) condemning Damascus for their brutality in their civil war.  Incidentally, Libya and Syria have been two of the most obnoxious to the West, and “taking out” President Assad would be a great relief to the Israeli Prime Minister, for they one of the few nations’ in the expanse (since they are neighbors) who could provide a MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) to Tel Aviv overbearing nuclear arsenal in the Negev .

As your composer has stated earlier, he believes the success or failure of the Arab “Spring” will depend upon the reaction of the Israeli government.   If they act diplomatically, there can be a tremendous blossoming of Arab-style democracies; if they respond in a belligerent manner there will be an appalling conflict, and, with nuclear weapons involved, it can be as great a disaster as Hiroshima, and with the closeness of Israel to its neighbors it can only destroy the nuclear State to unimaginable consequences.

This is the third installment with the Israeli General, their Ministry of Justice bureaucrat and Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street in the United States who was in Washington at the time of the call:

The two Israeli citizens pointed out that Palestine is unstable at the moment.  (Unfortunately, that is true, but it is true that it is overwhelmingly caused by the Zionist expansion upon Arab land!)    The General believes that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is not a threat, for under his analysis, he deems Hamas to be weak, (but under your author’s assay Hamas  is a substantial opponent  to the Israeli hegemony over the region, for, although Tel Aviv and Cairo had been doing their best to execute the sway of the Palestinian mini-strip on the sea, your researcher is of the opinion that Gaza quintessentially defeated the Hebrew-speaking Army in their Cast Iron operation against the Palestinian mini-State by exposed to the world Jerusalem’s vicious violence to an ultimately defenseless populace; thus, turning the prevailing global popular “good” opinion away from the Zionist’s position towards their opponents for the land, the indigenous Palestinians.)  

One of Israeli incentives for joining in on the dialogue with Ramallah in the company of the Quartet (the United States, the U.N., the European Union (E.U.) and the Russian Federation) as interlopers is, although there are many differences of opinion regarding Hamas, Tel Aviv wishes to isolate and prevent them from capturing the total “Occupied” Territories’ in the next elections which they have a very good chance of accomplishing with the depopulation of the Christians and the Islamization of Palestine herself.  Even so, there are talks amongst the original inhabitants of the Holy Land (for most of the Palestinians there are the direct descendants of the ancient residents of their geographic district, whereas the majority of the Jews had been Europeanized with a mixture of the Jewish diaspora who had fled Spain to the region mainly within the border districts of modern Poland and Russia wherein they had intermixed with the Yalta converted (Jews) of the Ninth Century (I most not this historically scenario is highly disapproved by Jewish scholars in Jerusalem as is the Night Ride of the Prophet (s); and, thus, Israel can be perceived as a Settler Colonial State and must be amalgamated into the Middle East) to be accepted.  Further The Quartet must integrate Hamas into the elections (if it is not done, it would be hard to describe these forthcoming `polls to be free and fair.  What is so interesting about the advancement of the Palestinians’ cause is that, finally, they are on the world’s “radar, and that it coincides” with  the Arab “Spring,” and it has many elements.  (It must be kept in mind, that, Palestine is central to the Arab’s ideology, and, although it is on the fringes of West Asia, it is well near the “center” of the Arab-speaking humanity which extends from the full of North Africa into the Arabian West and Saudi Arabia itself, the homeland of Islam, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in the Persian (or Arab, as it is, also called,) Gulf on the East.         

Tara Hassan, of the Israeli Ministry of Justice is, also, a leader for “true” Justice within her homeland.     She urged that the Palestinian Prime Minister (P.M.) Mahmoud Abbas, be granted concessions, reiterating the Israeli bugaboo, to avoid Hamas administrating the West Bank.  (It is interesting to note the great fear of almost all Israelis – either on the Right or Left – is their irrational fear of Islamism, and seems to be a driving force to lean their Commonweal to the Left which is a hopeful sign for an agreement to the conundrum and the especially for the long-term future of the Palestinians themselves.  Although she describes herself as a Zionist, for her, a Zionist does not have to be on the political Jewish-wing.  “Only a two-State Solution will save Israel,” too.  Hassan, further, states that “…We should take every opportunity [to convince] the people of Israel!”  Sharoni interjects that we should present to the Israeli public” the necessity of the two—State Solution!  As often as possibility, for the people (here) have an unfounded fear of the Arab “Spring,” (and that is driving internal policy there, too).  

Why are we spending so much time looking at non-Muslim Israel — because it is the dominant dominion within the Middle East – due to the policy of America arming its pariah client to the hilt?  (The citizens of the U.S.A. have a grave duty to extricate their own nation from this enigma to which they themselves have created, and to become a force for peace among these environs.)

Whatever is happening within the halls of Tel Aviv will have a dramatic effect within the Arabic al-Islam!

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Houstonian Corner (V13-I23)

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Captivating Mushaira Organized by Engineer Shamshad Wali & Team of Gahwarah-e-Adab

Gahwarah-e-Adab was found in 1989 in Karachi, Pakistan. Since then Gahwarah-e-Adab has been working to promote Urdu literature and poetry all over the world. In USA, a branch of Gahwarah-e-Adab was established under the name of Gahwarah-e-Adab USA in the year 2003, and during the last five years, Gahwarah-e-Adab USA has organized several international and domestic poetry recitation events (Mushairas).

This year 19 programs are being organized under the title of “Fifth International Pakistan-India Friendship Mushaira”. This past night of Saturday-&-morning of Sunday (10:30pm.-2:30am), Engineer Shamshad Wali and his able Gahwarah-e-Adab Houston team organized a well attended Mushaira (tenth of the 19 scheduled this year for USA), at the Royal Center. Books and CDs of various poets were on sale, and refreshments were given to the large enthusiasts of poetry, who had fervently gathered.

First part of the Mushaira had local Houston poets making their splendid presentations. Engineer Shamshad Wali presided over this segment. The second session included guest poets from Pakistan, and India, and that was chaired by Iqbal Haider Sahab.

Program started with nice Qurani recitation by Qari Hashim Abbasi of Madrasae Islamiah, followed by Naat by Mohammad Abid of Houston.

Local and international poets included visiting from Pakistan Umat-ul-Haya Wafa, Aqil Ashraf, Ishrat Afreen, Perwaiz Jafri, Dr. Khalid Rizvi, Salman Jalali, Tariq Hashmi, Tahir Faraz, Malikzadah Manzoor, Muzahir Hussain, Naeem Hamid Ali Hamid, and Iqbal Haider.

The hall with four hundred seats was brimming with admirers of good poetry and stayed till the end at 2:30am.

