Posts Tagged ‘israel’

Intro to Genocide

UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day- Jan. 27th 2011
The UN Resolution was created: “to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide”

What is Genocide? Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide from the root words genos (greek for family, tribe or race) and –cide (Latin for killing), wrote in 1944:

“While society sought protection against individual crimes, or rather crimes directed against individuals, there has been no serious endeavor hitherto to prevent and punish the murder and destruction of millions. Apparently, there was not even an adequate name for such a phenomenon. Referring to the Nazi butchery in the present war, Winston Churchill said in his broadcast of August, 1941, “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.”

Lemkin’s work led to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as
…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

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31

01 2011

Jerusalem

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of the most spiritual, mysterious and exotic places in the world: Jerusalem. Its name conjures up images of enchanted tales and rich history and tradition. “Islam’s second holiest site” is the pseudonym it typically goes by in Islamic circles. Serving as the cornerstone and holiest city for the Abrahamic faiths, even images of the landscape evoke deep religious sentiments amongst the people of the book. It goes without saying, then, that I was intrigued and excited by the prospect of exploring its ancient corridors during a recent business trip to the West Bank.

The old city of Jerusalem consists of 4 quarters: the Christian, the Jewish, the Muslim and the Armenian. A taxi dropped my colleagues and I off at the old city at the mouth of “Jaffa Gate”, the entrance to the Christian and Armenian quarters. We began our journey by first entering the Armenian quarter which was very reminiscent of the old city streets in Western Europe with its very clean, charming and narrow streets. We found ourselves engulfed by a wave of Italian and Indian tourist groups enroute to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where we unexpectedly ended up. The courtyard of the Holy Sepulcher was just as I had imagined it: cobblestoned, quaint and inviting. Incredibly, I was able to waltz right in. In fact, I could reach my arm out and touch the encasing of the shroud believed to have once wrapped the body of Jesus. And even more incredible, I could visit the very tomb housed within the church, which, according to Christian tradition, is where Jesus rose and ascended to heaven. I looked around, puzzled; there was no security and everyone was welcome in. I closed my eyes, said a prayer in front of the tomb and felt at peace in my surroundings. Soon after, the mobs of religious worshippers started to gain momentum. After finally fighting our way through the sea of Spanish, Indian and Nigerian pilgrims we found the exit and pushed onward towards the path leading to the Jewish quarters. Read the rest of this entry →

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31

12 2010

Anti-Semitism is a Scrambled Egg

…except not as tasty…at least not when you are the one getting scrambled.

I am involved with Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul University which has been getting some press recently due to our campaign against the not-so-tasty Sabra Hummus sold in our school dining quarters[1]. The boycott campaign started because “[t]he Strauss Group [a parent company of Sabra] maintains a direct material relationship with the Israeli military, particularly providing two elite Israeli brigades with financial support and care packages”[2] (see more in our Public Statement in the footnote). At the moment the Fair Business Practices Committee is analyzing DePaul’s relationship with Sabra and deciding whether or not it is in line with DePaul University’s stated values. So, what does this have to do with anti-Semitism?

As should be expected, our friends at Hillel objected to the campaign, especially because DePaul’s dining services temporarily removed the hummus from shelves[3]. That is all fine and dandy, they are entitled to their opinion and their own political activism (at least they care about something…right?…eh, maybe not). They decided to plug their statement to the university and to the Fair Business Practices Committee. It included this:

“However, by improperly restating the parameters of this conflict to one of human rights it puts SJP into a position to allow its agenda to influence the environment on the DePaul campus to the point where it successfully secured the school’s Dining Services to remove Sabra hummus. It is this environment that bodes ominously for our school’s future for Jewish students and genuine dialogue between Jews and Muslims.”[4]

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11

12 2010

On Critically Reading the Wikileaks

By Ali A.

Only a small proportion of the announced documents have been released so far by the Wikileaks. As such it is a bit early to suggest anything conclusively on the value of these documents and their impact. While following the release, a few tentative thoughts came to mind that I want to share here in the interest of starting a constructive discussion. The examples I mention below are not from the Wikileaks, but they are close to some of the released bits I have seen. The purpose here is not to analyze specific cables but to elaborate a critical perspective for reading these leaks.

Rarely do diplomats speak out their minds and hearts in candid terms. The most sensitive information is almost always communicated in person, not over digital lines or mails. Therefore, one needs to think about not only what was said in these cables but also what was not said.

Even for communications over digital lines and mails, on important issues the US diplomats and other government officials usually use plain but coded language. The person sitting on the other end has to decipher the language and read between the lines. The dots can be hard to connect for an outsider, who may understand no more than just the apparent meaning of a leaked text. However, the added layers can be uncovered by placing such texts in the context of the politics and interests of the involved political players.

A person’s perspective matters a lot for this reason. For example, a leak could suggest that, “Iran is a threat to regional stability and the Arab nations fear its nuclear capabilities.” Now, this message may mean one thing to a devoted FOX News follower and another to the one critical of the American hegemonic ambitions and support to the status-quo regimes of the Middle East. Hence, the interpretation and value of such a statement depends on the perspective with which people judge it and how critically informed are those perspectives.
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01

12 2010

Prioritizing Boycott: The Right Side of History

The recent attacks by Israel on the humanitarian Flotilla is yet another signal for us, as Muslims and citizens of the United States, to hold the Israeli regime accountable for its reckless and illegal behavior. Israel has consistently prevented aid from entering Gaza, including medical supplies, cement and food. Consequently, the three-year old blockade has turned Gaza into the world’s largest “open air prison,” with an entire population being slowly starved and deprived of the most basic of necessities.

The simple yet tragic truth is that Israel acts with such disregard because of the international community’s failure to hold it responsible for its ongoing occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people.  But that is slowly changing as more and more people around the globe have begun to question Israel’s policies, with an increasing number taking more active roles and joining local solidarity movements.

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16

08 2010