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On this Page:

- "PILLAR OF DEFENSE" – A MURDEROUS FRAUD. Will the truce last? (Nov. 2012)
- Winning an election but losing one’s soul (June 2012)
- No Justification for War or Sanctions on Iran (March 15, 2012)
- OBAMA'S BADGE OF SHAME (September 26, 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)
- Demonizing Islam, Alienating Muslims, Harming US (Sep 2010)
- THE INVISIBLE GANDHI IN PALESTINE. Long history of non-violent resistance by Palestinians (July 22, 2010, PDF)
- RECONCILIATION (Iraq) (April 17, 2010, PDF)
- ISRAEL'S DEVIOUS PLOY (March 18, 2010)
- Book Review: Dom Martin, "NABLINKA: The Cleansing of CoExistence" (Feb. 18, 2010, PDF)
- The Jewish Exile that Never Was! (Jan. 29, 2010, PDF)
- GAZA: BLOODIED BUT UNBOWED: A shining symbol of unyielding resistance (Jan. 2010)
- Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: NEEDED: ENFORCEMENT, NOT NEGOTIATIONS (3 Sept. 2009)
- Hypocritical Tears, Selective Outrage. Democracy On Their Lips, Destruction In Their Hearts (17 July, 2009)
- Did CIA Engineer the Iranian Protests? (17 July, 2009)
- The Iranian Elections: Iranian "Republic" is Dead. What Iran Has Wrought (17 July, 2009)

Gulamusein A. Abba was 94 when he passed away on the 25th of April, 2022, in Connecticut/USA. In his childhood, Gulamhusein met Gandhi. He was originally from Bombay (now Mumbai), where his writings had been published in almost all the important news media, in English, Urdu, Gujarati and Marathi, and where he functioned in various capacities, including reporter, news and political analyst, columnist, editor and publisher. He was also a trade unionist, peace and justice activist and took part in political activities. His website with articles until 2019 is http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com. I knew Gulamhusein for about fifteen years in which we corresponded often via email. He even participated in one of my literary pieces, see "2030". He will be missed.

Will the truce last?
By Gulamhusein A. Abba, Nov. 23, 2012

On Wednesday, November 12, Israel deliberately provoked Hamas by breaking a two day long truce, carrying out some 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years, and, for good measure, to make sure the provocation worked, assassinating Gaza's supreme military commander Ahmed Jabari.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The agreement is vague on what restrictions Israel would lift.

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

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

But these are details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The political situation has changed dramatically.

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

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

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

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

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

Winning an election but losing one’s soul
June 2012
By Gulamhusein A. Abba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The voters in the coming historic election have a third choice. Give their support to neither Obama nor Romney. Just don’t vote, and, by this simple act, send a clear message to both the parties and to all future contenders for the throne in Washington.

No Justification for War or Sanctions on Iran

March 15, 2012
By Gulamhusein A. Abba

The hysteria over Iran's nuclear capabilities having reached such a stage as to call for immediate bombing of its nuclear facilities – this hysteria is deliberately and insidiously being whipped up by Israel to achieve its own ends. It has been itching to bomb Iran ever since Iraq was neutered, leaving Iran the only country in the region that can be expected to stand up to Israel.

The main purpose of his latest visit to the White House was to get Obama's backing for his plan. He did not get the green signal he sought. But Obama allowed him to get away with this statement"... Above and beyond that there are two principles you reiterated yesterday that Israel must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself against any threat and that, when it comes to Israel's security, Israel has a right, a sovereign right, to make its own decisions…. Israel must reserve the right to defend itself…..my supreme responsibility as Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate."

True Obama could not possibly have denied that. However he could and should have reminded Netanyahu that Israel, in exercising that right, must always remember that Israel, as any other nation, has a duty not to take any action that can result in grave harm to the world as a whole, especially if that action is unwarranted and unnecessary and is being maliciously or mistakenly being taken under cover of "defending Israel", and that if, in spite of being advised against it, Israel goes ahead and takes such action, Israel cannot expect and will not get any support from the US. In fact, if Israel is preparing to take any such action, other countries that will be adversely affected have a right to take any action that may be required to prevent such an action.

By remaining silent at Netanyahu's enunciation of Israel's right, Obama missed the opportunity to make the US position forcefully clear to Israel and to Americans.

While Obama did not give Netanyahu the green signal to go ahead with his bombing plan and seemed to back away from it, saying that there was still a window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution, he seems to have succumbed to Israel's pressure, saying recently that the window had narrowed!

A brief look at relevant facts will show that there is no call for bombing Iran because of its progress on its nuclear energy program.

Iran has repeated again and again that it has no intention of acquiring a nuclear arsenal and that its nuclear program is meant only for civil, not military purposes.

The New York Times, no friend of Iran, reported on February 24 that though Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, "American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb. Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate and that it remains the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies". (emphasis added)

According to a report by Time's journalists James Risen and Mark Mazetti, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in his January 31 Senate testimony stated explicitly that there was no evidence that Iran had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon.

Other top Obama administration officials, including CIA Director David Petraeus, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey share Clapper's assessment.

Even if it is assumed that Iran was bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, the question arises whether bombing its nuclear facilities is the only way to stop it and if so, is it necessary to take that action at this stage? The answer to the last question hinges on how close is Iran to having a nuclear weapon.

Estimates on this have differed wildly in the past and continue to do so even now.

According to US Secretary of Defense, Iran is a year away from a nuclear bomb. In 1984 Senator Alan Cranston said Iran was seven years away. In 1992 Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then a member of Israeli parliament, said 3 to 5 years. That same year then Israeli Defense Minister (now Israeli President) Shimon Peres said Iran would have nukes by 1999. In 1995 "senior U.S. and Israeli officials" speculated Iran would have nuclear weapons in five years.

Meir Dagan, who recently retired as Israel's Mossad spy agency, has said that Iran would not be able to produce a nuclear weapon until 2015 and that Israel should not hasten to attack Iran but should do so "only when the sword is upon the neck". He later added that Israel's attacking Iran would be a "stupid idea".

President Obama himself, who has access to intelligence reports, initially stated that "there is a window of opportunity" to try and solve the issue through diplomacy, indicating that in his opinion Iran is now close to acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Besides, as late as January 2012, Gill Tudor, spokeswoman for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that "The IAEA can confirm that all nuclear material in the facility remains under the Agency's containment and surveillance".

Early in January of this year Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: "Are they [Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us."

Iran has agreed to open up for inspection by IAEA, Parchin, the military facility southeast of Tehran where the U.N. nuclear watchdog suspected that development work relevant to nuclear weapons may have taken place.

Iran offered to return to talks on resolving the dispute over its uranium enriching program and, according to the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain had accepted the offer and had voiced backing for efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the long-running row.

So, there is no evidence that Iran is preparing to acquire nuclear weapons. All that exists is a suspicion that Iran so intends, and, because of this suspicion, we are trying to compel Iran to abandon efforts to advance its nuclear program meant for civil and peaceful purposes, specially to meet its energy needs so that its industry can grow. Even though Iran does not violate any international requirement by continuing to advance its nuclear capability. Indeed, we are preparing to go to war with Iran on this!

In view of all the above, clearly not only is there no justification for going to war now with Iran on the question of its nuclear program but there is no justification even for continuing any sanctions on it on that account, much less imposing new "crippling" sanctions.

We the people must rise up and demand that we do not go to war with Iran on this. Unless we do this we will find ourselves in another unnecessary and costly war. And this time it will be ugly.

Winning an election but losing one’s soul
June 2012
By Gulamhusein A. Abba

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

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 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.

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.

Demonizing Islam, Alienating Muslims, Harming US
It’s the Muslims whose sensitivities are being trampled on
by Gulamhusein A. Abba, Sep 9, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque controversy is drummed up by anti-Islam, anti-Muslim and anti-Obama religious fanatics and right wing politicians, each with their own agenda.

The anti-Islam and anti-Muslim forces want to indelibly link in the minds of Americans the 9/11 tragedy with Islam, in an effort to demonize Islam and Muslims. They are shamelessly exploiting the 9/11 tragedy for this purpose.

Two main reasons are cited for the opposition to the so called “Ground Zero Mosque”. The most loudly proclaimed one is that the building of the “mosque” would desecrate hallowed Ground Zero, hurt the feelings of the families of the 9/11 victims and would be a slap in their face. The second objection voiced is the fear that the mosque could become one from which radical Islam is preached and where the seeds of terrorism are sown.

First, the question of location and sensitivity.

There is no reason whatsoever for the sensitivities of any of the families of the 9/11 tragedy victims, or of anyone else for that matter, to be ruffled by the founders of the Corduba Initiative going ahead with the Park51 Project (mischievously dubbed The Ground Zero Mosque}

Before approving or opposing the project, it is important to know what exactly the project is.

What is going to be built is not a mosque as such. There will be just a prayer hall in a part of a Cultural Center. This building will not be on Ground Zero but will be two blocks away and will not even be seen from Ground Zero. The Center will have a library, gym, auditorium, swimming pool, culinary school and restaurant.

Further, it will also include an auditorium to engage large audiences, sophisticated classroom spaces, general spaces and world-class facilities for all New Yorkers to benefit from.

It will also host events to facilitate "multifaith dialogue" and will have a September 11th memorial and quiet reflection space where people of different faith traditions and beliefs, sacred and secular, can find quiet time and solace.

Yes, it will include a prayer hall, a “mosque” to be used by Muslims to offer their prayers. This will take up only a small portion of the final space. Muslim prayer services have been held daily at 51 Park Place, the site of the proposed Center, since late 2009. The developers hope to expand services and facilities in the coming months to meet the needs of an expanding Muslim population. (There are probably one million Muslims in the tri-state area and several hundred thousand in New York City).

The project planners are going to build on property they have lawfully owned for several years.

What is in works is a complete renovation of an existing building that used to be Burlington Coat Factory and which was damaged by debris falling on it from the 9/11 attacks.

At a time of economic hardship, Park51 will constitute an investment of over $100 million of infrastructure in lower Manhattan, creating over 150 full-time jobs and over 500 part-time jobs, and providing much needed space, open to all, for community activities, health and wellness, arts and culture and personal and professional development.

The plan to turn an eyesore of an empty building two blocks from Ground Zero into a community center has received wide support.

