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Muhammad Salah, a vignette

[Editor’s note: This is a sketch of a longer piece I am working on. I need to post this now. The full article will be posted at the appropriate time.]

muhammad salah

Muhammad Salah

I met Muhammad Salah in the summer of 2000, when I went to interview him for our summer series on Chicago’s ethnic groups at what eventually became the Star/Southtown.

I intended on making my career off that interview. I was ambivalent about Israel and oblivious to the meaning of occupation. I was stunned when I entered that conference room. Literally. I could not move. Instead of finding the monster the media portrayed, I found a man from whom emanated the light of Allah

I’ve spoken and written about this before, but I know that moment is what softened my heart so it could start receiving the message of Islam. Without that meeting, I don’t know if I would be Muslim.

After speaking for hours with Muhammad and his lawyer at the time Matt PIerce, and going over the FBI documents and court files, I realized how complicit we Americans are in the occupation of Palestine.

That day set the life-altering course of my life.

A little more than one year later, in the days immediately after 9/11 I was covering the pro-America rally at the Mosque Foundation, when I saw Muhammad carrying his little son on his shoulders. His son had a flag in his hand. When I told him I had converted to Islam, he started to cry.

In those first years, after Eid prayer at the Mosque Foundation, when I had nowhere to go and nothing to do, I would go to the Salah’s house and knock on the door. They always accepted me graciously and allowed me to spend some of that special day with them at their family.

There is so much more to write on this subject, which I will do later, inshaAllah. But as much as we will remember Abu Ahmed for his grace and dignity and patience, I will treasure Um Ahmed for her resilience, her sumood and her fortitude.

There is so much noise in our umma. Too much rancor; too many media hounds with hot air and empty barks.

But always, you would find the Salah family slowly and surely working their way to our Lord, working to help those around them, working to raise honorable and respectful children.

We are enriched because we know them. I am sad beyond belief at Muhammad’s passing, like so many others. But I am hopeful and happy that he is going to his just reward.

May Allah forgive him, be pleased with him, and grant him very, very best place in Jannah.

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As promoter of Israeli policy in US, AIPAC should register as a Foreign Agent

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(WASHINGTON DC 03/22/2016) — As the annual convention for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee draws to a close today, the American Muslims for Palestine, a national education and advocacy organization, questions AIPAC’s status as a lobby organization and takes to task the presidential candidates who degraded themselves with pandering, sycophantic speeches at its convention over the past two days.

Despite some analysts’ predictions AIPAC was losing influence when it failed in diverting President Barack Obama’s Iran deal last year, four out of the five remaining presidential candidates appeared at the Washington DC Convention Center to pledge their fealty to Israel in ways that contravened US foreign policy, weakened our moral stance and seriously called into question the American role in pursuing Mideast peace as an ‘honest broker.’

AMP condemns in the harshest terms candidates’ pledges to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, to ‘rip up the Iran deal,’ to criminalize the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – all part of AIPAC’s platform — as well as their false characterizations of Palestinians as violent and their absolute silence on Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies. They sold our American values of liberty, democracy and self-determination for pro-Israel votes and money during the AIPAC’s convention, whose leaders once were arrested for espionage and handing over US intelligence to Israel, putting the interests of a foreign government ahead of the interests and values of their own country. The charges against AIPAC employees Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman were dropped; Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon employee who passed the information to AIPAC, which allegedly gave it to Israel, was sentenced to 12 years in prison, according to news reports.

The lobby organization has no compunction in meddling in US policy issues and has done so repeatedly, from the appearance of a plethora of anti-BDS bills in state legislatures as well as in Congress to trying to sabotage the Iran Deal and pressing for more US aid to Israel. Its self-stated mission is to “strengthen, protect and promote the US Israeli relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the US.” What it more accurately does is to influence legislation in favor of Israel even over American interests.

