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- OBAMA’S BADGE OF SHAME (September 26, 2011)
- THE LONDON RIOTS: Lessons to be learnt (External link - August 15, 2011)
- The Only Hope: A Palestinian Revolution (August 8, 2011)
- West’s Selective Concern For Libyan Rebels (March 18, 2011)
- Murder Most Foul: Time for Muslims to save the essence of Islam (March 3, 2011)

Abandoning principles for a seat in the White House
By: Gulamhusein A. Abba

This article also appears on:

No one told the Kuwaitis that the only way to end Iraq’s occupation
was for them to negotiate with Iraq.

Kosovo was unilaterally recognized by the United States three years ago
–even though its statehood did not come about through a negotiated
settlement with Serbia

One does not ask the robbed to negotiate with the robber as to which
of the robbed items s/he is going to return, when s/he is going to do it
and on what terms. The keepers of law and order step in
and do the needful.

In this case particularly, more than in any other case, it is the duty
and responsibility of the international community to step in.
It is they who created Israel

It is time for the international community to end this farce of direct negotiations
between the helpless occupied and the all-powerful occupier.
It is time for it to live up to its duty and obligations and
take action to end the illegal occupation

Obama has diminished himself, tarnished the image of America
and, as between Israel and Palestine, has aligned himself
with the oppressor against the oppressed.

The portion of Obama’s speech in the United Nations that referred to the Palestinian bid for membership in the UN earned for him a “badge of honor” from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (those are the very words used by Netanyahu when he congratulated Obama on his speech!). But, in the eyes of most of the world, it brought shame and disgrace on Obama and the US and made a laughing stock of both.

There are three points he made in his speech. One was that the Palestinian state cannot come into being through resolutions in the UN. He forgets that but for a resolution of the UN, Israel would not be even existing today. And it was a UN resolution that enabled NATO to actively help the Libyan rebels get control of Tripoli and most of Libya. Again, it was UN resolutions that resulted in the formation of the Alliance of the Willing and launching of Desert Storm. Once again, it was a UN resolution that enabled the launching of the war on Iraq purportedly to find and destroy Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In Tunisia the US, along with the rest of the world, cheered the Tunisian rebels when they got rid of their tyrannical government. In Egypt the US supported, slowly, hesitatingly, cautiously and, at times, seemingly reluctantly, the Egyptian people and applauded the departure of dictator Hosni Mubarak, a long time and loyal ally of the US. In Libya the US went one step further. It spent billions of dollars and actively participated, along with NATO forces, in bombing Gaddafi’s bases. But for the UN resolution sanctioning NATO intervention, the Gaddafi regime would still be in power in Libya.

Not so long back, Iraq reclaimed Kuwait, which was once its province and an integral part of Iraq, and would have remained so had not the British, as was their common practice, drawn a line in the sand, carved out from Iraq what is now Kuwait and put a puppet on its throne. There are those who even today believe that Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait was done with a nod and a wink from the then American ambassador to Iraq.

US and the whole civilized world, notwithstanding any “justification” that Iraq may have had, was outraged at this breach of international law by Iraq. The question of sovereignty of lawfully constituted nations was involved. It acted promptly and decisively to end this illegal occupation of Kuwait and, in a reasonably short time, the Iraqi occupying force was not only driven out of Kuwait but chased almost to the gates of Basra.

No one told the Kuwaitis that the only way to end Iraq’s occupation was for them to negotiate with Iraq. There were some negotiations of sorts but not between the occupied and the occupier. Rather, it was with world powers.

In none of the above cases were the desired results obtained through negotiations.

More to the point is the recent prominent example Kosovo. It was unilaterally recognized by the United States three years ago–even though its statehood did not come about through a negotiated settlement with Serbia

It is ridiculous to ask Palestinians to negotiate with Israel. Israel is the aggressor, the occupier and Palestinians are the victims of this aggression, the occupied. Besides, there is no comparison between them. Israel has the fourth largest army in the world and is heavily armed, its arsenal including nuclear arms. Palestinians have no army at all. They are completely asymmetrical.

Besides, one does not ask the raped to negotiate with the rapist or the robbed to negotiate with the robber as to which of the robbed items s/he is going to return, when s/he is going to do it and on what terms. The keepers of law and order step in and do the needful.

In this case particularly, more than in any other case, it is the duty and responsibility of the international community to step in. It is they who, in 1949, ignoring the strong objections and protests of the indigenous people, the Palestinians, and of all the neighboring Arab states which surround Palestine, carved out a little more than 50% of Palestine as it then exited, and gifted it to the Jewish community, which promptly started its ethnic cleansing activities in the demarcated area and its surroundings.