Community Board 1 approved the plan. The vote was 29 in favor, 1 against, with 9 abstentions.

Community Board 1 represent the people of lower Manhattan who are closest to Park51 and would be most relevant to the building of the Center. They are the people of lower Manhattan. They’ve studied the project closely, they learned about who the promoters are and they live in the area. They were clear in their support for the Center.

Borough President Scott Stringer, Mayor Bloomberg, Councilwoman Chin and Councilman Jackson, City Comptroller Liu, Attorney General Cuomo, State Senator Squadron, U.S. Congressman Nadler, Governor Paterson and a number of key officials and institutions are supporting the construction of the Center. The mayor’s office was supportive, as were local community boards..

On August 5, The Shalom Center and other Jewish leaders from New York held a vigil at the site of the proposed Muslim cultural center and prayer space in Lower Manhattan, supporting the plan for Cordoba House/ Park51 there.

Even more relevant, the project has the support of The September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a nationwide group founded by family members of those killed on 9/11.

This is the statement they released: ”September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows strongly supports efforts to bring an Islamic Cultural Center to lower Manhattan, near the Ground Zero site. We believe that welcoming the Center, which is intended to promote interfaith tolerance and respect, is consistent with fundamental American values of freedom and justice for all.

“We believe, too, that this building will serve as an emblem for the rest of the world that Americans stand against violence, intolerance and overt acts of racism and that we recognize that the evil acts of a few must never damn the innocent.”

Ed Koch, who served as Mayor of New York City from 1978 to1989, supporting the project, had this to say: “I believe we are locked in battle with fanatical Islam and will be for the foreseeable future. I do not believe the vast majority of Muslims, and American Muslims in particular, are fanatics or enemies of the American people”.

But, it is pointed out that those who carried out the attacks were Muslims and claimed to be acting in the name of Islam. That, it is argued, is what would stir up memories of the attack if the Center were allowed to be built so close to the site of the tragedy.

If the proposed Islamic center was being put up by Alqaida or if it were to be controlled by terrorists or Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, then the hurt, the pain and the anger of those who oppose the project could be understood. But this is not the case.

The promoters of the Center are no terrorists or radicals.

The FBI called upon Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who will be the Imam leading the Muslim prayers at the Center, to reach out to Muslims after the terrorist attacks, and the US government recently sent him on a world tour to explain that the US is NOT anti-Islam or anti-Muslims but only anti-terrorism and anti-terrorists.

Prominent rabbis spoke in favor of the cleric and his wife Daisy Khan, who has been associated with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which also lent its public support.

Well known leaders and organizations know Imam Feisal has served Lower Manhattan for a long time and that he has been a positive force in this city and country.

Feisal Abdul Rauf has clearly and specifically stated: "The Cordoba Initiative is an initiative to improve relations between the Islamic nation and the Western world and the non-Islamic religions.

“The Cordoba House, within the framework of the Cordoba projects, began before 9/11.”

He went on to explain: “There is a need for a cultural center, with an agenda that differs from what goes on in some of the mosques. Here in the U.S., we need to establish an Islamic-American community….There is widespread ignorance about Islam in the U.S. One of our goals is to make people understand what Islam is and who the Muslims are. Islam is a religion that loves tolerance and peace, and the people who carried out [9/11] were not... That action was not an Islamic action.”

The question the protestors ask is that if the promoters of the project realize that Ground Zero is hallowed ground and are really cognizant of and sympathetic towards the feelings of the 9/11 victims, why not build the project a little further away, specially when the mayor of New York has offered to make another site available to them at an attractive price?

True that Ground Zero has become “hallowed ground”. But to claim that the area surrounding it is also “hallowed” is a stretch, Much sacrilege can be found within two blocks of Ground Zero: a strip club called New York Dolls; an off-track betting parlor; a couple of fast-food joints, and at least one Irish pub — all as close to Ground Zero as the proposed site of the future Islamic cultural center.

There is also Pussycat Lounge, a strip joint two blocks from Ground Zero, and the Thunder Lingerie and Peep Show. Also, “17 pizza shops, 18 bank branches, 11 bars, 10 shoe stores and 17 separate salons, offering what’s euphemistically called ‘bikini waxing.’ ”

As one commentator has noted “The crowded streets around the World Trade Center site feel deeply ordinary: Commuters pour in and out of the subway stations; shoppers pour in and out of Century 21, the popular discount department store; tourists pour in and out of the Millennium Hilton….”.

It is not as though the Muslims were proposing to put up a brothel or a strip-club or a gambling joint!

As for the proximity of the Center to Ground Zero, the problem is to determine the boundaries of hallowed ground.

The question that arises is: “How far is far enough?”. Somewhere between the 2-1/2 dense city blocks, where Cordoba House is planned on the site of an abandoned garment factory, and 10 blocks away in Tribeca, where Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf has led a congregation for 27 years? How far away from Ground Zero is acceptable? If opponents say two blocks away is not good enough, they could say "not in the state that the 9/11 attack occurred in" or, "not in the state next door to where the 9/11 attack occurred”. Three cartoons address this question admirably. The first is Kevin Sier’s telling cartoon in Charlotte Observer on Ground Zero with Palin saying “Sure we believe in freedom and inclusiveness, but you good people should respect New York and build your mosque farther from ground zero!” Next to this panel is a panel showing 9th Ave, 10th Ave and beyond stretching all the way beyond China, Japan and Russia, with a “voice” from beyond asking “How is this?”!! (see http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/08/05/1604104/ny-mosque.html ); the second is a perceptive, revealing and thought provoking Mark Fiore cartoon animation on the building of a “mosque” near Ground Zero (go to http://www.markfiore.com/ and then scroll to the 08.18 cartoon captioned Cat and Mosque) and, the third is a Bearman Cartoon captioned “how far is far enough” (see http://beartoons.com/2010/08/17/mosque-at-ground-zero-cartoon/).

The real question that needs to be asked is not “Why the Muslims are not shifting the site further away?” but “Why are the Muslims being asked to shift the site further away?” There is not one valid, justifiable or reasonable reason why the Center, with its prayer hall, should not be built exactly where it is proposed to be built. On the other hand, there are a number of very forceful and good reasons why it should be built there.

Left out completely from the discussion are the Muslims and their feelings – Muslims who are American citizens, and Muslims all over the world who are closely watching developments on this question.

It is as if American Muslims did not exist or had no feelings, no sensitivity of their own! As if they are third class citizens who do not matter.

And yet, this is an extremely important issue to consider.

The ones whose feelings are being rubbed raw are not the families of the 9/11 victims but the Muslims, both in the US and outside.

Telling the Muslims that they cannot, or should not build their “mosque” so close to Ground Zero because it would somehow defile the hallowed nature of Ground Zero is telling them that their mosque, their religion is so obnoxious that the mere building of a multi-purpose Center would desecrate the ground that has been hallowed by the suffering and deaths of thousands of innocent civilians (including Muslims) and hurt the feelings of the victims of 9/11 attacks.

It is saying that Islam is so offensive that while St.Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, St.Paul’s Chapel and even the profane structures and businesses mentioned earlier in this article, all closer than the Center, can be tolerated, a “mosque”, which will not even be visible from Ground Zero, is not acceptable anywhere near Ground Zero.

The opposition to the putting up of the Islamic Center is a slap in the face of the vast majority of Muslims in the US who follow and practice their religion peacefully. It is an assault on the deepest beliefs of millions of fellow Muslims in the US and millions more outside. As one commentator wrote: “It would be an unprecedented act of sectarianism, alienating an entire faith tradition from the American experiment”.

The opponents ignore the fact that many Muslim clerics and laymen have informed the US authorities about radical Imams and have thus helped the authorities in getting the offending mosques closed; they ignore, as President Obama pointed out, "Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings"; they ignore the fact that thousands of Muslims risked their lives and cooperated with the American troops in locating and rooting out Al-Qaida pockets in Iraq; they ignore the fact that thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan are, even as this is being written, putting their lives on the line and are actively engaged in helping the US and the international community in fighting Al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The protests amount to assigning collective guilt to the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims for 9/11, to Islam itself, for a deranged act of mass murder committed by a tiny heretical sect.

The Muslims who want to build this mosque did not fly airplanes into skyscrapers. They do not support terrorism. Hundreds of Muslims died on 9/11. New Yorkers of all faiths and no faiths died together. Muslim New Yorkers understand the horror of that day because they lived it. Terrorists attacked their city and their country, and terrorists have continued to threaten their city and their country. Many Muslims have worked with their fellow Americans to keep New York and US safe.

By what understanding do we assign guilt to all Muslims for the actions of a relative few?

Like the majority of American Christians or Jews, American Muslims are peaceful, disregarding out-dated or cruel laws that are there, just as Christians and Jews disregard such laws that also exist in Christianity and Judaism.

On the one hand we insist that our freedom of speech allows us to draw cartoons or produce plays that Muslims find offensive, and then demand that they be more sensitive to our feelings – and unfounded feelings at that!

On the one hand we deplore the fact that in many Arab countries it is extremely difficult to build a Church or a Synagogue, and take pride in the fact that we are different, and on the other hand we say “Do not build your mosque”!

The truth of the matter is that these protests are baseless, unjustified, completely unwarranted -- and dangerous. The opposition to the mosque is all about bigotry and intolerance. The campaign against this mosque is ugly and odious in the extreme. It is based purely on appeals to base fear and bigotry, equates Islam with terrorism, lays, quite undeservedly and unjustifiably, 9/11 guilt on Muslims generally.

The protestors are engaged in collective vilification and incitement against Muslims in the United States, and they are doing it deliberately and for political and religious purposes.

The issue has been manufactured by the political and religious right in this country to incite hatred towards Muslims, which would in turn cause contempt for Democrats who support them, and lead to GOP victories at the polls.

We need to keep focused on the real issue. Let us remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al-Qaida's cause is not Islam -- it's a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders – they are terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, al-Qaida has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion – and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.

That's what we must never forget about 9/11. This was never a war between us and the Muslim world. It's a war between us and al-Qaida.

Al-Qaida is fighting to claim Islam and shape it in its own terms. The promoters of the “Ground Zero Mosque” want to take back Islam from the clutches of Al-Qaida and build an Islam that loves America, embraces freedom, and preaches coexistence. They deserve to be helped rather than fought.

