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Muzzling Israeli Dissent in the NYT: B’Tselem’s Hard Hitting Testimony Lost in the Telling

Israeli rights advocate Hagai El-Ad spoke eloquently last week before the United Nations Security Council, appealing to the world body for action on the brutal occupation of Palestine, but according to The New York Times little of what this courageous activist said was fit to print: The real news was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outraged response.

Thus we find a story on the speech appearing two days after the event under the headline “Settlement Debate Flares Again in Israel’s Quarrel With Rights Group.” The article by Isabel Kershner has much to say about Israeli government criticism of the human rights group B’Tselem, which documents and publicizes Israeli abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.

She says as little as possible, however, about El-Ad’s actual comments. Of his 2,000 word speech she quotes no more than two dozen: “Anything short of decisive action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation…[Living under occupation] mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence.”

The heart of the address is missing: El-Ad’s devastating deconstruction of the Israeli justice system as “a legal guise for organized state violence,” the daily indignities and suffering under Israeli military rule, the demolitions of homes, theft of land and water and the impunity surrounding trigger happy security forces.

His words become lost in the framing of this story, glossed over in the tit for tat between attackers and defenders of B’Tselem. Other media reports, however—in Israel and the United States—give readers more substantial excerpts from his address, and they also provide links to the actual speech, something the Times conveniently omits.

The Times also fails to say that amidst the turmoil over B’Tselem’s UN appearance, the U.S. State Department declared its gratitude to the organization for providing information on “fundamental issues that occur on the ground.” Times readers, however, are denied these same benefits.

El-Ad was not the only speaker to criticize Israel at a special session titled “The Settlements as the Obstacle to Peace and the Two-State Solution,” but he bore the brunt of the furious denunciations from Netanyahu and other government officials. He and his organization were also the focus of the Times story.

All this attention is a sign that El-Ad’s performance was a direct hit on Israeli efforts to whitewash their occupation. Much of the time B’Tselem’s reports and press releases, well-buttressed with detailed research, receive no mention either in the Times or in government circles. But now that El-Ad has managed to bring the group’s message to the highest international level, the backlash has been swift and harsh.

The Times has become a willing partner in this effort, working to distract readers from El-Ad’s eloquent appeal to the Security Council by framing the story as a two-sided debate between rival points of view.

Discerning readers will take notice, however, and realize that El-Ad’s speech is worth searching out in spite of the Times’ efforts to draw attention away from his actual words. They can find the text and a video of his address at the B’Tselem website—if they haven’t already found his performance posted on social media.

So it comes to this: Times readers need to read between the lines for clues to the reality deemed unfit to print, and then they must use their skills to search elsewhere for the story behind the words. This is not what we should expect from a newspaper like the Times, with pretenses to the highest standards of ethics and performance, but readers beware: Use this journalistic product with care and a hefty dose of skepticism.

Barbara Erickson

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Filed under: NYT Muzzles B'Tselem Tagged: B'Tselem, Israel, Media Bias, New York Times, Palestine, Security Council, United Nations, US State Department

Confronting the New Southern Strategy of Anti-Black Racism and Islamophobia

altmuslim - 18 October, 2016 - 15:01
Embed from Getty Images By Dawud Walid American Election cycles normally have a polarizing effect on our society. In attempts for politicians to garner monetary support and ultimately votes, rhetoric has always been projected to show the differences between candidates’ positions and segments on their identities. At the heart of separating some from others, race [Read More...]

Arabic billboard mocks Donald Trump's fear of Muslims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 October, 2016 - 09:35

Highway billboard near Dearborn, Michigan, says ‘Donald Trump can’t read this, but he is scared of it’

A billboard has appeared alongside a Michigan highway mocking Donald Trump and his xenophobic rhetoric about Muslims and immigration.

The advert, placed on Interstate 94 near Dearborn, says in white Arabic text on a black background: “Donald Trump can’t read this, but he is scared of it.”

