Is Living with Islamophobia the New Normal for Muslims?

altmuslim - 25 March, 2015 - 15:47
By Arzu Kaya-Uranli Honey, don’t get me wrong, but maybe it’s better if you remove these Arabic words from above your door for a while,” my 70-year-old neighbor softly advised me as she was leaving my house. I must have given her a puzzled look because she explained, “Crazy things are happening in the world, and [Read More...]

Behind the Afzal Amin row: fight over mosque at heart of community tensions

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 March, 2015 - 12:44

Amid furore over Tory’s alleged EDL dealings in Dudley, little has been said about the prayerhouse at its centre – a contentious issue simmering for years

Two bulbous white domes perch incongruously atop a draughty Grade II-listed former school across the hill from Dudley’s ruined castle, symbols of Islamic architecture bolted on to the old building that has for decades allowed the town’s growing Muslim population a space to pray.

Next door, inside the community centre, Amjid Raza, the mosque’s spokesman, explains how the political row that led to Afzal Amin’s resignation as Tory candidate for Dudley North on Monday was just the latest twist in a 15-year battle that has seen ugly and violent protests as the far-right has sought to inflame community tensions for their own ends.

Related: Afzal Amin quits as Tory candidate for Dudley North after EDL plot allegations

You can’t deceive your own community. I do feel let down.

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Raw Story: Georgia ‘patriot’ reportedly planted pipe bombs in park to sow fear of Muslims

Loon Watch - 24 March, 2015 - 22:34


By David Ferguson, Raw Story

A 67-year-old Marietta, Georgia man is accused of planting a backpack containing two pipe bombs in an Atlanta-area public park in order to frighten the public and sow fear of Islamic terrorism.

According to Atlanta’s Channel 2 News, conservative “patriot” Michael Sibley confessed to police that he was trying to educate people that terror strikes can happen anywhere and without warning when he planted the bombs last November.

The backpack contained two partially-constructed pipe bombs, a Koran and a list of “soft targets” for terrorist attacks — i.e., non-military, unguarded structures like hospitals and schools. Among the list of potential targets was an Atlanta Jewish center.

Channel 2 quoted Sibley’s arrest report, which reported that he “(s)tated that he is a ‘patriot’ and he felt no one was paying attention to what was going on the world. Sibley felt if he placed the package in a Roswell park then people would finally get that this type of activity could happen anywhere.”

Read the entire article…

Devout Christian Goes On Rampage At New Orleans Airport And You Didn’t Hear About It

Loon Watch - 24 March, 2015 - 19:35

via. Daily Beast

via. Daily Beast

What if they were Muslim?

By Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast

A Muslim American man carrying a duffel bag that holds six homemade explosives, a machete, and poison spray travels to a major U.S. airport. The man enters the airport, approaches the TSA security checkpoint, and then sprays two TSA officers with the poison. He then grabs his machete and chases another TSA officer with it.

This Muslim man is then shot and killed by the police. After the incident, a search of the attacker’s car by the police reveals it contained acetylene and oxygen tanks, two substances that, when mixed together, will yield a powerful explosive.

If this scenario occurred, there’s zero doubt that this would be called a terrorist attack. Zero. It would make headlines across the country and world, and we would see wall-to-wall cable news coverage for days. And, of course, certain right-wing media outlets, many conservative politicians, and Bill Maher would use this event as another excuse to stoke the flames of hate toward Muslims.

Well, last Friday night, this exact event took place at the New Orleans airport—that is, except for one factual difference: The attacker was not Muslim. Consequently, you might be reading about this brazen assault for the first time here, although this incident did receive a smattering of media coverage over the weekend.

The man who commited this attack was Richard White, a 63-year-old former Army serviceman who has long been retired and living on Social Security and disability checks. He was reportedly a devout Jehovah’s Witness.

Given the facts that a man armed with explosives and weapons traveled to an airport and only attacked federal officers, you would think that the word “terrorism” would at least come up as a possibility, right?  But it’s not even mentioned.

Instead, law enforcement was quick to chalk this incident up to the attacker’s alleged “mental health issues.” That was pretty amazing police work considering this conclusion came within hours of the attack. There was no mention by police that they had even explored whether White had issues with the federal government stemming from his military service, if there was any evidence he held anti-government views, etc.

Perhaps Mr. White truly was mentally ill. Interviews with his neighbors, however, don’t even give us a hint that he had mental problems. Rather they described White as a “meek” and “kind” man who a few had spoken to just days before the incident and everything seemed fine. You would think these neighbors would at least note that White had a history of mental illness if it was so apparent.