Those who are protesting the construction of the mosque are playing right into the hands of Al-Qaida, the radicals and militants who want to divide us, who hope to provoke conflict between the West and Islam. The protestors are creating grave problems at multiple levels.

Islamophobia is a disease that threatens to rent asunder the tender fabric of our country; it is a disease that would shake the very foundations of our country's cherished tradition of liberty and justice for all and undermine our country's freedom of religion.

Opposition to the Cordoba Center is bad for America in more ways than one.

We cannot ignore the fact that Muslims all over the world are paying close attention to what is being said and done here in respect of the building of the Center in lower Manhattan.

The opposition to the building of the Center is going to lead to much greater hate for America, increased terrorism and worsening balance of trade. It will drive moderate Muslims into the arms of radicals.

It will have repercussions in Afghanistan and Iraq and put American forces in those areas at greater risk.

Insulting our Muslim allies will only give Osama bin Laden a huge propaganda victory. Making the struggle against terrorism appear to be a war against Islam – exactly as he claims – would be a strategic disaster.

Mark Halperin of Time Magazine wrote an article suggesting that even though this is clearly a potent wedge issue that could be effective for Republicans, they should not use it. Why? He explains, "a national political fight conducted on the terms we have seen in the past few days will lead to a chain reaction at home and abroad that will have one winner -- the very extreme and violent jihadists we all can claim as our true enemy."

In our national interest, out of security considerations and, more important, because it is the right thing to do, we must support rather than oppose the efforts of the promoters of the Cordoba Initiative to build their Center near Ground Zero.

The Center will establish this community as the place where the moderate Muslim voice condemns terrorism and works for new, peaceful, and harmonious relationships with all New Yorkers.

The Córdoba initiative brings exactly the opposite of terrorism or kamikaze pilots to the world. It represents the deep truths of Islam--the search for peace, the practice of compassion, the concern for profound dialogue.

We must open the door to deeper communication between all the religious and spiritual families of humankind--Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and all the others.

Imam Feisal has been a champion of pluralism and tolerance. He fully understands the enormity of 9/11. In fact his own congregation was only blocks away from Ground Zero.

Chris in DC has written a nice essay on this "debate". “The Cordoba House is deliberately, expressly, and unequivocally intended to stand for the diametric opposite of what the 9/11 attackers believed. It would stand for inclusion, reconciliation, and understanding across faiths and cultures. In fact, in many ways, the Muslim founders of the Cordoba House (and its imam) are the sorts of Muslims that bin Laden and his adherents hate most. They are cosmopolitan and modern. The Cordoba House itself will contain many earthly luxuries and pleasures. Its founders (and location) actively embrace multicultural, multi-sectarian, quintessentially modern New York City, and many of its proponents have happily lived in Southern Manhattan for decades.

“The Cordoba House, in other words, is not only separate and distinct from the identity and ideology of al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorists, it is a direct repudiation ("refudiation," for Sarah Palin) of them. So the only way that someone could ever confuse the Cordoba Initiative with radical, militant Islam is if that person thought that Islam itself was inseparable from terrorism or terrorist sympathies. That, to me, is highly illuminating. And if a very small handful of radicals who call themselves believers in a religion can hijack that entire religion to stand for the terrible things the radicals do and believe, then, well, Christianity apparently stands for the murder of doctors, the preachings of David Koresh, the beliefs and deeds of Tim McVeigh, the goals of the Huntaree militia....”

It is fitting to close this article by reproducing what another commentator wrote: “All these objections rest on the premise that the 9/11 hijackers, by committing mass murder in the name of Islam, made Islam a religion of mass murder. To accept this equation is to give them the power to define the religion of 1 billion people. That -- not the rise of pro-American Islamic pluralism – is the conquest the masterminds of 9/11 sought. Don't let them have it”.

A parting thought: It is not the building of the Islamic Center but the opposition to it that is a victory for the radicals, the militants and the terrorists.

by Gulamhusein A. Abba

The bloody and dastardly attack, by Israeli forces, in international waters, under cover of darkness, on a peaceful and unarmed flotilla, carrying nothing but humanitarian aid to a besieged people experiencing a humanitarian crisis, was strongly denounced by people and governments from all over the world. Deservedly so.

Israel, instead of apologizing, or at least being contrite, immediately launched a brazen and aggressive campaign to justify its actions and paint the aid-bearers as the villains of the piece!

It spewed out the standard propaganda. It tried to demonize the aid-bearers by alleging, in the face of evidence to the contrary, that some of them had ties to terrorists; “accidentally” released a video mocking those attacked; widely circulated heavily edited and doctored photos and videos showing those on the flotilla “attacking” the Israeli commandos (but did not make public video images of the commandos just prior to or during the attack); claimed that those under attack had snatched two guns from the heavily armed and well trained commandos and fired the “snatched” guns at the commandos, who then fired back in self defense (!); and made several other ridiculous claims and allegations. It even alleged that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza!

Anticipating that there would be criticism of not only the disproportionate force used and the killing of nine passengers but of the blockade itself, Israel resorted to its old and tried “justification” – “What else can Israel do? It is surrounded by hostile Arab nations. Gaza is under the control of Hamas which has the elimination of Israel written in its charter and which has fired thousands of mortars into Israel. If Israel does not impose a blockade, arms will flow into Gaza and will be used to try and destroy Israel”.

All these claims are baseless and can be refuted through incontrovertible facts. But doing so here would be playing into an Israeli trap. Such controversies, arguments and debates are exactly what Israel wants. They serve to distract the readers and divert attention from the real issues.

When the criticism and denunciations kept growing, Israel damage control experts at last played their trump card to defuse the international backlash. Israel announced that it would be “easing” Gaza’s blockade. Details were skimpy and the “easing” applied only to the land blockade. The high seas remained off limits. Nevertheless, Israel’s announcement had the desired effect. There was immediate applause and Israel was praised for “taking a step in the right direction”.

Israel has perfected this technique. It thrusts a nine inch blade into the body of its victim. There is an international hue and cry. Israel defends its action. There is a debate in the international community and in the media. While the controversy and debate continues, the blade remains firmly embedded in the body for months, its victim bleeding the whole time. Then Israel withdraws three inches of the blade. The world applauds its action, ignoring the six inches of the blade that still remains buried deep in the body of Israel’s victim.

When the dust and the din has settled, Israel delivers another nine inch stab, only to repeat the whole process.

That is exactly what is happening here. The occupied territories are pockmarked with Israel’s stab wounds!

Though the belated awakening to Israel’s perfidious acts, as evidenced by the initial worldwide denunciation, is welcome, it ignored the real issues and continues to do so.

The crippling blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza – which is more for political than security reasons and which constitutes collective punishment on all – is unwarranted, unjustifiable and illegal and must be brought to an end.

Even more important is the fact that Israel, in spite of various UN resolutions, refuses to vacate its illegal and brutal 43-years-old occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Not to mention the fact that it has been for more than 60 years now dispossessing Palestinians of their homes and lands and turning them into refugees barred forever from returning to their homes!

Not only is Israel continuing this occupation but it is also making life a hell for the Palestinians living in the occupied territories. It has been setting up dozens of checkpoints; bulldozing homes; stealing land; uprooting olive and fruit orchards; throttling villages and towns by encircling them with a hideous wall; preventing relatives from visiting each other, students from going to schools, the sick from going to hospitals and clinics, farmers from attending to their farms, businessmen from going to their businesses; imposing curfews and closures; arresting (read “kidnapping”) people indiscriminately; shooting down innocent people; brutally repressing non-violent protests; crisscrossing the land with “for Israelis only” highways; assassinating at will through missile attacks and other means; bombing whole towns and refugee camps; holding thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails and torturing them.

It acts with impunity, not only in the occupied territories but worldwide; stealing and forging passports issued by friendly countries and using them to clandestinely send its operatives to other friendly, sovereign countries to carry out secret assassinations; knocking out reactors in foreign countries it suspects to be attempting to produce nuclear arsenal; provoking other countries to attack it and then invading and occupying territories it has no right to, bombing the ship of a friendly country anchored in waters off its coast, and on and on. Israel is an out-of-control loose cannon ball and it is time for the world community to muzzle it, hold it accountable, and compel it to behave like a law abiding civilized member of the international community. If Israel refuses to do so, the international community must treat it as the pariah nation that it has become and sever all connections with it and impose sanctions on it.

Perhaps this is expecting too much from the UN, divided and riddled with politics as it is. If the UN cannot or will not act, all nations that believe in justice, in the rule of law, in the inalienable right of a people to have their own government – all such nations must unilaterally impose sanctions on Israel, divest form it and boycott it totally.

But it is not only governments that can act. Each one of us, whether an individual or a corporation or a business, can and must do our part. Boycott Israel, its goods and its services; divest funds invested in Israeli stocks, bonds and ventures.

Israelis themselves must join in efforts to leash power drunk Israeli leaders at the helm of affairs in Israel. They are driving Israel to ruin, economically, politically and morally. Israelis need to save Israel from the currant Israeli government and those who constitute it.

The first step: The world community, which took prompt and decisive action to vacate Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, must now focus, not on promoting unending proximity talks or peace negotiations, but on making Israel vacate its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.


An important development is taking place in Palestine which has so far gone relatively un-noticed. It has far reaching political and economic implications, ramifications and consequences which need careful study and analysis so as to help shape adequate strategies. The reference is to joint Israeli-Palestinian ventures (also known as joint Israeli-Palestinian industrial zones) in West bank. On the face of it, they seem to be helpful to the Palestinians. But they have a sinister undercurrent.

Samah Sabawi, who was born in Gaza and is currently in Melbourne, brought this subject up in a paper she read on Tuesday, March 9 at Prince Philip Theater, University of Melbourne during the course of a forum organized by Australians for Palestine/ Women for Palestine.

She later wrote an article based on the paper she had read and this was published by Palestine Chronicle on March 10. The article deserves to be taken note of.

