Positive Muslim Voices

a note from Judith
It is crucial to encourage and cultivate the positive voices in the Muslim world. It is only from within that real change will happen.
Some Muslim supporters of Israel consider themselves ‘Muslim Zionists’
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Brooklyn Imam Tareq Yousef Al-Masri on Paris Terror Attacks:
We Muslims Must Admit That We Are Time Bombs and We Hate Christians 

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December 5, 2014
Israeli Arab player hits back at racism in soccer
Salim Tuameh of Bnei Lod says racism is taking over the Israeli game and urges senior players to come out against it.
Ynet News
 Israel Culture
Nadav Zenziper

“I’m Salim Tuameh; everyone knows who I am and what I am, and I am certainly not a terrorist. Ninety percent of my friends are Jewish and I am proud of my origins. It’s time to start combatting all the racist statements and the song against me, which has become part of the culture at the soccer grounds.”

Tuameh, the captain of National League side Bnei Lod, decided to speak out after the Israel Football Association announced Monday that Maccabi Tel Aviv would be called up before a disciplinary committee because of racist chants and inappropriate behavior on the part of its fans during the team’s game against Hapoel Haifa in Netanya last weekend.

soccer
Salim Tuameh: Time to start combatting the racism. (Photo: Yuval Chen)

Referee Liran Liani wrote up the behavior in his match report, noting that at some stage in the game, portions of the Maccabi fans began chanting “Tuameh is a terrorist,” while other fans responded with contempt to the singing.

This incident comes in the wake of two others from the previous round of matches, in which fans of Bnei Yehuda and Beitar Jerusalem expressed the same sentiments, leading to sanctions against their respective teams.

“I watched Maccabi Tel Aviv’s game against Kiryat Shmona on TV and throughout the game you can hear only one thing: ‘Salim Tuameh is a terrorist.’ You’re sitting there with your friends, many of them Jews, and your family and you don’t know what to do with yourself; it’s really shameful,” says Tuameh, who lives in Ramle. “My friend Uri Cohen, who currently plays for Hapoel Acre, told me that I was cursed throughout the game against Maccabi. What does it have to do with me at all?

“The situation in the country is very sensitive, especially lately, and this is why we have to fight even harder against racism,” continues Tuameh, who moved last summer from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Bnei Lod. “They’ve been singing that song against me for years and years at the Maccabi games, and finally a referee like Liran Liani wrote about it in his report. It should have happened after every game. Why have they waited until now?”

Some seven years ago, Maccabi Tel Aviv faced a disciplinary hearing after one of its matches against city rival Hapoel because of similar chanting against Tuameh.

Then-Maccabi owner Loni Herzikovich argued before the tribunal that, “‘Tuameh is a terrorist’ is a heinous chant that has no place in Israeli society, but it’s not a racist chant.”

Tuameh rejects that claim. “If that’s not racism, then what is? The song against me has become part of the Israeli soccer experience, a part of the fixed culture. I don’t understand the observers, the referees and all the officials, who until now have failed to mention it in their reports.”

Tuameh also expects the country’s players to join together to denounce the phenomenon.

“Where’s the players’ union, which jumps on every bandwagon, like the recent derby events, and is now silent all of a sudden?” he asks. “Racism is taking over our soccer. It’s time for the senior players to take action; this is incitement that can lead to very dark places… It’s time to uproot this phenomenon.”

‘Forgive us’

Earlier this week, Tuameh received a letter from an unexpected source – a Maccabi Tel Aviv fan apologizing for the behavior of his team’s supporters:

Israeli Arab player hits back at racism in soccer

Salim Tuameh of Bnei Lod says racism is taking over the Israeli game and urges senior players to come out against it.

Letter of apology

“I have always admired you as a player and a leading light in Israeli soccer. I am a Maccabi Tel Aviv fan and every time they sang that disgusting song I was ashamed and asked them to stop singing it.

“I ask for your forgiveness for myself and on behalf of most Maccabi fans in the stands. I am sure that most of them would want you in the team.

Stay strong,

Yair Amar
Maccabi TA fan

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June 16, 2014
Mohammad Zoabi’s Strong Message To The Terrorists Who Kidnapped 3 Jews
Arab Israeli teen related to radical MK Hanin Zoabi makes video calling on Palestinians to return kidnapped Israeli teens
“To Bibi (Benjamin Netanyahu), our prime minister and his government – wake up and stop cooperating with terrorists,” Mohammed says in the video. “The Palestinian Authority is the biggest terrorist.
Two days ago, these Israeli kids were kidnapped. Tomorrow, it could be me, you or any other Israeli. Our enemies don’t separate between Arabs and Jews living in Israel.
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March 2011
Muslim student, Amran Hussain EUJS speech at the UN 21st
(European Union of Jewish Students)

EUJS speech at the UN during the Item 7 to support Israel, Against UN disproportionate reaction. As a muslim student, he wanted to explain himself and why he decided to make this speech. 

 

EUJS speech at the UN during the Item 7 to support Israel, Against UN disproportionate reaction.
As a muslim student, he wanted to explain himself
and why he decided to make this speech.

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October 13, 2014
Why is Iranian citizens’ money buying missiles for Hamas?
In open letter to Israelis written during Operation Protective Edge, young Iranian man slams his country’s leaders for fanning flames between Israelis and Palestinians and increasing bloodshed.
Ali from Tehran
Ynet/ Israel Opinion
My name is Ali and I live in Tehran. I want to tell you, Israel’s citizens, about Iran and about the lives of the people in Iran these days. I want to take you on a virtual tour of Tehran, so that you will get to know the reality in Iran as it really is – and not as it is presented in the media.Our tour begins on Thursday, July 24, a day before Quds Day, the Iranian Jerusalem Day which marks the protest against Zionism, and in the height of the fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. I leave home for work at an early morning hour, arrive at the bus stop and wait. All the walls around me and all the bulletin boards are filled with posters and pictures from previous years’ Quds Day demonstrations, inviting Iran’s citizens to participate in this year’s protest.I look at the posters, thinking about all the money which was wasted to print and design them, when a child’s voice suddenly interrupts my train of thought. “Sir, would you like to buy a fortune cookie?” I turn around and see a little boy, not even 10 years old, out on the street at such an early hour trying to make a living. I cannot help but think about what would have happened if the great amount of money spent on these posters and protests would have been invested in education and in the studies of this little boy and many others like him.
street iran
A street in Tehran. ‘Those who demand Israel’s destruction are not the majority’ (Photo: AFP) The bus stops by the Shariati Hospital. Along the pavement, on Amir Abad Street, the walls are filled with posters inviting people to a mass protest against Israel with a call from spiritual leader Ali Khamenei for its destruction.At the entrance to the emergency room, I spot an ad offering a kidney for sale with a telephone number. It breaks my heart. It must be another young man trying to fund his wedding expenses, studies or rent. And again I think, is it fair that the Iranian government sends aid to help arm the Palestinian groups every year, instead of investing the money in welfare or in the creation of workplaces and housing for Iran’s young generation?Lost in these thoughts, I move on to the Amir Abad Intersection and decide to walk through Laleh Park, hoping that the green and flourishing view will help me relax. But as soon as I take the first step, I realize something has changed. Unlike other mornings, when the music sounded in the park is suitable for exercising, this morning military marches in support of Palestinian fighters are blaring our of the loudspeakers.At a distant corner, a young man and a young woman are sitting on the grass, enjoying each other’s company and ignoring everything around them. They are forced to show their affection to each other here because the government invests the money elsewhere – the $250 million transferred every year by Iran to radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups could have helped young Iranians get married.I get to work late, preparing excuses and apologies for my boss in my head, but everyone is standing around the television and no one even notices I came in late. Again the same talk about supporting Palestine and its struggle against Israel, this time from Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei. He looks angrier than ever, hurling a variety of cruses at Israel and the Israeli people and calling to arm the Palestinians in order to help wipe Israel from the pages of history.God, what is this terrible thing striking my people? What do these crazy people want from the Iranian people, from the Palestinians and from the Israelis? There must be a limit to insanity, extremism and barbarity. Instead of trying to bring about peace and a ceasefire, they continue to fan the flames and increase the bloodshed. Why must we tolerate these comments? I can’t listen to this, just like you can’t take the Code Red sirens and the Hamas missiles.
kid
Four-year-old Daniel Tregerman, who was killed by mortar fire from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. ‘How will we be able to forgive ourselves if our money, which buys missiles for Hamas, leads to the killing of an innocent child?’On my way home I take the metro, the subway train. At the station I run into anti-Israel posters again, but this time my attention is drawn to the citizens who are being crushed under the pressures of inflation, poverty and discrimination. How can they be a threat to Israel? Does their money have to make its way to Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists? How will we be able to forgive ourselves if our money, which buys missiles for Hamas, leads to the killing of an innocent child?I wanted to show you in Israel what we, Iran’s common people, are going through. I feel embarrassed in front of the Israelis, embarrassed and ashamed that some of the people in my homeland are involved in fanning the flames of the war between you and the Palestinians, and that their hands are stained with the blood of children and innocent people in Israel and Gaza.Believe me, those who demand Israel’s destruction are not the majority, but a handful of associates and mercenaries of the tyrannical and anti-human regime, and they do not represent the Iranian people.We, the citizens of Iran, love people, love peace and support anyone fighting for peace. I love the citizens of Israel, I am interested in holding a dialogue with them and I am looking forward to the day when we will be able to purify the murky atmosphere between us and bring about peace in the entire Middle East. I have no doubt that it’s possible.Yours with friendship,
AliThis letter is published courtesy of the TeHTel (Tehran-Haifa-Tel Aviv) website, a project of the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University led by Dr. Soli Shahavr.
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Raheel Raza
The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

malala

Raheel Raza is President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, author of the book Their Jihad – Not My Jihad, award winning journalist, public speaker, activist for human rights, gender equality and dignity in diversity. She is recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for service to Canada.Raheel bridges the gap between East and West, promoting cultural and religious diversity for which she has appeared in print and on TV and radio numerous times.Raheel has been invited to speak locally at places of worship, the private sector, the Justice Department, School Boards and government institutions. Internationally she has addressed audiences at Universities in USA including Harvard & Columbia, in UK at Oxford and Cambridge, other forums across Australia and Europe and the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.In her pursuit for human rights, Raheel is accredited with United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva through The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). She has received many awards for her work on women’s equality including the City of Toronto’s Constance Hamilton award and the Urban Hero award. She is the first Muslim woman in Canada to lead mixed gender prayers.

Raheel has made a documentary film called “Whose Sharia is it anyway?” dealing with the sharia debate in Ontario, Canada. She runs a Forum for Learning for youth to educate them about the dangers of radicalization and terrorism, and continues to write and speak about the subject.

Raheel is Distinguished Senior Fellow with The Gatestone Institute. She also sits on the Advisory Board of The Mosaic Institute and The ACTV Foundation (The Alliance of Canadian Terror Victims).