Read the entire article…

For A French Rabbi And His Muslim Team, There’s Work To Be Done

Loon Watch - 24 March, 2015 - 18:19


By Eleanor Beadsley, NPR

Rabbi Michel Serfaty drives to his first appointment of the day, in a suburb south of Paris, just a couple miles from the notorious housing project where gunman Amedy Coulibaly grew up.

Coulibaly is the self-proclaimed Islamist radical who killed a police officer and later four people in a Kosher market in Paris terrorist attacks in January.

France has Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish communities. For the last decade Serfaty and his team have been working in bleak places like this, trying to promote understanding between the two populations.

Serfaty is still going to the same places since the attacks, but there’s now a team of undercover police officers who accompany him everywhere. Still, The rabbi says he’s more determined than ever.

“These are difficult times for France and especially for French Jews,” he says. “But if anything, we realize our work is even more important.”

The rabbi makes his way into a community center where his French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association has a stand at a local job fair. Serfaty hopes to recruit several more young people to help with community outreach in the largely Muslim, immigrant communities where most people have never even met a Jewish person.

A poster for the French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association, which works in many poor, immigrant neighborhoods.

A poster for the French Jewish Muslim Friendship Association, which works in many poor, immigrant neighborhoods.

Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

“In these places they often have specific ideas about Jews,” says Serfaty. “And if they’re negative, we bring arguments and try to open people’s eyes to what are prejudices and negative stereotypes. We try to show children, mothers and teenagers that being Muslim is great, but if they don’t know any Jews, well this is how they are, and they’re also respectable citizens.”

Serfaty says people need to realize they must all work together to build France’s future.

The rabbi takes advantage of funding from a government program that helps youths without work experience find their first job. Serfaty takes them on for a period of three years, giving them valuable training in mediation and community relations. Serfaty’s recruits also study Judaism and Islam. And he takes them on a trip to Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp.

The rabbi takes advantage of funding from a government program that helps youths without work experience find their first job. Serfaty takes them on for a period of three years, giving them valuable training in mediation and community relations. Serfaty’s recruits also study Judaism and Islam. And he takes them on a trip to Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp.

Serfaty is looking to hire three or four new people. With his affable manner and easy laugh, the job interviews are more like a friendly conversation. He needs Muslim employees for his work, but French laws on secularism forbid him from asking applicants about their religion. So Serfaty draws out the candidates’ views and beliefs in discussion — and through provocative questions.

Read the entire article...

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Intimacy for Muslim Couples

Muslim Matters - 24 March, 2015 - 14:50

Intimacy Matters with Haleh Banani, Saba Syed and Hena Zuberi: Introduction

For mature audience only:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Intimacy between spouses is a beautiful act of worship. A divine experience that has been mired by anxieties fueled by hypersexualized media, Hollywood movies, many cultural beliefs from the East and misinformed 18th century notions rooted in the West.

It took a year of contemplation for us to publicly address this topic in a broadcast, but the need amongst Muslim couples was so great that we had to put aside our hesitations. The Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam and the sahaba and sahabiyaat were not shy to discuss these matters.

Usually when sexual intimacy is discussed in public it is not from a female lens, hence we want to collaborate with our male Shuyukh by providing the female perspective, so we can all contribute to healthy marriages.

If we look at intimacy as both a physical and spiritual act and climaxing as the epitome of pleasure that Allah has gifted us, it is easier to understand why it is meant to be a source of Divine Love for both men and women.

As you will hear today that intimacy has become a serious problem in many marriages—  there are many guilt and shame based misconceptions that cause problems between spouses often leading to divorce. Our main motive is to foster healthy marriages, Allah says he loves those who foster purity and marriage is the best way to guard our desires.

We don't want to generalize because generalization can hurt a relationship and each relationship is as different as the people involved in it. Let's not play the blame game after listening to this. We want couples to listen together in hopes of understanding and bettering their marriage.

Men Complain:

-“My wife doesn't want to have intercourse”

-Frequency is mainly a concern amongst men

-“My wife doesn't actively participate in intimacy, or never initiates”

Women Complain:

-Quality of intimacy

-Lack of foreplay

-Most common complaints: “He fails to give me a climax.”

How To Score BIG With Women: An Islamic and Psychological Approach for Men Why is there a Difference between Men's and Women's Complaints about Intimacy?

Different needs but BOTH men and women are sensual beings and they BOTH need sensual fulfillment.

Top needs for men include:

-#1 Need: Mutual satisfaction (contrary to popular belief that men only want their own sexual satisfaction they, naturally, want to satisfy their wives too)

-Responsiveness of their spouse – men want their wives engaged during the act: mentally, emotionally and physically

-Men desire initiation by their wife —they long to feel wanted, desired and affirmed

-Men also want to be complimented

Generally, men see intimacy as an escape or release of tension.  They need the intimate act to open up emotionally.