To read the article, see relevant phtographs (including one of the author) and also read a short bio of Samah Sabawi, please click here: http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com

Gulamhusein A. Abba, March 18, 2010

A shining symbol of unyielding resistance

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba, January 2010

"No meaningful action is in sight. Israel continues to throttle Gaza in its effort to topple Hamas. And Gaza still bleeds. In full view of the civilized world. But Gaza will never fall. Though bloodied, it has not been bowed and never will be. It embodies the essence of the struggle of free people against tyranny

Author's note: A year after Gaza suffered its worst bombardment, it is appropriate to chronicle all that Gaza has had to endure from its first acts of protesting the Israeli occupation , the blows that have been rained on it and the intrigues that were hatched against it. This is exactly what this article attempts to do. There is much to tell but even the abridged version is too long and so I have refrained from giving more details. Hope you find this informative. Save it as a reference source

Gaza! That small, beautiful but turbulent and besieged piece of land, just a little more than 40 km long, no more than 12 km wide, a little bigger than New Jersey, crammed with more than one and half million people, battered by wave after wave of Israeli incursions and bombardments, has been bloodied but remains unbowed, a proud symbol and a stirring example of unyielding resistance.

For long under the Ottoman Empire, it came under the British Mandate in 1920 and then, when the British left Palestine in 1948, and the ensuing war between Arab states and Israel came to an end in 1949, much of the Gaza Strip that was earmarked for an Arab state in the UN partition Plan was retained by Israel under the 1949 Armistice line. The rest of the Strip fell under Egyptian control.

Even this chopped up Gaza strip was occupied by Israel in 1967 (along with what is now the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Golan heights and the Sinai Peninsula). In 1979 Israel made peace with Egypt and returned the Sinai to it but retained what remained of the original Gaza Strip.

Since then, Gaza has been ravaged by Israel time and again.

Adequately capturing the pain and suffering, as also the bravery, the courage and the indomitable and unconquerable spirit of the Gazans, and effectively conveying them, can only be done by an artist, a poet, a visionary. Judging by the preview of his forthcoming book, Dom Martin, who combines in himself all the required qualifications, has wonderfully done.

However, to fully understand what the Palestinians have suffered it is necessary to know what exactly they have had to endure. To that task I have addressed myself here.

**********In 1987 the first revolt by the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation broke out. There were riots and strikes and violence throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Israel responded with tanks, tear gas, plastic bullets, and live ammunition against the stone throwing Palestinian youths.

Till that time Israel had favored the Muslim Brotherhood which was based in Gaza, and Gaza had refrained from attacks against Israel. But after the Intifada, Shaikh Ahmed Yassin created Hamas from the Gaza wing of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas quickly began attacks on Israeli military targets, and subsequently, Israeli civilians.

Apart from numerous incursions into Gaza, targeted assassinations ((including that of its 67 year old, wheelchair ridden, nearly blind, quadriplegic spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin in March, 2004) and imprisonment of its leaders, Israel has carried out major military operations in the area.

After demolishing 1800 homes in the largest and most densely populated refugee camp in Rafah (it was established in 1949 to provide shelter to 41,000 refugees), in May 2004 Israel launched "Operation Rainbow" on Rafah town and refugee camp. In seven days 45 Palestinians, 38 of them civilians, including nine children, had been killed, 134 civilians, including around 50 children, had been injured, dozens of Palestinian homes were destroyed, rendering hundreds of Palestinians homeless. Civilian infrastructure and facilities in the town and refugee camp were largely destroyed.

Just four months later, in September 2004, Israel initiated another military assault, "Days of Penitence", deploying about 2,000 Israeli troops, with 200 tanks and armored vehicles. According to a UNRWA report, approximately 36,000 Palestinians in different locations were under siege, many thousands of civilians were unable to leave their homes, as fighting raged around them. An additional 4,000 persons fled their homes in the affected areas. 107 Palestinians were killed and 431 injured, from rocket attacks, machine-gun and sniper fire. Twenty five per cent of those killed were aged 18 years or under. One of Gaza's bloodiest days since the start of the Intifada, the assault was directed at Jabaliya refugee camp, home to more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees. Under the pretext of creating a 9-km "buffer zone" around the refugee camp, Israel leveled dozens of Palestinian homes and acres of agricultural land were destroyed. There were reports that the residents were given just minutes to gather their belongings and leave. They carried on their head in a bundle the little they could save.

The stated aim of the Israeli operation was to prevent the firing of homemade Palestinian rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot. It is relevant to point out here that just four Israeli citizens had been killed by these rockets in several months preceding the Israeli operation in Gaza.

The latest deaths in Gaza brought the total of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the start of the first Intifada to 1796, with another 12, 600 injured.

On August 17, 2005 about 14,000 Israeli soldiers started the first forced evacuation of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip as part of the disengagement plan which the Israeli government had adopted. Under the plan the Israel government would evacuate all Israeli settlers from the Strip and deploy all Israeli forces stationed in the Strip to other areas.

This was presented to the world as a very difficult and painful decision which the Israeli government had taken, a great sacrifice which it was making as a first step towards the creation of a Palestinian State. It was made to appear that this was a gift to the Gazans who were being "liberated" and were being granted independence.

In truth it was nothing of the sort. The shrewd Ariel Sharon, the then Prime Minister of Israel had realized that the achievement of Eretz Yisraeel, with Judea and Samaria and all the land west of the Jordan, would pose a huge problem for Israel. The demographic reality was that in such an Israel the Arab population would soon surpass the Jewish population. If Israel was to retain its Jewishness it would then have to either become an apartheid state or ethnically cleanse the land of the Arab population. None of these options was viable. The only solution was to divest Israel of areas that were densely populated by Arabs and declare that the aggregate of these disjointed areas was the Palestinian State!

Another factor was that Hamas had made it very difficult and costly for Israel to protect the Israeli settlements and the settlers in Gaza. A huge military presence in the Strip was required for this purpose and the Israeli public was chafing at the expense. Furthermore, Israel needed these forces to consolidate their hold in the West Bank. Gaza was expendable to the Israelis.

Sharon had chosen unilateralism over negotiations and agreement with the Palestinians. As such, the "disengagement" was unilateral rather than as a result of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, as ultimately the divestment of parcels of land densely populated by the Palestinians and declaration of them constituting the Palestinian state was intended to be.

Far from "liberating" the Gazans and making them independent, Israel put a tight noose round Gaza and turned it into a vast open air prison with more than one and a half million Gazans trapped within a tiny 140 square miles. Israel has guarded and monitored the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, continues to maintain exclusive authority in Gaza air space, continues to exercise security activity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip, and has the Egyptians seal off its border with Gaza. Israel also reserves "its inherent right of self defense, both preventive and reactive, including where necessary the use of force, in respect of threats emanating from the Gaza Strip"

Nor was there any sacrifice on the part of Israel. Gaza was, under the UN partition plan, to be a part of a Palestinian State. It was never intended to be a part of Israel. Israel occupied it in 1967 and was in illegal possession thereof. Even if it was handing Gaza over to the Palestinians, it would be merely returning what it was not its to keep.

As for the settlers that were forcibly evacuated, it could not but be traumatic for them. This writer, along with the rest of the world, felt great sorrow for them. But it must be remembered that they had taken up residence there knowing that the title to the land was far from clear and that it indeed belonged to someone else. Also, they were fully compensated, were provided with alternate accommodation and were transported from their homes in buses provided by the Israeli government. Unlike thousands of Palestinians who were made homeless by the Israeli government.

Gazans had suspected that the Israeli settlers were being evacuated to give Israel a free hand for carpet bombing of Gaza. And sure enough, barely a month after the disengagement, Gazans awoke to the deafening sonic booms created by Israeli jetfighters soaring above the Strip. True no bombs were dropped. But these sonic booms are a punishment in themselves. Surely if the Israeli settlers had not been evacuated, Israeli warplanes would not be ripping through the Gazan airspace so repeatedly and at the most sensitive times, when every human being was sleeping. Add to them the 24/7 noise of the drones that hover over Gaza and you get a picture of what the Gazans endured.

In January 2006 the Palestinians held their Parliamentary elections. In a fair and democratic election, certified to be so by international observers, with a turnout of 77%, Hamas scored a surprise landslide victory over Fatah, capturing 44.5 per cent of the votes cast, against 41.3percent won by Fatah. It obtained 74 of the 132 Parliamentary seats while Fatah got 45. In Ramallah, Hamas won every parliamentary seat except the one reserved for a Christian. It took almost all of the 16 constituencies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Particularly remarkable was its success in the Jerusalem district, where the group won all four seats allocated for Muslim candidates . In Hebron it took all its nine seats.

Hamas won 56 percent of the seats in the Legislative Council. In the race for the 66 national seats, Hamas got 29 and Fatah 28. Four parties shared the remaining seats.

The rules required President Abbas, who had threatened to resign if Hamas blocked his political program, to invite the largest party in parliament to form the next cabinet

The January 25 elections, an unprecedented turning point for politics, stunned U.S. and Israeli officials.

Hamas and the Gazans (Gaza is the stronghold of Hamas) were jubilant. But this jubilation did not last long. The victory at the polls brought only further misery to them

The US and the EU were, to put it mildly, not pleased at the results of the election Though it was they who had been pressuring PA to hold fair and free elections, they were opposed to accepting the result of the election. They immediately started putting pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas to use his authority to cripple Hamas power in the Parliament.

Since Gaza and Hamas are linked so closely together that they have almost become synonymous and since Israeli and American pressure on the PA was meant to effect the elimination of Hamas from the government to which it had won a right through the elections, it is relevant to here also mention in brief the actions taken by Israel, the US and EU towards achieving this goal. Israel stopped fund transfers to the Palestinian Authority and withheld the tax it collected on behalf of the PA. This amounted to millions of dollars.

President George W. Bush demanded that Mahmoud Abbas return USD 50 million he received in aid from the U.S.

The United States and its allies placed three demands on the new Palestinian government: that it recognize Israel's right to exist; that it affirm its commitment to all international agreements concluded by its predecessor, the Fatah Party; and that it renounce violence. President George W. Bush and the leaders of the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia, the so-called Quartet, stressed that they would not work diplomatically with the new Palestinian government if it did not meet these demands. The United States and the EU also threatened to withhold economic aid, and Israel threatened to block its provision.

When Hamas refused to accept the "three demands", the US and other donor countries, including Canada, the EU and Japan shut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, depriving it of the means to pay salaries and meet its annual budget of roughly $2 billion.

