Friday, November 23, 2012

PILLAR OF DEFENSE – A Murderous Fraud!
Will the truce last?

By: Gulamhusein Abba

On Wednesday, November 14, Israel deliberately provoked Hamas by breaking a two day long truce, carrying out some 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years, and, for good measure, to make sure the provocation worked, assassinating Gaza’s supreme military commander, Ahmed Jabari.

It killed him even though it was he that was mainly responsible for arranging the release of Shalit, even though his interest in entering into a long-term truce agreement had been communicated to Israeli authorities.

When Gaza expectedly responded with a fresh barrage of rockets, Israel used that as an excuse to continue its murderous attack on Gaza and launched its Operation Pillar of Defense.

It pummeled Gaza – again, barely four years after it infamous Operation Cast Lead – for eight straight days, day and night, launching well over 1500 deadly airstrikes, shelling targets from tanks and gunboats, killing 161 Palestinians, including a large number of innocent men, women, children and even babies, wiping out families, injuring at least 840, flattening residential buildings, Hamas leader’s headquarters, police stations, several other infrastructures, targeting and damaging dozens more, including a hospital and the international media center.

Then, on Wednesday , November 21, under intense international pressure, Israel signed with Hamas a truce agreement.

The agreement provides, for Hamas: an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of Hamas militants wanted by Israel. For Israel the agreement provides a halt to rocket fire from Gaza and attempts at cross-border incursions into Israeli territory from Gaza and especially from the Sinai area.

However, the agreement left the door open to a possible ground incursion of Gaza at a later date.

People all over the world heaved a sigh of relief. Gazans celebrated by firing guns into the air, dancing in the streets, distributing sweets and waving Hamas flags.

It is to be hoped that the truce will last. Unfortunately all indications are that violence will flare up once again, perhaps sooner than what we wish.

To begin with, already there are differences as to what the agreement provides, especially with reference to the opening of checkpoints.

According an Associated Press report on November 22, the agreement provides for Israel “discussing easing an Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip.” Khaled Mashal, Gazan leader in exile, insists that “the document provides for the opening of all crossings.”

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by AP, the agreement provides, after a 24 hour cooling off period, for “opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movement.”

Under the Israeli blockade, Israel continues to restrict the movement of certain goods through Israeli controlled crossings. There is a near complete ban on exports, limited movement of people leaving the territory and limits on construction materials that Israel says could be put to military use.

The agreement is vague on what restrictions Israel would lift.

There is also the question of Gaza’s southern passenger terminal on the Egyptian border, not to mention whether Israel will have the right to continue intercepting and seizing, in international waters, aid flotillas headed for Gaza or limiting Gazans from fishing in their own waters outside or even within the three mile water rights, as it now does.

On any of these points a difference can be interpreted as a rejection/violation of the truce agreement and violence can restart.

But these are details.

The main point to note is that, notwithstanding claims to the contrary, Operation Pillar of Defense was NOT a response to the recent escalation of rocket firing by Hamas. The rockets being fired from Gaza has very little to do with Israel’s repeated deadly military operations against Gaza.

Consider this. During the present conflict, Hamas rockets killed five Israelis, injured not more than a couple of dozen people and partially damaged two buildings. Hardly figures to invite a massive military operation that lasted eight days, killed 161 Palestinians and inflicted unimaginable misery and destruction on the Gazans.

The reasons for Israeli operations go beyond the rocket firing activities of Hamas. Israel’s reasons and objectives go much, much deeper.

Put simply, behind it all is Israel’s objective to have all of Palestine. It wants to establish Eretz Yisrael on all of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, complete with biblical Judea and Samara.

Israeli leaders have long maintained that Jordan is the homeland of the Palestinians and Palestine, all of it, is the God given homeland of the Jews.

Several Israeli leaders have openly stated that their aim is to make life so miserable for the Palestinians that they will eventually flee to neighboring countries.