AIPAC appears closely tied to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his far-right Likud party. Indeed, during the Iran Deal negotiations last year a “senior Democrat” told the New Yorker magazine: ““There are people in AIPAC who believe that it should be an arm of the Likud, an arm of the Republican Party.” And some analysts say the organization should register as a foreign agent instead of as a lobby organization, which has looser reporting requirements. Even leaders of major establishment Zionist organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, feared a 2004 espionage FBI probe would result in it having to register as a foreign agent, according to the Jewish Daily Forward. Throughout the years, attempts by a US senator, a former CIA chief and activist organizations to compel AIPAC to register as a foreign agent have fallen short.

AIPAC has more than 100,000 members, at least 17 regional offices and an expansive pool of wealthy donors, according to the New Yorker magazine. But it’s nearly impossible to track how much money it spends on candidates and influencing policy and legislation. Its annual revenue in 2014 was nearly $78 million and spent more than $11 million to support “the lobbying and education mission of AIPAC,” according to its IRS 1099 tax form. That figure is not broken down and the tax form’s Schedule C enumerating “Political Campaigns and Lobbying Activity” is blank. Registering as a foreign agent would change that and force the organization not only to disclose how it disburses its funds but also the source of its revenue.

We need elected officials who put the values and lives of American citizens above that of a foreign country. AIPAC’s meddling is divisive and disruptive and the presidential candidates’ pandering is abhorrent. It is time for clarity and transparency and to question the status of one of the largest lobby organizations in the United States.

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Knesset votes to uphold unprecedented suspension of MK Haneen Zoabi

From: The Office of MK Haneen Zoabi
Press release
29 October 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

68 MK’s voted against MK Zoabi’s appeal, 16 supported Zoabi and 1 MK abstained. 

MK Haneen Zoabi speaking at an AMP 2011 Nakba Day event.

MK Haneen Zoabi speaking at an AMP 2011 Nakba Day event.

The Israeli Knesset today voted to uphold the six-month suspension of Palestinian Arab MK Haneen Zoabi, the longest such suspension ever imposed in the parliament’s history.

MK Zoabi appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this month against the suspension, arguing that it was political persecution and prevented her from carrying out her parliamentary duties on behalf of her voters.

The Knesset Ethics Committee imposed the suspension on July 29, in the midst of a strongly anti-Arab climate during Israel’s 50-day attack on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge.

Under direction from the Supreme Court, MK Zoabi appealed to the Knesset’s full plenum in an attempt to exhaust all available channels for lifting the suspension before returning to the court.

Members of the Ethics Committee had argued that the suspension was deserved because of comments MK Zoabi made before and during Operation Protective Edge. Those included a Radio interview in June in which she disagreed with he actions of those behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank but refused to denounce them simplistically as “terrorists”. The teenagers were later found murdered.

In a further indication of the efforts to make an example of MK Zoabi for her political views and her opposition to the attack on Gaza, a criminal investigation was subsequently opened against her in a different matter.

She is accused of incitement for allegedly”humiliating” policemen, during the massive arrest of Arab teenager protestors.’ The police and state prosecution have recommended that she be indicted, and the case will now being considered by the Attorney-General.

“Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, last week described Israel as a ‘sick society’ for its racist policies and attitudes,” said MK Zoabi. “It is not about sickness or disease, it’s about a cultivated political racist culture, and an apartheid legal system, which led inevitably  to the latest anti-democratic efforts to silence me.

“The real incitement has been a flood of ugly statements from senior government figures since the summer – as well as regular acts violence they have provoked on the street – against  Palestinian citizens. No one is being suspended from the Knesset for that, nor investigated.”

During her speech before the general assembly, Zoabi emphasis that “to be in the Knesset’ is not a favor  from the Israeli authorities nor from the state, and that she drew her rights from being an indigenous people, and Israel has no contribution in this fact”

Also she stated that the problem lies in the Israeli Racism, oppression,  and occupation, and not on her criticism against such racism,and that her political criticism are part of freedom of speech, and that she “didn’t cross the borders” of any law or ethics, except the borders of rigid and racist consensus’

Another Knesset committee, the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, this month submitted two bills intended to target MK Zoabi. Both were initiated by a government minister, Faina Kirschenbaum. The first would deny anyone the right to stand for the Knesset if they are found to have supported “an act of terrorism”, while the second would strip them of their citizenship.