Israel clamped down on Palestinians' freedom of movement, especially into and out of the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. The closure of the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza from January 15 to February 4, 2006 and then from February 22 onwards had a devastating effect on food availability in the Gaza Strip. Stocks of wheat flour were critically low and soon thereafter no basic commodities were available in Gaza

On Tuesday, the 14th of March 2006 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stormed the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) detention center in Jericho. The aim was to seize six detainees wanted by Israel, in particular Ahmed Sa'adat, claimed to be the mastermind behind the killing of the Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze'evi, in 2001, together with Fuad Shubaki, wanted by Israel on charges of smuggling weapons into Palestine, and four others.

In this nine hour long operation the Israeli Military used helicopters, tanks and bulldozers. Missiles and tank shells were fired. Two guards were killed and at least eight others were wounded. The seized detainees were subjected to degrading treatment, being stripped to their underwear and blindfolded. The prison's premises were destroyed.

The six detainees wanted by Israel for the killing of Ze'evi were being held by the PA in Jericho prison under the 2002 Ramallah Agreement signed by the PA, Israel, UK and the US..

There is indication that the US and the British were complicit in this brazen violation by Israel. The prison was protected also by US and British monitors. These monitors left Jericho on the morning of the 14th of March 2006, leaving the prison exposed to the Israeli raid.

By March 19, 2006 there was a food crisis in Gaza

From June 1 to June 7, 2006 Israel carried out mock air raids over Gaza to terrorize the population. It fired missiles at uninhabited areas, sent planes flying low over densely populated civilian areas. And it killed Palestinians!

On June 1, Israeli gunboats shot at Gaza's coast and wounded two Palestinian children playing on the beach; On June 3, it injured two Palestinian children inside their homes and a middle aged Palestinian man; On June 5 it killed two Palestinian civilians through a missile strike aimed at a car carrying Palestinian militants; On June 7 it killed two Palestinians and injured another through artillery shells fired at them as they attempted to enter Israel through the fence.

On Friday, June 9, 2006, at about 4pm, an Israeli naval boat stationed off the coast of Beit Lahya in Gaza fired seven successive artillery shells at civilians on the beach crowded with men, women and children. Seven civilians from the same family (father, mother and five children) were killed as also another civilian.Thirty-two civilians, including thirteen children, were injured.

On the same day, three more Palestinian civilians lost their lives, killed by an Israeli missile that had been fired at a car. This near Jabalya.

Then, just four days later, on 13 June, Israel struck again, this time on a Gazan highway, killing eleven and injuring thirty. It also fired on a funeral procession, wounding three fifteen- year olds.

On June 20, Israel attempted to carry out a targeted assassination. The attempt failed in its objective but killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15 others.

On June 21 Israel carried out another missile attack. It missed its target but hit a home and killed a Palestinian man and his pregnant sister and injured four Palestinian civilians and seven children. In addition three adults and a ten year old child were injured near the house.

After giving the Gazans a taste of what was to come, Israel topped this activity by launching a full scale invasion of Gaza on June 27, 2006, under the code name of "Operation Summer Rain"

The then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was not shy about telling the world about what Israel wanted to do. With tongue in cheek he said that the aim was "not to mete out punishment but rather to apply pressure so that the abducted soldier (Gilad Shalit) will be freed. We want to create a new equation - freeing the abducted soldier in return for lessening the pressure on the Palestinians." (emphasis mine)

And this is the "pressure" that was applied.

On the first day of the assault Israeli fighter planes carried out three airstrikes on Gazan bridges in the morning. This was followed by strikes against Gazan power plants in the afternoon. Gaza sank into darkness. Israeli forces in the meantime had commenced moving into Gaza to take control of the open areas east of Rafah

The Gaza International Airport and the Islamic University were hit.

On June 29, 2006 Israel seized and detained 64 members of the Hamas party, including eight Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers – a third of the Palestinian cabinet – Legislative Council members, ministers and mayors, making it impossible for the new PA government to function.

On June 30 Israel, which had started its offensive against Gaza in December, started its bombardment phase. Israeli warplanes and gunboats struck more than a dozen times in Gaza in the hours after midnight, pounding more than 40 Hamas targets and a mosque, where 10 persons were killed. Roads and open fields were bombarded. The Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza City was struck. Three missiles hit the office of Khaled Abu Ilal, an Interior Ministry official.

On July 6, 2006, the IDF reoccupied three former Israeli settlements in northern Gaza. Strip. Additional forces entered a nearby Palestinian town.

During the conflict, 5 Israeli soldiers were killed (including two in the initial Palestinian cross-border attack, and one in a friendly fire incident). Six Israeli civilians were killed and nearly 40 wounded.

Early during the assault all border crossings in and out of Gaza were shut.

The public health, safety and environmental hazards stemming from the damage caused to infrastructure as a result of this military operation included water shortages, contaminated remaining drinking water, uncontrolled discharge and untreated sewage flowing in the streets resulting in groundwater pollution, pollution of agricultural land , making it impossible for Gazans to cultivate to harvest crops. All this not only had a severe negative impact on their earning, but also posed a grave threat to the health and safety of the Gazans.

As recorded by the PCHR in its report dated Sept 10, 2006, the outcome of the military action since 25 June 2006 was:

* 257 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 49 children and 12 women, have been killed by IOF
* At least 954 Palestinian civilians, including 272 children and 31 women, have been wounded by the IOF gunfire.
* At least 248 air-to-surface missiles and hundreds of artillery shells have been fired at Palestinian civilian and military targets in the Gaza Strip.
* Buildings of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National economy, the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister and a number of educational institutions have been destroyed.
* The electricity generation plant, providing 45% of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, was destroyed, and electricity networks and transmitters have been repeatedly attacked.
* 6 bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip and a number of roads have been destroyed.
* Hundreds of donums ( according to Wikipedia encyclopedia, "a dunam or dönüm, dunum, donum is a unit of area used in the Ottoman Empire and still used, in various standardized versions, in many countries formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. It was defined as "forty standard paces in length and breadth",[1] but varied considerably from place to place"). of agricultural land and dozens of houses have been destroyed.
* Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including 9 ministers and 31 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), including the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Secretary, have been arrested. Minster of Prisoners' Affairs, Minister of Labor and Second Deputy Speaker of the PLC were released.
* The Palestinian governmental compound in Nablus has been destroyed.
* Many families in Rafah, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia have been forced to leave their houses.
* IOF intelligence has warned some Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by phone to evacuate their houses, which would be attacked.
* 40 houses belonging to activists of Palestinian factions were destroyed by IOF warplanes.
* IOF have imposed a strict siege on the OPT, and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Hardly had "Operation Summer Rain" ended when, on November 1, 2006 Israel commenced another military operation, this time calling it "Operation Autumn Clouds"!!

Starting on November 1, in the first two days alone it killed 15 Palestinians, including at least 4 civilians, and wounded at least 50, including 15 children and 3 women. The Israelis announced an end of the operation on November 7.

However, on November 8, 2006, Israeli forces fired successively 10 to 12 shells at a Beit Hanoun residential street resulting in eighteen Palestinian civilians – most of them women and children from the same family -- being killed. The victims were trying to flee a barrage of Israeli artillery shells fired on and around the house where they had been sleeping minutes earlier.

The Gazans, who had just buried 55 of their fellowmen after a week-long offensive in Beit Hanoun, were stunned.

In a day-long meeting of the Security Council on November 9, called jointly by the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement, more than 40 speakers expressed grave concern at the mounting humanitarian toll, with many demanding an immediate ceasefire and deployment of United Nations observers.

A ceasefire was declared on November 26, 2006.

On December 9, 2006 the PLO Executive Committee recommended early elections.

On December 14, 2006, Ismail Haniya was denied entry to Gaza from Egypt at the Rafah border crossing. Haniya was returning to Gaza from his first official trip abroad as prime minister in the PA government and was reported to have an estimated 30 million US dollars meant for the PA government. A gun battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Presidential Guard was reported at the Rafah border crossing. When Haniya later attempted to cross the border, an exchange of gunfire left one bodyguard dead. Haniya's eldest son was wounded. Hamas denounced the attack as an attempt by Fatah on Haniya's life. Firefights broke out between the two factions.

On Dec 16 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for new elections. This was viewed by Hamas as a bid to undermine the government which was formed following January's legislative elections and which was being led by Haniya as Prime Minister.

On 25 February 2007, Israel launched a wide-scale military attack on Nablus in the West Bank and on neighboring refugee camps and villages, torpedoing efforts to get the stalled peace process back on track. About 50,000 Palestinians were placed under curfew. Soldiers conducted house-to-house searches and residents were ordered to stay indoors.

Though this did not directly affect Gaza, it was the largest raid on Nablus in several years. It created havoc and large scale destruction. And Gazans, who are Palestinians first, suffered in agony

Gaza's turn was next. On May 16, 2007 Israel, claiming that it was acting to halt the launching of home made rockets at Israeli towns, launched a massive attack on Gaza already reeling under constant attacks. By May 2007, 50 Palestinians had been killed and 206 injured, 71 houses were destroyed in the course of the latest attack. During the same time period, two Israeli civilians were killed and several more had been injured by the Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip It is relevant to here remember that between 25 June 2006 and the truce that came into force at the end of November 2006, over 400 Palestinians (including 90 children) were killed and some 1,500 (including over 300 children) injured. During the same period three Israeli soldiers were killed and 18 wounded, and two Israeli civilians were killed and some 30 injured in Sderot by Qassam rockets fired by Palestinians from Gaza.

With Hamas showing no signs of capitulating, Israel further tightened the noose around Gaza's neck by closing the Rafah Crossing on June 9, 2007. This crossing was the only point of entry into and exit from Gaza. Its closure put Gaza under siege.

At one point as many as 6,000 Palestinians were stranded at the Egyptian border, waiting for the closure to be lifted so they could return to their homes and families in Gaza.

Also, in June, 2007 Hamas learnt, through a report published in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, that Abbas and a US commander had asked Israel to authorize a huge arms shipment by Egypt, including armored cars, armor-piercing rockets, thousands of hand grenades, and millions of rounds of ammunition. Hamas viewed this as preparation for a massive attack on it by Fatah. It decided it was time to take defensive action before it was too late. Determined to foil what it believed on evidence was an American-Fatah plot to subvert the decision of the people democratically expressed, it launched operations against Fatah forces in Gaza and, within a week or so, Fatah forces were routed. Hamas was in full control of Gaza. Abbas's writ no longer ran in Gaza.