In the war that followed the attacks launched by the surrounding Arab nations, chiefly to halt the massacre of the Palestinians, Israel went beyond the area granted to it by the international community, and, the truce lines at the end of that war added more territory to Israel.

Not satisfied, Israel in 1967 launched an attack on Jordan (which was then in control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem), Egypt (which controlled the Gaza Strip) and Syria (to which belonged the Golan Heights).As a direct result of this aggression Israel gained control of and occupied all the said territory in Palestine, thus fulfilling its objective of establishing Eretz Israel, with Judea and Samaria, in all of the land between the Jordan river and the sea to the west. It continues this illegal occupation to this day, with impunity.

This occupation is the longest occupation in present history, and it is a brutal and tyrannical one. Human rights violations and violations of international law occur regularly in open sight of the whole world. Massive transfer of population by the occupying power into occupied lands, destruction of villages in the occupied territories, building illegal constructions thereon – all violations of international law -- go on almost on a daily basis.

That this occupation and the Israeli settlements built on lands beyond what was earmarked for Israel is illegal is recognized and accepted by the whole world, including the USA. The international community, which created the state responsible for these illegal acts, instead of doing its duty and carrying out its obligations and responsibilities, asked the Palestinians to negotiate with the aggressor, Israel!

Having no other alternative, the Palestinians did just that. Arafat even signed, eighteen years back, the disastrous Oslo Accords, believing that under its terms, within five years all the occupied territory would be fully under the control of the Palestinians.

Israel used this agreement to expand exponentially its settlements in the occupied territories. The expected transfer of power after five years never happened. Instead fresh demands and conditions were put forward by Israel. When the Palestinians refused to accede to these preposterous demands, Israel shamelessly alleged that the Palestinians had rejected peace and chosen the path of terrorism!

Notwithstanding all this, the Palestinians have persevered and negotiated and negotiated and negotiated -- Madrid (1991), Oslo (1993), Wye River (1997), Camp David (2000), Taba (2001), Quartet’s road map (2002), Annapolis (2007), bilateral negotiations (2008) and on and on. All to no avail. The grabbing of land, demolitions of Palestinian homes and even entire villages,, uprooting of produce, building of illegal Israeli settlements and “for Jews only” roads and highways has continued unabated.

Even the powerful USA and strong ally of Israel could not get Israel to at least cease and desist from further violation of international law by putting a halt to the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

All that these “negotiations” got for Palestinians is almost 6500 Palestinian civilians killed since September 2000 alone, over 45,000 Palestinians injured (some maimed for life), over 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, many with no charges (including over 250 females and children under the age of 16), over 650,000 Palestinians detained and imprisoned, over 25,000 Palestinian homes demolished since 1967 – over half since 2003, including over 4300 during the Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2008-2009.

The number of Israeli settlers has more than doubled during the last ten years of “negotiations”, reaching a staggering figure of 650,000. There are 236 illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These occupy about 43 per cent of the land in the truncated West Bank and East Jerusalem and have displaced thousands of Palestinians. There are over four hundreds checkpoints and Jewish-only roads. And, of course the monstrous separation and land grabbing Wall snaking through Palestinian territories.

Clearly the sole beneficiary of these “negotiations” is Israel, which is using the negotiations for this very purpose. The Palestinians have gained nothing. To the contrary. they have lost much from the meager amount they had.

Under these circumstances, to say that the only course for the Palestinians is to negotiate with Israel is, to say the least, cruel.

It is time for the international community to end this farce of direct negotiations between the helpless occupied and the all-powerful occupier. It is time for it to live up to its duty and obligations and take action to end the illegal occupation.

The first step is to approve the Palestinians’ application for full membership.

Regrettably, of all persons, Obama has threatened to veto any resolution granting this request!

Coming from the man who started his presidency by choosing the Palestinians to be the first to be called on phone, who gave the Cairo speech so full of hope and promise to the Arab world, who not so long ago snubbed Netanyahu, this stance by Obama is inexplicable and strange indeed.

But then, the President’s chair has magical powers. It changes men. Its occupant becomes addicted to it. S/he will do anything to retain this seat.

Alas, Obama has obviously chosen this path. From being a world statesman he has sunk to being a contender in the coming general elections in the USA. He used the international forum to speak to the electorate in the USA. Aware of the power of AIPAC, desperate to shore up his sagging popularity back home, he spoke what powerful donors and supporters wanted to hear.