Arab MKs from MK Zoabi’s Balad party boycotted the opening session of the Knesset on Monday, following the summer recess. Other MKs gave speeches condemning MK Zoabi’s treatment.

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#Inequality – Targeting a beloved women’s rights activist simply because of her heritag

rasmea odehIn just a few short weeks, a beloved and respected community organizer from Chicago will begin an ordeal that will determine whether the US government will strip her of her citizenship, imprison her for 10 years and ultimately deport her to country unknown.

On Nov. 4, 2014, Rasmea Odeh will appear in federal court in Detroit to face one charge of ‘unlawful procurement of naturalization,’ for allegedly omitting an answer on her citizenship application. The end results could be devastating: Odeh, 67, faces a decade in prison and the revocation of the citizenship she gained 10 years ago.

Odeh, an attorney by trade, is known throughout the country for her activism, particularly for defending civil liberties and immigrant rights. She’s been a staple in Chicago activism circles for years. Her Arab Women’s Committee has more than 600 members and she’s a mentor to hundreds of immigrant women. She is well loved and respected, not only in Chicago, but throughout the United States.

To understand how a woman, who just last year was the recipient of the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s “Outstanding Community Leader Award,” came to this point, one must understand the geo-politics of America’s “special relationship” with Israel and how being Palestinian, as Odeh is, can sentence someone to a lifetime of inequality.

The life she successfully created for herself in her adopted country came crashing to a halt on the morning of Oct. 22, 2013, when agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrested her in her home. In one quick court appearance later that morning, where she was charged with lying on her citizenship application, past memories of physical and sexual torture by Israeli military officials, a confession compelled by that torture, which she later recanted, and 10 years of brutal and illegal incarceration came back to haunt the beloved community organizer.

“Rasmea was horrifically tortured for 25 days, she was denied access to a lawyer for 45 days. She – as were all the other (500 people) arrested – confessed under torture and then recanted her confession, but nonetheless, spent 10 years in prison. Then she was released in a prisoner swap,” and she came to join her father and brother in Detroit, who were naturalized US citizens,” her defense attorney Michael Deutsch told Flashpoint radio.

Odeh eventually relocated to Chicago, where she became the associate director of the Arab American Action Network. Ten years after arriving in the United States, she applied for citizenship. It was in this context that Odeh answered questions regarding previous arrests and detentions.

“She had been in the US for 10 years when she answered those questions and it was obvious to her the questions were about ‘were you ever arrested in the US?’ ‘Were you ever convicted and imprisoned in the US?’ They were trying to see how she comported with US society over those 10 years,” Deutsch said. “Nevertheless, they are going back 45 years and saying that she lied about the fact she had been arrested in a war situation and convicted of charges that were part of a systematic use of torture by the illegal occupation courts that the [Israeli] military set up on the West Bank,” he added.

The fact the Department of Justice is pursuing a case nearly half a century old, based upon a confession forced by torture in a foreign country, shows just how the US’ “special relationship” with Israel can hurt American citizens. Other notorious cases in the US have relied upon secret evidence supplied by Israel, such as the case against American citizen Mohammed Salah and the case against what had been the country’s largest Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation. In the latter case, the court also allowed Israeli witnesses to testify under disguise and in secret. Mohammad Salah eventually was acquitted of the charges against him, while five men from the Holy Land Foundation were convicted and are serving unusually lengthy sentences ranging from 15 years to 65 years.

Recently, Judge Drain dismissed a motion to dismiss Odeh’s case on the grounds it’s based on illegal evidence obtained in a four-year-old investigation into 23 anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. In the latest development, prosecutors are trying to create the impression that Odeh and her supporters present a danger to anyone serving on the jury and, therefore, are asking for an anonymous jury that would be sequestered. Calling her supporters, ‘hordes” and “mobs,” the prosecutor also is showing a bias against Palestinians and their supporters.