This has been portrayed by Israel, the US and some European powers as a Coup d'Etat by Hamas. In truth it was a counter coup by Hamas. It is important to understand this and towards this end a little digression is necessary here. It will help illustrate the extent of intrigue between Israel, the US and Fatah to deny Hamas its legitimate rights.

When Abbas began holding talks with Hamas to try and establish a "unity government", Condoleezza Rice personally met Abbas on October 4, 2006 and demanded that he dissolve the new government dominated by Hamas as soon as possible and hold fresh elections.

After several weeks, with no evidence of Abbas doing her bidding, Jake Walles, the US consul general in Jerusalem, went to Ramallah and delivered an ultimatum to the Palestinian president: Ask Hamas to accede to the demands of the Quartet and if it fails to do so, declare a state of emergency and form an emergency government without Hamas.

Instead of doing that, Abbas accepted Saudi King Abdullah's invitation and, on February 6, 2007 went to Mecca to meet with Hamas and formally establish a national unity government. In a couple of days an agreement was reached, without Hamas accepting the Quartet's "three demands"! The clincher was the promise made by the Saudis to pay the Palestinian Authority's salary bills

The US then redoubled its pressure on the PA. It asked Abbas to demand that Hamas accept Quartet's demands, and, if it refused, dismiss the government and either call early elections or impose an emergency government. It also impressed on Abbas the need to maintain "independent control of key security forces." and "avoid Hamas integration with these services, while eliminating the Executive Force or mitigating the challenges posed by its continued existence."

In parallel to these efforts, the US also pursued a covert initiative it had launched to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan (Fatah's strong man in Gaza) and armed with new weapons supplied at America's behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power.

A portion of the plan was leaked and published in a Jordanian newspaper. Hamas became aware of it and regarded the plan, quite understandably, to be a blueprint for a U.S.-backed Fatah coup

In mid-May 2007, 500 Fatah National Security Forces recruits arrived, fresh from training in Egypt and equipped with brand new rifles with telescopic sights and vehicles. In June, as satetd earlier, Hamas learnt, through a report published in Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Abbas and a US commander had asked Israel to authorize a huge arms shipment by Egypt, including armored cars, armor-piercing rockets, thousands of hand grenades, and millions of rounds of ammunition. Hamas decided it was time to take defensive action before it was too late. Determined to foil what it believed on evidence was an American-Fatah plot to subvert the decision of the people democratically expressed, it launched operations against Fatah forces in Gaza in June 2007 and, within a week or so, Fatah forces were routed. Hamas was in full control of Gaza. Abbas's writ no longer ran in Gaza.

In June,2007 Abbas split with Prime Minister Ismail Haniya and declared a state of emergency. Abbas dissolved the government and named Salam Fayyad as the new prime minister, but Haniya vowed to carry on.

To continue the narrative:

On September 19, 2007 Israel declared the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity." The justification given was once more the firing of rockets from Gaza. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice immediately backed the declaration. There followed a series of collective punishment measures which crippled Gaza's already non-existing economy. Importing of basic needs, including medicine, was denied. Exports were severely limited. Fuel supplies were cut. Movement of people out of and into Gaza, including those in need of urgent medical care, was halted.

On 15 January, 2008, in a raid by Israel, nineteen Palestinians were killed, including the son of Hamas head Mahmoud al-Zahar, three farmers and a student.

On January 17, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the total closure of the Gaza Strip. Power supply and fuel to Gaza were also cut.

The residents of Gaza are mainly food aid-dependent refugees. With the total closure of the Strip and cutting off of power supply and fuel to Gaza, a major disaster soon developed.

On June 19, 2008 a 26 week Egyptian brokered truce between Hamas and Israel was announced. Under its terms, Israel was to halt its incursions into Gaza, and Hamas was to stop the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel agreed to also ease its blockade on Gaza if the truce held. Further talks on prisoner exchange were also envisaged. The truce was to last till December 19.

Hamas adhered to the terms of the truce. Though a few rogue elements in Gaza did fire some rockets into Israel during the truce (about 500 rockets were fired during the period, most of them after Israel broke the truce on November 5), Hamas honored the truce and enforced it on its cadres (even Israel's intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness).

The truce was going well for Israel. From the beginning of 2008 till June19 Hamas fired 2660 projectiles into Israel. From June 19, when the truce started, till November 4, only 65 rockets had been fired. Israel itself admitted that during the truce period there was a significant reduction of shells being lobbed into Israel.

But it was not going so well for Gaza. The promised easing of the blockade by Israel never materialized. What is more, Israel chose to violate the truce. On November 4, 2008 under the pretext of stopping a "ticking" tunnel, Israel executed six Palestinians in Gaza.

Not withstanding this, even before the truce expired on December 19, Hamas sought, through the good offices of Egypt and others, to extend the truce. Israel refused.

Determined to bring Gaza to its knees, Israel, unleashed its cruelest offensive against Gaza under the code name of Operation Cast Lead. On December 27 Israel began its bombardment on Gaza and then on January, 2009 it began its ground offensive. The assault lasted for 22 days. During this period more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. There was shelling from every side, from air, sea and land. White phosphorous was rained on Gazans. On the first day itself, more than 100 tons of bombs were dropped on this tiny, beleaguered strip of land. Entire families were wiped out. Much of Gaza was reduced to rubble.

Though the above is a long report, it does not even begin to record the trials and tribulations of the people of Gaza. And it does not convey the emotional and psychological impact all this has had on the Gazans. It was not meant to. The purpose here is to lend context to what Dom Martin and others have so effectively expressed in their images and poetry.

Most regrettably, the saga continues. The International Community, which galvanized itself into fast and telling action against Iraq when it occupied Kuwait (which once was its province) and not only drove the occupying Iraqi army out of Kuwait but chased it almost into the heart of Iraq, leaving a trail of warped and burnt tanks, armored vehicles and men – this same community, in the case of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and its stranglehold on Gaza, has stood idly by during Israel's more than 40 years of brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories. It assuages its conscience by giving millions in aid – to feed the impoverished Gazans (who would not need any aid if only they were allowed to go about their business without Israeli restrictions and bombardments and allowed to import and export freely) and rebuild what Israel goes on reducing to rubble whatever is rebuilt! By doing this the International Community does no favor to the Gazans. It merely perpetuates Israeli tyranny and becomes complicit in it.

Of late the international community is becoming increasingly reluctant to pour in money to rebuild what they know Israel will destroy again by its precision bombs and missiles. Notwithstanding this, at the donors' conference in Egypt last March the international community once more pledged billions of dollars to rebuild what Israel destroyed in Gaza in its 2008/09 war on Gaza. But this time no rebuilding can take place because Israel has put a blockade against any material coming into Gaza. According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the year.

Former president of US Jimmy Carter has recently recounted that he has seen "homeless people huddling in makeshift tents, under plastic sheets, or in caves dug into the debris of their former homes. Despite offers by Palestinian leaders and international agencies to guarantee no use of imported materials for even defensive military purposes, cement, lumber, and panes of glass are not being permitted to pass entry points into Gaza." He has gone on to state "The US and other nations have accepted this abhorrent situation without forceful corrective action….. The cries of homeless and freezing people demand immediate relief….We cannot wait any longer… It is time to face the fact that, for the past 30 years, no one nation has been able or willing to break the impasse and induce the disputing parties to comply with international law…. Israel has long argued that it cannot negotiate with terrorists, yet has had an entire year without terrorism and still could not negotiate. President Obama has promised active involvement of the US government, but no formal peace talks have begun and no comprehensive framework for peace has been proposed. Individually and collectively, the world powers must act".

But no meaningful action is in sight. Israel continues to throttle Gaza in its effort to topple Hamas. And Gaza still bleeds. In full view of the civilized world. But Gaza will never fall. Though bloodied, it has not been bowed and never will be. It embodies the essence of the struggle of free people against tyranny.

In the end, it is Israel that will go the way of all tyrannies and Gaza will forever be a shining symbol of unyielding resistance against overwhelming and unceasing force, an example for all time to all the oppressed people all over the world as to how to rid the world of oppression.

Please see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU5Wi2jhnW0

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba, July 2009

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned that region into a dangerous and smoldering tinderbox that can flare up anytime, sucking into its vortex a number of world powers.

This conflict, which has been raging for years now, continues to decimate the Palestinian population, destroy their lands and infrastructure, drain Israel's economy and seriously strain relations between the US and its Arab allies and Muslim nations all over the world.

It is obviously in the interests of not only Israel and the Palestinians but also the US and world at large to bring this conflict to an end.

The US, the international community, the Palestinians (both the Fatah and its supporters as also Hamas and its followers) and Israeli leaders have made public declarations to the effect that they are committed to a solution that embraces two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace side by side. The entire Arab world has agreed to recognize Israel if it withdraws to the 1967 borders.

And yet, though the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians has been going on for generations now, a resolution of the dispute remains elusive.

There are two main reasons for this.

There are world powers eager to establish their presence in this strategic region. They fan the fires between Israel and the Palestinians and between Fatah (which controls the West Bank) and Hamas (which controls the Gaza Strip). In the guise of helping one or the other, they pour in aid and armaments.

The chief reason however is that the Zionist leaders who control the government of Israel, though they pay lip service to peace and the two-state solution, persist in their determination and efforts to establish Eretz Yisraeel on all of the land west of the Jordan River.

This was their intention when Zionism was born and this was the declared intention of the Israeli leaders when Israel was established in 1948. Israeli propaganda goes on claiming that Israel accepted the UN resolution but the Palestinians did not. In fact, Israel's acceptance was partial. It never accepted the boundaries as set out by the UN, and its leaders assured the Jews that the establishment of Israel was the first step to reclaim all of Palestine as it existed just prior to the creation of Israel. There is ample documentation of these assurances made by responsible Israeli leaders.

In pursuance of this goal, Israel fired the fist shot in 1967, launched the war, invaded and captured the West Bank, The Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights. Its dream of reclaiming all of Biblical Israel was realized.

Left to itself, Israel would not part with an inch of all this land. If it now talks of a two- state solution it is only because Israeli leaders realized, rather late in the day, that demograhics would pose a serious problem to their holding on to all the land. Soon the Arab population would outstrip the Jewish population. Then Israel would cease to be Jewish. Alternatively, it would have to turn itself into an Apartheid State if it wanted to continue being a Jewish state. None of these two alternatives was acceptable.