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ahmed

Ahmad Mansour is a Muslim Palestinian who has dedicated his life to countering Muslim extremism and anti-Semitism, particularly among Muslim youth in Germany. As an EFD Policy Advisor, Ahmad works closely with European and German policymakers and officials at national and local levels on ways to counter extremism and prevent anti-Semitism. Ahmad is also well known for his advocacy at the grass-roots level among educators, religious officials, and other leaders within the Muslim community.

In addition to his role at EFD, Ahmad is the Director of Heroes, a Berlin-based organization dedicated to helping young Muslim men to reject extremism and customs that oppress women and girls in the name of honour. He is also a Research Associate at the Centre for Democratic Culture, which is part of the Astiu Project to confront Islamic extremism and ultra-nationalism. Ahmad is a member of the German Islam Conference, where he serves on the working group to prevent extremism among youth.

Ahmad studied Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University and Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin. He speaks Arabic, German, and English.

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How a Pakistani Muslim Became a Zionist
A Pakistani Muslim born, raised and living in Great Britain, describes his personal journey from blatant anti-Semitism to a pro-Israel Zionist.

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Palestinian Leader in Jordan, Mudar Zahran,  defends Israel against Kerry Peace Plan

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Arab Intellectual Calls For Theological-Cognitive Revolution To Extricate Arab World From Backwardness, Crises, And Internecine Warfare
The Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri)
September 4, 2013

Hashem Saleh, an Arab intellectual of Syrian origin who currently resides in Morocco, wrote in his August 10, 2013 column in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that in order to extricate itself from crises, backwardness and internecine warfare, the Arab and Muslim world must undergo a theological-cognitive revolution. He explained that it must discard the approach of rejecting the other and embrace a more tolerant and enlightened approach – like the revolution experienced by Europe three centuries ago. Saleh adds that since we are in the era of an information revolution and globalization, this process can take place more quickly than it did in Europe, and could take as little as three decades.

enlightened arab
Hashem Saleh (image: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, August 30, 2013)

“In Europe, Three Ideological Revolutions Of Liberation Occurred Before Christianity Made Its Peace With Modernity – Whereas In The Entire Arab Or Muslim World No Such Revolution Has Ever Occurred” 
“Can we skip the historical stages [that Europe went through]? If only that were possible! Unfortunately, this is impossible. I really wish I could shut my eyes and reopen them to see Syria transformed into a tranquil and prosperous country like Holland, or Egypt resembling France, or Tunisia as verdant as Switzerland, etc. [I wish] I could skip over 300 years of political tyranny, civil wars, sectarian massacres and boorish fundamentalism…

“In Europe, three ideological revolutions of liberation occurred before Christianity made its peace with modernity, whereas in the entire Arab or Muslim world no such revolution has ever occurred. That is why there are currently terrifying clashes [between the people and the regime] in Egypt and in additional [Arab] countries – because the MB is holding back national progress towards modernity, tolerance and liberty.

“How then can we make peace with ourselves? How can we solve the problem of religious and sectarian struggles while we are still stuck in the theological stage of takfir [accusing the other Muslims of apostasy] – a stage Europe went through at least 150 years ago?

“When two Germans meet in China or Japan or at the ends of the earth, do you think that the first question that pops into their minds is the other’s religion – whether he is a Protestant or [perhaps] a stubborn Catholic? Absolutely not! This does not enter their minds at all, while this would be the first question to pop into the mind of a Syrian or Lebanese, or any Arab, upon encountering a [fellow Arab] in Paris… The reason for this is that Germany solved the problem of sectarianism – first of all from a theoretical standpoint, thanks to the [philosophers Immanuel] Kant, [George Wilhelm Friedrich] Hegel and [Johann Gottlieb] Fichte and other enlightened people, and subsequently from a political standpoint, [thanks to] Bismarck[2] and his successors.

“Therefore, this issue is currently settled [in Germany] and totally ingrained [in the minds] of the German people and in their school curricula, and poses no impediment in Germany, [for] it is already behind them. All are citizens with equal rights and obligations, all are Germans of the same rank: there is no first-class German and another who is second or third class… Therefore, German national unity is as solid as a mountain. The same applies to French national unity, etc.

“[However], we need only return to the 17th century in order to find a mire of destructive religious wars, when a Protestant could not countenance a Catholic, and vise versa. They fought and slaughtered each other over [the issue of] identity, as we are currently doing. This [intolerance] continued to plague them for the entire duration of the 18th century. Otherwise, the need for the Enlightenment would not have arisen.”

“Must We Wait 200 Years In Order To Solve The Problem Of Sectarianism? The Answer Is No…”
“Someone should ask: Must we wait 200 years in order to solve the problem of sectarianism? The answer is no, [and this] for two reasons. First, because we are living in the era of the information revolution, which abbreviates times and distances. Therefore, something that once took 200 [years] to digest can [now] be digested in half a century. Second, because we are [currently] immersed in global modernity, and development is therefore accelerated. The Western and Eastern superpowers keep an eye on us and we can do or say nothing [without their knowledge]. Until recently, in particular before September 11, [2001], the sheikhs in the mosques could malign other faiths [and say] whatever they fancied, without criticism. But now there are international conferences for interfaith dialogue, for rapprochement between the various Islamic schools of thought, etc.

“There is a third reason as well – namely that the achievements of the advanced countries are available to us, thus sparing us the necessity to invent or reinvent anything. [These achievements] are ours [to benefit from, no less than] the rest of mankind. The philosophies of Kant or Hegel or [Jürgen] Habermas are not the property of the Germans alone, [just as] the philosophy of Ibn Rushd,[3] in its time, was the property of all Europeans.

“Nevertheless, this does not mean that the sectarian problem, which causes us to lose sleep and tears apart our national unity, will be solved within two or three years. This is a huge and critical historical problem that will not be easily solved, [certainly] not in the space of one or two generations. I wish I were wrong, but what increases my pessimism is that, hitherto, it has been taboo in the Muslim world to apply the method of critical historical [analysis and use it to challenge] our entrenchment in tradition. Only the Pakistani Fadl Al-Rahman[4] and the Algerian Muhammad Arkoun[5] did this, but [they worked] outside the Muslim world: the first at the University of Chicago and the second at the Sorbonne. Had the two remained in their countries, they would have been unable to freely conduct research in [this] most sensitive field, and they could not have bestowed upon us all their innovative and prominent works. One should add to this duo the author Abdelwahab Meddeb,[6] with his splendid liberal works.”

“Without Applying The Deconstructionist Method To Tradition, We Will Not Be Able To Rid Ourselves Of The Alienating Takfiri Approach To Religion”
“Without applying the deconstructionist method[7] to tradition, we will not be able to rid ourselves of the alienating takfiri approach to religion that excludes the other [and was created] in medieval times. Once we rid ourselves of this perspective, we can recognize the fact that a number of paths to Allah exist, rather than a single path as the extremists argue. Most surprisingly, the Koran [itself] recognizes the legitimacy of religious pluralism, [as it states:] ‘If Allah willed it, He could have made them of one religion’ [Qur’an 42:8]. But the clerics on the satellite channels don’t [recognize this]. Are the words of mortals more elevated than the words of the Koran?

“This decisive cognitive leap in the Christian West took over 300 years, until [the Church] dared to implement it in the Second Vatican [Ecumenical] Council[8] in 1962-1965, where the Vatican for the first time abandoned the theology that accused the other of heresy and adopted in its stead the theology of liberation and enlightened faith, a faith of massive expanse which contains room for all Allah’s decent creations, whatever their faith or belief may be.”

“We Can Make This Leap Within The Next 30 Years, And Don’t Require 300 Years [For This Purpose] – [Though] It Means Skipping Over Or Shortening [Historical] Stages”
“We can make this leap within the next 30 years, and don’t require 300 years [for this purpose] – [though] it means skipping over or shortening [historical] stages. However, the digestion of such a huge religious revolution by the popular masses will take much longer. Furthermore, not only the [simple] masses require emancipation, but also many intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals and opportunist political activists. Some are much more dangerous [than the masses], because they profess modernity and democracy, but then, at the first opportunity, they submit themselves to the Sheikhs of takfir and darkness

“The timeframes that I have presented regarding the outlook for Arab development are [purely] estimates. In some cases I said 30 years, in others 50 or even 70 years. [But what I] mean to say is that something will undoubtedly occur in the Islamic world in the course of the upcoming years – something that the world is breathlessly anticipating.”

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[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 10, 2013.

[2] Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898), chancellor of the Prussian Empire and then of Imperial Germany. He was one of Germany’s most prominent statesmen and the architect of the German Unification.

[3] Abu Al-Walid Ibn Rushd (1126–1198), also known as Averroes, a Cordova-born Muslim physician and philosopher who greatly influenced medieval European philosophy. He wrote on many subjects, but is famous primarily for his commentaries on and critique of Aristotelian theory.

[4] Fadl Al-Rahman (1919-1988), a prominent Pakistani intellectual whose studies on Islam are widely circulated in Western universities and cultural circles.

[5] Muhammad Arkoun (1928-2010), a prominent Algerian researcher of Islamic history and philosophy, who studied and later taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and subsequently in Berlin and London. His research is characterized by a critique of Islamic principles, and he advocated secularism, humanism a modern approach to Islam.

[6] Abdelwahab Meddeb (born 1946), a Tunisian intellectual and author living in France who teaches comparative literature at the University of Paris. He opposes Islamic fundamentalism and calls upon educated Arabs to adopt progressive values of independent thinking instead of a reliance on religion and tradition.

[7] Deconstruction: a philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth.

[8] The Second Vatican Council was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church (comprising Bishops from the entire Christian world) that was formed at the directive of Pope John XXIII in 1962. It discussed the modernization of the Church: its changing role in the modern world, a modern approach to the scriptures, greater openness to other streams in Christianity and the relationship with members of other faiths.

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Saudi Author Hani Nakshabandi: We Should Reexamine Our History Books, The Arabs Were Occupiers In Spain
Memri
September 2, 2013

Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi author Hani Nakshabandi,
which aired on Decision Makers TV and was posted on the Internet on June 26, 2013.

occupiers

 Interviewer: “You drew a lot of fire with your comments about Spain. You said that the Arabs should apologize for what you described as “occupation.” This was not received well by most people. Don’t you think that you exaggerated?” […]

Hani Nakshabandi: “I believe that we, who oppose occupation, practiced the same kind of occupation ourselves. We fought against the French occupation of North Africa, and against the French and British occupation of the Levant, but we practiced the same type of occupation in Spain.”

Interviewer: “Yes, but Islam spread there during the Dark Ages in Europe.”

Hani Nakshabandi: “Everything that is written in our history books should be reexamined. We present Europe as if it had been immersed in darkness and ignorance, until we came along and ushered in an era of light.

“My friend, in Saudi Arabia, we still have villages with no electricity. Wherever you go in the Arab world – in Egypt, in Morocco – you see villages where people still live like cavemen, yet you say that we ushered civilization into Europe?!”