In doing so, he has shown a complete disregard for justice and international law, has diminished himself, tarnished the image of America and, as between Israel and Palestine, has aligned himself with the oppressor against the oppressed.

Note: Please also see the poem “Peace Talks” by Palestinian poet Samah Sabavi. Click on: http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html

THE LONDON RIOTS: Lessons to be learnt
by Gulamhusein A. Abba, August 15, 2011

It has been reported that the recent riots in London are the worst that city has seen. Several areas were affected. Apart from London proper, the riots, which began late in London’s Tottenham district, spread to Manchester in central England, Carring Cross area of Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Wolverhampton, West Brunswick and other areas.

Read more: http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com/2011/08/london-riots-lessons-to-be-learnt.html

The Only Hope: A Palestinian Revolution
by Gulamhusein A. Abba, August 8, 2011

From what has appeared so far in the media and on blogs, it appears that all that the Palestinian leadership intends to do in September is approach the UN for recognition of a Palestinian State with 1967 borders and give it full membership. Such recognition and membership, important though they are, are at best purely symbolic. In and by themselves, they cannot advance the cause of the Palestinian people, much less end Israel’s illegal occupation. Nor, judging from past performance, can one expect much from the UN.

It is time all of us, especially the Palestinian people and their leaders, grasped and accepted some bitter truths, spoke out about them and took some positive and meaningful action.

First, it must be understood that the Oslo agreement was a big mistake. The signing of it by Arafat was an act of a desperate man trying to end his exile, return to Palestine and recapture his leadership which was fast slipping into the hands of those carrying on the Intifada from within Palestine. More than anything else, this millstone round the neck of the Palestinian people needs to be removed and thrown out.

The current Fatah leadership is more intent on retaining the privileges granted to them by the Israelis (like going unhindered through checkpoints with VIP cards, getting a monopoly to import essential goods –like Dahlan importing gas _ and being able to travel around the world without any hindrance) and the US and some other Western countries (sumptuous and ego boosting State receptions and financial aid) than in obtaining for the Palestinians their just demands.

The Fatah government is, to a large extent, dependant on the aid given to it by the US. It is, therefore, subservient to the US which, in turn, notwithstanding the periodic rhetoric from Obama, cares not a whit for the aspirations of the Palestinians or the injustices being heaped on them by the Israelis. The US is committed to supporting Israel unconditionally. This has been proven time and again by the veto used by the US in the UN whenever a resolution was sought to be passed condemning Israel, and by the failure of the US to get Israel to even stop, temporarily at that, their illegal land grab, demolitions and settlement building activities.

Any strategy that envisages negotiations with Israel or US will yield nothing. Such negotiations are a waste of time and serve only to provide an opportunity to the Israelis to confiscate more Palestinian land and expand Israeli settlements.

If the PA is really serious about pressing the cause of the Palestinians, it should, instead of merely seeking recognition and membership of the UN, announce its rescinding of the Oslo agreement and throw the whole question in the lap of the UN, insisting that the UN live up to its responsibilities and get Israel to vacate its illegal occupation in its entirety and faithfully carry out its duties as a member of the UN.

The PA should urge all the member states of the UN to hold Israel accountable and boycott it, divest from it and impose sanctions on it till it confirms to internationally accepted and agreed upon rules of conduct by civilized nations.

More likely than not, judging from past history, neither asking the UN to take any action against Israel nor asking member state for BDS support will receive the desired response, but, they will be on record and show up the hypocrisy of those who do not respond.

Internally, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and in Gaza need to bury their differences, put aside personal ambitions and agendas, and present a united front, creating a truly unified and representative party representing all the Palestinians.

The Palestinian leaders, instead of depending on support from outside, should go to their people, identify themselves with their people and draw strength from them. Unless they do this they will, sooner or later, meet the fate of Hosni Mubarak.

The PLO should stop being the agent, tax collector and policeman of Israel (by abrogating the Oslo agreement and directing the PA to dissoleve itself)and reclaim its original role as a revolutionary organization, opposing the occupation and leading the fight for justice, freedom and independence by the Palestinians.

Those Palestinians who seem to have fallen into a stupor and come to accept their subjugation in return for a loaf of bread from Israel need to stir themselves up, and, all Palestinians, irrespective of their faith and ethnic divisions, must unite to launch massive, non-violent civil disobedience.

