The New Tunisian Democracy: Islamic or Secular?

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Washington–For the past several months since early summer, we have been examining Palestine’s bid for nationhood at the UN in New York City (NYC).  Last week their application went to the security council of the UN and, as was predicted by yours truly on these very pages a month and one-half ago, it was shunted to a committee of that august body on Manhattan.  As was predicted by Palestine’s diplomatic representative to the united states, he, also, foresaw that the proposal would be eventually forwarded to the general assembly (g.a.) Where, at the least, ramallah would be granted permanent observer status within the  g.a. Which would transform (the international) legal landscape for the fertile crescent.  The current move was meant to forestall the inevitable, and push Tel Aviv into more substantive negotiations.

President Barrack Hussein Obama is “caught between a rock and a hard place” with the American Zionist right-wing, led by the despicable AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee).  To oppose them is a death bell for any American politician.  The case of Cynthia Mckenna, the Afro-American congresswoman from a black Georgia district (likewise your author has written up a conversation with this former congressperson while in Sacramento a time back for this newspaper) was an “outspoken” advocate for both for the Palestinians and the Pakistanis within the house of representatives; and, thereby, she was twice “assassinated” politically by AIPAC’s filthy lucre.  It is rumored, for his proposals for a peace in the Levant the u.s. President is already targeted for his middle east policies by Jewish and Christian Zionists (the latter back the reactionary “tea party,” besides).  The Obama administration is trapped between his foreign initiatives to win over the Arab “spring” and his domestic enemies.

Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the only Muslim in in the American lower legislative chamber, has written a recent oft-quoted op-ed in the September 22nd new york times regarding the imbroglio within the holy land, “…direct negotiations have deteriorated to a dismally low point.”  My op-ed in the cyber and newsprint editions here last week may be a way out for the Obama government, and your commentator is circulating his ideas about to officials within the city of this article’s dateline – including in the form of a letter to Mr. Ellison.

Let us move on from Palestine, which has been alluded to as the source for the Arab “spring” to Tunisia, the first successful upheaval for Arab self-agency.

Before  the scheduled upcoming elections of October 23rd for the first “post-revolutionary” assembly, who will have the charge to draft a new constitution for this Maghreb countryside, your essayist hopes to compose several articles to present to American Muslims the realties on the ground in this modern punic territory which  is the most likely to make the transition to a contemporary Islamic democracy within that “spring” successfully.

Hamadi Jebali, the secretary-general of the al-Nahda party, who believes that Tunisia should be a fully Islamic society, also, reasons that its politics should not be locked in by the hadith along the lines of turkey, but the political landscape should be much less constitutionally radical than the nation that straddles the Bosporus.. The editor seems to be recommending a middle ground between the sacred and the secular – an Islamic modernism  if you will.

The engineer was quoted in an interview with The Italia News Webzine, “Our party is opposed to the introduction of the Sharia into the Constitution.  It is right for religion to play a role in society, but it should be separate from the State.  It is one thing to be inspired by the values and principles common to all the great monotheistic faiths, but the one source of the law should be the public will, and not the precepts of the Koran.”

He was in the District of Columbia last spring at the invitation of my Tunisian-born colleague, Radwan Masmaodi, the founder of the Washington and now Tunis’ (branch of) the center for democracy and Islam.  This presentation and interview was given at the US Capital’s (left of center) Stimson Center.

Hamadi Jebali (pictured to the left) was born during 1949 in Sousse, Tunisia. He is a graduate of the French (the former Colonial power of the Republic on the Southern Mediterranean littoral.  Parisian institutions have highly influenced, along with Islam, Tunis’ concept of the democratic) engineering institution, the Arts et Métiers in 1980 achieving an engineer’s degree in energy. He participated in many civil society activities during his ten-year stay in France, and was one of the founders of the French Muslim Association which demonstrates his deep personal Islamic religiosity, and participated in inter-religion dialogue that, further, demonstrates his toleration and liberality towards the beliefs of others, too.  He returned to Tunis in 1981, and became a member of the political bureau of the Islamic Tendency Movement.  Jebali became the president of this movement from 1981 to 1984.