Interviewer: “What about Cordoba?”

Hani Nakshabandi: “What about it?! My friend, I lived in Spain… Well, I didn’t really live there, but I visited there a lot, and I went to the museums and libraries. What kind of civilization did the Arabs leave behind in Andalusia?

“You mentioned Cordoba. It is a Spanish city. What new things did [the Arabs] leave there? Even the Umayyad Mosque was a church they turned into a mosque, just like the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, which still bears the hallmarks of a church to this day.”

Interviewer: “So we teach erroneous history in our schools?”

Hani Nakshabandi: “Absolutely. Who created the image of Andalusia that we have in our minds? People attack me because their image of Andalusia is the Andalusia of songs and of dancing women or the Andalusia that they see on TV soap operas – with water fountains, trees, and beautiful women.

“This is not Andalusia. Andalusia was a real political tragedy. It is not true that the Arabs spread Islam there. Is Spain a Muslim country? It is the pinnacle of Catholicism in the world.” 

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 Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf defends Israel visit after outcry

Makhmalbaf says he travelled to Jerusalem film festival as ‘ambassador for peace’ and received a warm welcome
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
theguardian.com
July 16,2013

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Mohsen Makhmalbaf is the most prominent Iranian figure to visit Israel since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

One of Iran’s most famous film-makers, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a former revolutionary who spent four years in jail under the late shah’s rule, has made headlines again after breaking a taboo by visiting Israel.

Makhmalbaf, who was invited by the Jerusalem film festival, said he went as “an ambassador for peace” to promote Iranian art in a country that has previously threatened to launch a pre-emptive strike against his homeland. His visit last week has stirred a heated debate among Iranians.

“I went there to take a message of peace,” he told the Guardian. “I try to unite people through arts, I am citizen of cinema, and cinema has no border, and in fact before my journey to Israel my film travelled to that country many years before.”

Makhmalbaf, a leading figure in Iranian cinema’s new wave movement, is the most prominent Iranian figure to visit Israel since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iranian passports are not valid for travel to Israel and those visiting the country risk a jail sentence of at least five years under Iranian law.

The 57-year-old director lives in exile in London. He left Iran after the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, and has since become an outspoken critic of the Islamic republic. In 2009 he became active in support of the opposition Green movement.

“I am one of the ambassadors for Iranian art to Israel and my message was of peace and friendship,” he said. “When I flew to Israel last week, I felt like a man flying to another planet, like a man flying to the moon, because it was not very ordinary since I had officially and publicly announced that I will be in Israel as an Iranian artist.”

Makhmalbaf, director of the award-winning 2001 film Kandahar, which is in the Time magazine’s list of the 100 greatest films, screened his latest work, The Gardener, at the festival. It is a docudrama about a son and a father talking about religion, especially the Baha’i faith, which Makhmalbaf made in collaboration with his son Maysam.

He said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he received in Israel. “There was an amazing reaction, they showed The Gardener three times and each time the theatre was full and hundreds of people queuing up outside who wanted to come in,” he said. “They clapped for so long. And I asked them if you are so much interested in our art, why is that your government is going to attack us?”

A group of Iranian intellectuals, among them opposition figures, said in a joint letter that they were “deeply dismayed” at Makhmalbaf’s decision to visit a country with “apartheid” policies. They expressed regret that he had not joined a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BSD) campaign against Israel.

“We are deeply concerned that an artist so attuned to the brutalities of state violence in his homeland would have absolute disregard for the nonviolent global BDS movement and its work to peacefully pressure the Israeli state to respect Palestinian human rights,” read the letter.

The director of Iran’s cinema organisation, Javad Shamaghdari, ordered the country’s film museum to remove its section dedicated to Makhmalbaf and his awards. “It is appropriate in this month [Ramadan], the last Friday of which will witness demonstrations by millions of Muslims against the Zionists, that the Film Museum of Iran is cleansed of the filmmaker’s memorabilia,” Shamaghdari said, according to the Tehran Times.

Ali Alizadeh, an Iranian political analyst based in London, said Makhmalbaf’s visit might help the Palestinian cause. Demonising Iranhad helped Israel to distract attention from its Palestinian issue and illegal settlements, he said.

“Ahmadinejad’s flirtation with antisemitism was the best imagined gift to Israeli hardliners,” he said. “If his [Makhmalbaf’s] trip has helped to humanise the image of Iran and Iranians, it has inadvertently been beneficial to Palestinians.”

Makhmalbaf described the taboo against visiting Israel as a “cancer” looming over Iran’s intellectual community for over 60 years. He said he respected the British scientist Stephen Hawking for his decision to boycott an Israeli conference this year, but it was not a decision he would have made.

“If I make a film in Iran and you come to my country to watch it, does it mean you confirm dictatorship in Iran and you have no respect for political prisoners in Iran? If you go to the US, does it mean you confirm their attack on Afghanistan and Iraq?” Makhmalbaf said it was this mentality that allowed him to head the jury of the Moscow film festival last week in spite of his opposition to Vladimir Putin’s support for the Syrian regime.

“I already need a visa to go to Israel, why should be another barrier? A cultural visa?” he asked. “Almost two million Palestinian and Arab people live in Israel, why should I not go there? If Palestinians and Israelis are trying to solve their problem by diplomacy, why we should insist that they fight with each other?”

Makhmalbaf’s 1996 film Gabbeh, about Iran’s nomadic tribes, was the first Iranian film to be screened in Israel commercially. “I travelled to Israel 18 years ago, not by myself, by sending my film Gabbeh to Israel,” he said. “I sent that film to change the mind of Israelis about the dark image of Iranian people that they had in their mind and I faced problems in Iran for that. I was attacked by the media and the police questioned me.”

In his speech at last week’s festival, Makhmalbaf, dedicated his prize to all the people who struggled for peace between Iran, Israel and Palestine. “We, the Iranian intellectuals, are divided into two groups. Of course, both groups yearn for peace. But one group, apart from yearning, struggles for it as well. The other group is sitting, waiting for Israel to attack, and then issue statements condemning Israel. Why not light a candle rather than curse the darkness,” he said.

In 2012 peace activists in Israel launched an internet campaign to try to prevent conflict with Iran, bombarding Iranians with “we love you” messages and videos.

The election of Hassan Rouhani as Ahmadinejad’s successor last month has raised hopes in Iran for change, but in an interview this week Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, described the Iranian president-elect as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Rouhani will take office in August.

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Brothers Milad and Muhammad Atrash, Arab Muslims from the Galilee, volunteered to defend their country by enlisting in the IDF

Not a Matter of Religion
idfspokesperson

Over the next few minutes, the Golani Brigade’s soldiers who drafted in March of this year will swear allegiance to the State of Israel and commit to do all they can to protect it. Muhammad, an Arab Muslim resident of the Galilee village of Dabburiya, is one of them. Like his friends, he’s excited for the ceremony to begin.

The ceremony begins. As the brigade commander finishes his speech, the soldiers quickly run to their commanders, their families and their friends who have come to show their support and encouragement.

When Pvt. Muhammad Atrash’s turn comes, he doesn’t look for anyone in the audience. “My parents wanted to come, but I convinced them not to,” he explains. “Jerusalem is very far from our home, we don’t have a car and it’s an hour-long drive.”

The commander tells Muhammad to stand in front of him. Instead of the Hebrew Bible, the young soldier picks up a Quran, decorated with Gold ornaments. He swears his allegiance to the State of Israel, holding the book tightly and smiling.

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Pvt. Muhammad Atrash

“I’m mostly trying to feel the experience, because It’s my first time ever in Jerusalem,” he says.

In his brother’s footsteps
For Muhammad, 18, this is an important step in his unique relationship with the Israel Defense Forces – which began a year and a half ago, when his older brother, Milad, 19, chose to enlist.

“While still in high school I asked my family, ‘Why don’t we, the Muslims, enlist?’” Milad recalls. “‘Why do the Jews, the Druze and the Bedouins enlist, while we don’t?’ They explained to me that Jews serve because it’s their country, that the Druze [community] had signed agreements with the IDF and that we have a lot of Islamic movements that oppose military service in the IDF.”

Milad’s response? “I told them I don’t care about that. I want to join the army to protect my village, my country,” he says.

Seeing another side of Israel
Five months later, Milad started his military service and arrived at basic training. “Because I didn’t knew anything about the army, I packed a bag for 4 months!” he says with a smile. “After four days my commander told me I was going back home for the weekend.”

For Milad, enlisting in the IDF meant spending time in parts of Israel with which he was unfamiliar. “I didn’t know how to get home,” he says of that first weekend. “I left the base at 8 a.m. and only got home at 10 p.m. I had never been so far from my village.”

Later, Milad became the soldier assigned to the integration of minorities in the local northern recruitment center, a position that allowed him to provide assistance to soldiers facing the same challenges as he had. In two weeks, he will start his officers’ training course.

It seems that Milad passed his sense of commitment to Israel’s defense on to his younger brother. When Muhammad graduated high school, he considered immediately pursuing his academic studies – until his older brother convinced him that the army was the best solution for him.

“After a few conversations with Milad, I understood that this was what I wanted: to enlist, to contribute to my country,” he explains.

Muhammad faced some particular challenges at the beginning of his service, in part because he did not speak much Hebrew. “In the first two weeks, I didn’t understand the commands at all [or] what the rest of soldiers were speaking about,” he recalls. “I had already learned some writing in Hebrew, so I would write to my army friends whatever I wanted to say. At first, it was very hard, but slowly I learned it all.”

Courage under peer pressure
Muhammad says that during his service he has never had to face any case of racism, nor has his older brother. However, the brothers say that their military service was not always well received back home in their home village.

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“People in the village talk behind our backs,” explains Milad. “And when our mother washes our uniforms we make sure she does it inside the house so that our uniform won’t be stolen.”

“Despite it all, I go back to the village with my uniform on,” says Muhammad without hesitation. “So far, I haven’t gotten any comments, and even if people stare I don’t notice. I’m fine with it.”

Some of the Atrash brothers’ friends also objected to their military service. “I no longer have friends from my village,” Milad says. “All of my friends decided to end our friendship, but that’s all right. I’m making some new friends here, in the army. They also stayed away from Muhammad because he’s in the army.” Muhammad agrees.

“At first my mom was afraid of [my] enlisting in the IDF,” Milad continues, “but she saw it makes me happy, so she is happy, too. Now she tells my brothers to enlist. I’m trying to convince my cousins to enlist,” he smiles.

Muhammad makes it clear that he would encourage others from his background to serve in the IDF. “It doesn’t matter where they serve – contribution is the most important thing. For me, for example, it doesn’t matter if I serve in Judea and Samaria or on the Gaza border and will have to confront Muslims from the other side of the fence. We are guarding our country, we have to protect it and it doesn’t matter who’s the other side is – Arabs or not, Muslims or not. In the end, everyone protects his or her family.”