“There is a distinctly racist, anti-Arab undertone to the prosecutor’s motion, where spirited and dignified protests,” said key defense committee organizer Hatem Abudayyeh, who was one of the 23 activists targeted in the investigation. “Again, the federal government is trying to sow fear among people in the U.S. by criminalizing and stereotyping Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. As one of Rasmea’s lawyers said when he was informed of the motion, it ‘is only intended to play the ‘terrorism’ card and is unacceptable.’”

For her part, Odeh is continues her work with the women’s committee and her work at the Arab American Action Network to keep her mind off the impending trial. Looking at a flyer for an upcoming event at the end of the November, schedule two weeks after her trial is expected to end, she sighs.

“I hope I will be able to come. I am keeping busy to keep my mind off things. And I have hope. We must have hope.”

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Amazing introspection. Something we can all learn from.

Global Justice in the 21st Century

 

             Being disinclined to look in mirrors, not only to avoid evidences of aging, but also because of an autobiographical deficit, I have recently started to question the vectors of my motivation. Not to raise doubts but to seek some understanding of ‘for what?’ I am especially wondering the reasons behind my solidarity with the struggles of distant strangers, why such solidarity is not more widely shared with likeminded friends, and why the inevitable priorities as to what is emphasized and what is ignored have the shape they do. Most pointedly, why am I giving the Palestinians so much more attention and psychic energy than the Kurds, Tibetans, or Kashmiris, and a host of other worthy causes? And how do I explain to myself a preoccupation with the unlawful, immoral, and imprudent foreign policy of the U.S. Government, the sovereign state of…

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Call out to Palestinian women activists – Open Shuhada Street

Youth Against Settlements has put out a call to Palestinian, Israeli and international women activists to challenge the Israeli Occupation Forces’ continued closure of Shuhada Street in Hebron to Palestinians. 

Here is the message posted on Facebook:

The event is Wednesday, June 13, 2012 from 2:00pm until 4:00pm in UTC+3

    •  
      if you want to act as a palestinian woman , if you want to support the palestinian woman rights , Calling the Israeli Army to let them use shuhada street in Hebron . 

      many international and Israeli women will gather in Sumood and chalenge center for a media conference about not letting the palestinian women to use the main streets in Hebron and to increase the awareness about the apartheid policy in Hebron . 

      For more information Please Call Issa Amro 0599340549 or send an Email to Media.Yas@gmail.com 

      You are more than welcome to invite your friends 

      the Invitation is only for women and girls . 

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BREAKING: Israelis arrest Hebron woman defending her home from settler attack

Broken glass and a rifle barrel can be seen outside the Hebron home of Jamela Shalaldeh for defending herself and her daughter from a violent attack by illegal colonizing settlers. (Photo by Youth Against Settlements)

(MAY 6, 2012) — Israeli Occupation Forces today arrested Jamela Shalaldeh, of Shuhada Street in Al Khalil, for defending her home against violent attack by colonial enterprise settlers, according to activists there.

Members of Youth Against Settlements posted pictures and an announcement of the attack and arrest on Facebook. Settlers apparently attacked the house while Jamela was home alone with her daughter.

But, instead of arresting the vandals, Occupation Forces arrested Jamela because she acted as any parent would to defend her daughter and home from invasion.

Pictures show vast amounts of broken glass on the street. Jamela lives on Shuhada Street, the Old Market area’s main thoroughfare, which is off-limits to Palestinians. Jews may travel on the street, while Palestinians are kept to a narrow, barricaded sidewalk for a portion of the street. They may not cross the street or continue alongside it after a certain point because of illegal settlements there,

(When I was in Al Khalil in October 2010, IOF soldiers prohibited me from crossing Shuhada Street simply because I wear hijab. They finally relented after making me and the American Christian group I was traveling with stand in the sun for 20 minutes.)

Updates will be provided as they become available.

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