To ensure that Palestinians never have the ability to stand up against or challenge Israel, Israel is committed to preventing any arms coming into Gaza (even as shiploads of arms keep flowing into Israel from the USA and other countries!), preventing Gazans from manufacturing any such arms, even primitive rockets, and destroying from time to time any rocket making facility that Gazans may put up, as also destroying periodically all stockpile of such arms that Gazans may accumulate.

Another goal of Israel’s repeated attacks on Gaza is to cow the Gazans and beat them into submission.

None of Israel’s military operations has succeeded in weakening Hamas. After every Israeli military operation, the Gazans, though suffering huge human and material loss, have emerged stronger.

Operation Pillar of Defense has made them stronger than ever. Arab leaders, taking a lesson from the Arab Spring, and sensitive to the sentiments of their people about Israel and Palestine, for the first time came together to try and save Gaza from further death and destruction. World leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, Turkey’s foreign minister, a delegation of Arab foreign ministers, Khaled Mashaal, the top Hamas leader in exile – all of them converged on the region.

The UN Security Council held closed door consultations at the request of Russia. A resolution would have emerged but for the feet dragging by one of the members.

In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, is now in power in Egypt and Tunisia and Hamas is also getting support from Quatar and Turkey.

The political situation has changed dramatically.

As to the spirit of Gazans, it is best illustrated by a message given by a 13 year old girl from Gaza who sustained shrapnel injuries throughout her upper body, with some pieces still embedded in her chest. Here is her message: “I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this. They (the Israelis) are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said, ‘If you’re a mountain, the wind won’t shake you.’ We’re not afraid. We’ll stay strong.”

Trying to beat the Gazans into submission apart, the Israeli attacks on Gaza are, as pointed out by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, a continuation of Israel’s “policies of war, illegal occupation of Palestine, siege of Gaza, carrying on building illegal settlements and confiscating Palestinian land”, not to mention transferring a large number of its citizens onto occupied West Bank, bulldozing Palestinian homes and razing Palestinian villages.

This is a legacy of Israel’s policy of dispossession that precedes the creation of Israel.

With Hamas having become stronger than ever, more defiant than ever, instead of docilely submitting to Israel, and with Israel’s goal of eliminating all rocket manufacturing facilities and stockpiles of rockets in Gaza not having been accomplished, and with the truce eliminating any further attempts by Israel to strike Gaza again, the indications are, given Israel’s history in this regard, that Israel will, as soon as it can, create another incident to provoke Hamas once more into retaliating and use that retaliation as an excuse, once more, to mount a better planned and more massive attack that will inflict massive destruction in a short time, before the world starts putting pressure on Israel once again to agree to a ceasefire.

The words of Israeli President in a recent CNN interview are ominous. He let it slip that “You don’t negotiate with terrorists. You strike’” Perhaps even more ominous is what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I know there are citizens that expected a wider military operation and it could be that it will be needed. But at this time, the right thing for the state of Israel is to take this opportunity to reach a lasting cease fire.” (emphasis added)

Sunday, November 11, 2012



Here's a Poem to remind us today that War is only to be entered into after all means of diplomacy have been exhausted. That the horrors of War are just that, not the glory and guts we read in storybooks.

recognized as the greatest
English poet of the First World War. 

First World War
(with notes)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge. 

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4) 
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.

Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . . 

Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12) 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13) 
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)


Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918


Notes on Dulce et Decorum Est

1.  DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.

2.  Flares - rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.) 

3.  Distant rest - a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer 

4.  Hoots - the noise made by the shells rushing through the air 

5.  Outstripped - outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle  

 6.  Five-Nines - 5.9 calibre explosive shells 

7.  Gas! -  poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned

8.  Helmets -  the early name for gas masks 

9.  Lime - a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue 

10.  Panes - the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks 

11.  Guttering - Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling 

12.  Cud - normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew usually green and bubbling. Here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier's mouth 

13.  High zest - idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea 

14.  ardent - keen 

15.  Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - see note 1 above. The pronunciation of Dulce is DULKAY. The letter C in Latin was pronounced like the C in "car". The word is often given an Italian pronunciation pronouncing the C like the C in cello, but this is wrong. Try checking this out in a Latin dictionary.  -  David Roberts.




Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Muslim Protest and the Language of the Unheard


This article reproduced here courtesy of Counter Punch
Original at:

 OCTOBER 16, 2012
“Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret, there’s a million other straws underneath it.” – Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), “Mathematics” 

The controversies around “free speech” and Muslims that were provoked by the film trailer The Innocence of Muslims, the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the left leaning Charlie Hebdo newspaper in France, and more recently the racist pro-Zionist subway ads in New York City have quite predictably provoked a ground swell of anger, frustration, and confusion when it comes to dissent by those who happen to be Muslims.

While some protests abroad turned violent, and protests against the cartoons were banned in “democratic” France, President Obama himself weighed in on the topic at the United Nations recently, extolling the virtues of the U.S. and its support of “free speech” to the global community. But in making this an issue simply of “free speech,” the media pundits, talking heads, “experts,” and many Muslims themselves quite predictably relied on clichéd tropes that not only further cement deeply held racist ideas about Muslims, but also undermine and ignore the complex issues that these protests and dissent are rooted in.
Because “free speech” is held as the cornerstone of Western liberal democracy, interpreting these protests through this lens frames Muslims as being against free expression, and even freedom itself. More subtly and significantly, it suggests that Muslims are medieval and rooted in tradition, outside the fold of democracy and modernity. This has been a well-worn, tried and true way of talking about Muslims – part of a racist colonial past inherited by the imperial present in which “they” are savage, primitive, and irrational, while “we” are civilized, modern, and rational.
What made this racist framework abundantly clear were the recent pro-Zionist subway ads that appeared in New York last week and also in the Bay Area several weeks before that said, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” By invoking the language of “civilized” and “the savage,” these ads not only laid bare and made clear the deeply racist and white supremacist logic that drives the policies of the U.S. and its allies throughout the world, but they have also made abundantly clear to all of us who are really listening and watching that despite the wishes of those hawks who want to bring it back to “restore order,” or the guilty liberal consciences who believe it to be a thing of the past, the logic of colonialism is still very much alive and well, determining the fate and life chances of the vast majority of the worlds people outside of Europe and the United States.
That white supremacy and racism continue to define the “West” should not surprise anyone – though it probably does for some, if not many others. Remember Mitt Romney’s claim on his visit to London this past summer that Obama “does not share our Anglo-Saxon heritage”? A dog whistle comment if there ever was one, as Romney’s wink to the British and to the rest of Western Europe revealed something far more sinister. For we have to remember that “the West” is less a geographical marker and more of an ideological one, a catch-all phrase that stands in for a set of ideals, values and beliefs that are used to distinguish “the West” from “the Rest”: free speech, democracy, the “rule of law,” liberalism, and all things civilized, modern, and progressive.
But instead of these lofty ideals, a closer inspection would reveal a much more insidious reality: that the history of this thing called “the West” has its roots in slavery, genocide, the continuing saga of white supremacy, predatory capitalism and exploitation of the Global South. These are the “ideas” of the so-called West that are seen as having no geographic boundaries, and this is why the U.S. and Europe continue to dominate the world’s stage, for it is these “values” that all the world should embrace, or be made to, and that have become the lingua franca for the entire world. But instead we constantly hear the white noise that the West is benign and innocent, and is under attack as it stands to uphold the noble cause of freedom, democracy and individual liberty. For the West presents itself as David, when in fact, it is, and has been for centuries, Goliath.
All of this has huge implications for non-white people the world over, many of who happen to be Muslims. The fact that Muslims have become the quintessential global Other has historic roots that date back to the very genesis of “the West” and race in its modern form.In fact, the very idea of the West emerged directly out of the Moor, and was crystalized in 1492, the year that simultaneously saw the expulsion of Muslims from Spain and Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas that led to native genocide and the conquest of the Americas. Muslims occupy a particular role when it comes to race; it was beginning here that the idea of Europe and the “West” began to cohere around concepts of anti-Black and anti-Muslim racism, as whiteness and Christianity became inseparable in defining race. As European expansion led to colonialism and slavery, according to scholar Anouar Majid, “the world’s non-European natives or religions were stamped with the taint of Muslim impurity.” As a result, Islam and Muslims have represented a perpetual strangeness to the West and to whiteness. Although 9/11 is what seems to have raised the specter of Islam in relation to the West, a closer look reveals that the Muslim— as the Other to a normative whiteness—has not only haunted the very the foundation of the West since its inception but has also given the West meaning, defining who is civilized and who is savage, who is democratic and who is autocratic, who is peaceful and who is violent, who is human and who is not.