And hence the "commitment" to two-states. But what Israel intends is to divest itself of as many Arabs as possible and corral them on small, disconnected pieces of land surrounded by Israel! And call these conglomeration of Bantustans the state of the Palestinians, the second state with which it will live in peace side by side!

This, clearly, the Palestinians cannot and will never accept.

Bearing in mind this fundamental fact, all this talk of peace and the peace process is a farce, a façade to enable Israel to put more "facts on the ground" and consolidate its hold on the Palestinians. Israel's refusal to meet the recent demand of the Obama administration to freeze all construction of settlements on Palestinian lands is stark proof of this.

Given Israel's firm resolve in this matter, seeking peace in the region through a negotiated resolution of the conflict by Israel and Palestinians is to keep barking up the wrong tree.

For the UN to take the Israeli-Palestinian issue out of its orbit and ask the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the "dispute" by bilateral negotiations was an error to start with. To keep pressing for such negotiations is a grave injustice to the Palestinians. On the one side you have a powerful country, with an army among the largest and most powerful in the world. On the other, people who have no army, no armaments worth the name, their homes destroyed, their economy ruined, living under the boots of their brutal occupiers. They have no leverage. The situation is obviously and unbearably asymmetric. In such circumstances, to expect a just negotiated settlement between the two parties is unrealistic and naiveté of the first order.

Israel, in defiance of a number of UN resolutions, has continued to illegally occupy the Palestinian lands for more than 40 years now. It has been the longest and most brutal occupation in current history. Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians, demolished their homes, devastated their cities, confiscated their lands, ruined their economy and driven them to poverty.. It continues to humiliate them daily and make their life as miserable as possible through a myriad of checkpoints within West Bank itself, making it impossible for the Palestinians to travel freely in their own land, keeping families separated, preventing timely access to hospitals, creating hurdles for students to go to schools.

And all this, to its shame and disgrace, has been going on in full view of the entire world!

If world leaders are serious about resolving this dispute justly and establishing peace in the region, they need to accept that this is not a dispute to be settled between two parties but a case of aggression and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel – an occupation that needs to be vacated.

The farcical peace process must end. The UN needs to live up to its responsibilities and take firm steps to bring to an end this illegal occupation. If it cannot take any effective action, as a result of having its hands tied through a veto by Israel's "best friend" and ally, then those nations of the world that believe in justice and rule of law must start unilaterally and independently bringing pressure on Israel to vacate its illegal occupation and let the Palestinians establish an independent, sovereign, contiguous and viable state, even if it be on a mere 22% of the land they enjoyed prior to the establishment of Israel.

That is all that the Palestinians want. Surely that is not too much to ask for.

Israel is a rogue state and it is time for the international community to start making demand of Israel and treating it as a pariah that it has become. It is time for world governments and organizations to start boycotting Israel, divesting funds from it and corporations that do business with it, and imposing sanctions against it.

The occupation and the Israeli settlements and land grab are the root cause of the problem. The world community has accepted that the occupation and the Israeli settlements outside of the 1967 borders are illegal. Israel must be forced to vacate this illegal occupation and dismantle the illegal settlements.

If at all there are to be any negotiations, it is for Israel to plead with the Palestinians for concessions and accommodation, not the other way around.

When Iraq, which had plausible reasons for wanting to "reclaim" Kuwait (Kuwait was a part of Iraq till the British drew a line in the sand, carved it out of Iraq and made it a separate state)- when Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait, the international community acted swiftly and with resolve. Iraq was forced, and rightly so, to vacate the occupation. In fact, its army was chased almost to Baghdad, leaving a stretch of burned out tanks and personnel carriers and mangled bodies.

Why then is no effort being made to make Israel vacate its more than 40 years of brutal and devastating occupation? Why, instead of being treated as an aggressor and illegal occupier, is it being handled with kid gloves? Why is it being given an opportunity to decide when, with whom and on what terms will it "negotiate" the disgorgement of its ill gotten booty, and how much of that booty it will return to the rightful owners, the Palestinians?

The international community got the occupation of Kuwait vacated in quick time. It has given Israel more than 40 years to vacate its occupation of Palestinian lands. Israel has failed to do so till now and shows no signs of its intention to do so ever.

The comity of nations must act. There is not room for double standards here.

Gulamhusein A. Abba.

The author is an 81 years old writer, journalist and peace- and- justice activist. Originally from India he has been living in Danbury since 1982.

USB 4 PAL GAA Article 08.30.09 Original unabridged article 1,471 words 08.28.09

Democracy On Their Lips, Destruction In Their Hearts

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba, July 2009

President Obama is a gifted speaker. His speeches soar. They give hope and they inspire. Often he sounds more like a preacher than the President of the USA !

In reacting to the turmoil in Iran , he was restrained and circumspect but did not hesitate to voice strong feelings.

Eager not to give Iranian clerics an opportunity to divert world concern from Iran 's excesses to alleged American meddling in Iran 's internal affairs, initially the White House on June 13 was merely "monitoring" the situation in Iran. On June 14 Vice President Joe Biden said he had "doubts" about the election. By June 15 the US had become "deeply troubled" by events in Iran and Obama spoke out. "I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television. I think that the democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent - all of those are universal values and need to be respected, and whenever I see3 violence perpetrated on people who are peacefully dissenting, and whenever the American people see that, I think they are rightfully troubled."

In an interview taped on June 19 with CBS, Obama said he was very concerned with the "tenor and tone" of Khamenei's comments. He also said that how Iran 's leaders "approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard" will signal "what Iran is and is not."

On June 20 Obama challenged Iran 's government to halt "violent and unjust" crackdown on dissenter. "We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people," Obama said in a written statement. "The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights. …. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. …. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."

By June 23 millions had seen the video of the beautiful, young Neda Agha Soltan laid out on a Tehran street after being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across all over her face, eyes rolled upwards.

On June 23, in his news conference Obama strongly condemned the Iranian government's crackdown and said the US had been "appalled and ouraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonment of the last few days."

In the US Congress, the House voted 405 - 1 to condemn and protest the governments interference with Internet and cell phone communications. The Senate followed suit later in the day

Senator Joseph Lieberman on June 14 said the Iranian rulers had stolen the election and made a mockery of democracy. He urged Obama to "protest and speak out in defense of silenced Iranian demonstrators."

Among those condemning the actions of the Iranian clerics and pushing Obama to be more critical of the Iranian government and offer greater praise and support to the demonstrators was Senator McCain.

In Paris , demonstrators held banners saying "Freedom of Expression in Iran " and "Where is my vote" near the Eiffel Tower

In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, commenting on the protests in Iran , said, "…..What we see there is a great thirst for freedom among a part of the population."

No one can take any issue with any of these pronouncements. They are impressive and welcome. It is good to see people and governments around the globe being concerned when human and civil rights are violated brutally.

However, there is a strange disconnect here. One cannot forget that the US repressed even more ruthlessly, violently and persistently the civil rights movement. Baton wielding uniformed police fired not only water cannons and tear gas on the protestors but also let loose on them ferocious dogs. And who can forget what the US army personnel did to the helpless prisoners in Abu Gharib?

In Beirut many, many "Nedas", young men and women sacrificed everything to defend their land, their freedom and their loved ones. They were killed by Jewish bombs and missiles and cannon fire. None can recall any of those so contrite now over the deaths of the Iranian protestors morning those who died in Beirut.

In Israel young, unarmed men and women protesting the occupation and the theft of their lands - protesting peacefully and non-violently -- are being on a regular basis tear gassed, shot at by rubber coated bullets and killed. One can hear no mourning for them from Obana or the US Congress or Senator Lieberman or Senator McCain. Nor any condemnation of the Israeli violence, suppression and killings.

As for Netanyahu, it is surprising that he can see so clearly "a great thirst for freedom among a part of the (Iranian) population" but is unable to see the unquenched thirst for freedom among the entire population of Palestinian lands that Israel invaded, occupied and is trying to annex - a population that Israel has kept crushed under its boots for more than 40 years. Stranger still that he cares so much for the very people he is so intent on bombing.

He is not the only one. Among those who are presently shedding tears for the Iranian demonstrators and are clamoring about the need to support the Iranian protestors become free from the "tyranny of the mullahs" are the very ones who cannot wait to bomb Iran to smithereens.

It is jarring to hear people like McCain and Charles Krauthammer and Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman praise to the skies the freedom loving Iranians demonstrating against their government.

Perhaps most curious is the US and EU "outrage" at Iranian government having "stolen" the election.

Just three years back three and a half million Palestinians held democratic elections under the supervision of international observers who certified them to be fair. Jimmy Carter, ex President of the US described these elections as exemplary. Nevertheless, instead of accepting and honoring the will of the people as expressed in the results of the elections, those who are now clamoring that Iran respect the voice of dissent, refused to accept the results. Instead they put sanctions on the resulting united government composed of Palestinian Authority and Hamas representatives, forced PA president Abbas to dislodge Hamas and ultimately put the whole of Gaza under crippling sanctions, made worse by the Israeli siege of that unfortunate strip of land.

And not so long ago, in the US itself, George W Bush, with help from his brother and the Supreme Court, "stole" the elections, deprived Gore of the crown and became the President of the United States.

Among those condemning the excesses of the Iranian government and lavishing praises on the protestors are people and governments who are itching for a war on Iran . They have welcomed and love the protestors in Iran , not because they care for their freedom or for justice but because the protestors have given them an opportunity to present the Iranian government as being opposed to democratic norms and ruthless in suppressing dissent. They want to bring freedom to the demonstrators by bombing Iran and killing them. They have democracy on their lips and death and destruction in their hearts.

All that one can tell the Iranian dissidents is to beware of such "friends."

For Obama, people - and I among them - have the greatest respect. He is sincere. But he needs to have moral clarity. He needs to take off the blinkers he seems to have when gazing at Israel and Palestine . He needs to follow up the fine speech he gave in Cairo with a clear stand against the continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel , condemn Israeli stranglehold on Gaza , denounce the gassing and killing of unarmed Palestinians protesting peacefully against the theft of their lands and lead by lifting the sanctions against Gaza.

As so often quoted, no man is an island unto himself. When one person suffers, we all do. And right now Palestinians hungering for freedom are suffering at the hands of the Israeli government and the IDF far more than the Iranians struggling for reforms are suffering at the hands of the Iranian clerics.