In a communiqué, Engineer Shamshad Wali has thanked all the people, who came to attend this function, has applauded his team of volunteers for job well done, thanked Naeem Khan for making the nice stage & the good sound system, and hard work of young Ali Fakhar for video recording the event.

For more information, one can contact Engineer Shamshad Wali at 1-832-875-7996.

Farha Ahmed into the Run-offs for Sugar Land Council

Legal counsel and activist of many community organizations, Attorney Farha Ahmed, after receiving around 35% of the votes, has reached the run-off elections for the City Council of the AAA rated and one of the safest cities in USA, Sugar Land Texas.

Farha is a former Sugar Land Planning and Zoning commissioner and is currently a First Colony Community Association board member. She is considered a strong and independent voice for the residents of District 4. Farha is married and has two children. More information on Farha Ahmed is at www.FarhaAhmed.com

Two Sugar Land City Council positions are into runoff elections, with no candidate earning a majority 50%+ vote. The runoff election will take place on Saturday, June 11, 2011.

In District 3 of City of Sugar Land, Howard Paul will face Amy Mitchell in the runoff to replace Councilman Russell Jones, who is term-limited. Paul earned 651 votes (44%) to candidate Amy Mitchell’s 430 votes (29%), while the third candidate Jim Hoelker earned 411 votes (28%).

In the District 4 race, term-limited councilman Michael Schiff will be replaced by either Farha Ahmed or Harish Jajoo, who will face in the June 11th runoff.

For more information on these elections, please regularly visit http://www.sugarlandtx.gov/ & click Vote.

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Microorganisms

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

391805-SOMALIA

Microorganisms are very tiny one-celled organisms, viruses, fungi, and bacteria, and are found everywhere in the world. They are found in all living things, plants and animal. There are more microorganisms on and inside your body than there are cells that make up your entire body. Microorganisms can live in the air, on land, and in fresh or salt water environments. Some of them, pathogens, can be harmful and causes diseases, but there are some microorganisms that are needed for living things to survive.

All of the living things, plant and animal, in earth’s environmental communities of forests, deserts, tundra, water, air, and all of the rest depend on the cryptobiotic crust or microbiotic layer in the soil. This is the layer of soil that most microbes live in. These microbe communities are made up of fungi, cyanobacteria and lichens. They look like a grayish cover on the ground when they are first forming, but do form in clumps of lichen that look like little hills after about 50 years of growth.

Microorganisms also are responsible for building fertile soil for plants to grow in. Microbes stick to the roots of plants and decompose dead organic matter into food for the plant to absorb. The plants that live and grow because of the microorganisms that live on them make a home for other animals to live in. Some microorganisms make people, animals, and plants sick, but others make people well and kill the bacteria on plants that make them sick. Drug companies that make medicines use hundreds of different microorganisms to make medicines that will help cure diseases. Human waste products are broken down into safer particles by some microorganism. Scientists are always looking for new ways to use microbes.

13-18

M.K. Hanin Zoabi and The Israeli Knesset

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

San Francisco–April 19th–This past week the Libyan War raged without a conclusion in sight as the U.S. and allies try to find a third country that would give Colonel Khadafy if he would agreed to step down.  The European enforcement of a no-fly zone seems to be effective, but the government troops with their mercenaries still have the advantage on the land with their superior fire power and training.  At least, the French and the United Kingdom have taken the lead in the air, and the Obama Administration has shown some restraint.  Still, it is becoming more apparent that (Imperial) ground troops might be required to bolster the rebels, if they are to prevail, for they are out-gunned.  This would be a serious involvement in yet another Islamic country that should be avoided at any cost!

Your reporter has been avoiding Israel itself because of the drama around it.  Yet within it lies the fate of the Arab “Spring,” and its Palestinian citizens of all three Abrahamic religions might be able to exert the influence upon “their” government to react in a diplomatic manner rather than a hostile belligerent one.

Last Fall the Middle East Children’s Alliance brought Hanin Zoabi, a Palestinian (Arab) Israeli citizen, who represents the Balad  Party in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) to speak in the University town of Berkeley across the Bay for the purpose of demonstrating the feminine role in the Arab-Hebrew tussle for rights within the Levant.)

Although a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship and an elected official of that nation, the week before her arrival in America to speak, she had been wounded by a rubber bullet to her neck while demonstrating against the government for which she was a representative.

Zoabi grew up in a relocation camp in exile amongst 30,000 dislocated Palestinian people.  The young women there actually would play basketball, and even learned to dance!  They, further, began to wear Western-style shorts.  Yet they still faced the restrictions of their families, even though the “Disaster” (Nakba) in 1948 changed the lives of all women in the Holy Land greatly. 

Manny Mothers lost their children in the two infitadas (violent Palestinian grass- roots revolts against the Israeli Army in which the largely youthful rioters fought the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] with rocks against the latter’s live ammunition).  The women would lost hope in the midst of the political situation!

Her family lived in banishment from their land of their birth elsewhere in the Middle East, but her Father desired to die in his natal village on the Israeli side of the division of the Palestine Protectorate before the First Arab-Israeli War in the late 1940s.  He took his family with him to their native locale which had become to be ruled by Tel Aviv.

She worked with children for awhile (probably part of MECA’s interest in her words.)  M.K. Hanin Zoabi stated that, “I belong here,” a Palestinian on her ancestral home, but within the alien Zionist State.  “The Refugee Camp has become a bad memory!”  Further, “All Palestinians here [in the audience] should go back!” 

She advocated the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) Movement against Israel.  Under Zionist Law, any promoter of this position, who is an Israeli citizen, is liable for prosecution, and, if convicted of such sentiments, can be imprisoned.  Ms. Zoabi is a brave woman voicing her stance on the issue, and, further, for campaigning for action along these lines!

Hanin is in one of a handful of Palestinian representatives within a predominantly Jewish Parliament.  What she does within Israel itself is politically difficult, for she is attempting to dismantle the (Settler) Colonial State!

Zoabi presents herself as a normative Arab woman who comes from a political family in Nazareth.  As a source of personal empowerment, she traveled to Gaza itself to end, as she puts it, the silent siege.  “Gaza must not be a soundless victim, for Gaza [has become] the sign[ifier] of the [Arab] Palestinian struggle!”  The division between Gaza and the West Bank is an internal scuffle within the Palestinian “State“ itself.

The Palestinian political resistance within Israel itself is to insist upon a State for the primordial Arabs citizens there themselves!  Yet, the Israelis do no not treat all as equals!

The Center has two different polices within its territory:  One is to drive the Arabs out of Israel, denying the Palestinians their rights.  Settler Colonialism criminalizes the natives for insisting on their prerogative to confront the Occupation.       