This has huge implications, because though the language of “civilized” and savage” is only the most crude and obvious expression of white supremacy, many continue to find it politically expedient and opportunistic to assume that this brand of anti-Muslim racism comes from a small cabal of well funded Islamophobes on the right in the U.S., instead of seeing it equally infecting and defining the Democratic Party and its policies, as well as much of the so-called progressive Left who continue to resort to tired Orientalist clichés about Muslims.
As a result, when it comes to these recent protests or any dissent coming from people who happen to be Muslims, the analysts, critics, lay people and even some Muslims themselves participate in a racist Orientalist logic – one that assumes that not only everything that a person who happens to be a Muslim does is driven by Islam, but also that everything that Muslims do can be understood through religion. This is tantamount to arguing that everything that the people of Latin America do is because of Catholicism, and that it is through Catholicism that they can be understood. Sounds ridiculous, right? But when it comes to Muslims that kind of “analysis” is not seen as ridiculous, but as rigorous.
But is this racist framing the only way to understand this current situation? Is it possible to back away from the screen, undo the myopia and gain more perspective? As is typical, both dominant and alternative media have failed to understand or know how to frame resistance and protest when it comes to Muslims. In framing it as an issue of “free speech,” the media have presented these protestors as “fanatics,” conveniently making this an issue solely about religion and not also about politics, power, and a referendum on U.S. and Western intervention in these countries.
As a result, this undermines the very real issues that these protests are rooted in, and it refuses to view these protesters and their supporters as complex actors, motivated by an array of issues and concerns. While Innocence of Muslims, the French cartoons, and the pro-Zionist signs in the subway may be part of the protests and discontent, these are only the tip of the iceberg, and symbols for a much deeper discontent that begs a more existential and ethical question: how much suffering are people expected to endure? Let’s not even go back through centuries of European colonialism or even 20th century U.S. imperialism and subversion of democracy through the backing of dictators and overthrowing of elected leaders. How about just the last eleven years of U.S-led domination where torture, indefinite detention, drone wars in several countries, targeted assassinations, unwavering support of Israel, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, threats and sanctions on Iran, destabilization and violations of national sovereignty, Guantanamo, the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, and the displacement of millions more has become normalized and acceptable? And what of the support for a neoliberal economic policy that has devastated the region for the benefit of the United States, Europe and their lackeys? Can’t this be considered a central factor of the political calculus of these protests and widespread discontent?
Second, in framing protests by those who happen to be Muslims as religiously determined, then these protests are assumed to have nothing in common with the recent protests in Spain, Greece, Portugal, the Occupy Movement, or throughout the Global South, all of which marks the protests in Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and the region as distinct and even in opposition to the “secular” global movements taking place around the world over economic inequality, corruption, and hyper-militarization. Instead, Muslims are framed as existing outside the framework and language of what is considered legitimate democratic protest and even broader left politics.
Unless Muslims protest in ways that mirror or affirm the ideas of the West more broadly, and the U.S. specifically – whether it be Western ideas of liberalism, U.S. intervention and foreign policy or neoliberal consensus – then those protests, the protestors themselves, and the issues that they are protesting, are not seen as legible or even legitimate to the West. This is part of a larger strategy of undermining dissent, especially when the protestors are in the Global South or racial minorities in Europe or the U.S. who seek to challenge powerful interests. Whether they be the immigrants in the banileues of Paris over the last several years, in Nigeria in 2011, London in 2012, or even in Los Angeles in 1992 – the response is that these are “looters,” “thugs,” and “mobs,” all synonyms for “violent extremists” that criminalizes the protestors and undermines the legitimacy of their discontent and the grievances that they have.
Instead, the world is told that this is about words, cartoons and movies. But are Muslims only mad at some B-movie about the Prophet Muhammad, or might they also be angry and insulted at the thousands of films and television programming put out by Hollywood and the media industries that continue to dehumanize them. A canon of cultural codes that sit at the heart of the West and lubricates a deep anti-Muslim racism that generates public support and political capital for domestic and foreign policy.
And are Muslims simply mad about a cartoon in any one newspaper, or rather at the larger public discourse in the U.S. and the West that stands in for informed journalism and analysis. A corporate and even alternative media agenda that gives sanction to either outright wars of aggression, targeted assassinations, intervention, and drone wars in Muslim countries, or approval to the “soft” power of “humanitarian intervention,” sanctions, indefinite detention, surveillance and diplomatic pressure against Muslims both in the U.S and around the world.
But this question of media and framing begs another question about where does “free speech” exist? Or is it, like the idea of “democracy,” simply a red herring – a way of holding up the idea that the West is advanced so that it can claim a kind of moral and civilizational superiority over everyone else?