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Modest Muslim Fashion Show Caters to Mixed-Gender Audience

altmuslim - 17 October, 2016 - 19:12
By Saideh Jamshidi Lee Mozena, director of Zena Consulting, organized a mixed-gender modest couture fashion show to celebrate diversity, multiculturalism and different standards of modest fashion in the Pacific Northwest last week. Malikah Festival was the product of the effort, funded by Redmond Arts and Culture Commission, which took place at Redmond Senior Center. “I think [Read More...]

White Terrorists Planned Attack On Somali Muslim Immigrants

Loon Watch - 17 October, 2016 - 18:20

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Calling themselves “Crusaders,” three members of a Kansas militia have been charged with attempting to blow up an apartment complex where Somali Muslim refugees live. The “Crusader” ideology is prevalent among the Islamophobia movement and we have documented this for years.

via. Slate

They called themselves the “Crusaders” and had a clear purpose: launch an attack against Muslims that would lead to a “bloodbath.” With any luck that would help spark a religious war. But their plans were thwarted as three Kansas men were arrested on Friday for planning an attack on a Garden City, Kansas, apartment complex filled with Somali immigrants that is also home to a mosque. They planned to carry out the attack one day after the November election.

“They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a large explosion,”the Department of Justice said.

“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,’ ” according to the criminal complaint.

About 120 people live and worship in the apartment complex they planned to attack.

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Aceh flogs 13 young people for breaking its strict Islamic laws

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 October, 2016 - 15:15

Six couples who broke sharia laws on intimacy among those punished as floggings in Indonesian province become more frequent

A young woman screamed in pain as she was caned in front of a jeering crowd in Aceh, Indonesia, the latest person to be punished after being found guilty of breaking the province’s strict Islamic laws.

Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law. People face floggings for a range of offences – from gambling to drinking alcohol and gay sex.

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A Prayer to End the Election-Induced Nightmare

altmuslim - 16 October, 2016 - 22:34
Embed from Getty Images By Sabeeha Rehman A bomb goes off in my neighborhood. I sit stunned and horrified, as the news flashes on my computer screen. My husband had just gone out to mail a letter. Dear God. Let him be ok. I reach out to call him. No answer. Maybe he didn’t hear [Read More...]

What is the real “education gap” in politics?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 16 October, 2016 - 18:39

A front page from the Daily Mail with a lead to their editorial, proclaiming "Damn the unpatriotic Bremoaners and their plot to subvert the will of the British people". Other headlines include "Full steam ahead for HS2", a plan for a high-speed railway across England, and a picture of Rod Stewart and his family.How the education gap is tearing politics apart | David Runciman | Politics | The Guardian

This was the Guardian’s “long read” Wednesday before last, and it explores how education levels are becoming a dividing line in politics, with the better-educated being more likely to vote for broadly liberal or left-wing parties while the less well-educated being more likely to vote rightwards (i.e. Republican in the USA, Tory or UKIP here). This has changed a lot since the early 1980s when the less well-educated were more likely to vote Labour, but that’s because Labour still represented unionised manual workers and degrees were only a possibility for either those from well-off families or those who benefited from selective education.

It mentions that there have been doubts about democracy itself going back to ancient Greek times, where Athens was (for a time) ruled by public meetings of citizens (which did not include women and slaves) and Plato, who envisaged an “aristocratic” state ruled by an élite of “philosopher kings”, condemned it:

For Plato, democracy suffered from the basic defect of putting decision-making in the hands of people who were not competent to decide. Politics was a skill – and most people were simply clueless. Worse, that made them prey for hucksters and demagogues who would promise the earth and get away with it. Democracy was fertile ground for fantasists with a taste for power. If you tell the people that up is down, and the people believe you, then who is going to let them know that they are wrong?