Unfortunately, women continue to be restricted sexually by:



-Social and society influence

-Religiously perceived notions

-Family taboos

Sex masha'Allah: Vignettes on Female Sexuality Women have sexual needs:

Instead of being able to fully express their sensual nature, women are restricted to being “emotional” only and ripped apart from their “sexual” side.

A woman can be as sensual as she is spiritual, as erotic as she is intellectual and as climatic as she is emotional.

There is a common ground in the complaints—of both men and women— and it is “intimacy”, but:

-Men want intimacy and they want their wives' participation, and more frequently

-Women have complaints about the quality of intimacy

Many men not only have a huge misunderstanding about women's sexuality, shockingly many still wonder whether or not a woman is able to reach her climax. Yet, many confuse pleasing a woman in bed as equivalent to fondling only and not making her experience a climax.

Majority of married Muslim women complain about “satisfaction” during intimacy.

The word “satisfaction” is often confused with fondling or fore-playing only. The truth is that if and when explicitly asked, these women explicitly complain about not being able to reach their climax.

SO while men complain about lack of participation of frequency of intimacy, women lose interest because they don't want to be intimate if they can't reach their climax. It's a cycle and unless men understand women's need of sexuality, women will continue to lose interest that can lead to dangerous consequences.

Next video will be up soon.




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Trojan horse school in Birmingham to be renamed

The Guardian World news: Islam - 24 March, 2015 - 12:37

Park View, which was at centre of alleged plot by Muslim extremists to take over state schools in city, to rebrand as Ofsted praises progress

Park View academy, the Birmingham school at the centre of the Trojan horse allegations of religious infiltration, is to rebrand itself in an attempt to improve its image, as the school celebrates the first signs of official approval for its overhaul.

Adrian Packer, the school’s new executive principal, has told parents that a new name for the school is to be voted on by parents and pupils, after the academy’s governing body, the Park View educational trust, decided to rename itself the Core education trust.

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FearBusters: Fear of Criticism

Muslim Matters - 24 March, 2015 - 04:00

See Introduction: FearBusters: Conquering our Fears

See Part 1: Fear of Poverty

Part 2: Fear of Criticism

Let me describe a scenario to you and you tell me if it sounds familiar to you or not.

You have a big decision to make in life and in you're certain that in your heart you know what the right thing to do is. However, the voices and the opinions of others around you seem to ring louder than the sound of your own heart. So you make the critical mistake of listening to others opinions and the recommendation of others, rather than listen to your own heart.

Sound familiar?

I have seen this situation played out time and time again to the detriment of the individual who has either: 1) Been listening to others for so long that they don't even know how to listen to and trust their own hearts or 2) They have chosen to ignore their hearts and follow the opinions of others instead.

Why does this happen? Oftentimes, people will point to some obvious reasons for this phenomenon occurring, however I think the underlying reason is the fear of criticism or what others will say and think. As a matter of fact, having been born to a South Asian family, one of the staples of every argument in every desi household is “Don't do that…what will people say (or think) about you if you wear that outfit? Or if you chose to marry that girl/guy? or if you live in that neighborhood?”

I'm just pointing out the South Asian culture because that's my background but this type of conversation happens all the time in cultures throughout the world. And I'm not here to say that everyone else's suggestions and opinions are always wrong and ours is always right. The point is that you need to dig deep and really understand if whether or not you're listening to them because you really feel that what they're suggesting is a better route for you and feels right in your heart, or you're just doing it because you're succumbing to pressure out of fear of being criticized for making your own choices in life. This is the question that you need to look deep inside of yourself and answer.

Am I living out other peoples' lives based on their wishes for me, or am I living out my own? Always listening to other people out of the fear of what criticism may arise by not listening to them, is in essence giving away your God-given freedom to make your own choices in life.

Not only are you giving away your God-given freedoms but you're giving them away to a group of people who most probably will never be satisfied with you no matter what you do! That's the reality of people who often criticize you and others. They're bitter and unhappy people who you will not be able to please no matter what you do. So why in the world would you give away the power to direct and lead your life based on what your own heart tells you just to please a people who will never be pleased in the first place?!?!?!

Sounds ridiculous right? The sad reality is that millions upon millions do this every single day.

Here are 3 deeper sides to this issue:

  1. Many of the people who criticize you and you are afraid of their criticism will be family members who you can't just 'get rid of'. But that's a topic for another article altogether.
  2. By always worrying and fearing what others think, you take attention away from focusing on pleasing the only One who you really have to answer to…Allah.
  3. Successful people are not people who always have to rely on what others think and suggest for them. Successful people are confident and self-assured in their actions.
Principle to overcome this Fear: Learn to trust and listen to the voice of your own heart

This is a very simple, yet powerful principle. The prophet himself advised a companion to consult his own heart on a particular matter. We must learn to listen to our own hearts while consulting the Most High in decisions both big and small. Our gut feeling and instinct is very powerful and is developed through our life experiences and we must learn to listen to it and get in the habit of looking inside for answers rather than outside.