After the Second Infitada, Israel’s policies began to change:  The Palestinian issue of the Right of Return arose.  Jewish law allowed for the immigration of any of their landzman to immigrate into Israel, but, if an Israeli Arab citizen chooses to marry a Palestinian, they must emigrate from their ancestral land.  This guarantees a Jewish majority there in perpetuity.   

Figures show the results of Zionist mini-Imperialism:  83% of pre-Partition Palestinian property within the Israel itself has been confiscated from the original inhabitants.  That has created an impoverishment of 50% for their Arabic citizens.

Hanin Zoabi declaimed that “Women must lead the Arab political opposition within Palestine.”  Although this makes sense to Western Feminism, the truth is all elements of society must be part of directing the course of confrontation against oppression.  Feminists are often class defined in relation to their education (which denotes wealth and/or class) plus connection (Ms. Zoabi herself is a niece to a former Mayor of her native city on the West Bank).  All must be willing to take on an organizational role for a revolt to be successful as has been seen in the surrounding Arab world — this includes the feminine but not exclusively.  It must come out of grass-roots movement that includes all classes and genders et al., as in Tunisia and Egypt recently, for a rebellion to succeed.

She continued that “We are battling for [our] national rights.  We must not deny our history.  We cannot be ordered to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish State!  We don’t need Jewish immigrants to teach us our history!

The Israelis are denying our history.  We are flailing for our democracy.  In the end, “There must be no division between Muslim and Jew.  Citizenship doesn’t begin at nativity!” 

This Member of her Parliament claimed that the Israeli State has twenty basic prejudicial laws that deny the Palestinians parity.  “In order to achieve equality we require an independent [national] State” for ourselves.

It is the Israeli political parties — not the State — who are inclined to criminalize the Palestinian society.  “To be a Jewish State is to be a racist State!”  (Your author world change the word “racist” to “sectarian” which is different, but just as evil.)      Despite Israel’s secular obsession, there is a new reality after the second Infitada.  “The Palestinian Israelis must become part of the solution!”  (Further, your reporter summarizes that Israel itself is central to the success or failure of the Arab Spring!)

13-17

Press Release: Remembering Deir Yassin

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Deir Yasin

For Palestinians, 9th of April is imprinted in their collective memory.

It is the anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre when in the early morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun and the Stern Gang, attacked the village of Deir Yassin, killing over 200 Palestinians. Armed with explosives and machine guns, a force of 120 men attacked the sleeping village at 4:30 in the morning in what was then code named “Operation Unity”. Eye witnesses and British interrogating officers confirmed brutal killing of women and children.

The massacre in Deir Yassin was part of an official Zionist strategy to frighten Palestinians out of their land and into neighboring countries.

Yosef Weitz, member of the Jewish Agency’s Transfer Committee declared that “between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both people together in this country… we shall not achieve our goal with the Arabs in this small country. The only solution is a Palestine without the Arabs and there is no other way than to transfer Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them, not one village not one tribe should be left”.

“Deir Yassin is one in a list of many atrocities against the Palestinians”, said Majed Al Zeer, the General Director of PRC. “Many other atrocities and massacres were carried out simultaneously in 1947 and 1948, when Zionist Para military forces were embarked on a program to expel Palestinians out of their ancestral land. 750,000 Palestinians, over a quarter of the population, were exiled and continue to endure suffering as refugees”.

“Though Palestinians fled, they could not escape Israel’s violence and aggression. Many more atrocities followed, most notably Sabra Shatilla, Jenin, Khan Younis, Hebron and Gaza. Even now as we remember Deir Yassin, Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israel”, said Mr. Zeer.

Gaza continues to be gripped by a siege and on the anniversary of Deir Yassin 11 more, including 5 children were killed and many more were wounded as the Israeli army shelled the already damaged Gaza International Airport in Rafah. Israeli air strikes were also carried out in central Gaza where many homes on the eastern part of the city were shelled.

According to Palestine News Network, A Palestinian farmer was also wounded when the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into the Al Waha area, North West of Gaza city. Several Air Strikes also targeted areas east of Dir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, and Al Hawouz area in addition to the Al Rantissi Base, north of Gaza, causing excessive damage.

PRC calls on all to take a moment and remember Deir Yassin and bear in mind that the forces of aggression and the conditions of injustice behind this massacre has locked Palestinians into a cycle of oppression, exile and violence which has disgracefully normalized violence and aggression against the Palestinians.

Ending this ongoing cycle of violence against the Palestinians and giving them their rights is the only just and realistic path to peace.

This will not happen unless the international community demands that Israel respect and abide by the rule of law and until the international community takes effective measures to enforce them, as it did in Libya.

The international community must show the same level of concern as it did for the civilians of Ben Gazi and impose a similar heavy price on an Israeli regime that drops bombs just because it can. Such double standards must end and real justice must prevail over the national self interest of one party if we are serious about justice and peace.

13-16

The Pakistani (Acting) Consul General For the West Coast of the United States

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Muhammad Khalid Ejaz

Los Angeles–April 10th–My last two articles came out of a discussion with the Indian (former) Ambassador to Afghanistan.  I was fortunate to hear a speech of the (Acting) Consul-General of Pakistan to the Western United State at the South Asian Studies Association (S.A.S.A) banquet here at U.S.C. (the University of Southern California).  His comments balanced those of Ambassador Maukapadya in Berkeley a month before.

Dr. Ejaz stated that Pakistan was the fifth most populous country in the world, but because of political disruptions over the land, (there has not been an accurate census since 1991, but it is safe to say that in early 1994, the inhabitants of Pakistan were appropriately estimated at 126 million, making it the ninth most populous country in the world although its land area, however, ranks thirty-second among nations.  Thus, Pakistan, then, had about 2 percent of the world’s population living on less than 0.7 percent of the world’s land. The population growth rate is among the world’s highest, officially assessed at 3.1 percent per annum, but privately considered to be closer to 3.3 percent for each year. Pakistan is assumed to have reached 150 million citizens ten years ago, and to have contributed to 4 percent of the world’s growth which is predicted to double by 2022.)  All this past paragraph demonstrates is that the  Consul-General’s approximation of Pakistan’s place in population today in relation to the demographics of the world probably is close to correct.

Strategically, his nation is at the intersection of four vital locales to the U.S. and to the developing world.  That is both Central and South Asia, and the Middle East and with China on its border connected by the Karkoram Highway.  Several of these regions are either oil/gas rich, or require Pakistan’s help to transport this energy to their ever-expanding economies.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Rawapindi was America’s most allied of (trusted) allies.  Now, NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) fulfills that function for Washington. 

In the 1980s, the two countries joined forces to help defeat the Russians in Afghanistan, but the District of Columbia deserted not only the Pakistanis, (but the Afghani and foreign fighters in the Hindu Kush Mountains. With the retreat of the Russians, and the collapse of their empire [the U.S.S.R, or [the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic], and [the whole “Second World” with it]), a five-way Civil War developed in Afghanistan, and eventually the rise of Taliban.) 