I read the Republic in sixth form and the theory is a bit more complicated than that. Plato did not only believe the masses were “clueless”, he believed that mankind could be divided into people with gold, silver and bronze souls; the first were to be trained to be philosophers, the second were for the army and civil service so as to enforce the rulings of the philosopher class, and the third were the rest of the population whose thoughts were dominated by “base instincts”; this class was allowed to own property, but had to support the two upper classes through their work. He identified five types of régimes, namely ‘aristocracy’ (the rule of philosopher kings), timocracy or timarchy (effectively military rule, as found in ancient Sparta), oligarchy (rule by merchants), democracy (rule by the masses) and tyranny (rule by a lawless dictator).

What this article doesn’t examine is the influence of the mass media in shaping public opinion. (It mentions ‘media’ only once, in regard to Donald Trump, and ‘social media’ two more times, and ‘press’ and ‘papers’ not at all.) Future critiques of modern democracy are surely not going to focus on the school- and college-based education of the populace as much as on where the public got its information from, namely the corporate mass media which prominently contained propaganda, often on the front page (with unbiased reporting reserved for unimportant stories several pages inside the paper, if it is present at all), which encourages mistrust of people who are different, people who can be seen as getting something for nothing, some wealthy or prestigious people (e.g. lawyers, commonly presented as parasites, and academics, commonly presented as thinking they know better than the target audience) but not others, and encourages people towards irrationality and fear on a wide range of issues from drugs to immigration and foreign policy.

I believe it’s irrelevant whether someone has a degree or not; I have a degree in politics and history, but I took that in the 1990s and it wasn’t an in-depth examination of the politics of the time, and of course it could not examine the politics of future times. Schools should teach young people the basics of the British constitution, including the European institutions we belong to such as the Council of Europe and the EU so that people are not easily swayed by misinformation (e.g. linking the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court that rules on it with the EU, when in fact they are part of the Council of Europe). Only a tiny minority who came of age before the 1990s have degrees (including those with professional qualifications, some of which were later re-classified as degrees), and political education is not a mandatory part of any degree other than those related to politics.

It’s hugely insulting, and wrong, to suggest that people without degrees necessarily lack critical awareness or are ‘sheeple’. Neither of my parents had degrees when I was a child, but they were still able to see through media propaganda, most of which was pro-Thatcher and more generally pro-Tory then. Others are more credulous, particularly when what is claimed in a newspaper appears to match what they see or what their friends tell them they see (e.g. immigrants taking jobs or council houses), and people believe that “newspapers full of propaganda” are a thing you find in dictatorships, not democracies, and that newspapers do not simply make things up, which they in fact do, in both details and whole stories as revealed during the Leveson inquiry. And it is often observed that emotion matters more than reason in politics, as if this were a fact of life rather than the consequence of manipulation and propaganda.

The real “education gap” is between those able and willing to think critically, to educate themselves about politics and the issues involved, and those willing to believe propaganda and gossip. There are people with degrees in both groups and those without, although the Right currently fosters and trades on resentment and a sense of persecution among those without. There is no way of identifying who falls into which group without a test which could be manipulated to discriminate against some ethnic or class-based group, so the only way to stop democracy degenerating into tyranny — if not outright tyranny, then certainly the tyranny of the unthinking majority — is to target the corporations which manipulate and fabricate “public opinion” with stiff laws that require the segregation of opinion and fact, especially in prominent parts of newspapers, and punish distortions and untruths, not just personal libels. Policy and politics should not be dictated by what sells papers, as it is obvious that what sells papers is titillation and the confirmation of prejudice.

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How Britain’s young Muslims are tapping into a £2 trillion market

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 October, 2016 - 00:04

From mint mojitos in Birmingham to scented oils in London, Generation M’s entrepreneurs are catering for an affluent group ignored by the big brands

By mid-evening, the Artisan dessert restaurant in Ladypool Road, Birmingham, is crowded. People squash up on its green and pink velvet banquettes to drink mint mojitos or raspberry spice mocktails and sample an array of elaborate cakes and puddings.

Opened last year by Ali Imdad, a Great British Bake Off contestant in 2013, and his business partner Vakas Mohammed, Artisan has become a sought-out destination for couples and friends to meet after dinner. “A lot of Muslims won’t go to a bar or a club, but going out for mocktails and dessert is a good alternative,” said Imdad.