At the same time, those able to do so should step up lobbying, PR work, using the social net-works and making available to the media resources to cover what is being done in Palestine and get their word out. Once the common people of the world come to know the true facts, there will be a swell of support for the Palestinians. Already many from countries all over the world are beginning to be supportive of the Palestinians and critical of Israel. These include Jews in Israel itself and those living outside. Even Zionists of long standing are speaking out against the actions of the Israeli leaders.

Bottom line: The Israelis are robbing the Palestinians of their land, their homes, their dignity, their rights. The international community, unfortunately, has washed its hands off the whole problem and is content to treat it as a dispute between two peoples and leave it to the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their “differences” through negotiations! The Palestinians have no option but to take matters in their own hands and obtain their rights through their own efforts (aided by the brave activists in Israel itself and spread throughout the world as well as non-Israeli activists from around the world), much as the Indians did in making the British quit India, as the Tunisians and Egyptians did.

This article also appears on:

by Gulamhusein A. Abba, March 18, 2011

Principally the US, UK and France have started taking “all measures necessary” to stop Libya, a duly constituted, independent, sovereign nation from, in effect, putting down a rebellion by a few Libyan tribes who were determined to effect a regime change.

At time of writing, according to news reports, 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from American and British ships and submarines. French fighter jets fired salvos, carrying out several strikes in the rebel held east. RAF Tornados, flying from Norfolk, bombed targets near Tripoli. Tomahawk missiles fired from a Royal Navy submarine hit targets around the coastal cities of Tripoli and Misrata.

This pounding of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and air defenses with cruise missiles and air strikes hit 20 to 22 targets leaving targeted tanks and jeeps burning and causing “various levels of damage”. Libyan state TV reported that civilian areas of Tripoli as well as fuel storage tanks supplying the western city of Misrata hat been hit. A Libyan government spokesman claimed that many civilians had been hurt and ambulance crews had been doing their best to save as many lives as they could.

The overriding reason for this essentially western military intervention is claimed to be saving the lives of innocent Libyans being “massacred” by Gadhafi. The justification was that the world could not stand idly by when such a massacre was being carried out.

No figures are available as to the number of people that have been killed by Gadhafi forces.

This military intervention raises questions about international law, more particularly as to how far can a government go in putting down a rebellion and when any outside power or coalition of powers or even the UN can throw in its weight to support one side or the other in what is essentially a civil war raging in an independent sovereign nation.

Without going into the legal and political implications, a couple of puzzling and disturbing questions arise.

If the intervention was because, as president Obama said, Gadhafi was shooting at his own people, what about Yemen and Bahrain? Are not those governments also firing “on their own people”? Strikingly absent is any real harsh denunciation or even criticism of these two governments.

And where were these “world leaders”, who today are carrying out strikes against Libya, when China was subjugating and colonizing Tibet or putting down the uprising in Tiananmen Square, shooting their own people? And why did these powers not intervene when Israel was firing mortars and missiles and dropping mega bombs, in wave after wave of “operations” bearing fancy names against Gazans who were trying to overthrow Israel’s long running, illegal and brutal occupation of their land?

Also, Obama has warned Libya that it will face the wrath of the combined forces of US, UK, Franc and several other members of the latest “coalition of the willing” if it prevents humanitarian aid reaching Libya. Fair enough. But why was such a warning not given to Israel when it prevented ships carrying humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza?

Is it any wonder that the rest of the world (5 countries - Russia, China. India, Germany and Brazil - abstained from the UN vote) looks with suspicion about the real motives of this selective concern for the rebellious tribes of Libya?

Further, the claim that the reason for and purpose of the intervention is solely to protect the ‘innocent Libyan civilians’ who are being “massacred’ by Gadhafi becomes suspect when persons like the former British ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles says it was clear that the long-term aim of the military action by the latest ‘coalition of the willing’ was to overthrow Colnel Gadhafi, and the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague says he cannot see a future with Colnel Gadhafi in charge. He told Sky News bluntly “We want him to go”.

The US will do well to remember that not all enemies of our enemy are necessarily our friends and that sometimes the one chosen to replace an undesirable ruler turns out to be worse!

Murder Most Foul
Time for Muslims to save the essence of Islam
by Gulamhusein A. Abba, March 3, 2011

I am a Muslim. I hold Prophet Muhammed in high esteem and have great admiration, respect and regard for him. But that cannot and does not prevent me from condemning in the strictest terms possible the murder on Wednesday, February 2, of the only Christian federal government minister in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming Islam.