Thus, (your author consigns the blame the roots of 9/11 on the Reagan Administration ill-advised policy of not providing development aid and skills to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This, in turn, has lead to our current War in the Pakistani-Afghanistani Mountains.  That is why your writer designates Reagan to have been one of the worst of American Presidents instead of one of the best which the vulgar declare him to be in the Metropole [the Center of Empire] here.  Besides Washington’s airport being named after, there is a movement to put his face on the fifty dollar bill!).

After the ninth of 9th of September 2001 Islamabad was (forced) to become a front line State once again.  Ejaz asserted our allied relationship with the U.S.A. should evolve into a more equitable one.  We should have a “normalized” relationship with both those in the West, (and with the Taliban)!

We (Pakistan) are, also, under the threat of terrorism whose roots reside along the Durand Line.  It is a porous border that dives a subnationality (the Pashtoons) that should have a right to regularly cross that frontier to visit their relatives on the other side!  We cannot seal the borderland where the tribes exist in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  It is true, though, many things that happen on the Afghani side of the border deeply impact the Northwest Frontier Provinces.

With this porous borderland, there are fighters who cross into our country for sanctuary.  Thus, despite the West’s accusations, Rawalpindi has suffered high casualties!  Muhammad Khalid Ejaz called on the U.S.A. to become more involved with development in the Af-Pak territories.  There is a serious problem between Pakistan and India, too, over water rights; the great powers could help negotiate this.  Still, Pakistan, as a nuclear power, has issues with nuclear India.  He affirmed that Kashmir can be settled!

He concluded that the U.S.A. has a role in the Afghan conflict, but the tribes have to have their traditional rights of cross-border movement.

12-19

Islands

May 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

ibn tufail 4-25-10

An island or isle is any piece of land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atollsare called islets. A key or cay is another name for a small island or islet. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago.

An island may still be described as such despite the presence of a land bridge, for example Singapore and its causeway, or the various Dutch delta islands, such as IJsselmonde. Some places may even retain “island” in their names for historical reasons after being connected to a larger landmass by a wide land bridge, such as Coney Island.

There are two main types of islands: continental islands and oceanic islands. There are also artificial islands. There is no standard of size which distinguishes islands from islets and continents.

The word island comes from Old English igland (from ‘ig’, similarly meaning ‘island’ when used independently, and -land carrying its contemporary meaning). However, the spelling of the word was modified in the 15th century by association with the etymologically unrelated Old French loanword isle, which itself comes from the latin word insula. Old English ‘ig’ is actually a cognate of Latin aqua(water).

Continental islands are bodies of land that lie on the continental shelf of a continent. Examples include Greenland and Sable Island off North America;Barbados and Trinidad off South America; Great Britain, Ireland and Sicily offEurope; Sumatra, Borneo and Java off Asia; and New Guinea, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island off Australia.

A special type of continental island is the microcontinental island, which results when a continent is rifted. Examples are Madagascar and Socotra offAfrica; New Zealand; the Kerguelen Islands; and some of the Seychelles.

Another subtype is an island or bar formed by deposition of tiny rocks where a water current loses some of its carrying capacity. An example is barrier islands, which are accumulations of sand deposited by sea currents on the continental shelf. Another example is islands in river deltas or in large rivers. While some are transitory and may disappear if the volume or speed of the current changes, others are stable and long-lived. Islets are very small islands.

12-18

Martin Luther Kings’ Mountain Top

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

Every year in the month of January I am reminded of the powerful persona and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was such a deep and prolific speaker that the gist of his speeches is still being felt today.  The “I Have a Dream” speech with its powerful message of hope, is so imbedded in our minds that for many of us, it the only speech we remember that he made.  Those of us who have faith and belief in ALLAH are constantly amazed at His revelations of His works.

On the eve of the assassination of Dr. King, he made a speech at a Baptist church in Memphis, Tennessee that many people believe foretold his eminent death.  He talked a lot about death that night.  He started with the story of the plane that bought him to Memphis and how the pilot delayed the flight because Dr. King was on it so it could be checked for bombs.

He also talked about a brush with death he had in New York when a crazed woman stabbed him with some sort of ice pick.  That assault brought the woman’s weapon dangerously close to Dr. King’s aorta (main blood vessel).  The doctor at the hospital told him the knife was so close that if Dr. King had sneezed he would have died because the pick would have pricked his aorta and he would have drowned in his own blood.  He used this incident to tell about a little white girl that wrote to him expressing her sorrow at his unfortunate incident.  She said she admired him so much and was so happy that he didn’t sneeze.   

Then he said he wasn’t afraid of death now because he had been to the mountain top.  He said God had allowed him to go up to the mountain top and he looked over, and saw the “Promised Land.”  He said he might not get there with us be he wanted us to know that we as a people would get to the Promised Land.  He said his eyes had seen the glory of the coming of the lord.

This became very personal to me in 1991 when I made the pilgrimage to Mecca.  I was on the plains of Mt. Arafat when I decided to climb the mountain.  When I reached the top, the only thing going through my mind was Dr. Martin Luther King and him telling us that he had been to the mountain top.

As I stood on my mountain top I look out over the plains of Arafat and saw the Promised Land. I say the Promised Land because Dr. King, in his most famous speech, said he dreamed of a land where his four little children would live in a land where they were judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.   That is the vision I saw on Arafat where people of every ethnicity, every culture, every color; men, women, and children, were gathered in unity to worship the One God of us all.

I believed then, and I believe now that the mountain top Martin Luther King saw was Mt Arafat.  Islam is the only religion that has more true brotherhood and sisterhood than any other group of people whether it is a religion, a fraternity, or whatever.

Sure, there is bigotry and racism among Muslims but there is less of it than any other religion.  If you travel to any part of the world and you see a Muslim, there is instant recognition and greeting.  No one else can make that claim.  This is something we must hold on to and nurture.  It is one of the things that make this religion the greatest religion in the world.

More of Dr. Kings philosophy needs to be adapted by Muslims the world over.  Muslims must take the bold step necessary to shift world sympathy to our side.  Currently, we are looked on as aggressive barbarians and we get no sympathy from anybody.  However, people will stand up with us and protect us if they don’t look like weak fools for doing so.

The legacy of Dr. King is so important to future generations, and especially important to future generations of Muslims.  We can, and must win the battle by mental and spiritual strength – not by physical means….because we can’t.