Related: Meet Generation M: the young, affluent Muslims changing the world

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Three Men Arrested in Terrorist Plot on Somali Muslims in Kansas

altmuslim - 15 October, 2016 - 17:37
By Altmuslim Editors Three members of a militia group, who call themselves “The Crusaders” have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism for plotting a bombing of a mosque and housing complex (where a large number of Somali Muslim refugees live and worship) in Garden City, Kansas. U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a news [Read More...]

President Obama’s Counter-Terrorism Programs Target Muslim Students in Public Schools

Muslim Matters - 14 October, 2016 - 22:18

By Waqas Mirza

As the days of the Obama Administration near their end and cute photo collections and videos of the president's relationship with kids are shared on social media, here is a closer look at some of his administration's policy legacy when it comes to Muslim children [Editor's Note].

obama-mosque-kids-2

Nearly fifteen years of the War on Terror may not have led to any appreciable decline of terrorist groups but they certainly have resulted in the US government coming up with some uniquely comical ideas on how the war should be fought. The State Department once spent millions of dollars for its Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications division to troll Islamic State accounts on Twitter. Earlier this year, the State Department offered a $1.5 million grant to produce a “television drama series” aimed at “countering violent extremism among young people in contemporary Afghan society.”

One of the more recent ideas, however, is more frightening than funny. The FBI's strategy for Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools aims to recruit teachers and school officials to monitor students for signs of radicalization. The criteria for what may constitute radicalization may as well be designed to facilitate racial and religious profiling and quash political dissent. It includes those who criticize US government policies, have qualms about “western corruption,” use “code word or unusual language,” and travel to “suspicious” countries. It also reinforces the mistaken belief that there are reliable indicators which may help predict who becomes a violent extremist.

The FBI's strategy came under immediate fire for instructing teachers to effectively “act as puppets of federal law enforcement” and using the threat of terrorism to “justify a massive surveillance apparatus.” A coalition of 14 civil liberties organizations pointed out to FBI Director James Comey that the Bureau's strategy “perpetuates profiling and negative stereotypes that Arabs, Sikhs, South Asians, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim are prone to engage in extremist violence…”

Muslim students already face abuse and bullying in schools and the FBI's strategy is likely to exacerbate this trend. In a study published last year, the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) reported that 55% of American Muslim students it surveyed admitted being subjected to “some form of bullying based on their religious identity,” a rate that was twice as high as the national average.

In addition to the threat of bullying, the FBI strategy also compromise the trust teachers strive to cultivate with students as well as teachers' attempts to encourage original and creative thinking in students. As Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) warned in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, having teachers participate in the FBI's strategy may “chill relationships with students or, for that matter, undermine a supportive learning environment.”

These concerns are not merely theoretical. The FBI's strategy is modeled after UK's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program known as Prevent. Since the British Parliament passed the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in 2015, public sector workers such as teachers and doctors have a statutory duty to identify students and patients at risk of violent extremism and report them to Channel, the government's deradicalization program. Some recent reports on Prevent illustrate the problems the FBI's strategy is likely to encounter and the impact it will have on students and teachers.

A survey of 507 social workers carried out by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) found that more than 40% were “unconfident about being able to assess an individual's vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism.” This is no shock since academic studies suggests there are no reliable indicators which can help predict who will become a violent extremist. A subsequent analysis by CAFCASS of 54 family court cases involving radicalization confirmed that “it is not possible to create a profile of children at risk of radicali[z]ation.”

This flawed methodology has resulted in some pernicious effects, as delineated by a recent report by Rights Watch UK. The report assessed that Prevent stigmatizes Muslim students, stifles creativity and free expression, interferes with the right to education, undermines privacy, and may actually promote the very extremism it seeks to curb.