Shahbaz Bhatti was a Minister for Minorities in the Government of Pakistan.. He was a prominent opponent of the blasphemy law in Pakistan that mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam and or Prophet Muhammed.. He is the second senior official this year to be murdered for opposing that law. Provincial governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard just a month earlier, in January.

Neither Shabaz nor Salman blasphemed. They merely opposed the blasphemy law as it stood and asked for amendments to it. Even if they had blasphemed, that does not allow private individuals to take the law into their own hands and kill them. There is the blasphemy law. They could have been tried under it.

I go further and say that even if they had been found guilty under that law, it would have been disgraceful, to say the least, to put them to death for that.

I understand that religion is a sensitive subject. People who will not ordinarily harm a fly will die, and kill, for religion!

But Islam is not served by putting blasphemers to death. I am certain that were Prophet Muhammed alive today, he too would have opposed the death penalty mandated under this particular law in Pakistan.

The self styled protectors of Islam who put Shabaz and Salman to death bring not glory to Islam but ridicule and contempt.

In this time and age, putting people to death by stoning, or in any other manner, for any crime, is archaic.

What Muslims need to do understand that the way to counter blasphemies is to make greater efforts to spread the truth about Islam and Prophet Muhammed. The weapon against untruth is neither guns nor the guillotine but truth.

When Gandhi started the Quit India movement to rid India of British rule, I supported and participated in the movement. However, I also supported and worked for the creation of Pakistan.

Just as my love and respect for Islam and Prophet Muhammed does not prevent me from condemning the assassins who killed Shabaz and Salman, my having worked for the creation of Pakistan does not prevent me for censuring the Pakistani Government for having a law that mandates death for insulting Islam or speaking ill of Prophet Muhammed, and more particularly for the way it has handled the cases of Shabaz and Salman.

Shabaz was very aware of the assassination of Salman. He had received death threats. He knew his life was in danger. He even made a video about it. The Government had been informed about the danger to his life. Yet he was shot eight times, in broad daylight, in his car near his home as he was heading to work in Islamabad .

The windshield of Shaqbaz’s car had four or five bullet holes. Blood covered the back seat. According to his driver, Gul Sher, a white car stopped near the car carrying Shabaz near a crossing. One of the four people sitting in the car got out, came in front of the car and opened fire from a Kalashnikov.

Surely it was the responsibility and the duty of the Government to have seen to it that Shabaz had protection as he travelled to work. But there was no security there whatsoever. Just Shabaz and Gul Sher.

Chilling is the fact that Salman’s killer was lionized in Pakistan. Huge processions were taken out in his honor. Shockingly, lawyers, in their black robes, joined in.

True that government officials condemned Mr. Bhatti's killing Wednesday. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani condemned the killing and ordered the Ministry of Interior to investigate.

But, after the Punjab province governor was killed in January, Gillani and other politicians disowned advocacy of reform of laws that make insulting Islam a capital crime. In fact, Sherry Rehman, a ruling party lawmaker who had proposed legislation to reform the anti-blasphemy laws, withdrew the bill, saying the party did not support it. The government of President Asif Ali Zardari has repeatedly said it would not change the blasphemy law, and officials have distanced themselves from anyone calling for amendments.

And, significantly, neither President Asif Ali Zardari nor Prime Minister Gillani attended Salman’s funeral.

These two assassinations represent a severe blow to Pakistani liberals, who are increasingly being silenced by Muslim hard-liners willing to use violence against those who do not share their harsh views.

Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, said in a statement, "The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers, to save the very essence of Pakistan."

If the Government of Pakistan is serious about dealing with the Taliban and violent extremist and radical Islamists, it must do more than issuing formal condemnations of such killings and ordering investigations.

For starters, the government must systematically arrest those who incite and praise murderers.

For its part, Mr. Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which has not championed the views of Shabaz or Salman, needs to mobilize its large voting base to take to the streets in support of tolerance.

Leaflets distributed as the scene of the shooting claimed responsibility on behalf of "Al Qaeda and the Taliban of Punjab," and read: "This is the punishment of this cursed man."

The note went on to say that "with the blessing of Allah, the majahideen will send each of you [anti-blasphemy law campaigners] to hell," according to The Guardian.

While who goes to heaven and who to hell can only be determined by God, the Government of Pakistan must do all in its power to arrest and send into jail those who distribute such leaflets.

This does not concern the Government of Pakistan or the Muslims of that country alone. Muslims all over the world must speak out on this issue, and, whatever their views may be on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and other countries, they need to unequivocally condemn murders by private individuals who style themselves as protectors of Islam and go about committing mayhem in the name of Islam.