As Salaam alaikum
(Al Hajj) Imam Abdullah El-Amin

12-5

U.S. Bangladeshis Track Climate Changes Back Home

January 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By New America Media, Ngoc Nguyen

Mohammed Khan was a child when the deadliest cyclone ever recorded struck Bangladesh (at the time East Pakistan) in 1970. The cyclone brought torrential rains and winds stronger than those seen during Hurricane Katrina. As many as half a million people were killed. Then river waters rose and claimed the land.

“My family lives on an island called Bhola,” Khan recalls. “They have some land, but a lot of the land was taken by the river during a great flood.”

Khan, 51, who now lives in Queens, N.Y., has a daughter and more than 200 family members in Bangladesh. He’s worried about how his large extended family will fare when the next cyclone strikes, and he fears climate change will worsen such disasters.

“As the water levels rise in the next few years, much of southern Bangladesh will go into the womb of the river,” he says.

Concern about climate change among the public has waned, but the issue is foremost among many Bangladeshi Americans, because of the vulnerability of Bangladesh to climate change. Some community members are organizing seminars to learn about how rising seas and extreme weather will play out in their home country, and they’re making their voices heard on the political front.

Bangladesh is often considered ground zero for climate change. Crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, much of the country is a massive flat delta, extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise. As global warming pushes sea levels higher, Bangladesh would have the most land inundated among its South Asian neighbors, according to the World Bank. If sea levels rise by one meter, as much as a fifth of the country could be submerged, displacing about 20 million people.

In the last few years, awareness about climate change has grown among Bangladeshi Americans.

Hasan Rahim, a software engineering consultant based in San Jose, says Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was a wake-up call for him and many Bangladeshis in Silicon Valley. Rahim, who also teaches math and statistics at San Jose City College, says he organized screenings of the film in his community.

Rahim connected the film’s dire predictions about climate change to his homeland. “We live here, but we have roots there,” he says. “We are connected and we have got to become more aware of [climate change impacts].”

More than a dozen rivers, including the mighty Ganges, Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Meghna, flow across Bangladesh, emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The southern part of the country is a massive delta, with its fertile land known as the country’s rice bowl.

“It’s really a concern. We’re a small country with 150 million people, so lots of people would lose their houses, land, and become homeless,” says Abu Taher, editor of the newspaper Bangla Patrik, in New York. He says people want to know the future consequences of climate change on the country so they can tell family members to take precautions.

When he travels to Bangladesh, Khan says he notices changes in the environment. There used to be three crop seasons, he says, but now there’s one. “Normally, we would have floods during the rainy season, but now there is no one season for floods anymore,” Khan adds.

A construction worker, Khan also heads up a group made up of immigrants from Barisal, a southern province that is frequently hard hit by cyclones and flooding. The group has organized seminars to learn more about how climate change will affect Bangladesh. From the United States, Khan says he sometimes feels powerless to help his family back home.

“There’s nowhere for them to go. Bangladesh is a small country,” he says. “Where would they get the land? Who will give us the money? I can just advise them to use the deep tube wells to get clean water.”

Khan says his group wants to share the information with U.S. elected officials, and tell them they want the United States to curb its own pollution and help vulnerable nations.

“America as a leader should help all the poor and affected countries, including Bangladesh,” Khan says. “Affected families are dying without food, without a roof over their heads. We should provide financial assistance and even bring them here.”

In the last two decades, Bangladesh suffered the most deaths and greatest economic losses as a result of extreme weather events, according to Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2010.

At the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, the United States and other developed nations pledged $100 billion in aid to countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

“It would make all the difference in the world if the aid were used not to buy finished products like solar panels, but to develop local indigenous talent,” says Rahim.

Bangladeshis have already had to adapt to higher sea levels, Rahim says.

“People who raised chickens are now raising ducks,” he says, and farmers are experimenting with “floating seed beds” to save crops during floods.

Until more funds are directed to helping people adapt to climate change, more frequent and more intense storms and floods will create more environmental refugees.

Queens resident Sheikh Islam says refugees have already poured into the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, which the World Wildlife Federation ranked as the city most vulnerable to climate change impacts out of 11 Asian coastal cities.

Islam says there’s more recognition now that climate change is causing the refugee surge into the city.

“They thought the migrants who came to the city were just jobless and landless. Now, the government is mentioning that they are jobless and landless because of climate change,” he says.

Islam says there’s also a growing perception that Western developed countries bear more responsibility for the problem because they contribute the most to carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

“Now, people know about climate change and they are talking about it,” Islam says. “Three to five years ago they don’t talk about it. They thought it was our problem. Now they think it is a global problem.”

12-4

IOF Arrests Anti-Settlement Demonstrator

December 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By PT Editor Moahmmed Said

West Bank, (Pal Telegraph)– IOF arrested Abdullah Abu Rahma, 39, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in, at down today after they raided his house in al-Tira town of Ramallah. Eyewitness said that a number of Israeli troops stormed al-tira town early today, surrounded the house of Abu Rahma, raided it and tampered with its contents leaving extensive havoc, before he was led to unknown destination.

Ratib Abu Rahma, a member of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said that the arrest was part of the Israeli campaign launched by IOF to discourage people of Bil’in from continuing to struggle against the wall and illegal settlement activities in the village. He pointed out that the number of detainees have reached 34 persons, Abu Rahma included, and that half of them were released after serving their sentences in Israeli jails.

As part of a recent escalation of political arrests in Bil’in, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers.At 2am on Thursday, 10 December 2009, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s home in the city of Ramallah. Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and three children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate School in Birzeit near Ramallah and coordinator for the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.

A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah on 15 September 2009 was executed with such exceptional violence, that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault. Abdallah has been a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee since its conception in 2004. As coordinator, Abu Rahmah not only regularly organizes and attends the weekly Friday demonstrations but does the media work for the Bil’in struggle.

Abdallah has represented the village in engagements around the world to further Bil’in’s cause. He has traveled to Montreal to participate in a speaking tour and the village’s legal case against two Canadian companies building settlements on Bil’in’s land in June 2009, and in December of 2008, he participated in a speaking tour in France and traveled to Germany to accept the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for outstanding service in the realization of basic and human rights, awarded by the board of trustees of the International League for Human Rights on behalf of Bil’in.

Abdallah’s endless work for his village is just a part of his incredible persona, many of us know him personally, as he welcomes thousands of international, Palestinian and Israeli activists when they visit Bil’in.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents. The Bil’in demonstrators are being systemically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military in a wave of night raids and arrests which began concurrently with preliminary hearings in a lawsuit against two Canadian companies responsible for the construction of an Israeli settlement on Bil’in’s land.

The Israeli military is targeting protesters and the leadership of Bil’in’s Popular Committee. Apart from Abdallah, three other committee members were arrested, but all of them were released for lack of evidence. In the case of Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.