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JANUARY 10, 2013

Israel’s jihad is mine

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/qanta-ahmed/
Dr Qanta Ahmed is Associate Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (Stony Brook)… [More]
As Israel considers building a new fence to contain the Syrian conflict to the north, which fences can keep out Hamas’s even more lethal ideologies? While Gaza and the Muslim Arab world continue to claim victory in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, for the sane observers among us, there is only ever defeat – the defeat of morality in the desecration of a great religion. While most Muslims laud Hamas and scorn Israel, for me, an observing Muslim, Israel’s war against Hamas remains my struggle – my jihad.
Israel’s eight-day operation “Pillar of Defense” sought to dismantle the Hamas apparatus from within Gaza. The predictably seamless alignment of the Muslim world against Israel was even more breathtaking than usual in the face of Syria’s 22 months of systematic genocide, one which has consistently failed to trigger unanimous Muslim protest. What does this say about us as Muslims?
We are hypocrites.
While Muslims define Israel as the enemy, we ignore Assad, and diabolically laud Hamas. Hamas is never sated – each year it devours ever more Palestinians, regardless of age or gender. If Israelis lose fewer citizens than the Palestinians in these conflicts it is for the same reason Israel exchanges more prisoners for each captive soldier: quite simply Israel values human life more than does Hamas, which relishesground operations taking place among densely populate civilian areas.
Explaining this to Muslims in the Twitterverse, I get sharply reminded that Hamas does not have the “luxury of launch sites” that Israel enjoys. Have we lost our minds, Muslims? How can we speak of ‘launch sites’ as ‘luxuries’ while disregarding the culling taking place in Syria? Perhaps we have not lost our minds, but we have most certainly lost our religion.
As I am not one to speak for others, allow me to let Hamas speak for themselves. They are bald-faced about their mission, seeking glory through death, annunciation through annihilation:
We are ready to offer 1,000, 2,000 or even 10,000 martyrs every year. We are ready to keep offering martyrs for twenty years because we are sure we are moving in the right direction and that we will prevail in the end” (Hamas leader Khalid Al Mish’al in Gaza”
To Hamas, a Palestinian life is worth more when “martyred,” a dead child more of a blessing than one living. “The children of the kindergarten are the shaheeds [martyrs] of tomorrow,” reads a sign displayed at a Hamas-run kindergarten. The martyrdom mantra is their anthem.
While observers speculate Hamas will shortly usurp the crumbling Fatah leadership and ideologically annex the West Bank, we must remember Hamas’ raison d’etre: Islamist nihilism, a totalitarian ideology, jet-fueled on the language and images stolen from mighty Islam. Israeli negotiators who must engage with this opponent are walking on the sharp-edged sword of Damocles and unlike Muslims, the Israelis certainly know it.
Coloring their fascism with Islam, Hamas claims religious legitimacy to openly seek destruction of the Jewish state and eradication of the Jewish people. By grafting themselves onto Into Islamic ideals – the vertebral column of that which is most sacred to Muslims – they render Islam itself heinous, representing their true ruthlessness: theirs is a willingness to sacrifice anything –including Islam – to portray Israel as evil.
This ethos was captured in a single unprecedented obscenity: Hamas’ morbid motorcade. Cocksure thugs, defiantly cruising on motorcycles trailed exposed cadavers of Palestinians – Muslim men – trousers pooled at dead ankles. To chants of ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’ as dozens of Palestinian onlookers silently watched, Hamas took its ghoulish victory lap explicitly to show Gazans how they execute ‘suspected informers to Israel’. This is the Islam of Hamas.
This is why Hamas does not represent me, or other believing Muslims. This is why Israel’s battle is mine. This is why Israel’s struggle – Israel’s jihad – is mine. These are the ‘Muslims’ that Israelis must confront and these are the “Muslims” who intimidate innocent Palestinians into subjugation to their monstrous political Islamism.
But we Muslims in particular, more than conflict-hardened Israelis, should hardly be surprised, for it was Muslims who were once forewarned of scourges such as Hamas.
The Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was once asked what he most feared for his followers. Centuries later, his response, recorded in the hadith, haunts, stating he feared those who:
…Interpret verses of the Qur’an out of context…A people that recite Qur’an….but it will not go past their throats, a people with excellent words and vile deeds. They will pass through the religion (of Islam) like the arrow passes through its quarry. They will no more come back to the religion than the arrow will come back to its course. They are the worst of human beings and the worst of all creation. They summon to the book of Allah, but they have nothing to do with it. Whoever kills them is closer to Allah than they.
This is the true nature of Hamas, which recites the Quran yet doesn’t hold it in their hearts, that “summon to the book of Allah but have nothing to do with it.” By the above, it would seem the IDF (that eliminates Hamas) is surely closer to Allah than Hamas.
Yet instead of condemning Hamas, and recognizing them as imposters among us, the Muslim world celebrates them, even as Hamas violates the most profound Islamic principle: the sanctity of life, a right man must protect even in preference to any rights God claims from man.
When Muslims support Hamas, we support no less than the signatories to Islam’s collective extinction. Muslim support renders Hamas legitimate, their methods acceptable, their ideals valid. Our support as Muslims is their lifeblood. In supporting them, we hemorrhage our only currency, our only asset – our great monotheism.
Two years into the Arab Awakening, the freshly turned soil is ripe for the seeding. Hamas operatives everywhere are already celebrated as ‘liberators’ of Gazans, when they have actually long been their jailers, ‘victors’ over Israel, when Hamas is the personal death knell of all pluralism in the region. Gazans so recently celebrating in the street are no more than hostages afflicted with the worst Stockholm Syndrome imaginable, heading to their own death through their misplaced hope in their virulently Islamist leadership.
During Operation Pillar of Defense, Jewish friends said “this must be such a difficult time for you, but I am glad of our friendship” implying that because I am Muslim, my loyalty must surely be to Gaza, my enmity automatically aligned with Israel.
Not so. As a Muslim, I am clear: my loyalty is with Islam, and therefore explicitly with justice, justice for all humanity, a humanity that must include Jews. Hamas is obscenely unjust, so how can my loyalty be with them? To be loyal to Hamas is no less than to abandon Islam. To be loyal to Hamas is the ultimate blasphemy.
While I understand the need for Israeli negotiators to engage with Hamas first to secure the current ceasefire and then for some sort of functional peace, the reality is their militant ideology must be suffocated out of existence or else the détente is little more than an illusion. For this, unlike for suicide bombers or Syrian rockets, there are no Israeli fences or walls, no Iron Domes, only Muslim barriers – robust barriers of counter-ideology.
It is Muslims who must take the first steps to excoriate Hamas, to expose them as the ruthless nihilists they explicitly announce themselves to be. We must scorn Hamas for masquerading among the poor as their savior when they are instead their executioner. Muslims must hold all media accountable for telling the truth: Palestinians are the Muslims orphaned not by Israel but by the entire Muslim world itself. Land-grabs and permanent refugee camps are testament to such.
We must ask ourselves the difficult questions. Does Hamas, who prostitute their progeny in the service of terror, represent Islam? Is Hamas emulating our Prophet as they rain rockets on unarmed, civilian, non-combatants? Do their Fajr missiles, named after Muslim prayers no less, encompass the spirit of Islam as was revealed to its followers? Do Hamas’ stated goals – including elimination of Israel – represent coexistence with the People of the Book, who are cherished in the Quran as dear to God and their Messenger, Moses, particularly admired by our Maker for his courage in the face of fear?
Don’t be fooled by Hamas’ words Muslims; we have a duty to judge them on their vile deeds.
If Islam is to truly thrive, it will only do so when more and more anti-Islamist Muslims confront and extinguish radical Islamist ideologues. Otherwise, we stand to lose both Israel and Islam in one fell swoop of the Islamist ax. Whether rescuing Palestinians and Israelis captive to the whim of Hamas, or rescuing Islam from Islamist Hamas, this is truly our jihad and no one else’s, which is why Israel’s jihad is also mine.
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Muslims combating anti-Semitism
At Jerusalem conference, British-born Muslim compares KKK rallies in US to anti-Israel protests in London.
‘During my visit I saw Israel wasn’t some apartheid state,’ he says

Anav Silverman, Tazpit
Israel News
May 30,2013

A small, but increasingly vocal number of Muslims are rejecting radical hate speech and combating anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. In the recent Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism held this week in Jerusalem, Palestinian Media Watch director, Itamar Marcus and Dr. Boaz Ganor organized a panel discussion with Muslim activists actively rejecting hate rhetoric.

Two of the panel speakers included Kasim Hafeez, a British Muslim who runs The Israel Campaign and Rev. Majed El Shafie, a human rights advocate originally from Egypt. Ahmad Mansour, a Palestinian living in Berlin, who is a policy advisor for the European Foundation for Democracy, was also scheduled to speak but was unable to attend.

“When people say that anti-Semitism exists in the Muslim world because of Israel, that is simply an excuse,” says Kasim Hafeez, born in Britain to a Pakistani Muslim family.
“People here (in Israel) get Islamic anti-Semitism. In Europe, we deny it,” Hafeez expounded.
“As a university student, I would attend radical anti-Israel rallies in Trafalgar Square. Here I am standing in London in the middle of a European capital – chanting ‘death to Israel’ and nothing was ever done.”
He compares those rallies with the Ku Klux Klan. “An Al-Quds Day rally in London is equivalent to a KKK rally in the US,” he stressed.
Hafeez told Tazpit News Agency that he began to change his thinking when he read A Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz.
Hafeez explains that he read the book in order to learn how to further deconstruct Zionist propaganda. “But I began to see that I could no longer support my convictions because I had no answers to the arguments that were made for Israel,” he explains.
“I found that the radical Islamic doctrine that I grew up with and my own belief in violent jihad could no longer support the truth I once believed in.”

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Anti-Israel protest in London (Archive photo: Rona Zinman)

That realization prompted Hafeez to visit Israel. “I kind of hoped that the visit to Israel would be a negative experience, that it would enable me to go back to my former beliefs,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

But the visit was eye-opening for Hafeez, who says he fell in love with Israel during his first trip. “It’s hard not to support Israel,” says the soft-spoken Hafeez, who recently participated in the Jerusalem Marathon. “I encountered Israelis who weren’t anti-Arab, or anti-Islam and saw that this wasn’t some apartheid state.”

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‘Moderates must speak up.’ Rev. Majed El Shafie (Photo: Anav Silverman, Tazpit)

However, coming out in support of Israel hasn’t been easy. Hafeez has become isolated from his friends. “It’s a lot of hassle – it really disrupts your life when you become vocal and open about your support for the Jewish state.”

“What people don’t understand, is that it doesn’t matter if you bend over backwards for radical Islamists. If you are Jewish, they will hate you no matter what,” Hafeez said.