What of “free speech” when six multinational conglomerates with interlocking interests control 90% of media outlets in the U.S., or when combined with telecommunications policy, the influence of public relations firms, advertising interests, and “editorial decisions,” that there is a profound impact on alternative voices emerging? And what of “democracy” when a private corporation formed by both the Democratic and Republican parties (the “Commission on Presidential Debates”) determines debate content, formats, and colludes to exclude third party candidates? Or what about the purging of voters, the power of lobbying groups in shaping policy, the more fundamental fact that two parties with only slightly different ideas represent the interests of free market imperialism, or even more obviously the 2000 “election”? If “free speech” and “democracy” are going to be used, then lets admit that these are not absolutes but rather deeply flawed and limited ideas, even in the West.
So instead of the reductive and racist arguments being made, can these protests be seen as rooted in historical and political grievances? Not what Samuel Huntington and his ilk would claim is a kind of “Muslim insecurity” or “humiliation” about the “superiority of the West,” but rather a real and justifiable demand for justice, dignity and sovereignty? To make this simply about some bad film, a cartoon, and ad, or previously, the burning of a Qu’ran, misses the point entirely. But then again, maybe that is the point: to undermine and divert attention from the more systemic sources of Muslim discontent that continue to undermine, limit and destroy Muslims lives and livelihood.

What Muslims need to do is to embrace our racial Otherness in relation to the West, and as bell hooks and others argue, use it as a site of resistance against the realities that we are facing. Because to embrace our Otherness means to recognize the force of white supremacy and the fact of the colonial present that we live in. An embrace that can then lead to real anti-racist and anti-imperialist solidarities with Black and Latino communities, and not the path of “honorary whiteness” that so many have followed under the guise of “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” And instead of denial and hubris on the part of “the West,” there needs to be more honest reflection in order to get at the more troubling and difficult issues that have to do with history, politics, and power – an alchemy of brutality that has created an uneven playing field in which both minorities inside, and the overwhelming majority of the world outside of Europe and the U.S. is having to endure. Because if this more difficult and self-reflective process doesn’t happen, then these protests are just a trailer for what may yet come.
Sohail Daulatzai writes about race, U.S.-Muslim relations, film, hip-hop, U.S. political culture, and American foreign policy. He is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America (2012) and is the co-editor (with Michael Eric Dyson) of Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic (2009). He has published in numerous anthologies and journals such as Basketball Jones, Black Routes to Islam, The Vinyl Ain’t Final, Souls, Amer-Asia, and SAMAR, as well as having written the liner notes to the upcoming release of the 20th anniversary of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on a graphic novel.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Sanity in the midst of madness

By: Gulamhusein A.Abba

Being a peace loving Muslim, a Gandhian and a staunch believer in non-violence, I was, and continue to be, outraged, saddened and very disturbed by the senseless and horrific violence by misguided Muslims over a silly, amateurish, vulgar and baseless movie. 