Hamadi ran into legal difficulties for his political views in 1987 after Ben Ali came to power in late that year.

Despite this, Mr. Jebali became the political director of Nahda and the editor of the newspaper El Fair, the official newspaper of his party.  In 1990, he was condemned to sixteen years in prison, again, as a result of his political views and affiliation with al-Nahda, and spent 10 years in solitary confinement while in jail.  He was freed in 2006.  Then, he reintegrated into the Nahda party, and became its Secretary-General.

The presentation was in Arabic with translation by Masmaodi which gave your reporter plenty of time to get his comments down accurately.

What the “’Revolution’ was about was the dignity of the human being (very French) and social justice (more Islamic).   “We have to make this Revolt succeed…for social justice…We want political freedom…[for] One [dignity] goes with the other [freedom].”  Democracy is wherever freedom and justice reside side-by-side.

A State should represent all of its citizens, and refuse to be deleterious to any part of the body politique.  Everyone should have at least the “minimal rights” of residency!

Tunisia, the Metrpole of the pre-Islamic Carthagian Imperial world of the ancient past, has accomplished wonderful achievements over the centuries.  Even in the latter period education, women’s rights, etc. have been respected and have abounded.  Therefore, a “Peaceful democracy …is possible” in North Africa even though there are, additionally, many challenges which remain from individuals who benefited from the former regime, and still resist democratic change.

Thus, we shall require your support in the West.

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Panic from the Houses of Congress and AIPAC?

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Franklin Lamb

Beirut–On April 13, 2011, more than a dozen Israel “First, last and always” US congressional leaders from both houses of Congress held an urgent conference call organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Their purpose was to discuss how best to promote Israel during next month’s US visit by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and more importantly how to confront the rapidly changing Middle East political landscape. One consensus was that no one saw it coming and that is was dangerous for Israel.

Among those participating were former Jewish Chairmen of powerful committees including Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who headed the Banking Committee; Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Commerce and Energy committee; Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ex-chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee as well as Eric Cantor, House Majority leader, the highest rankling Jewish member of Congress in history.

What AIPAC operatives reportedly told the conferees was that Netanyahu is once again furious with President Obama and outraged by what he sees as a vacillating US Government attitude towards Israeli needs. They were told that the Israeli PM sees real political danger for Israel in the shifting US public opinion in favor of the young sophisticated attractive Arab and Muslims increasingly seen on satellite channels from the region who remind the American public of their own ideals.

Netanyahu, the conferees were told, wants Congress to flex its muscle with the White House and deliver a strong message to President Obama that his political future is tied to Israel’s. Hence the current “America needs Israel more than ever stupid!” campaign wafting from the Israel lobby across the talk radio airwaves.

In addition, as more Israeli officials are indicted for various domestic crimes, and some harbor fears of arrest for international ones, 68% of the American Jewish community, according to one by poll commissioned last month by Forward, believe the US Israel lobby is increasingly fossilized with the likes of ADL (Anti-Defamation League) director Abe Foxman’s vindictive infighting among several of the largest Jewish lobby organizations which continue to lose memberships, especially among the young.

Congressman Eric Cantor lamented that “Israel is badly losing the US College campuses”, despite heavy financial investments the past few years to curb American students growing support for Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, all dreaded symbols of the growing opposition to the 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise. Support for Palestine is skyrocketing he claimed. “Until Palestine is freed from Zionist occupation no Arab or Muslim is truly free of Western hegemony,” according to one assistant editor of Harvard University’s student newspaper, the Crimson.

Admitting that the Mossad did not foresee even the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings some Aipac staffers, of whom there are more than 100, admit to not knowing how to react to the topics they were presented with for discussion, some of which included:

• The Egyptian public emphatic insistence that the 1978 Camp David Accords be scrapped and that the Rafah crossing be opened. The latter has just been announced and the former is expected to be achieved before the end of the year.

• The change of regimes and the dramatic rise in publicly expressed anti-Israel sentiment and insistence that Israel close its embassy and Egypt withdraw its recognition of the Zionist state.