In addition to committee members, a leading Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for over five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement”, which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

Following initial construction of Israel’s wall on Bil’in’s lands in March 2005, residents organized almost daily direct actions and demonstrations against the theft of their lands.

Garnering the attention of the international community with their creativity and perseverance, Bil’in has become a symbol for Palestinian popular resistance. Almost five years later, Bil’in continues to have weekly Friday protests.Located 12 kilometers west of Ramallah and 4 km east of the Green Line, Bil’in is an agricultural village spanning 4,000 dunams (988 acres) with approximately 1,800 residents.

While construction of and opposition to the Wall and began in 2005, the majority of land had been expropriated from Bil’in earlier.Starting in the early 1980’s, and more significantly in 1991, approximately 56% of Bil’in’s agricultural land was declared `State Land’ for the construction of the settlement bloc, Modi’in Illit. Modi’in Illit currently holds the largest settler population of any settlement bloc, with over 42,000 residents and plans to achieve a population of 150,000.

In addition to grassroots organizing, Bil’in has held annual conferences on popular resistance since 2006; providing a forum for activists, academics, and leaders to discuss strategies for the unarmed struggle against the Occupation.

Bil’in embraced legal measures against Israel as part of its multi-lateral resistance to the theft of their livelihoods. The village first turned to the courts in the fall of 2005.

Two years after they initiated legal proceedings, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that due to illegal construction in part of Modi’in Illit, unfinished housing could not be completed and that the route of the Wall be moved several hundred meters west, returning 25% of Bil’in’s lands to the village. To date, the high court ruling has not been implemented and construction continues.In July 2008, Bil’in commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec against Green Park International Inc and Green Mount International Inc for their involvement in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the Mattityahu East section of Modi’in Illit.

In an effort to stop the popular resistance in Bil’in, Israeli authorities intimidate demonstrators with physical violence and arrests.Israeli armed forces have used sound and shock grenades, water cannons, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas grenades, tear-gas canisters, high velocity tear-gas projectiles, 0.22 caliber live ammunition and live ammunition against protesters.

On 17 April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahma was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile in the chest by Israeli forces and subsequently died from his wounds at a Ramallah hospital.

Out of the 78 residents who have been arrested in connection to demonstrations against the Wall, 31 were arrested after the beginning of a night raid campaign on 23 June 2009.

Israeli armed forces have been regularly invading homes and forcefully searching for demonstration participants, targeting the leaders of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, as well as teenage boys accused of throwing stones at the Wall.

10 December 2009: Bil’in leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah arrested during military night raidAs part of a recent escalation of political arrests in Bil’in, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested by Israeli soldiers At exactly 2 AM last night, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s residence in the city of Ramallah.

Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate school in Birzeit near Ramallah and is the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements.

A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah was executed with such exceptional violence on 15 September 2009, that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bil’in, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole – aimed at crushing demonstrations against the Wall. Recently, Adv. Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bil’in’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky, stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bil’in residents.

The Bil’in demonstrators are being systematically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed 2 years ago that the route of the Wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”
Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bil’in have been detained by the military. The Army has pursued Popular Committee members in its arrest operation, but all three detained members were released for lack of evidence. In the case of another member, Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.In addition to committee members, a leading Bil’in activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for over five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement”, which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

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Iraq Parliament Passes Key Investment Law

December 10, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s parliament passed an investment law on Monday that would allow foreigners to own land for housing projects, and is designed to streamline regulations and applications for foreign investment, lawmakers said.

Iraq hoped for a tide of foreign investment as the sectarian bloodshed triggered by the 2003 U.S. invasion subsided in the last two years, but bureaucracy, red tape and outdated land ownership laws have deterred businessmen.

“This is a huge achievement for everybody, the parliament, the cabinet and the Iraqi people. This will remove many obstacles blocking the investment process in Iraq,” National Investment Commission Chairman Sami al-Araji told Reuters.

The investment law does not cover the oil sector, nor hotel construction, but housing is a potentially huge growth industry.

Iraq hopes to build millions of new housing units. The old real estate laws only allowed the lease of land to foreign investors for a limited time.

The new law aims to speed up the process of applying for investment licenses and to clarify federal and provincial powers when dealing with investors.

It must now be approved by Iraq’s presidential council.

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Rashida Tlaib Fundraiser

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

West Bloomfield–December 6–As the only Muslim woman ever to have been elected to the Michigan legislature, Rashida Tlaib has a natural base of support outside of her district in Southwest Detroit, the 12th congressional district, and she met with a few of those supporters this past weekend at a house in West Bloomfield.

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Citing the need to get her campaign organization in full swing before other Democratic challengers emerge, she kicked off her campaign season at the home of Dr. Safwan Badr, and about 20 well-heeled Muslims from many communities of Michigan were present to show support for the legislator and attorney who rose from humble beginnings to a level of power never before reached by a Muslim woman in Michigan.

Rep. Tlaib has a very quick mind and a clear grasp of the personalities and issues in Lansing, and this was clear from her easy and fluent answers to questions on various issues such as the upcoming governor’s race in Michigan, in which she announced that likely Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon would contest against other likely candidates such as current Michigan secretary of state Terry Lynn Land and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Rep. Tlaib described her intentions to build a campaign staff, and went into detail about the demographics of her own district, describing it as roughly one third black, one third white, and one third hispanic, with a small percentage of Yemenis. 

Her mere presence in Lansing’s legislature is of benefit to Muslims in Michigan, just by the fact of her example, as a Muslim woman who makes salat and is “not even hiding who I am.” 

Influential people from the community were in attendance, such as for example Ghalib Begg, who has maintained close ties across all of Michigan’s ranks of politicians.  Professor Saeed Khan of Wayne State was also there.

Rep. Tlaib can use your financial support and would welcome volunteers. Contact rashida4rep@yahoo.com, 313-297-8800.

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Muslims and Climate Change

September 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

plant-a-tree Muslims are 1/3 of the world. How can they contribute to saving the earth? I am trying to focus on world’s one third population who are not paying attention about their claim in associating  themselves with their beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while He was the staunch advocator for the cause of environmental protection. According to Prophet (s) (hadith-by Al-Bukhari) “There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift”[for which there is great recompense].

On various occasions, it’s been reported that the Prophet (s) had given plenty of importance toward cultivation of land…

See better treatment for animals; special concern for the preservation of water, plant and birds.

Importance of Planting a Tree in Islam

Citing the Prophet’s (s) concern about plants, Qumruzzaman Azmi-Secretary General of the World Islamic Mission, Manchester(UK), said that Prophet (s) says, if a person is dying and he or she gets the chance to plant a tree then do it before dying. Azmi further quoted the Prophet (s) “if the people knew the importance and benefit of planting a tree, there wouldn’t be a single place on earth left treeless.”