Rev. Majed El Shafie, the founder of One Free World International (OFWI), a leading organization which advocates for religious minorities globally, echoed similar sentiments. A Muslim who converted to Christianity, he found political asylum in Canada and believes that the silence of moderate Muslims is more dangerous than the rise of extremists.

“They (moderate Muslims) must speak up,” says Rev. El Shafie. “Anti-Semitism is everyone’s problem. The moderate Muslims don’t understand that after the radical Muslims finish with the Christians, Bahai, and Jews, they will come after them. The minute we stop fighting for each other, we lose our humanity,” he added.

Rev. El Shafie believes that education is the solution to radicalization and is the only way to bring forth democracy in the Middle East. “The Arab Spring is a cold deadly winter. Whoever came up with the term ‘Arab Spring’ must have been a guy in a suit behind a desk who had no idea what was really going on.”

“Today all these dictatorships that have been overthrown are filled with extremist governments. There is no separation of religion and state and no freedom of religion in the Middle East. Education must come before democracy”
As for Israel, Rev. El Shafie declares that there are two things that the Jewish state cannot be questioned for. “When Israel’s right to exist and Israel’s right to defend itself, come into question, a line has been crossed,” he stated. “The new anti-Semitism today is to hate Israel.”

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R
aping Women in the Name of Islam
Khaled Abu Toameh
April 3, 2013

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3655/islam-raping-women
As of now, families of “pro-Palestinian” activists will have to think ten times before sending their daughters on humanitarian aid convoys.

While jihadis in Syria are importing girls from Tunisia to satisfy their sexual needs, their colleagues in Libya are kidnapping and raping women.

Last week, the father of two British women of Pakistani origin said that his daughters were gang raped in front of him by Muslim fundamentalists in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.

The father, Awadh al-Barassai, said on his Facebook page that the women were part of a humanitarian convoy that was heading to the Gaza Strip.

He said that the women were raped in front of him after being kidnapped by Muslim extremists. He condemned the crime as a “horrible act.”

According to reports in the Arab media, the two women were gang raped in accordance with a fatwa [Islamic religious decree] issued by Jordanian Salafi Sheikh Yasser Ajlouni.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI9LOh5pUpw

Ajlouni’s fatwa allows the jihadis to have sexual intercourse with women who fall captive during war.

The women who were raped in Libya obviously had not been aware of the fatwa.

That they were part of a human convoy headed to help Muslims in the Gaza Strip did not prevent Libya’s jihadis from perpetrating their crime.

The “pro-Palestinian” groups in charge of the convoy must feel a bit embarrassed about this crime. That is perhaps why they have been trying to hide the case from the eyes of Muslims and the international community.

What happened to the two women in Libya is a big disgrace not only to Islam, but to all those who sympathize with fundamentalists and terrorists, including the “scholars” and “sheikhs” who authorize such crimes.

Moderate Muslims who fail to strongly condemn the Muslim terrorists and rapists also bear responsibility for the crimes that are being committed in the name of Islam.

The gang rape in Libya will also cause tremendous damage to the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. As of now, families of “pro-Palestinian” activists around the world will have to think ten times before sending their daughters on humanitarian aid convoys.

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Khaled Abu Toameh, Journalist Forges On As Lonely Dissenting Arab Voice On PA

By Alex Traiman
The Jewish Times
January 30, 2013

Toameh

In an environment where criticism of Israel is not only common, but also encouraged, Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is a lonely voice of dissent on issues relating to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
“I believe that a journalist should be loyal to the truth, as opposed to a president or a prime minister,” Abu Toameh said. “I do not wish to be a mouthpiece for any leader, an organ of any structure or a coverup agent for anybody. A journalist should be free to criticize anyone as long as he is telling the truth.”
Abu Toameh’s unique role in the media world was perhaps no more apparent than when Facebook rec-ently removed his profile following complaints about his posts, which are highly critical of the PA and the Kingdom of Jordan.
Though his page was quickly restored after a backlash of complaints, the attempt to silence Abu Toameh’s online presence is the latest in a campaign to censor any perceived anti-Arab sentiment.
In an op-ed challenging the Facebook incident, Abu Toameh commented, “During the past year alone, a number of Palestinian journalists and bloggers were arrested by Western-funded Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank for criticizing the PA leadership on their Facebook pages.
“It is the duty of Facebook and Western societies to side with those seeking freedom and not to be complicit in suppressing their voices.”
The award-winning journalist, who writes for the Jerusalem Post, reports for “NBC News” as well as several European media outlets and posts often-stinging opinion pieces for the Gatestone Institute, does what most Arab journalists would never dare: He attempts to hold Palestinian and Arab leadership accountable for their actions.
“The prevailing concept in the Arab world is that if you are not with us, you are against us,” Abu Toameh said. In other words, a Palestinian journalist “is expected to be loyal to the cause of Palestinian nationalism.”
Abu Toameh got his start more than 30 years ago working with Palestinian media, but left because of the limitations placed on his work. Today journalists face similar restrictions.
“Media in the West Bank is controlled by Fatah,” Abu Toameh said. “Media in Gaza is controlled by Hamas. A journalist in those areas is not free to report as he sees fit.”
One of the first Israeli papers Abu Toameh wrote for was a Hebrew publication called Yerushalayim (or Jerusalem). “At that time, I wrote articles criticizing Israel, and the IDF in particular, for various human rights violations, and I won several awards. Of course, now that I am criticizing the Palestinian Authority, I am roundly condemned,” he said.
Abu Toameh is not only condemned, but also often threatened. “Today, I am getting more threats from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. than I am from within the Palestinian Authority,” Abu Toameh said.
“But what is unique, is that those that threaten me roundly acknowledge that I am telling the truth. They don’t question my reporting. They just want me to shut up. I’d be much more afraid of what could happen to me if I were lying,” he said.
It is Abu Toameh’s reputation for reporting honestly that keeps his sources coming back.
“I speak to members of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian officials, residents and terrorists,” he said. “They want to communicate to the international community, and I provide them with an outlet.”
Today, Abu Toameh’s articles can be found in the Jerusalem Post, but he rejects the notion that he is writing for a Jewish or pro-Israel newspaper.
“I am an Israeli citizen, and I write for an Israeli paper. I will write for any paper that gives me a free platform,” Abu Toameh said.
Steve Linde, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, contends that Abu Toameh’s reporting is extraordinarily important. “Khaled is a real hero,” Linde said. “He exposes corruption within the Palestinian administration without fear or hesitation.”
“I think just about everybody respects his integrity and credibility as a journalist,” Linde added. “He has a strong international reputation for being a top Palestinian journalist.”
Abu Toameh has no fears of reporting harsh truths. When it comes to peace between Israel and Palestinians, according to Abu Toameh, the chances are not good.
“In my opinion, it is nearly impossible to fit another state between Israel and Jordan. We also need to ask what kind of state would that be? Would it be a terror state like in Gaza, or a secular dictatorship like we see through- out the Arab World,” he said.
With regard to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Toameh is not certain that he has the ability to make peace with Israel. “[Israeli President] Shimon Peres might think Abbas can make peace, but Abbas has no mandate from his people,” he said. “Abbas might be serious and he might be sincere, but that is not the issue. Much more important is whether he can deliver. And right now, the answer is no, he cannot deliver.”
Abu Toameh is not sure that Jordan is the answer for Palestinian self-determination either, even though a majority of that country is Palestinian.
“I don’t see how you can dismantle Jordan and make it a Palestinian state,” he said. “In that case, you might end up with three separate Palestinian states: one in Jordan, one in Gaza and one in the West Bank. You have to be careful what you wish for.”
In the meantime, Jordan’s King Abdullah has managed to stave off protests of the Arab Spring like those in Egypt or Syria.
“So far he has managed, but I don’t think he sleeps that well at night,” Abu Toameh said.
“The key is what winds up happening in Syria,” Abu Toameh contended. “Many of the Islamists fighting in Syria come from Jordan. Once fighting in Syria comes to end, they may come back to start fighting in Jordan.”
What that leaves is an unstable situation, one that could bring even more violence to the region, and particularly to Israel.
“Within Israel’s borders, there is growing tensions and daily confrontations between Israelis — the IDF as well as settlers — and Palestinians,” Abu Toameh added. “On the ground there is already a ‘popular resistance’ under way. We’ve seen skirmishes, clashes, stonings, Molotov cocktails and more.
“I believe the Third Intifada has already begun, albeit on a low flame.”
Alex Traiman writes for JNS.org.

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StandWithUs – Arab Israeli on Israel Apartheid Week

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Muslim religious leaders condemn Holocaust deniers
International Herald Tribune

June 4, 2013

WARSAW: Muslim religious leaders and scholars from around the globe issued a joint statement Monday condemning any attempts to deny or justify the Holocaust in which six million European Jews perished under Nazi Germany.
“We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where millions upon millions of human souls perished, more than half of whom were people of the Jewish faith,” said a statement signed by 10 leading Islamic figures including President of the Islamic Society of North America, Imam Mohamed Magid and India’s Chief Imam, Umer Ahmed Ilyasi.
“We acknowledge, as witnesses, that it is unacceptable to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics,” they said, adding they “stand shoulder to shoulder with our Jewish brothers and sisters in condemning anti-Semitism in any form”.
Imams and Muslim intellectuals from Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States knelt in solemn prayer for Holocaust dead at Auschwitz on May 22, their foreheads touching the ground before the notorious Wall of Death at the former Nazi German death camp in southern Poland.
They offered the prayers as part of an anti-genocide programme which also saw them meet Holocaust survivors and their saviours in an emotional encounter at Warsaw’s synagogue a day earlier.
“With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth, peace and justice,” their Monday statement said.
“Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of ‘never again’ and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today,” it concluded.
Their visit was part of a Holocaust awareness and anti-genocide programme organised in part by the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II, a million were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, mostly in its notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.
Operated by the Nazis from 1940 until it was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was part of a vast and brutal network of death and concentration camps across Europe set up as part of Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” of genocide against an estimated 10 million European Jews.
Once Europe’s Jewish heartland, Poland saw 90% of its 3.3 million pre-war Jewish citizens killed out under Nazi German occupation between 1939 and 1945.

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The best-seller “I Shall Not Hate,” depicting the life of Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, “the doctor from Gaza”
and bereaved Palestinian father, has been adapted for the stage at Habima national theater

“I Shall Not Hate”: A Play Staged by Reality

Michal Aharoni
Al-Monitor Israel Pulse
April 21, 2013

 Dr Ezzeldeen Abu Al-Aish, a Palestinian
The play is based on the autobiography of Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, the Gaza doctor whose three daughters were killed by a stray shell fired by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead [2009]. Abu al-Aish, known as “the doctor from Gaza,” worked for years as a gynecologist in Israel. Seconds after the shell hit his house he called journalist Shlomi Eldar at Israel’s Channel 10 news studio. Eldar hit the speaker button on his cell phone and broadcast live the agony of the man whose three daughters lay dead on the floor in front of his eyes. His cries of anguish, in Hebrew, resonated in Israel and around the world. Twenty-four hours later a cease-fire was reached and the operation was brought to an end.