• The apparent rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas which has been increasingly demanded by the Palestinians under occupation and in the Diaspora.

• The fact that the new regime in Cairo is seeking to upgrade its ties with Gaza’s Hamas rulers as well as Iran.

• With respect to possible PA-Hamas rapprochement, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is trying to reassure Israel before Netanyahu’s visit by announcing this week that “The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace, but to play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

AIPAC, frequently knocks heads with the Israeli embassy in Washington for control of visiting Israeli PM’s and important governments schedules will control what Netanyahu says and does. AIPAC AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr recently told a group of visiting Jewish student activists from California that “sometimes there is confusion in this town over just where the Israeli Embassy is located but let me assure you it’s no more than 300 yards from the Capitol Dome on North Capitol Street, NW.”

AIPAC, not the Israeli Embassy will write the final draft of Netanyahu’s speeches including the themes he will emphasize. According to a Congressional source with AIPAC connections, Netanyahu’s visit will focus on the following:

• Bashing Iran to please the White House. However, this mantra will have to compete with the democratic revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world and which are terrifying not just Netanyahu, but also AIPAC and their hirelings in congress.

• Warning against the dangers to “the peace process” of any PA-Hamas unity government.

• Warnings about the threats to Israel from Egypt and popular calls for scrapping of the 1978 Camp David Accords, ending the Egyptian subsidy and supply of 40% of Israel’s natural gas, calls for closing the Israeli Embassy, the dangers of permanently opening the Rafah border crossing “that will allow Hamas to in the words of, an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity to the Washington Post that Gaza’s Hamas rulers had already built up a “dangerous military machine” in northern Sinai which could be further strengthened by opening the border.

• The tried and tested bromide that “Israel has no peace partner to negotiate with will be used but this too has lost its bite given that the Palestine Papers has shown that the PA for five years habitually caved into Israel demands and are widely viewed as collaborators with Israel in preserving the status quo– so what more could be expected  from them? The truth is that Mahmoud Abbas and Salem Fayyad are Netanyahu, Liberman’s and Barak’s favorite “peace partners.”

• Netanyahu will hint at and AIPAC will drill in the idea that the Obama administration has been too hard on Israel.

While Netanyahu announced this week that “I will have the opportunity to air the main parts of Israel’s diplomatic and defense policies during my visit in the United States”, informed sources report that his main goal and timing of his visit is to undermine a rumored initiative that President Obama’s team has been working on.

Netanyahu, according to AIPAC, also plans to attack the UN’s plan to admit Palestine and its offices are preparing a media blitz in an attempt to undermine the U.N. recognition of Palestine by arguing that such a General Assembly action would not in reality mean Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem because of the fact that Israel currently controls those territories. AIPAC is arguing that such United Nations recognition of Palestine would only reiterate the principle, previously articulated by the U.N which denies the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to territories acquired by force in the war of June 1967.

In reality, and as AIPAC well knows, UN recognition of Palestine would have a devastating effect on Israel’s legitimacy and would fuel an international campaign to force every colonist out of the West Bank.

Given the feelings of virtually all people in the Middle East and North Africa toward Israel this could dramatically undermine the apartheid state. AIPAC and Israel’s agents in Congress also ignore the fact that the U.N. is the only the international body that admitted Israel as a member state in May 1949, although the resolution noted a connection between Israel’s recognition and the implementation of resolution 181 of November 1947, which called for partition of what had been British Mandate Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.

The reason that intense angst and even fear stalks the Houses of Congress and AIPAC is that Netanyahu will remind his hosts in the coming days that Israel has always called “home” is that some US officials are starting to express treasonous thoughts long kept to themselves.

One seemingly shocking statement was made to a visiting Oregon delegation during a recent visit to Congressional offices by a Member of Congress never known for being publicly critical of Israel. As reported via email: “He said recent events suggest that while ( the revolts spreading across the Middle East) are not the immediate end of the State of Israel, he believes they are harbingers and signal the `beginning of the end of the State of Israel as we have known it. And that will be good for America and humanity.”