According to a prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Al-Qaradawi, Prophet (s) said “He who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire.

(this is a much needed tree found in the desert area  with scarce vegetation)

This Hadith gives value to even one tree so we can figure out that how much destructive it is in destroying millions of trees; spoiling the earth’s resources; causing destruction for ozone layer etc.

Encouraging to Cultivate Wasteland

In order to protect the natural resources and preserve the balance existing between the diverse elements of nature in the environment, Al-Qaradawi further quotes the Prophet (s) who not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile lands, He also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds. “Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.”

Essentially, it is prohibited by Islam to let the land set idle for a long time without working it out, quoted  by Iqbual Nadvi from ICNA(Islamic Circle of North America).

Water Conservation

For the purpose of saving water, the Prophet (s) strictly abstained His followers from wasting a single drop of water while making Wadu( a ritual of removing impurity) . He also recommended repeating each thing not more than three times while performing Wudu, even if they are sitting near lake, river or a flowing spring.

In fact, there are innumerable instances which substantiate the intimate relation of the Prophet with Earth, Water, Land and Animal.

In the context of treating birds, He says “If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face God’s interrogation” [Mishkat al Masabih].

Reducing Animal Cruelty

Prophet Muhammad (s) taught his followers to be gentle and cautious at the time of slaughtering animals. He advised to use sharp knives following a civilized method in slaughtering the animals so that it could minimize the risk of  hurting  and facilitating  them to die quickly with little pain.

However, He forbade sharpening the knives and slaughtering any animal in the presence of other animals which, essentially, shows the dignity toward the animal. Prophet used to give special consideration to camel and horses as the most useful animal for journey and battle.

Obama’s View

Addressing in Cairo, US President Barack Obama inspired the Muslim World by inculcating them:” As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance  and Enlightenment.”

The Qur’an says, mankind holds a privileged position among God’s creations on earth: he is chosen as khalifa (vice-regent), and carries the responsibility of caring for God’s earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of God’s trust. But the Qur’an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance: they are no better than other creatures.

“No creature is there on earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you

[Qur’an 6:38]

“Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not.”

[Qur’an 40:57]

Protecting Eco-System

In the thesis, submitted into UNO, Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan-President

Pakistan Ecology Council, says: protecting the environment and eco-systems of the earth are a major concern of the Islamic Faith. If the situation of the environment keeps deteriorating at the present rate, there will ultimately be no life, no property and no religion left.

As we face the effects of pollution and water scarcity in some parts of the world and floods and violent storms elsewhere, now it’s time for the world

community as a whole, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, to take a leaf out of the Prophet’s book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely.

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Reality Check for Obama in Afghanistan

February 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

He’s facing pressure to increase US troop levels there. Has Washington learned nothing from the Soviet experience?

Courtesy Walter Rodgers

 

2009-02-18T122025Z_01_POP09_RTRMDNP_3_AFGHANISTAN

between the U.S. troop commander in the area and local tribal leaders near Khas Kunar refugee camp, Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan February 18, 2009.

REUTERS/Oleg Popov  

Oakton, Va. – History may not repeat itself, but all too often it recycles mistakes. In 1961, before the Vietnam War became full-fledged, former Gen. Douglas MacArthur warned President Kennedy not to fight a land war in Asia. Over the next 14 years, more than 58,000 Americans died as Washington ignored his advice and ramped up operations.

Today, the US is stuck in another land war in Asia: Afghanistan. The original mission was to capture Osama bin Laden, disable Al Qaeda, remove the Taliban, and keep the country from being a safe haven for terrorists. After seven years of fighting, hundreds of dead US soldiers and thousands more wounded, those objectives have not been met.

And now the US wants to double down, adding as many as 30,000 additional US troops there to get the job done.

Sharp lessons from the Soviets

It’s unfathomable that Washington learned so little from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which ended in an ignominious retreat followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union three years later. The Soviets lost 15,000 soldiers.

In the brief honeymoon after the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, US and Russian intellectuals and officials met to analyze the Afghan war and concluded it would have required 750,000 to 1 million Soviet troops to subdue Afghanistan. But Moscow never deployed more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at any one time. The Soviets discovered they could win battles but never hold more than a few cities in a country the size of Texas.

The United States now has 33,000 troops in Afghanistan. Even if President Obama agrees to double that amount, the effort will be wasted. Half a million US troops might not be enough. It wasn’t in Vietnam. Mr. Obama needs to recognize that hesitation to expand the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with will or cowardice and everything to do with wisdom.

The totalitarian Soviets lacked the political will to deploy three quarters of a million troops. Kremlin mossbacks knew even the docile Russian populace of the Communist era wouldn’t buy it. In 1979, when the ruling Politburo reluctantly decided to send in the troops, it was bitterly opposed by the chief of staff, Marshal of the Army Nikolai Ograkov. He flatly first told then-Defense Minister Dimitri Ustinov and later party leader Leonid Brezhnev that a war in Afghanistan would be a huge mistake. So controversial was the decision to commit Russian forces that only a handful of senior members of the ruling Politburo participated. In the end, those elders chose to go in, primarily because they feared the US was trying to destabilize Afghanistan and sew it into the West’s patchwork encirclement of the Soviet Union.

It took nine years before Moscow concluded that its war in Afghanistan was a mistake. After the cold war, Russia declassified documents on Afghanistan and the West learned that on more than a dozen occasions between March of 1979 and the December invasion, Brezhnev refused to intervene despite destabilization of the Soviet Union’s southern border.

As a correspondent based in Moscow in the 1980s, I made several trips into Afghanistan with the Soviets. When I returned to Moscow, my Russian office manager asked me what it was like there. Waxing enthusiastic, I told her, “It was magnificent, straight out of Kipling and the 19th century.” Her blue Slavic eyes narrowed. “No, Walt, you are wrong. Afghanistan is the 14th century.”

After 9/11, when hordes of reporters traveled to this mystical, medieval land, the recommended reading was historical fiction of the late George MacDonald Fraser’s first “Flashman” volume on the Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-1842. The entire retreating British column of upwards of 16,000 men, women, and children – save for one survivor – was wiped out by the forefathers of those who drove the Soviets out 150 years later. Obama would be well advised to read “Flashman” and realize how little Afghanistan has changed.

It would be delusional to expect any American expeditionary force to liberate and enlighten Afghans, freeing women from resurgent Taliban. There’s an adage familiar to all who worked there: “There only two times an Afghan woman leaves her home: when she gets married and when she dies.” Afghanistan is a land polka-dotted in graveyards beyond counting. UNICEF says 20 percent of all Afghan children die before their fifth birthday. The entire US Army will not be able to convert greedy warlords to modernity.