But despite the great tragedy that befell him, Dr. Abu al-Aish refused to give in to hate. The man who led his whole life between two worlds — one foot here, the other there — continued to see both sides. Despite the horrible tragedy that befell him, he continued to talk peace. At a time when so many people sanctified death, the gynecologist who helped so many women give life continued to sanctify life. He went to Canada and two years ago published an autobiography titled I Shall Not Hate, which became an international best-seller and was also published in Hebrew. Now the unbelievable story is being told as a one-man show by Habima, Israel’s national theater. The complex and riveting figure of Abu al-Aish is being portrayed by the noted actor Ghassan Abbas, a native and resident of the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. He stands alone on stage for an hour as the doctor and father who loses three of his daughters and tells a tale that no playwright could have invented — only reality could.

“Usually, actors say we are actors. We are playing a role,” Abbas says. “I am not playing a role. I am playing this role because it says things I want to say. I have played many roles in my life, but this one is a step up because of the subject.” Abbas is an actor with a tremendous presence. On stage he radiates self control and mastery, his deep voice and wonderful diction slicing through the small space where the play is being staged. In life he is a different man: funny, angry, says what he feels. “It’s a complex figure,” he explains. “It’s a challenge for me, mostly because the man is far from me. We are totally different. His self control, the way he thinks, as a person it’s hard for me to understand him.” Work on the play included reading his book and meetings with people who know Dr. Abu al-Aish, but not with the man himself. “We spoke on the phone a few times, but short conversations. I have never met him or had the chance to speak to him about those moments,” says Abbas. “He hasn’t seen the show yet. We talked about getting together in Canada at some point. I hope it happens.”

The interview is being conducted on the eve of the national Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen, several hours before the minute-long siren marking the start of the day of mourning. Abbas views this day as an opportunity to convey the message of the figure he portrays. “It would have been important to do this play on the very eve of Memorial Day. This is the most appropriate time to see it, to remind us that people are dying in vain, over nonsense, because the man at the top gave an order,” he says, his voice rising. “All day people’s heads are being stuffed with rockets, the military. Everyone goes along. This is a play that speaks out against violence, against hate, against war. But the audience doesn’t want to hear, they don’t want to deal with criticism.” Pitowski, the playwright, agrees with him. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a disease which the public represses, until it breaks out. The best remedy for disease is prevention. Most of us don’t prevent disease.”

But the play, of course, is not performed on Memorial Day. Nonetheless, few Israelis come to watch. “Directors of community centers were invited to see the play. They were just asked to come and see, not to buy tickets. They don’t want to hear about it,” says Abbas. “There were schools that said the principal wouldn’t approve it,” adds Pitowski. “There were soldiers who saw the play and the reactions were very strong. But at the institutional level, there are no buyers. The public has to choose between a one-man show about Arabs and death and between comedy,” he continues. “Of course they will opt to see comedy. They want to escape from the conflict. They have enough of it on TV.”

So why put this story on stage at all? Israelis know it. Reality is the best drama in this case. Perhaps the play, in fact, diminishes the story?

“The play adds things that weren’t on television,” explains Abbas. “This is his life from different angles.” Pitowski adds: “We cannot bring Gaza here or the Israelis to Gaza. This encounter, face-to-face, can only exist on stage.”

Despite the difficulties in marketing the play, they aren’t giving up. They continue to believe that it’s their duty to sound such a voice. Pitowski, who was on military reserve duty during Operation Cast Lead, joined the Combatants for Peace organization and insists on humanizing the enemy. Abbas is currently initiating freestyle meetings between Israelis and Paestinian leaders in cafes and pubs around the country so that they can talk to each other above the heads of the leaders and without involvement of the establishment. Both of them hope that as many people as possible will see the show. Abbas very much wants to perform in the US, mainly in front of Jewish communities; Pitowski wants to bring the play to as many Israeli audiences as possible. “Of course, I wouldn’t object to a performance at Lincoln Center,” he says. “But given the choice between Lincoln Center and an Israeli high school, I’d go for the high school. People need to understand that the play does not point a finger of blame at them. Those who come to see the play don’t regard me as an ‘enemy of the people.’ They accept me as a friend of both peoples. I came to tell a human story, not a political one.”

“I am angry about a lot of things,” Abbas says, “but I don’t hate. Perhaps, in spite of it all, there’s some similarity between myself and Abu al-Aish.”

Michal Aharoni is a public relations professional, playwright and columnist. Aharoni earned her theater degree from Hakibuzim seminar in Tel Aviv, followed by a Master of Arts degree from Middlesex University in London. She currently writes for Maariv and for its Nrg website.

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Egyptian Speaks Out for Peace with Israel

Egyptian dissident Maikel Nabil, who was the first political prisoner of the post-Mubarak era in Egypt, stated that there can be no democracy in Egypt without peace with Israel. Nabil declared on a visit to Jerusalem, “I’m here to say we, the peace community and peace activists in Egypt, exist; even if the media or some regimes are trying to pretend that we don’t exist. I represent an Egyptian peace movement. I’ve been active in favor of peace and demilitarization in Egypt for four years now. We are acting against war and for peace, and vocally speak out for peace with all countries, including Israel.”

Nabil first became famous in 2009 as Egypt’s first conscientious objector, when he founded a movement against military conscription. In 2011, he actively participated in Tahrir Square protests, where he was arrested several times. Nabil continued vocalizing opposition towards the regime even after then-president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, and thus was arrested again. He was sentenced to a three-year prison term for insulting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after Mubarak was deposed and before current Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi came to power. After 302 days in prison, Nabil started a hunger strike, which lasted for 130 days and would eventually lead to him gaining his freedom. He is now living in Germany.

“Maikel is a hero. He sacrificed his freedom and almost his life for the cause of human rights and for the cause of peace in the Middle East, between Egypt and Israel, between Arabs and Israelis, and for peace worldwide. UN Watch is honored to facilitate this peace-building mission, which couldn’t come at a more vital time for the region,” said Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based pro-Israel human rights organization. Nabil declared, “After years of calling for peace, I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking. We have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end.”

Back in 2010, Nabil wrote an article titled Why I’m pro-Israel. In the article, he claimed that he supports Israel because she is the biggest and oldest democracy in the region; because Israel within 50 years was able to successfully build a strong integrated state covering all aspects of life;because Israel has the best universities in the Middle East; because Israel is a free nation that respects minority rights; and because Israeli foreign policy is built on interests instead of racism. He contrasted all of these Israeli strengths to his native Egypt. While Nabil doesn’t agree with every thing Israel’s government does, he nevertheless has been an outspoken pro-Israel advocate.

So far, Nabil has spoken at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and did an interview with the Israeli media. He also visited Yad Vashem and the grave of Yitzhak Rabin. Nabil is also scheduled to speak at Tel Aviv University, the World Union of Jewish Students, and he seeks to also go to Ramallah, to promote peace there. He hopes that this trip will lead to greater things that might eventually establish true peace between Israel and the Arab world. As a staunch secularist whose family is Christian, Nabil is opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and wants true democratic reform in Egypt.

By Rachel Avraham

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‘Imam of the Jews’ pays historic visit to Yad VashemHassen Chalghoumi of France says Holocaust deniers are accomplices in the crime
Elhanan miller
The Times of Israel
June 4, 2012

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Hassen Chalghoumi at the Hall of Names in Yad Vashem (photo credit: Elhanan Miller / Times of Israel)

Hassen Chalghoumi, a leading French Muslim cleric and president of the French ‘conference of Imams,’ paid a historic visit Monday to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
The visit was especially emotional for Tunisian-born Chalghoumi, 40, who also serves as Imam [prayer leader] at the mosque of Drancy, a Paris suburb where French Jews were rounded up and deported to extermination camps in Poland during the Holocaust.

“This is not [only] the history of the Jewish people, it is our history as well,” said Chalghoumi following the visit. “By protecting this history, we protect the history of minorities.”
He said that when speaking at the memorial in his home town of Drancy he referred to 70,000 Jews deported from France, while the visit at Yad Vashem exposed the extermination of six million Jews.
“I came here not because it is a Jewish issue, but because it as a human one. In the name of hatred and a certain ideology … people killed more than six million humans.”
“I believe that speaking about the Holocaust, this human atrocity, will instill in us the sense that it must never happen again,” he added. “Those who deny the Holocaust are nothing but accomplices to these criminals. They want to perpetrate another Holocaust.”
Chalghoumi’s forthrightness on antisemitism and Holocaust denial has earned him quite a few enemies within France’s Muslim community. In May 2006, his home was ransacked following a Holocaust memorial ceremony he conducted in Drancy. His celebrated cooperation with Jewish organizations in France has won him the epithet ‘Imam of the Jews.’
“I am first and foremost an Imam of Muslims and lover of peace,” Chalghoumi said when asked about the sometimes uncomfortable title. “I came here not because it is a Jewish issue, but because it as a human one. In the name of hatred and a certain ideology … people killed more than six million humans.”
On Saturday, three Jews were attacked near the city of Lyon in south-west France by a group of ten men, likely of North African origin. In March, 4 Jews, including 3 children, were gunned down by an assailant of Algerian extraction, Muhammad Merah. Chalghoumi did not shy away from tying his visit on Monday to present-day antisemitic attacks across Europe.

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Chalghoumi at Yad Vashem (photo credit: Elhanan Miller / Times of Israel)

“There is a rise in racist and antisemitic hatred at the moment in Greece, Poland and France. Today, during the economic crisis, it is time for solidarity, for working hand in hand.”
Chalghoumi came to Israel to participate in the Franc

“I believe that speaking about the Holocaust, this human atrocity, will instill in us the sense that it must never happen again.”
His next stop on the tour, a meeting with the Palestinian minister of religious affairs and journalists in Ramallah, would be an opportunity to convey his message of tolerance to fellow Muslims, he said.
“I hope one day millions of Muslims come here [to Yad Vashem] from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria. Then there will be peace,” he said.

Saudi: Corruption, dictators the enemy, not Israel

10/10/2012 01:35

Saudi journalist says that the ‘real enemies of Arab world’ are corruption and dictators, not the Jewish state.

Saudi women
PHOTO: COURTESY THE MEDIA LINE

An article by a Saudi journalist challenging the conventional wisdom in the Arab world – in particular the view of Israel as the root of the region’s problems – is enjoying skyrocketing popularity online and sparking debate about the Arab Spring.Under the headline “Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy,” the writer used the occasion of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 to wonder aloud about the resources spent on war, in particular the War of Independence in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967.“What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars?” asked Abdulateef al-Mulhim in the Arab News, a Saudi Arabian newspaper in English whose website “gets hundreds of thousands of hits every day” from around the world, according to the paper’s site.“But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people,” wrote al-Mulhim.“I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the underdeveloped Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East,” he wrote.“The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?” he asked.Al-Mulhim continued later in the column: “The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.”