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Blaming the Victims: An Art Form in The NY Times

Now that the Israeli election has faded from prominence on the front pages of The New York Times, readers may recall that a new entity sprang up during the 2015 campaign, a coalition party called the Joint List. It represents the Palestinian (Arab) citizens of Israel, and it managed to take third place in the number of seats in parliament.

The Times gave space to this new phenomenon. The party was duly mentioned in overviews of the race, and stories out of the Israeli Arab cities of Nazareth and Ibillin looked at its candidates and the concerns of Palestinians who support its platform.

At first glance, this is all to the good—the Times often overlooks the presence of Arabs and other minorities within Israel—but a closer look shows that even here we find the usual effort to shield Israel from serious scrutiny.

The Times stories (“Arab Alliance Rises as Force in Israeli Elections” and “Voters in Nazareth Cheer Gains by Arab Alliance”) note that Palestinian citizens of Israel are poorer and less educated than their Jewish counterparts and that they live in more crowded conditions, but the articles say nothing about the Israeli policies and laws that create this inequality in the first place.

On the contrary, the stories imply that the fault is with Israeli Arab leaders. Reporter Diaa Hadid quotes a Palestinian resident of the Galilee who says Arab politicians have done nothing for them so far. “We have no space here,” the man adds, apparently blaming this fact on the Palestinian representatives.

Hadid then describes the town as “crowded with boxy concrete homes on narrow streets” with “billboards blighting the view.” The “densely packed” Arab towns, she writes, “are in stark contrast to the leafy, well-planned Jewish communities that often sit nearby.”

There is no mention of the fact that 93 percent of the land in Israel is owned by the state for the benefit of Jews only and it is Israeli policies that prevent Arabs from expanding their crowded towns. Nazareth, for instance, has been encircled by the Jewish community of Nazareth Illit, which sits on hilltops surrounding the city. It was built specifically to block any efforts to develop Nazareth beyond its present boundaries.

The story also fails to note that 600 Israeli Jewish towns have been built since 1948 while the state has yet to recognize a single new Arab community. In fact, many towns that predated the establishment of Israel by centuries are “unrecognized” by the state and thus denied normal services, such as water, schools and transportation.

Most of these unrecognized villages are Bedouin communities in the Negev (Naqab in Arabic). Israel plans to force nearly all of their residents into townships, destroying their traditional livelihoods of herding and agriculture.

During the recent elections, residents of these villages were forced to travel long distances to reach polling places. The authorities refused to set up polls in their communities and even cut back the number of voting sites that had existed before.

Yet, none of this appeared in the pages of the Times, even in the stories directly concerned with Arab voters. Nothing is said of the more than 50 laws that privilege Jewish over minority residents of Israel. Instead, readers were provided with a vague reference to inequality in “land allocation” and demeaning comparisons between Palestinian and Jewish communities.

In a third story concerning the Joint List, the Times acknowledges the prejudice and ridicule directed at Arab members within parliament, but overall the paper fails to provide the context for Arab struggles within Israel, beginning with the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 and continuing even now with the confiscation of homes and land. (See, for instance, “Arab village of Dahmash fears being wiped off Israel’s map.”)

As Israeli Palestinians continue to cling to their homeland, squeezed into constricted spaces and denied the benefits of the majority community, they deserve recognition of their narrative. The Times, however, prefers to protect Israel, falling back on that ancient tactic of blaming the victim.

Barbara Erickson

Filed under: NY Times Censorship Tagged: Adalah, Ibillin, Israeli Arabs, Israeli elections, Israeli Palestinians, Nazareth

Jews And Muslims: It’s Complicated (III)

Loon Watch - 23 March, 2015 - 23:49


Original Guest post by Mehdi

Read part I and II in this series

The revolutions that swept across Europe: the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars and the 1830-1848 revolutions had a tremendous effect on the lives of people in the Muslim majority world:

  • Economically: as the industrial revolution radically changed world economics, increasing the importance of industry and manufacturing, it also reduced the importance of economic centers such as China, India and the Ottoman empire. Increased effectiveness in navy and train freight transportation fed the needs of the new European industrial elite, particularly hungry for natural resources.
  • Militarily: European powers acquired military experience and technology during their wars that gave them a decisive edge over potential opponents elsewhere in the world. This would prove decisive when they conquered nations and carved out their colonial empires, in the process destroying any resistance.
  • Politically and strategically: the wave of revolutions radically changed European politics and the structure of political systems. It also resulted in rivalries and competition that drove them to radicalizing their modern imperialist projects, which started to impact the rest of the word.