Afghanistan is a feudal quilt of tribes. It’s disingenuous to call it a country. It is a failed state, perhaps best babysat by its regional neighbors: Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and India.

Their individual interests and goals in Afghanistan may differ, but none is eager to have a rejuvenated Al Qaeda caliphate led by loose cannons such as Ayman al-Zawahiri or Osama bin Laden, whom they cannot control. If three regional superpowers – India, China, and Russia – opt to sit on the sidelines in their own neighborhood, what logic is there for American intervention from an ocean and continent away?

Even as they request more troops, US generals have acknowledged that an Iraq-style “surge” won’t work. “Afghanistan is not Iraq,” said Gen. David McKiernan, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. General McKiernan, who led ground forces in Iraq in 2003, has described Afghanistan as “a far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq.” Today, the Pentagon talks of achieving not victory or lasting democracy but merely progress against militants.

No good options left

There are no good options left after the Bush administration’s unnecessary war in Iraq. An increased American intervention in Afghanistan might have been more welcome six years ago. Now it is probably too late. Yet a total American withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave in its wake anarchy and bloodbath. An ugly Taliban triumph would ensue. The Taliban need to be contained, but not exclusively by the US, so Obama must persuade NATO and Afghanistan’s near neighbors to play a larger, perhaps dominant, role.

Pakistan can no longer labor under the ill usion that it can manipulate events from across the border. If the Pakistanis have learned anything since 9/11, it should be that Afghanistan’s growing destabilization increasingly threatens their own society. Imagine for a moment that the Obama administration were to announce a withdrawal from Afghanistan in six months. The regional powers who know their own neighborhood far better than Washington would quickly come up with a formula and the troops to stabilize the failed state. If there is no constituency among these neighbors to “fix” Afghanistan, then the US can no more go it alone than could the Russians.

The resurgent Taliban may be unstoppable. The Bush administration was warned of that four years ago but spent most of its resources instead in Iraq. Still, accommodation with the Taliban, who are brutal and medieval, is not the same as capitulation to bin Laden. Recall that in the late 1990s, the Taliban was initially reluctant to have an Arab-led Islamist jihad waged from Afghanistan. The past seven years of US bombing and war in the countryside have sharply reminded the Taliban that they were better off without bin Laden as a guest. The Sudanese were persuaded of that more than a decade ago.

The idea of creating a secular national army in Afghanistan to fend off the20Taliban is not only tardy but smacks of the usual American mind-set of throwing money and advisers at a problem. The Afghan tribes speak Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, and Turkmen with some Baluchi, Pashai, and Nuristani thrown in for good measure. Which language is the Afghan Army going to fight in?

The real challenge to a new Afghan Army, however, is that it is not aflame with the Islamic cohesiveness that fires the Taliban. Until it is, it will be little more than a collection of uninspired, unmotivated militiamen more interested in collecting a monthly American paycheck than in creating a unified nation out of the ashes of 30 years of war.

It is still not clear what Obama thinks other than that, unlike George W. Bush, he says Afghanistan is more central to the war on terror than Iraq. On that he is correct. Washington and Kabul just agreed to a strategic review of the war. Whatever option Obama chooses, he must not risk the same mistake the Soviets made in underestimating the energized power of the Islamic faith. An enlarged American footprint in Afghanistan runs the risk of repeating Russia’s fatal miscalculations. War, like politics, is the art of the possible.

Obama must remember that it is intolerable in the eyes of Muslims to be subjugated and occupied by non-Muslims, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan. Western military occupation didn’t work for the Crusaders in the Levant, for Napoleon in Egypt, or for the British in Iraq. Obama needs to be mindful of this as he decides whether to expand a war in southwest Asia, a historic graveyard of empires.

• Walter Rodgers is a former senior international correspondent for CNN.

Olmert: Israel Should Pull out of West Bank

October 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ethan Bronner

2008-10-06T214005Z_01_BTRE4951O7000_RTROPTP_3_INTERNATIONAL-US-ISRAEL-IRAN

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem October 5, 2008.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM—PM Olmert said in an interview published on Monday that Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians and that any occupied land it held onto would have to be exchanged for the same quantity of Israeli territory.

He also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.

In an unusually frank and soul-searching interview granted after he resigned to fight corruption charges — he remains interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in — Mr. Olmert discarded longstanding Israeli defense doctrine and called for radical new thinking in words that are sure to stir controversy as his expected successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tries to build a coalition.

“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper in the interview to mark the Jewish new year that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night. “The time has come to say these things.”

He said traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.
“With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop,” he said. “All these things are worthless.”

He added, “Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”

Over the last year, Mr. Olmert has publicly castigated himself for his earlier right-wing views and he did so again in this interview. On Jerusalem, for example, he said, “I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city. I admit it. I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years. For a large portion of these years, I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.”

He said that maintaining sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem, Israel’s official policy, would involve bringing 270,000 Palestinians inside Israel’s security barrier. It would mean an ongoing risk of terrorist attacks against civilians like those carried out earlier this year by Jerusalem Palestinian residents with a bulldozer and earth mover.

“A decision has to be made,” he said. “This decision is difficult, terrible, a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires, our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years.”

The government’s public stand on Jerusalem until now has been to assert that the status of the city was not under discussion. But Mr. Olmert made clear that the eastern, predominantly Arab, sector had to be yielded “with special solutions” for the holy sites.

On peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert said in the interview: “We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves, yes, this is what we have to do. We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”

Elsewhere in the interview, when discussing a land swap with the Palestinians, he said the exchange would have to be “more or less one to one.”

Mr. Olmert also addressed the question of Syria, saying that Israel had to be prepared to give up the Golan Heights but that in turn Damascus knew it had to change the nature of its relationship with Iran and its support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia.

On Iran, Mr. Olmert said Israel would act within the international system, adding, “Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is the things that are said here about Iran. We are a country that has lost a sense of proportion about itself.”

Reaction from the Israeli right was swift. Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party, said on the radio that Mr. Olmert was “endangering the existence of the State of Israel irresponsibly.”

He added that those who thought Israel’s problem was a lack of defined borders — as Mr. Olmert stated in the interview — “are ignoramuses who don’t understand anything and they invite war.”

Palestinian negotiators said it was satisfying to hear Mr. Olmert’s words but said the words did not match what he had offered them so far. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, told Palestinian Radio that it would have been better if Mr. Olmert had taken this position while in office rather than while leaving, and that Mr. Olmert had not yet presented a detailed plan for a border between Israel and a Palestinian state.

In theory, Mr. Olmert will continue peace negotiations while awaiting the new government. But most analysts believe that, having been forced to resign his post, he will not be able to close a deal.

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