“These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab- Israeli wars,” he added, pointing out the mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers, but delineating equally outrageous events in the region, from the devastating war in Syria to the upheaval in Iraq, the corruption in Tunisia that allowed the former president “to steal $13 billion from the poor Tunisians.”

Al-Mulhim then called on Arab countries to stop blaming Israel for their woes and concluded, “Now, it is time to stop the wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.”

The article has been shared widely around social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and has been republished in several other newspapers since it was published on the Arab News website on October 6. Tim Marshall, a British journalist with Sky News, shared the link in his Twitter Feed and added: “If there were more like this guy – fewer people would die.”

Al-Mulhim, who also writes columns for the al-Saudia al-Yawmnewspaper, has written several columns recently that seemed aimed at fomenting debate. In one, he castigated Saudis for complaining about the surplus of expatriates in the kingdom but relying on them to keep the workforce going.

In another, he called on Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barack Obama, to explain why American women have only managed to be first ladies – or to be appointed secretary of state – but have never been elected president.

The article on the paper’s website has garnered close to 300 comments, some of them in praise of al-Mulhim’s “brave” words, and others bashing his portrayal of events, particularly his suggestion that Palestinians are “better off” than many other Arabs.

Wrote Hassan, who described himself as a West Bank Palestinian: “All of what the writer said is rubbish.

I was treated like an animal from the IDF, suffered when traveling, I can’t go to Jerusalem to pray and Israel took my grandfather’s lands. Also the West Bank is being controlled with idiots (Palestinian Authority).”

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In tense Swedish city, young Muslim crusades against anti-Semitism

The son of immigrants from Iran, Siavosh Derakhti recently won an award for his efforts to promote tolerance and educate about the Holocaust

By  January 8, 2013

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On Nov. 8, the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism gave out its first Elsa Award to a somewhat unlikely recipient: a young Muslim Swede named Siavosh Derakhti.

Derakhti, who has worked tirelessly to teach students about anti-Semitism in his hometown of Malmo, is the founder of his own organization, Young Muslims Against Antisemitism. His work frequently takes him across the country to educate students about anti-Jewish bigotry and the Holocaust.

The Elsa Award was created to encourage young people to incorporate social media into the battle against Swedish anti-Semitism, and was established by Committee member Henrik Frenkel in memory of his parents, both of whom survived the Holocaust. The award bears the name of Frenkel’s first grandchild.

Derakhti, 21, acknowledges that the road he has chosen is not the easiest. “I know what I’m doing is dangerous, but I know it’s also good, and receiving the Elsa Award helped confirm this,” he told The Times of Israel by phone.

A lifelong resident of Malmo, Derakhti was shocked when he first learned about anti-Semitism in the city, Sweden‘s third-largest and the site of regular anti-Semitic attacks and intimidation.

‘My parents fled from dictatorship so their children could grow up in a peaceful place’

With an estimated 1,500 Jews among an overall population of 300,000, Malmo has also gained a reputation as the scene of some of the most hostile anti-Israel demonstrations in Europe in recent years. The city’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, has been criticized for blaming Jews for attacks against them, saying they must distance themselves from Israel. He was also forced to apologize for claiming, perversely, that they have ties to the country’s anti-Semitic far right.

“I found out Jews are fleeing Malmo, that they feel scared and unsafe on the streets,” says Derakhti, who is studying to be a youth worker at Malmo University and Folkhögskola Hvilan college, both in southern Sweden. “And then I thought that something needs to be done. We can’t keep on letting this happen — not in a country like Sweden, and not in my hometown of Malmo.”

Learning about anti-Semitism struck a chord in Derakhti, whose Turkish-Azerbaijani family left Iran during the country’s war with Iraq in hopes of an easier, safer life in Scandinavia.

“My parents fled from dictatorship so their children could grow up in a peaceful place and experience democracy, and then to come to a country where there is hate, discrimination and racism on our streets, this is not acceptable. Something must be done,” Derakhti says.

Derakhti decided to educate his fellow Swedes about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust after learning not only how little his high school classmates knew, but that his school, Malmös Latinskola, was not trying to change the situation.

“In 25 years, they hadn’t invited any Holocaust survivors, and then they wonder how there are so many people who deny the Holocaust or don’t know a lot,” Derakhti says.

Derakhti appears at a synagogue in Malmo, a city that has become known for frequent attacks on Jews and its anti-Zionist mayor. (Courtesy of the Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism)

On his own, he invited two survivors to speak to students, offering to drive them to the school himself.

Derakhti also spoke to administrators about arranging a class trip to Auschwitz, but received little backing.

“I proposed the idea to the class, to teachers and principals, but nobody supported me,” he says. “I was completely alone.”

Undeterred, he successfully lobbied Malmo’s education department for funding. Once the city pledged financial assistance, his school warmed up to the idea.

For the 27 students who ultimately traveled to Poland, the journey was life-changing.

“When we were there, several, if not most people in our class cried,” recalls Derakhti, who made a documentary about the trip that he now screens during speeches at schools. “The trip touched many people, the majority of whom were Muslims, including several Palestinians. They learned a lot, and now they are all encouraging people to go.”

The trip was not a first for Derakhti, who had gone to Bergen-Belsen with his father at 13, as well as to Auschwitz at 15. From a young age, he had been interested in World War II, and specifically the Holocaust. “I asked my father how I could learn more about this, and he told me, ‘No problem, I will take you to a concentration camp so you can see it with your own eyes,’ ” he says.

The trip affected him deeply. “When I was there, I could smell and feel what had happened, and I thought, ‘That could have been me, or it could happen again if nothing is done,’ ” he says.

While Derakhti’s main focus is preventing anti-Semitism, he also educates students about Islamophobia and antiziganism, hostility to Roma.

“My goal is to work on this full-time and educate as many people as possible,” he says. “Unfortunately, many of us don’t see each other as human beings — we see people as their religion, what country they are from or their political beliefs, instead of thinking that we are all human beings.”

Derakhti has been profiled on Nazi and other far-right websites, and has received threatening phone calls

Although he has received mostly positive reactions from Sweden’s Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as in the media, he’s also been the target of negative attention. He has been profiled on Nazi and other far-right websites, including that of the extremistSweden Democrats Party, and received threatening phone calls from someone posing as a journalist.

“The negative responses made me want to work harder. I didn’t become scared and decide to stop,” he says.

Derakhti doesn‘t delude himself about the challenges facing Jews in his hometown, but says he doesn’t lets those issues bring him down.

“The way it looks today in Malmo — it doesn’t look very good, but if I said that I don’t think there is a future [for the city’s Jews], I would be lying. I could just as well lie down on the ground and give up. My dream is to make sure that, in the end, there will be peace here. But it’s not easy, and there is a lot to do,” he says.

The Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism initially heard about Derakhti when he organized the class trip to Auschwitz.

“We’ve been following his work against anti-Semitism and racism in Malmö and were very impressed,” says Henrik Bachner, a Committee member who served on the board that awarded the prize. “The fact that he focuses on students but also participates in the public debate — helping bring out the real problems that exist in Malmö concerning prejudice and hostility against Jews — played a big role in our decision.”

The Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism will continue supporting Derakhti’s work, and in January he will speak at a youth symposium in Stockholm organized by the Committee. The gathering will bring together high school students from all over Sweden who are working to prevent anti-Semitism and racism.

“Our ambition is to find more ways for collaboration in the future,” Bachner says.

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Hamid

Ex-Radical Muslim Brings Message of Reform
Dr. Tawfik Hamid, one-time Islamic terror organization member now in Israel, says Jews have done their best, and it’s now Muslims who must change.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a one-time Islamic terror organization member, is now in Israel taking part in the Facing Tomorrow conference in Jerusalem. He believes that the Jews have done their best, and that it’s now the Muslim world’s turn to make some changes and concessions.

Hamid, an Islamic thinker and reformer, spoke with INN-TV’s Yoni Kempinsky on Wednesday, and made some surprising statements. His friendly smile belies his background as a former student of Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaheri, who later became deputy commander of the international Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
Hamid explained that his motivation in joining a terror group was simply because “I wanted to serve God.” He said it was not borne of “poverty or anything like that,” and that his sincere intentions were “used to create a Jihadist, violent mindset that accepts violence. I considered doing crimes in God’s name, but thank God in the critical moments my conscience woke up and I refused to continue.”

Asked what his message to the Jewish people would be, Hamid told INN TV, “You are a great nation, and in the most difficult times, such as when the Nazis were putting you in ovens, you were able to get out of it and build a great country of human rights – and so, don’t let your country surrender to barbarism; fight for it and use every tactic you can use to stand against it.”

“Never make concessions to radicals,” Hamid continued. “The more concessions you make, the more they attack you. In the Muhammad-cartoon controversy [in Scandinavia], the radicals did not demonstrate for four months – until the magazine apologized, and then they started demonstrating. So we see that concessions mean nothing to them except for a green light to attack you more.”

Asked if he is afraid, Dr. Hamid said confidently, “No.” A surprised Kempinsky asked, “Why not? You mentioned death threats that have been leveled against you…” Hamid responded, “Because I trust Him. I know that I am doing something good… If they manage to kill me, they won’t succeed in killing my voice; thousands more Tawfiq Hamids will arise to [continue this message].”

Asked about Jewish-Muslim relations, Hamid said, “I believe that you have done your best, and now it’s our turn… The Islamic scholars must make changes in the way they teach; it’s the Muslims who now must make some concessions, otherwise the problem will not be solved.”