These changes are all well-known (documented by the late British historian Eric Hobsbawm), but most historical analysis focuses less on an important aspect: the impact of enlightenment ideas and modernity, especially on Arab minorities, including Arab Jews.

As explained in the last article, Jews (and Christians) lived under the Dhimma status, which provided a framework for protection and collective rights. The major paradigm shift was about the term “collective,” as this new era of modernity advanced the role of the individual and the importance of his/her rights.

Arab minorities were gradually exposed to these ideas, often via. European imperialist powers whose motives were less than noble. The imperialist powers carried out “divide and conquer” policies, using missionaries, trade delegations, military expeditions and specific legal arrangements known as capitulations.

European powers also declared themselves the protectors of so-called repressed minorities, such as the Druze or Maronite in Lebanon; a cynical move which sought to manipulate groups in order to increase their influence.

While the Enlightenment ideas were clearly instrumentalized for ulterior motives,  they were still attractive to minorities who aspired to a better status than second class citizenship. It should be noted however that there was also great tumult when changes were put into place, many minorities did not desire change to the status quo.

The decline of the Ottoman empire and other Muslim states led to a situation where they were incapable of addressing new challenges brought by modernity, they could not re-invent a legal system that worked for centuries but required adjustments or reforms in a new context. There were attempts to do so but they did not stir massive support, and were inaudible in the context of European aggressions.

European colonial powers also enacted laws and decrees that were clear “divide and conquer” measures, such as the Crémieux decree in Algeria (named after Jewish French politician Adolphe Crémieux), which allowed for native Jews to become French citizens while Muslim Arabs and Berbers were excluded and remained under the second-class ‘indigenous’ status outlined in the “Code de l’Indigénat.”

CremieuxThere were many other examples, (such as the French promotion of Berber separatism in Algeria and Morocco to no avail), and while the previous example is specific to Algeria, it shows the impact of colonialism on coexistence between Algerian Jews and Muslims.  As their lifestyles changed, they started naming their children differently (moving from typical Arabic Jewish names such as Mardochee or Haim to French names such as Raymond, Maurice or Marcel), living in different neighborhoods and studying under different educational systems (if they ever went to school at all, since the indigenous populations were globally excluded from any education).

The Impact of European Anti-Semitism

Historically, while some limited collaborations existed, the lives of European and Arab Jews was quite different. It is impossible to list all of these differences, but it is important to highlight that the condition of European Jews, and the persecutions they were subjected to (pogroms in Eastern Europe, discrimination in central Europe, Anti-Semitic public campaigns such as the Dreyfus affair in France) ended up impacting the Muslim world.

The history of Anti-Semitism is complex, and should be differentiated depending on the European countries and regions, but their concrete effects resulted in European Jews debating the best ways of addressing them, choosing between different strategies:

  • Assimilation: many European Jews believed in their capacity to be accepted by succeeding in public life, whether economically, politically (e.g. Benjamin Disraeli), or by simply supporting the emancipating ideals of enlightenment or modernity. Many prominent Jews chose a more radical approach by being involved in anarchist or communist revolutionary movements. It is interesting to note that several examples of Jewish success stories resulted in backlashes and more Anti-Semitic delirium (as a side note, contemporary racist rants in the USA after the election of President Obama or in Europe against Muslim or Black ministers parallel this delirium).
  • Emigration: chosen mostly by Eastern European Jews, especially after several waves of pogroms. The preferred destination was usually the USA, until restrictions were applied through the 1924 immigration act.
  • Zionism: promoting a separate Jewish homeland. The movement was initiated by Theodor Herzl after the Dreyfus affair convinced him that Jews had no future in Europe.
  • Bundism: mostly based in Eastern Europe, promoting national-cultural autonomy but clearly in conflict with Zionism. Bundism was depicted as an escapist doctrine with critics stating it served the agenda of Anti-Semites who wanted Jews out of Europe. Bundists defended Jewish communities in Eastern Europe until WW2. Famous Polish hero Marek Hedelman was one of its main figures, refusing to leave Poland and was also a prominent critic of Israeli policies until his passing. The Nazi holocaust, terror policies and repression ended up destroying the Bund movement.

BundThese directions are not a comprehensive outlook and strategies were not as clear cut, but this shows the different strategies that Jews had when facing European Anti-Semitism. The objective of this article is not to qualify which strategy is the best, nor to draw any political equivalence between such approaches. I am myself extremely opposed to Zionism but my criticism is not the topic of this article, the intent is to examine what happened and the resulting consequences.