“What seems to have particularly upset him was his own mentioning to the group was a recent report about a conference of Rabbis in Israel who are demanding the expulsion of non-Jews, especially Palestinians, from occupied Palestine in order to maintain the “ethnical and religious purity of the peoples of Israel.

He quoted Dov Lior, the rabbi of Kiryat Araba, an illegal settlement near Hebron, who according to media reports told a conference organized to discuss how to get non-Jews in mandatory Palestine to leave the country for the sake of Jewish immigrants who had no roots in Palestine: “Today there is a lot of land in Saudi Arabia and in Libya, too. There is a lot of land in other places. Send them there.” As scholar Khalid Amayreh reminds us, it was Lior, who in 1994 praised arch-terrorist Baruch Goldstein for massacring 29 Arab worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in downtown Hebron, said peace in the Holy Land was out of question because the Arabs wouldn’t allow Jews to usurp the land.

Meanwhile, a large coalition of pro peace and pro-Palestinian organizations, under the umbrella of http://www.moveoveraipac.org/ is preparing a new and different American reception for the Israeli Prime Minister.

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PAKPAC Condemns NY Attempted Bomb Plot

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

“Washington DC: May 4th, 2010: The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) condemns the Times Square attempted attempted bomb plot over the weekend. We appreciate the efforts of the New York Police Department as well as the FBI and vigilant NY residents in responding to this incident and saving hundreds of lives. PAKPAC is shocked and saddened to learn that the prime suspect is of Pakistani heritage. Though details of the case are still being uncovered and investigations are on going, we denounce this attempted attack on our soil and seek that this individual or any accomplice, to be tried and punished under American Judicial system. Whether this is an act of a lone individual or a group, it harms everyone and benefits no one. As a community, we should have zero tolerance for such acts as they damage and disrupt the way of life of Americans. 

“PAKPAC agrees with President Obama’s call for all citizens to be vigilant, it maybe be recalled that it was reporting by a vigilant NY resident that stopped this tragic incident from happening. PAKPAC and Pakistani Americans are committed to protect and defend the United States of America. We ask the Pakistani Americans and American Muslims to demonstrate an iron resolve against terrorism and to remain vigilant and continue to report anything that is illegal or suspicious to law enforcement agencies.

“Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stated on the “Today” show that it was premature to label any person or group as suspect. “Right now, every lead has to be pursued,” she said. “I caution against premature decisions one way or the other.”  PAKPAC requests  that the U.S. law enforcement agencies and American community to safeguard the civil rights of the thousands of law abiding Pakistani Americans and ensure that there is no backlash against the community, locally in Connecticut or across the nation. Pakistani American community seeks to work together with the Obama Administration and law enforcement  agencies, and to provide them with resources to protect the safety of our nation and its citizens.

“The US ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on this issue. Mr. Qureshi assured Pakistan’s full cooperation to US in this regard. The nation of Pakistan along with its armed forces has given unprecedented sacrifices in US-led war on terrorism. It is estimated that over five thousand Pakistani military and civilians have lost their lives, while Pakistan economy has suffered a loss of $35 billion since September 11 attack. PAKPAC welcomes the full cooperation offered by Pakistan Government.

“PAKPAC is monitoring this developing situation and will keep you updated periodically.”

FOR FURTHER CONTACT:

Executive Director: Irfan Malik   ED@pakpac.net    202 558 6404
Connecticut contact: Saud Anwar   saud.anwar@pakpac.net   202 558 6404

(Former) Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Gaza

January 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Sacramento– January 10th–(Ex-Representative) Cynthia McKinney spoke here at the Salam Center, a Community nucleus for the Islamic Community of the Greater Sacramento Area as part of a program put together by the new American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).  Before the speeches by Cynthia and Hatem Bazian (whose comments your journalist will report on in a future article), we ate a communal Halal dinner at the Center. 

McKinney is an Afro-American Person of the Book who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives gaining the ire of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the U.S. India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) for her strong support of the Islamic nations of Pakistan and Palestine. The two lobby organizations’ political “war chest” money and power cause her to lose her seat in a prominently Black District twice despite the fact she had served six terms in Congress. 