A few examples highlighted by the report provide a snapshot of the effects Prevent has had on students. An eight year-old boy in east London was referred to social services for wearing a shirt with the words, “I want to be like Abu Bakr al-Siddique” (considered to be one of the first converts to Islam and the first Caliph after Muhammad's death). A 17 year-old north London boy was questioned by a “special constable” responsible for Prevent in schools for “handing out leaflets … highlighting the humanitarian emergency and water shortages in Gaza.” He was further questioned by two police officers who informed him they were “only looking for certain types of Muslims.”

In perhaps the most outrageous case, a 16 year-old Hampshire student with special needs was referred to Prevent for borrowing a book on terrorism from the school library. Understandably, the child's mother was infuriated with this arrangement. In an interview with Rights Watch UK, she asked the most obvious question: “If a child isn't allowed to take a book out of a library and read it, what do they have it for? If that book is in a library any student can go and read it, then if he can't read it, who is allowed to read it?”

As is to be expected, Muslim students are disproportionately targeted by school and government officials under Prevent. According to the most recent data, as the report notes, 57.4% of all referrals were Muslims, despite making up just 4.8% of the UK's population.

In no uncertain terms, the report concluded that the UK government needs to abolish Prevent and provide “reparations to those children and families harmed by the strategy.”

There is no reason to believe the results of the FBI's strategy will be any different.

Equally alarming are localized versions of the strategies which are being pursued under the aegis of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Boston's CVE framework, for example, insists on the need for behavioral assessment of students from kindergarten all the way to colleges. According to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request, students in Montgomery County, Maryland, can been identified as vulnerable to extremism simply for exhibiting signs of stress, alienation, and homesickness.

In the UK, Prevent has already faced resistance from community groups. The National Union of Students attacked the strategy for assuming “all Muslim students are suspect before proving otherwise.” At their annual conference, the National Union of Teachers voted overwhelmingly to pass a motion opposing Prevent.

In the US, too, there is growing opposition to the FBI's strategy, led by civil rights and Muslim groups. The American Federation of Teachers has recently joined the opposition. In an open letter to the FBI Director James Comey, it argued against “[i]ncreased ideological policing and surveillance efforts” which will “have a chilling effect on our schools and on immigrant communities, jeopardizing children's sense of safety and well-being and threatening the security and sense of trust of entire communities.”

Despite the objection of educators, civil liberties groups, and Muslim organizations, the FBI is proceeding with its strategy, subverting the primary functions of schools and turning them into “mini-surveillance states.” By alienating students and treating them as suspects, it is likely to encourage violent extremism rather than challenge it.

Waqas Mirza is a writer and journalist focusing on US foreign policy, War on Terror, Islamophobia, surveillance, policing, and development. You can follow him on twitter @waqasahmi.

The Genocide Of Cambodia’s Muslims

Loon Watch - 14 October, 2016 - 20:00

cham_muslims_genocide

Southeast Asia is currently witnessing the destruction of the Rohingya Muslim community. This is not the first time in modern history this has happened. The Cham Muslims of Cambodia were slaughtered during the rule of the bloody Khmer Rogue in the 1970s.

The Khmer Rogue killed 500,000 ethnic Cham Muslims, almost 25% of their 2 million victims. For perspective consider that the Cham Muslims were only 1% of Cambodia’s population. Yet, there are still individuals who question whether it amounted to genocide even though there is documented evidence that the Cham were targeted due to their religious beliefs:

The Muslim Cham were rounded up by Khmer Rouge forces, forced to eat pork, and banned from using their traditional language. Qurans were collected and burned.

The current Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, was a Khmer Rogue commander in areas where atrocities against the Cham were committed. Nowadays he proclaims to be a champion of religious diversity though in 2013 he said Muslims were “lucky to live in Cambodia.”

New Jersey: Bayonne Mosque Targeted In Hate Vandalism

Loon Watch - 14 October, 2016 - 18:46

Another Islamophobic vandalism. Bayonne mosque in New Jersey was vandalized with despicable words, including: “F— Allah,” “F— Arabs,”Donald trump.” Clearly, a very deplorable individual thought this was a good idea. (h/t: Kamran M.)

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