Overall, the majority of European Jews either chose assimilation or immigration to the USA until 1924. The rise of Nazism in Germany and anti-immigration laws in the US aimed at European Jews changed the situation drastically and made the Zionist project an alternative in the 1930s and after WW2.

The Zionist movement started organizing departures of European Jews towards Palestine for settlement. The Balfour declaration provided the movement with political cover for departures, leaving the British in a situation where they had to balance their promises toward Zionist leaders with the promises of independence they made to Arab leaders. The British never established a clear strategy in the face of the arrival of Jewish settlers which led to more tensions and increased conflict such as the 1929 Hebron massacre.

While they were incapable of addressing the demands of both communities, the actions of the British strengthened the Zionist movement at the expense of Palestinian society and its leadership. For instance when they militarily crushed the 1936-39 Palestinian intifada and also simultaneously trained Zionist settlers, including many future Israeli army leaders within their ranks, such as Moshe Dayan. The events in the 1920s-30s gradually led the Zionist movement to become stronger, more militarized and tempted to implement an expulsion of the Arab population.

Intifada-36The outcome of the 1947-49 war was made predictable by the combined: crushing of the 1936-39 Palestinian insurgency (leaving the Palestinians with most of their political leadership either dead, in prison or in exile, crushed militarily, and with hardly any organized militia), the acquired military experience and weaponry by Jewish Hagganah and Irgun movements (during the Intifada and WW2), and the moral outrage following the horrific WW2 holocaust, which drew sympathy to the Zionist cause from the European and American public.

Joseph Stalin provided unexpected support to the Zionists first by allowing several tens of thousands of Polish Jews to emigrate to Palestine, including trained soldiers who had participated in resistance movements during the war, and by providing an important weapon shipment via. Czechoslovakia that David Ben Gurion later acknowledged to be decisive.

Ironically Joseph Stalin provided this decisive support to Zionists while conducting anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

On the field, despite the intervention of Arab armies, the Hagana/Irgun and other militias outnumbered them, most estimates range between about 60,000 troops on the Israeli side versus less than 30,000 on the Arab side. The only army that was a potential threat to the Zionist militias was the Jordanian Arab legion, which never entered the battle due to a secret agreement between Golda Meir and King Abdallah, where the latter agreed to stay away from the conflict while being allowed to annex the West bank.

The war itself is subject to a lot of controversies, regarding the different strategies undertaken by the belligerents, the factors that led to the Israeli victory and the intentionality behind the mass expulsion of the Palestinians. The narrative of an Israeli “David” fighting heroically for its survival against superior Arab “Goliath” armies and winning against the odds has been the mainstream story for decades on the Israeli and Western side.

This view has started to erode since the 1980’s with the emergence of Israel’s “new historians”, the picture is now more nuanced, showing that the odds for an Israeli victory were even, if not overwhelmingly in its favor.

Nearly 80% of the Palestinian population living within the new state of Israel were expelled in what is known as the Nakba, most of them became refugees even before David Ben Gurion declared independence. (As often is the case in such tragedies, estimates are subject to speculation, the official figure is 711,000 Palestinians while 10,000 Jews were forced to evacuate their homes from Arab dominated parts of former Mandatory Palestine).

This was clearly shown and documented by the generation of “new historians,” who accessed the Israeli archives in the 1980s, confirming that the Palestinians were forced out massively and violently. There is a debate among the historians as to whether the expulsion was planned in advance (Benny Morris claims that it wasn’t whereas other historians such as Avi Shlaim or Illan Pappé conclude the opposite), but they all confirm that Palestinians were forced to leave their home. After the war, they would never be given any possibility to return to their lands, despite Israel signing UN resolution 194 that allowed such a return.


The irony is that Zionism, which presented itself as a liberation movement for Jews, became a colonization and expansionist movement for Arabs. That dilemma is still there, especially after the 1967 six-day war which saw the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai, and Golan heights (an occupation that still goes on except for the Sinai peninsula).

While the narratives continue to be debated, two points are indisputable:

  • The 1947-49 war resulted in the Nakba and saw the beginning of the Palestinian tragedy: causing moral outrage for Arabs and Muslims and a state of constant tensions and wars with the state of Israel, which presents itself as the representatives of Jews around the world.
  • Arab Jews were left in an uncomfortable situation, not clear whether to join the new state or stay in their countries.

The next and final article in this series will cover the separation between Arab Jews and Muslims, its reasons and effects and what we can and must do now.