Innocent men were killed, including  US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Property of those that had nothing to do with the offending video was torched and destroyed. Relations between countries were savaged. 

It was gratifying to note that many political and religious leaders, including Muslims, denounced both, the violence and the video. No less than the US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the condemnation and brave Muslims in Benghazi itself stood on streets with signs stating that the perpetrators of the violence did not represent Libyans or Muslims, much less Islam. 
At the local level, the Association of Religious communities, representing almost all the faiths in Danbury, spoke out loud and clear through a sagaciously worded full page advertisement in the Saturday issue of the News Times. 

Without in any way justifying or excusing the violence that has been let lose all over the globe by misguided Muslims, there is a need to understand that though the video triggered the violence, it is not the underlying cause for it.

Muslims feel, not without reason, that Muslims and Islam itself are being targeted by Western nations. Minarets have been banned by the Swiss government.. The wearing of a head scarf has been banned by France and Belgium. In the US itself various police departments have profiled and “mapped” Muslims, planting informants in mosques. Worse, the building of mosques is being opposed, even those cleared by respective town/city councils, and existing mosques and sites of proposed ones have been vandalized. 

Newspapers and TV screens are full of images of violent Muslims, with the mandatory sound bite of AllahoAkbar  included, giving the impression that millions of Muslims across the world had taken to the streets. Important figures continue to level defamatory and baseless accusations against Prophet Mohammed. It is even alleged that terrorism is ingrained in Muslims and is in fact a part of Islam itself!    

In an article in a recent issue of Newsweek, the violent protests against the insult to Prophet  Mohamed were described as ‘intolerance’ and the article proceeded to claim that ‘such intolerance has crossed borders and become the defining characteristic of Islam’. (Emphasis added). 

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s host of Morning Joe publicly commented that Muslims hate the US because of the religion itself. He went on to state: "If you gave every street vendor, from street vendor to prime minister in that region, a chance to throw a rock at the U.S. Embassy, they would." 

After a week of the violent protests, the French magazine   Charlie Hebdo decided to pour oil on the fire by publishing offensive cartoons of the Prophet.

All this needs to be countered. But violence is not the answer. By resorting to it the perpetrators are playing into the hands of detractors of Islam and of those who hate Muslims. There are better and more effective ways of countering such propaganda, and that is by presenting the truth.

The truth is, as pointed out by Dean Obeidallah (a former attorney and now a frequent commentator on various TV networks) in a recent excellent commentary to CNN. “In Indonesia, a nation of over 200 million, (only) several hundred people took part in protests …. In Egypt, a nation of over 80 million, about 2,000 people protested on Friday… In Lebanon, no protests occurred until Monday. Why? Because the pope had been visiting the country, and the leader of Hezbollah, which the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist group, didn't want to do anything to interfere with the pope's historic three-day visit.” 
Just as pastors like Terry Jones and Bill Keller, commentators like Joe Scarborough, Muslim hating writers like Robert Spencer, David Horowitz and Pamela Geller, and mobs that demonstrate against a mosque being built do not represent either America or Christianity, so do the miniscule proportion of Muslims that indulge in saber rattling do not represent Muslims, much less Islam. 

As stated earlier, the best and most effective way of countering falsehoods is by presenting the truth. So what is the truth about Islam and Prophet Mohammed? 

That will take a book to explain. For now, as a former Catholic nun, a world-renowned author on world religions and a champion for peace worldwide, Karen Armstrong's video about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad  and his compassion is great to view and share. Click here: 

In conclusion, acts are always better than words. A notable example is being set by Celebrate Mercy. They have put together a mercy mail campaign to ask Muslims to send condolence letters to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens as a perfect way to counter the anti-Islamic video with a good deed. 