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kasim Hafeez: Muslim Zionist

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Arabs for Israel-Muslims for Israel

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Berbers for Israel

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M. Zuhdi Jasser

CAIR’S CRUSADE AGAINST THE THIRD JIHAD
If you see something, don’t say anything.
By Clifford D. May
February 9, 2012
 M. Zuhdi Jasser is a physician, a U.S. Navy veteran, an American patriot, and a Muslim who does not hold with those who preach that Islam commands its followers to take part in a war against unbelievers.
The Third Jihad, a documentary film that Jasser narrated, takes a hard look at those Muslims who are waging this war — both with bombs and by stealthier means. The film had been among the educational materials used to train New York City police officers dealing with terrorism. Then, last month, the New York Times went on what one might call a crusade against the movie, publishing a series of articles branding it a “hate-filled film about Muslims” and calling on Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to “apologize for the film . . . and make clear that his department does not tolerate such noxious and dangerous stereotyping.”
In the first of its stories, the Times charges that the film “casts a broad shadow over American Muslims.” That ignores the unambiguous statement with which the documentary opens: “This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are radical.”
The story quotes Jasser as saying in the film: “This is the true agenda of Islam in America.” But what Jasser actually said in the film is that jihad is “the true agenda of much of the Muslim leadership here in America.”
Jasser has long argued — and he’s hardly alone in this — that the leaders of some of the wealthiest and most powerful organizations that claim to represent American Muslims are not as moderate as they’d have you believe. Prominent among such organizations is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which appears to have been the driving force behind the coverage in the Times and in the Village Voice before that. The Times quotes CAIR spokesmen saying how outraged and offended they are by the film.
The Times chooses not to inform readers that CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism-financing trial in the U.S. to date, the 2007 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation et al. The Times neglects to report that the FBI has broken all ties with CAIR. The Times also does not mention that last year CAIR’s national organization lost its status as a tax-deductible charity after it failed to file required annual reports detailing revenues for three consecutive years as required by law. (The Times has raised pointed questions about funding for The Third Jihad. Why no interest in where CAIR’s money comes from?)
The paper never bothered to interview Jasser. Nor did the Times quote Robert Jackson, the only Muslim on the New York City Council, who told other reporters that while he “initially thought from reading about [the film] that it cast a negative image on all Muslims . . . it does not. It focuses on the extreme Muslims that are trying to hurt other people.” The Times turned down an op-ed by former secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge and former CIA director (and current chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies) Jim Woolsey defending the film.
The Times’s stories present not a single factual error in the documentary. However, illustrating the first story was an image of the White House with a black Islamic flag flying above it. The Times called that “a doctored photograph,” leaving readers to infer that the filmmakers had done the doctoring. In fact, the filmmakers found that image on a jihadi website. (Such images are common on such websites, as any reporter working the terrorism beat should know.)
CAIR calls itself a Muslim “civil rights” organization, and most of the major media take it at its word. Jasser has pointed out that one of the main missions of such groups is to silence critics — to deprive them of their right to free speech. One of the ways this is done, Jasser says, is by making it appear that Muslim reformers are themselves extremists and, what is more, that they are “not part of the community (ummah), and so subject them to takfir (declaring them apostates). That is what the vicious distortions about this film do to my work and the work of so many others within the House of Islam who are trying to publicly take on the American Islamist establishment.”
Jasser adds: “Political Islam is the lifeblood of groups like CAIR; they will never publicly acknowledge its incompatibility with western liberalism and Americanism. Were Americans ever to finally become educated on the slippery slope between nonviolent Islamism (political Islam) and Islamist militancy, the legitimacy of these Muslim-Brotherhood-legacy groups would evaporate.”
The barriers to providing such education are growing. Mayor Bloomberg has denounced The Third Jihad. The NYPD has stopped showing it. CAIR is not at all satisfied. The organization has demanded that Commissioner Kelly resign and that the police department “offer a concrete plan to help counter the misinformation about Islam and Muslims provided to almost 1,500 officers through the screening of The Third Jihad.” That won’t be the end of it. Author Bruce Bawer noted in an op-ed this week: “Criticizing Islam is now a punishable offense in several European countries.” I happened to have read Bawer’s piece while waiting for a train in New York’s Penn Station. About the same time, I heard an announcement on the public address system: “If you see something, say something.” Zuhdi Jasser has seen something. CAIR wants him to shut up about it. And CAIR has friends in high places.
— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
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Islamists on Edge

Islamist Lobbies’ Washington War on Arab and Muslim Liberals

By Essam Abdallah
February 16th, 2012

The most dramatic oppression of the region’s civil societies and the Arab Spring is not by means of weapons, or in the Middle East. It is not led by Gaddafi, Mubarak, Bin Ali, Saleh, or Assad. It is led by the powerful Islamist lobbies in Washington DC. People may find my words curious if not provocative. But my arguments are sharp and well understood by many Arab and middle eastern liberals and freedom fighters. Indeed, we in the region, who are struggling for real democracy, not for the one time election type of democracy have been asking ourselves since January 2011 as the winds of Arab spring started blowing, why isn’t the West in general and the United States Administration in particular clearly and forcefully supporting our civil societies and particularly the secular democrats of the region? Why were the bureaucracies in Washington and in Brussels partnering with Islamists in the region and not with their natural allies the democracy promoting political forces?
Months into the Arab Spring, we realized that the Western powers, and the Obama Administration have put their support behind the new authoritarians, those who are claiming they will be brought to power via the votes of the people. Well, it is not quite so.The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Nahda of Tunisia, the Justice Party of Morocco and the Islamist militias in Libya’s Transitional National Council have been systematically supported by Washington at the expense of real liberal and secular forces. We saw day by day how the White House guided carefully the statements and the actions of the US and the State Department followed through to give all the chances to the Islamists and almost no chances to the secular and revolutionary youth. We will come back to detail these diplomatic and financial maneuvers which are giving victory to the fundamentalists while the seculars and progressives are going to be smashed by the forthcoming regimes.In the US, there are interests that determine foreign policy. And there are lobbies that put pressure to get their objectives met in foreign policy. One of the most powerful lobbies in America under the Obama Administration is the Muslim Brotherhood greater lobby, which has been in action for many years. This lobby has secured many operatives inside the Administration and has been successful in directing US policy towards the Arab world. Among leading advisors sympathetic to the Ikhwan is Daliah Mogahed (Mujahid) and her associate, Georgetown Professor John Esposito. Just as shocking, there is also a pro-Iranian lobby that has been influencing US policy towards Iran and Hezbollah in the region.One of the most important activities of the Islamist lobby in the US is the waging of political and media wars on the liberal Arabs and Middle Eastern figures and groups in America. This battlefield is among the most important in influencing Washington’s policies in the Arab world. If you strike at the liberal and democratic Middle Eastern groups in Washington who are trying to gain support for civil societies in the region, you actually win a major battle. You will be able to influence the resources of the US Government to support the Islamists in the Middle East and not the weak democrats. This huge war waged by the Islamist lobbies in America started at the end of the Cold war and continued all the way till the Arab spring. The two main forces of this lobby are the Muslim Brotherhood fronts and the Iranian fronts. According to research available in the US, the Ikhwan fronts such as CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), led by Hamas supporter Nihad Awad, as well as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America, and others waged their political war to block the representatives of Arab liberals and Muslim moderates from making their case to the American public. The Iranian lobby, exemplified by the National Iranian American Committee (NIAC), led by Trita Parsi, has been hitting at Iranian exiles.Since the 1990s CAIR and its allies have attacked Copts, Southern Sudanese, Lebanese, Syrian reformers, Assyrians and Chaldeans, and Muslim dissidents in the United States. The Ikhwan of America demonized any publication, book, article, or interview in the national media or local press raising the issue of secular freedoms in the Middle East. The Islamists wanted to eliminate the liberal cause in the Arab world and replace it with the cause of the Islamists. What is also shocking is that CAIR and its allies stood by the oppressive regimes and visited them, claiming they speak on behalf of the peoples. CAIR and the Brotherhood fronts in America destroyed systematically every project that would have defended the seculars and liberals originating from the Middle East. The notorious and well-funded Islamists of the US allowed no book, documentary, or show on the liberals in Arab civil societies to see the light.Thanks to this powerful lobbying campaign, the American public was not given a chance to learn about the deep feelings on the youth in the region. Americans were led to believe that all Muslims, all Arabs and all Middle Easterners were a strange species of humans who cannot appreciate freedom. Instead, the American Islamists, helped by apologists on the petrodollars payrolls, convinced the mainstream media that the Arab world has authoritarians and Islamists only.Dr Shawki Karas, president of the American Coptic Association, told me in the late 1990s how he was harassed by Islamist activists for speaking up against the Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in America. He was threatened with losing his job at the college where he taught. Reverend Keith Roderick, who has assembled a coalition of more than 50 group rights from the Muslim world, was severely attacked by the Islamists and was threatened to be removed from his church position. Muslim American leaders who are conservative and secular, such as Dr Zuhdi Jasser, were crucified by CAIR and the Brotherhood for daring to challenge the Party line of the Isl.amists in America and claiming that the Jihadists are the problem in the region. Muslim liberal dissidents such as Somali Ayan Hirsi Ali, Saudi Ali al Yammi, Syrian Farid Ghadri, Iranian Manda Ervin, and many others were trashed by the Islamist lobbies to block them from defending the causes of secular liberty in the US. Egyptian liberals as well as seculars and democracy activists from Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and other countries have been attacked by CAIR and allies. The pro-Iranian lobby targeted most Iranian-American groups and tried to discredit them, particularly with the rise of the Green Revolution in Iran. By smearing the Muslim liberal exiles, the Islamists were trying to destroy their causes in the mother countries. In the 1990s and the years that followed 9/11 the region’s dictators supported the efforts by Islamist lobbies to crush the liberal exiles. The Mubarak, Bashir, Gaddafi, Assad, and Khomeinist regimes fully supported the so-called Islamophobia campaign waged by CAIR and its Iranian counterpart NIAC against dissidents for calling for secular democracy in the region. The dissidents were accused of being pro-Western by both the Islamists and the dictators.The Islamist lobbies also severely attacked members of the US Congress such as Democrats Tom Lantos, who has since passed away, Eliot Engel, Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, and Joe Lieberman as well as Republicans Frank Wolfe, Chris Smith, Trent Franks, John McCain, Rick Santorum, and Sam Brownback for their efforts in passing legislative acts in support for democracy and liberty in the Middle East. CAIR and NIAC heavily savaged President Bush’s speeches on Freedom Forward in the Middle East, deploying all the resources they had to block US support to liberal democrats in the region. Islamist lobbies in Washington are directly responsible for killing any initiative in the US Government to support Darfur, southern Sudan, Lebanon, the Kurds, liberal women in the Muslim world, and true democrats in the Arab world and Muslim Africa.In the think tank world, CAIR and its allies aggressively attacked scholars who raised the issue of persecution against seculars or minorities in the Arab world and Iran. Among those attacked were Nina Shea and Paul Marshal from the Hudson Institute and the founder of an anti-slavery group, Dr Charles Jacobs, who was exposing the Sudan regime for its atrocities. Last but not least is the Islamists’ relentless campaign to stirke at top scholars who advise Government and appear in the media to push for democratic liberation in the region. The vast and vicious attacks leveled against Professor Walid Phares—initially by CAIR’s Nihad Awad and then widened by pro-Hezbollah and Muslim Brotherhood operatives online—has revealed to Arab and Middle Eastern liberal and seculars how ferocious is the battle for the Middle East in the US. Phares’s books, particularly the latest one, The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East (2010), hit the Islamist agenda hard by predicting the civil society revolts in the Middle East and then predicting how the Islamists would try to control them. Phares was attacked by an army of Jihadist militia online like no author since Samuel Huntington in the 1990s. As a freedom activist from the Middle East, Mustafa Geha, wrote, Phares is a hero to Muslim liberals. Along with dissidents, lawmakers, experts, and human rights activists, Phares is a force driving for a strategic change in US foreign policy towards supporting secular democracies in the region. This explains why the Islamists of America are fighting the battle for the forthcoming regimes with all the means they have.Dr. Essam Abdallah is an Egyptian liberal intellectual who teaches at Ain Shams University and writes for the leading Arab liberal publication Elaph
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