She has doubts facts about September 11th, 2001, also; so, she served on the Citizens Commission on 9/11.  After looking at the details of that day in New York City, she signed the 9/11 Truth Movement asking for new investigations on the unexplained aspects of that incident. 

While still in the Lower House, she presented Articles of Impeachment against former President Bush, Vice President Cheney and (then) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Further, Cynthia McKinney’s educational background and experience makes her solidly authoritative on foreign affairs.

During Tel Aviv’ attacks upon Gaza she attempted to enter the Strip with humanitarian supplies — twice unsuccessfully by sea and once successfully by land. 

On her first endeavor, the blockading Israeli Navy rammed her ship.  Mentioning that she was not a Palestinian, she asserted “That I [would] die is one of the [most] honorable [things] I could” do. 

On the second effort, McKinney found herself surrounded by Israeli War boats.  All the passengers and crew were “kidnapped” (captured), and imprisoned for ten days.  Cynthia was, additionally, banned from Israel for ten years – including the Occupied Territories (i.e., Palestine). 

After she was released from detention and deported, she received a call from the British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, who is the director of Viva Palestina which has entered Gaza with conveys of trucks containing relief supplies, called Ms. McKinney and asked her to come with his trucks across the Rafah crossing from Egypt into shattered Gaza.  The (prior) Congresswoman described that the horrible devastation of the diminutive State was over-powering, but, on the other hand,  she attested to the defiant spirit of the people.

“We have to resist” our (own) government (U.S.) “…like the Palestinians” the Israeli.  “Washington D.C. is ground Xerox,” too.  Describing her experience on the Coastal Strip, “I was the one whose spirit was uplifted…In my heart, I am a Palestinian!”

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Obama Honors Mary Robinson with Presidential Medal of Freedom

August 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

From LA County Foreign Policy Examiner, Lawrence Gist

Mary Robinson, the courageous former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is among the distinguished recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to be awarded by President Obama on August 12, 2009. This honor is well deserved. Robinson, the former President of Ireland, has brought a clear, uncompromising voice on behalf of people throughout the world whose rights have been infringed.

Yet, as it has done before, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has led a charge, joined in the last few days by several other groups, vilifying Robinson with false accusations that she is “anti-Israel.”  Most of their criticisms stem from her role at the UN Conference on Racism held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 when she served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“In stark contradiction to these allegations, Robinson forcefully condemned Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism under circumstances where it would have been far easier to remain silent,” noted PHR Deputy Director Susannah Sirkin.

Throughout her laudable tenure as High Commissioner, Robinson stood steadfastly for universal human rights. All Americans should be proud that President Obama is awarding this extraordinary honor to her. Physicians for Human Rights commends President Obama on his choices, and congratulates Mary Robinson together with all of the other 2009 honorees.

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PAKPAC Condemns Attacks on Christians

August 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

PakistanFlag-1 August 3rd, 2009, Maryland, The Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC) joins all our fellow Pakistani Americans in condemning the recent incidents in Pakistan, when a small but organized group of thugs attacked a village in Gojra, Pakistan and took innocent lives of Christian minority community members and then destroyed their homes. These extremists claimed to commit these inhumane acts and atrocities as a response to an alleged blasphemy of the Holy Qur`an.

PAKPAC asks the Government of Pakistan to arrest the perpetrators of these crimes and extend severe punishment to them for the murder of the innocent people. Punishment to such people should be strong enough to serve as a strong deterrent to anyone in Pakistan who dares to contemplate such actions.

PAKPAC extends condolences to all the faith communities in Pakistan, and ensures them that we support them towards eradicating these hate-based, misguided beasts who go against the very basic teachings of the Qur`an and Islam that they pretend to protect.

We ask the larger society in Pakistan to get seriously involved in a meaningful and focused dialogue to look at how various laws are being abused in stripping the minorities in Pakistan of their rights. We need to enlighten ourselves and the world on how these crimes are against the principles and spirit of the creation of Pakistan and the core essence and teachings of the Quran.

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