In just 45 minutes they got 3,000 letters! In the first 1,638 letters that were sent, I am happy to say that the largest percentage (31.26) were from America. At last check, more than 5,000 letters had been sent.  

Hear the contents of just one of the letters by clicking here:  and then clicking on the video shown on the page that opens up. 

This writer strongly urges readers, especially if they are Muslims, to send a letter of condolence to the deceased Ambassador’s family. To do this, click here:  and follow the prompts.









Friday, September 7, 2012

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba

Note:  This article was written on June 29 and  published on July 3 in the NewsTimes: (

Just as Lyndon B. Johnson’s efforts to establish the Great Society and his War on Poverty were lost on the streets of Hanoi, so also Obama’s quest for justice, his efforts to reduce the killing federal deficit and his war to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in this country are all being lost on the streets of Kandahar and Jerusalem..

Millions in USA are saying to themselves in their heart, though they hesitate to utter it with their lips, “For God’s sake Mr.President, end the senseless, unwinnable war in Afghanistan, and end it now. Leave the corrupt Karzai to his own fate. Why on earth are you committing the cream of our country to death and life-shattering injuries for two more years after having already decided on departing from Afghanistan ? What will be gained?”

They seem to be echoing the question Lyndon B. Johnson once famously asked in a telephone  conversation with his Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, McGeorge Bundy, on May 27, 1964 while discussing the Vietnam War. Here is a relevant excerpt:

Johnson: I will tell you the more, I just stayed awake last night thinking of this thing, and the more that I think of it I don't know what in the hell, it looks like to me that we're getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me. I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with once we're committed. I believe the Chinese Communists are coming into it. I don't think that we can fight them 10,000 miles away from home and ever get anywhere in that area. I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out. And it's just the biggest damn mess that I ever saw.

Johnson continued:

And we just got to think about it. I'm looking at this Sergeant of mine this morning and he's got 6 little old kids over there, and he's getting out my things, and bringing me in my night reading, and all that kind of stuff, and I just thought about ordering all those kids in there. And what in the hell am I ordering them out there for?  (Emphasis added by writer).

Notwithstanding this soul searching he did go on ordering more and more of those “kids” towar.

Obama, who showed so much promise before and immediately after his election to be the President of USA, and from whom the people expected so much, is being used by powerful forces. He either does not know that he is being so used or has sold his soul to the war hawks and the Jewish lobby merely to retain the golden throne and all that goes with it.

He should know that the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, his paying obeisance to AIPAC and Netanyahu and  assuring  continued and unconditional support to Israel while ignoring the  injustices heaped on the Palestinians and their plight, may win him the coming election but these policies are inflicting incalculable harm on this country.

There is a lesson Obama can take from the Johnson episode. All his ordering of those “kids” needlessly into war haunted Johnson for a long time and ultimately led to his decision not to ask for or accept his party’s nomination for another term as President.

If Obama does not have the courage to end the destructive policies being followed by this country, or knows that, with realities of government being what they are in this country, he cannot do what he would like to in these matters, he should at least have the courage of his convictions to say, as LBJ did, “I will not seek or accept the nomination of my party for the Presidency”.

Obama will soon find that it is better not to have blood on his hands and guilt on his conscience than sit on the throne for four more years.

As for the voters, true their choice is limited to only bad or worse. Choosing the lesser evil is never the answer. Evil is evil and must be avoided at all cost.
The voters need to send a strong message that they will not support anyone who puts his own personal interests before the long term good of the country.

The voters in the coming historic election have a third choice. Give their support to neither Obama nor Romney. Just don’t vote for any of them. Leave that portion of the ballot blank or vote for any independent or the nominee of some other party, the Green Party for example, if any of them fields a candidate.

By this simple act the voters can and should send a clear message to both the parties and to all future contenders for the throne in Washington.