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba, July 2009

To claim that the CIA engineered the protests would be giving too much credit to that agency. It must be remembered that the protestors went to sleep on June 11 supremely confident that their candidate, Mousavi would be elected. Within a day of the announcement of results to the contrary, hundreds of thousands of protestors were out on the streets protesting. Even with the vast resources at its command, the CIA would not have been able organize so huge a protest at so short a notice.

Claiming that the CIA engineered the protest is underestimating and insulting the progressive forces in Iran.

It was a spontaneous protest by sincere and dedicated Iranians who believe in truth, justice and fair play and who are fed up with the power play by the entrenched, unelected clerics.

This is not to rule out the hand of the CIA completely. The US notoriously has been working for a regime change in Iran . After the Iranians replaced the puppet, despotic Shah of Iran with Mosaddeq, the CIA engineered a take-over and re-installed the Shah on his peacock throne. Then, ever since the people of Iran toppled the puppet Shah once more, put their beloved Ayatollah in charge of the country, took over of the American embassy there and held Americans hostages for 444 days, US has been working for a change of regime there.

Though under Bush the US administration was eager to use hard power to effect the change and was working towards it, covert action is one of the tools that the US is and has been using – in a big way. In this context, it is useful to read two articles.

The first is by By Esam Al-ASmin entitled Iran and Washington 's Hidden Hand first published in Counter Punch. (the original can be found at http://counterpunch.com/alamin06302009.html [link expired]

The second is by Seymour M. Hersh published in the July 7 issue of the New Yorker. It can be found at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/07/07/preparing-the-battlefield

The Iranian Elections: IRANIAN “ REPUBLIC ” IS DEAD
What Iran Has Wrought

By: Gulamhusein A. Abba, July 2009

Author’s note: It has been very difficult for me to write this piece. On the one hand I love and admire Iran . For so many things. I love the warmth, friendliness and hospitality of its people. I love its flowery, soft, seductive language ( as a student in St. Xavier’s High School I studied Farsi, then called Persian, and later, in St.Xavier’s College, read Gulistan-e-Firdows). And I admire Iran for toppling the corrupt, despotic Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and replacing his regime with a republic; for standing up bravely and resolutely to the tyrant Saddam Hussein when so called freedom loving governments looked the other way at his using poison gas on the Iranians and his own people and went out of their way to make him stronger; for refusing to submit to the tremendous pressure from powerful governments and resolutely pursuing its inalienable right to enrich uranium and harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; for standing by the Palestinians and helping them as no other nation has done.

But, I am also a committed defender of human rights and a firm believer in peoples’ right to assembly and to free speech. And I believe that when a wrong is done, by foe or friend, it is one’s duty to speak out. Silence, in such cases, is complicity.

What is more, true friends always stage interventions in the case of those whom they love and admire when they pursue a course of action detrimental to them. It is in this spirit that this piece is written.

Were the Iranian elections rigged? If so, would the results have been different if they had not been rigged? Even if the protestors are in the thousands or even millions, are they the majority in Iran ? Is giving in to their demands in the best interests of the state of Iran ? Were the protests aided, if not engineered by foreign powers bent on regime change in Iran (after all the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mosaddeq was toppled by a CIA engineered uprising which put the puppet Shah of Iran back on the throne)? Was Neda killed by a Basij or an extremist supporter of the clerics, or by someone from among the protestors in search of an iconic martyr, or by the CIA (as alleged by Iranian sources)? Was she a protestors’ martyr killed by a Basij or a Basij martyr killed by a pro-Mousavi demonstrator, as the regime is trying to portray?

All this needs to be investigated, thought about and decided.

What is undeniable is that the dissenters and protestors have been dealt with extremely harshly and the voice of dissent has been silenced.

Gunfire, tear gas and water canons were used by baton yielding security forces against unarmed demonstrators peacefully and non-violently exercising their inherent right to question their government, hold it accountable, express their feelings and make demands.

There can be no question that it is for the constituted authority to decide whether it is in the best interests of the nation as a whole to accept the demands made of it. But there can be no excuse for muzzling dissent, especially in the way the clerics chose to do.

Within three days of the start of the demonstrations, seven persons were shot dead by pro regime militia; hundreds of protestors were held all over Iran; Basij and police forces let loose an unacceptable level of violence in a raid of student dormitories of Tehran University, leading the speaker of Iran’s parliament to call for a thorough investigation of the violence by government forces.

Systematic and sustained efforts have been made by the Iranian authorities to intimidate and frighten the protestors and their leaders and silence all form of dissent.

Eye witnesses have said thousands of police and plainclothes militia members filled the streets to prevent rallies. Fire trucks took up positions in Revolution Square and riot police surrounded Tehran University , cordoning it off. People were barred from entering Freedom Street.

Helicopters hovered over central Tehran . Ambulance sirens echoed though the streets. Black smoke rose over the city.

Demonstrators were seen dragging away comrades bloodied by baton strikes.

On June 20 there were fierce clashes near Revolution Square in central Tehran after some 3,000 protestors, many wearing black, had gathered there. Reportedly some 50 to 60 protestors were seriously beaten by police.

The semi-official newspaper Fars reported on June 29 that a total of 1.032 people were detained during post election unrest. It quoted police chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam as saying that most had been released and the rest had been sent “to the public and revolutionary courts” in Tehran . However, according to Amnesty International 1,000 have been held, and, according to Paris based International Foundation for Human Rights, 2000 arrests have been made – “not just people arrested and later released, but who are locked up in prison.” These include politicians, intellectuals, protestors and journalists. On June 28 Amnesty International said it was concerned about the possibility that many detainees “could be severely tortured” in custody.

Iranian police have said 1,000 people were arrested and that most have since been released. But the state-run English language news network Press TV quoted prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi saying that 2,500 people were arrested and that 500 of them could face trial. The remainder, he said, have been released.

A prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was taken away by security forces from his office along with his daughter and three other members of his staff, the pro-opposition news Web site Norouz reported. A former deputy commerce minister in a previous pro-reform government, Feizollah Arab-Sorkhi, was also arrested at his Tehran home, the site reported.

A large number of top figures in Iran 's reform movement, including a former vice president and former Cabinet members, have been held for weeks since the election.

Various sources have claimed that up to 20 persons were killed, though rumors of higher death rates abound. Even the family members and campaign offices of the presidential candidates were not spared. On June 21 Iran ’s government arrested five family members of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, an ayatollah who is one of the country’s most powerful man. Those arrested included his daughter Faezeh Hashemi. Rafsanjani heads the cleric-run Assembly of Experts, which can choose and remove the Supreme Leader. He also chairs the Expediency Council that arbitrates between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council.

The repressive actions of the clerics were not confined to the protestors, their leaders and their families.

Certain websites, including Farsi BBC, Facebook, Twitter and G-mail were blocked by the government; Tehran based analyst Saeed Leilaz was arrested, as were a number of Iranian journalists; foreign journalists were barred from reporting in the streets; several newspapers were closed down; according to Karroubi’s reformist political group, Iranian authorities had banned the daily Etemad-e-Melli (National Confidence), a newspaper allied to presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, after he denounced Iran’s government as “illegitimate” because of claims of votng fraud.

This is not all. The clerics and their enforcers have created a charged atmosphere in Iran and spread an all pervasive fear.

On June 19, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke of “bloodshed and chaos” and gave a stern warning to those who “want to ignore the law or break the law.” On Friday June 26 Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, an influential Iranian cleric, close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, in a sermons at Tehran University, said that those stirring “unrest” in connection with Iran’s recent elections, should be punished “ruthlessly and savagely” and convicted for waging war against God, a crime that under Shiite Islamic law is punishable by death. “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly without having mercy… Based on Islamic law, whoever confronts the Islamic state should be convicted of mohrab… they should be punished ruthlessly and savagely.”

Regime critics can be – and have been – accused of committing treason and the penalty for that in Iran is death.

Iran ’s feared Basij militia has accused Mousavi of undermining national security and asked a prosecutor to investigate his role in violent protests.

Fars news agency has reported that Basij sent the chief prosecutor a letter accusing Mousavi of taking part in nine offenses against the state, including “disturbing the nation’s security,” which carries a maximum penalty of 10 year’s imprisonment. “Whether he wanted or not, Mr. Mousavi in many areas supervised or assisted in punishable acts” the letter states in part.

Iran ’s judiciary said on June 23 that a special court would be set up to “make an example” out of “rioters” arrested during the demonstrations.

The chief public prosecutor has assumed control over all investigations into “agitators” and has set up a “special court” to deal with such cases.

All this is most distressing and regrettable. The clerics now in charge of Iran have chosen violence and intimidation in order to concentrate all political power solely in their hands.

By their actions, the language they use, its tone and tenor, they have undermined their standing and power. There is now a split in the establishment itself. Even the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom, Iran’s biggest group of respected clerics which has many leading ayatollahs with impeccable revolutionary credentials, has declared Ahmadinejad’s re-election to be illegitimate and condemned the subsequent crackdown.

The influential Grand Ayatollah Yosef Sanei considers Khamenei’s involvement on the election fraud to be haram (forbidden in Islam). Mohsen Kadivar, an imam and religious philosopher, referring to Khamenei, has said, “He remonds me very much of the Shah, who, in the end, was only concerned with preserving his regime.”

And that is the tragedy. The gains of the Great Revolution that toppled the Shah of Iran and established a republic have been squandered. Indeed that revolution has been stabbed in the back by the present day clerics that rule Iran today. The Iran of today is no “republic.” It is ruled by a cabal of clerics desperately trying to cling on to power.

It appears that just as the Israelis of today have become what their oppressors of yesteryears were, so have the Iran revolutionaries who just a few years back toppled an all powerful despot, have themselves become despots, vesting all power in a few unelected clerics led by an all powerful Supreme Leader more concerned with holding on to that power than making Iran a republic in the true sense of the term.

There is a glimmer of hope. Every time a regime represses, it undermines its own power and increases the ranks of its opponents.

History shows that when revolutionaries ultimately degenerate into themselves becoming despotic rulers, they sow seeds of another revolution which devours them eventually.

The ruling clerics have clearly lost much, if not all of their moral authority and are now relying on brute force to remain in power. They are bound to be toppled. It is a matter of time.

The question is, who or what will they be replaced by?

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