Tunisia needs visitors now more than ever | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 March, 2015 - 20:17

It is too easy after last week’s atrocities in Tunisia (Report, 23 March) to start speculating. Is Tunisia “next”? Is Tunisia “safe”? Tolerant local forms of Islam have been prevalent in Tunisia for centuries. Nevertheless, it is oft cited in the media that many Tunisians have fled to fight in Syria (3,000, apparently). Between the lines, we are expected read this as some indicator of the extent of religious fervour in Tunisia. The reality is that these people have left Tunisia to fight their cause precisely because Salafism is an alien import and does not sit comfortably in Tunisia. Last week’s attack should be understood as akin to those in Sydney and Paris: individuals rallying to the calls of Islamic State, to find targets and attack them. They will pop-up in any given place: from Brighton to Boston, from Marrakech to Moscow, from Toronto to Tunis. A primary driver for young and educated individuals to become radicalised in Tunisia has been an ailing economy and high unemployment. Tunisia needs visitors now, more so than ever before, especially the types of visitors who would visit the Bardo museum. If we respond by withdrawing our support, we inadvertently contribute to the economic malaise and the plight of the disenfranchised: we ultimately stoke the embers of radicalism.
Farès Moussa

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Bill Maher Wanted to Remind You: He’s Still A Likud Loving Zionist Who Hates Arabs And Muslims

Loon Watch - 23 March, 2015 - 19:23


Of course one doesn’t expect hypocritical, lying Bill Maher to change his racist beliefs and insecurities about Arabs and Muslims over night; that’s part of the reason people watch him. Bill, like any slime ball politician knows his constituency and they love when he hates on Arabs and Muslims.

Still, it was quite something to see Bill Maher bizarrely defend the almost universally scorned (except by the Republicans) Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

I guess he just wanted to remind us, in case we forgot, that he loves himself some Israel.:

By Jack Jenkins, ThinkProgress

Politicians, Jewish advocacy groups, and Rabbis have been highly critical of methods used by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to win reelection last week, particularly his short-lived public renunciation of a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis and his 11th-hour bid to bolster his supporters by warning that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes.” President Barack Obama said the remarks were “contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions,” the New York Times editorial board called them “desperate, and craven,” and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, noted the tactics were a “naked appeal to his hard-right bases’ fears rather than their hopes.” Several others, including Reform Rabbi Zinkow, said the prime minister’s comments “sound racist.”

But talk show host and self-professed liberal Bill Maher attempted to stifle the growing criticism of Netanyahu on Saturday night. Speaking to a panel that included a GOP strategist and a former Republican lawmaker, Maher challenged claims that the prime minister’s remarks were racist by, confusingly, pointing to America’s own history of using racist political tactics.

“I guess that is racist, in the strictest sense — he’s bringing race into the equation,” Maher said of Netanyahu’s remarks. “But, first of all, like Reagan didn’t win races with racism? Or Nixon? Or Bush? Like they didn’t play the race card? Reagan opened his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, remember that? Remember Willie Horton?”

Maher’s second rant on the subject took an even more bizarre turn, with the host trying to add “a little perspective” by outlining a hypothetical scenario in which America is under siege from “black nations.” He also drew comparisons between Netanyahu’s election and America’s internment of Japanese people during World War II.

“I heard a lot of commentators here say, it would been as if Mitt Romney, in 2012, on the eve of the election said, ‘black voters are coming out in droves to the polls,’” he said. “But I don’t know if that’s really a great analogy. I think that would be a good analogy if America was a country that was surrounded by 12 or 13 completely black nations who had militarily attacked us many times, including as recently as last year. Would we let them vote? I don’t know. When we were attacked by the Japanese, we didn’t just not let them vote, we rounded them up and put them in camps.”

A video of the exchange is below.

Update: By the way, here’s what an apology that isn’t an apology looks like. Get ready for the laughs, provided for by Netanyahu.:

“I wasn’t trying to block anyone from voting. I was trying to mobilize my own forces,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NPR Friday. “And that mobilization was based on Arab money — sorry, on foreign money, a lot of foreign money that was coming in.”

Family of Afghan woman lynched by mob take comfort from tide of outrage

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 March, 2015 - 18:59

Father of a 27-year-old woman who was murdered by a mob in Kabul last week has witnessed a very public response to his daughter’s death

In Afghanistan, mourning a family member is never a private matter. But, for Mohammad Nader Malikzadah, grieving his murdered daughter, it has happened in front of an international audience.

Farkhunda, 27, was killed by a mob last week in front of the mosque where she worked as a religious teacher, falsely accused of burning pages from the Qu’ran. A crowd of men beat her, pulled her off a roof when she tried to escape, pelted her with wooden planks and ran her over with a car, before burning her dead body.