Monday, September 3, 2012

When you are a Palestinian
by nahida the Exiled Palestinian
A poem by Shadi Abdul-Kareem
Translation by Nahida Exiled Palestinian

When you are a Palestinian 
You would need daily practice of hiding tears 
And swallowing huge chunk of wishes 
 Overflowing from your reality

 In front of which you stand flabbergasted 
Wondering who’d find the genie’s lamp 
That would bring back your olive tree, 
 the straw tray and the sea fragrance? 

When you are a Palestinian 
You wouldn’t dare to broaden your smile 
The ghosts of Alaqsa would encircle you 
And the blood of Saladin which runs in your veins 
Would remind you whenever you attempt to smile 
That your smile is a betrayal… punishable by history 

When you are a Palestinian 
You cannot dream solo 
There is always someone with you 
Rather taking control 
And whilst others dream of wealth, power, wife, children 
Your dream is 
A nap beneath an orange tree in Haifa 
A cup of coffee by the shore of Tabareya 
A prayer that rises up to heaven
 Following the footsteps of the beloved 

When you are a Palestinian 
You’d live in a state of unceasing absence of normal life
 No wakefulness… no sleep 
No work… no rest 
No awareness… no unconsciousness 
Without the remembrance of Palestine;

How was Palestine!
What became of Palestine!
And what will happen to Palestine?

When you are a Palestinian 
You would live a stranger in your homeland 
And a stranger outside your homeland 
 You would provoke all kinds of feelings
You’d be an instigator of pity, some times 
An instigator of sadness, some times 
An instigator of curiosity, some times 
An instigator of admiration, many times 

When you are a Palestinian 
You’d work tirelessly 
Promoting a redundant commodity 
No longer in circulation 
Since new dictionaries of morality have been invented 

When you are a Palestinian 
 You will unavoidably get an illness called melancholy 
You will infect all those who know you
 And those who gaze at the caged tears in your eyes 
And those who’d listen to the howl of mosques, churches and stones in your voice 

When you are a Palestinian 
You would enjoy an extraordinary memory 
You’d remember the number of sand grains under the sea
 The voice of every muezzin 
The laughter of every child 
You’d remember the colour of dawn 
The flavour of sleep
 The scent of rain 

When you are a Palestinian 
You’d also remember those black nights 
The voices of their monsters and their moves 
You would remember the smell of death mixed with gunfire 
You’d remember the wailing of widows
 And the moaning of little girls 
You’d remember your footsteps towards the oblivion 
Every tear, and over which soil granule it fell 

When you are a Palestinian 
You’d discover the value of numbers 
You’d fall in love with them 
Or hate them 
A strong bond will anchor you 
Since your name became a number 
Your history, a number 
Your home address, a number 
Your lost-family members, a number 
Those who died, who imprisoned, who were torn to pieces… numbers 
The days you squandered -or squandered by- in refugee camps… a number 
Your dreams and failed prophecies of the day of your return… a number
 You’d appreciate indeed the value of numbers 
You’d be filled with gratitude to those who invented numbers 
Otherwise your life would’ve been lifeless, and numberless 

When you are a Palestinian 
You’d live in chronic yearning to a past you never knew 
And to future you would never know

When you are a Palestinian 
Words of love would not matter to you 
Nor the stock market
 Nor festival celebrations here and there
 It would not matter to you if nights became endless 
Or if days disappeared forever
 It would not matter to you if the year is twelve months 
Or twelve watermelons 

It would not matter to you if people ascended to the moon 
Or if the moon descended to them 
It would not matter to you if a party loses the election and another wins 
It would not matter to you if a country is triumphant and another defeated 
All what matters to you is that 

When you are a Palestinian 
You would abruptly stop talking
 And leave the story unfinished 
The poem without an ending 
As most likely the ideas in your head would become overcrowded 
So much so that they’d run over each other 
And you’d have to stop writing or talking immediately 
To attend the funeral of those thoughts which have been squashed 
And died before even being born 

I will cut short my speech 
Leave to give my condolences in exile
 Where thoughts pass away 
Because they refuse to survive 
Without a homeland 

September 2, 2012 at 11:52