Related: Afghan woman killed by mob in Kabul was innocent, says investigator

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If Stephen Harper is serious about criminalising ‘barbaric cultural practices’, then he should arrest himself for even suggesting it

Loon Watch - 23 March, 2015 - 17:39


Robert Fisk Sunday 22 March 2015

And while he’s at it, he can lock up all the other Western leaders who have savaged the Muslim world too

Is Stephen Harper off his rocker? Forget his trip to Jerusalem last year when the Canadian prime minister said that criticism of Israel was a “mask” for anti-Semitism.

Ignore his utter failure to bring home to Canada al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy, whose retrial was staged by the Egyptian government to give him the chance to leave for his country of adoption. Cast aside Harper’s Blair-like contention that the Islamist murders of Canadian soldiers had nothing – absolutely zilch – to do with his decision to send Canada’s F-18 jets against Isis.

Now Harper, the man with the choir-boy good looks whose pro-Israeli policies might win him a seat in the Knesset, is about to push a truly eccentric piece of legislation through parliament in Ottawa. It’s called – and I urge readers to repeat the words lest they think it’s already April Fool’s Day – the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”. Yup, when I first read the phrase “Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, I felt sure it was a joke, a line from the “Big Bang Theory” or a Channel 4 mockudrama about Nigel Farage’s first premiership.

Nope. It’s all real. But let me quickly explain that the “Barbaric Cultural Practices” in question are polygamy, “gender-based” family violence, “honour-killing” and forcing children under 16 to leave Canada for marriages abroad. I’ve no problem with legislation against this, of course. Nor have most Canadians.

I’m also against illegally invading foreign countries, colonising other people’s land, “waterboarding” and bombing wedding parties, or firing drone missiles into Waziristan villages. But these aren’t quite the “barbaric cultural practices” Mr Harper has in mind.

What’s odd about the “barbarism” he’s thinking about – although the very use of the word “culture” is intriguing now that Isis has determined that “culture” is a sin after the Tunis museum massacre – is that these “practices” are already forbidden by Canadian law.

Polygamy is illegal in Canada – although Mormon polygamists in British Columbia appear strangely untouched by the new legislation – and Canadians were a bit non-plussed to learn from their government last week that there are “hundreds” of polygamists in their country. As for “honour-killing”, murder is murder is murder, in Canada as in Britain and in the US and in almost every other country in the world.

No, the catch is that this unique legislation, which Canadian MPs will be discussing again today, is that it doesn’t come from Canada’s perfectly capable minister of justice Peter MacKay, but from the Canadian minister of – you guessed it – Citizenship and Immigration. Now isn’t that odd?

The chap in charge of Canada’s immigration policies is Christopher Alexander, who is himself a pretty “cultured” politician, a McGill and Balliol man, a former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, where there’s plenty of polygamy and “honour-killing” and child marriage, and, well, let’s not go into Afghan government corruption, Afghan police torture, drones and the rest.

Because in truth, the new Canadian legislation is about foreigners or – more to the point – Muslims. Hence the BC Mormons have nothing to worry about. Because the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act (Bill S-7) – let us keep repeating this weird name – is playing what Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom calls the “foreign barbarian card”.

It foregrounds not crime per se but crime specifically associated with Muslims – hence the Canadian government’s legislative gloss that the act is against barbaric “traditions”. And Muslims, as we know, have for centuries been famous in Western song and legend for harems, multiple wives and disrespect for women.

There are indeed plenty of things wrong with Muslim societies. I’ve written extensively in The Independent about the scourge of “honour killings” – the slaughter of young women for refusing arranged marriages or adultery or who were merely rumoured to have behaved “immorally” (like calling a man on a mobile phone) in Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, “Palestine”, Jordan and Egypt.

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Yemen, long on the brink of catastrophe, may have tipped over the edge | Brian Whitaker

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 March, 2015 - 12:48
Friday’s mosque attacks, whoever was behind them, will intensify sectarian rivalries and invite bloody reprisals. The scene is set for a protracted civil war

Yemen has often been portrayed as a country on the brink of catastrophe. Equally often, it has defied expectations and muddled through – if only just. But the suicide attacks on two mosques that left at least 142 people dead in Sana’a last Friday are one sign, among many, that it has finally tipped over the edge.

The UN is warning helplessly about a rapid downward spiral and calling for a resumption of efforts towards a political settlement, but the prospects of that happening are virtually nil and the scene is set for a protracted civil war with multiple protagonists.

Related: Yemen mosque bombings 'could only be done by the enemies of life' – president

The UN is warning helplessly about a rapid downward spiral

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American Crime Review: Introducing Aliyah Shadeed

Muslimah Media Watch - 23 March, 2015 - 10:00
  On Thursday nights in the United States, ABC airs American Crime, an 11-part series that looks at a murder that took place in Modesto, California. The story doesn’t follow the detectives around as they solve a mystery-of-the-week like most crime shows, though, and instead focuses on the lives of everyone else involved and the [Read More...]


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