The reaction to Max Blumenthal’s two-part report into a few of the players behind the campaign for a U.S./NATO war on Syria has been remarkable to watch. A few observations are in order. First, there was absolutely nothing new in the report. The information Blumenthal detailed in English has been well-known to the Syrian intelligence community and widely reported in Syrian media. Second, had any or all of the factual assertions in Blumenthal’s report been made by a Syrian reporter, journalist or activist (and they have) they would have been, at best, disregarded. A Syrian reporting the same information is attacked or dismissed as an “Assad shill” or “shabih” (Blumenthal has spent the last five years doing exactly that), but when reported by a white guy in America it becomes investigative journalism.
There is a reason Palestinian-American Zionist Ray Hanania is known as the dumbest Arab in North America, and lest anyone attempt to unseat him from that position, he regularly adds to his stupidity. In his latest effort to maintain a safe distance between himself and any potential challengers Ray is calling on Palestinians under occupation in Palestine 48 to form a peaceful Civil Rights movement to confront ethnic cleansing, colonialism and occupation:
“THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY IS NO DIFFERENT THAN THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF PALESTINIANS LIVING IN ISRAEL AND UNDER OCCUPATION. BUT WHAT PALESTINIANS NEED IS A CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT THAT IS TRULY DRIVEN BY PEACEFUL PROTEST AND THAT CAN HELP RESTRAIN THE URGE TO VENGEANCE AND REVENGE.”
This is a totally absurd statement, and if, by any stretch of the imagination, one manages to come up with parallels between the two struggles, they would be so generalized and decontextualized to render them utterly meaningless. Statements are not merely a collection of words. They convey meaning and provide the structure within which we understand the subject matter. The struggle in Palestine is not a Civil Rights struggle and the language of Civil Rights is misleading and distorts the ongoing 68-year old Palestinian Nakba.
When Hezbollah was determined to liberate southern Lebanon they weren’t waiting for an American political miracle to do it for them they did it themselves. They finally rose up and took what was there’s. We have a few examples of Arab liberation from Algeria and so on. I want some Arabs particularly in the west to stop feeling this apathy and stop having such colonized minds. Don’t settle for crumbs and false hope. Start believing in yourself and your people and believe that you are more worthy than whatever “solution” is thrown your way. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You don’t have to accept temporary lip service or a trend that’s giving you a “glimmer of hope.” No one is going to give us anything. Spare me the crumbs, spare me the “what choice do we have?” Did Malcolm X give in? Did Martin Luther King give in? Some of you quote these great leaders without understanding their message. Don’t be afraid to want what’s yours and to claim it without any reservation. As a Palestinian you don’t have to apologize to anyone about demanding your full inalienable rights. I know I won’t.
The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-of-the-Month Award for October, 2014 goes to the Arab-American National Museum (AANM). The AANM in Dearborn, Michigan describes itself as “the first and only museum in the United States devoted to Arab American history and culture.” Ikhras recently visited the AANM and confirmed the following. At the head of the museum’s main staircase is an interactive map of the Arab World. Across that map where one should see Palestine instead has the outline of “Israel” represented within the “Green Line”, the demarcation lines established by the 1949 armistice agreements between the newly established Zionist entity and the surrounding Arab states. That in and of itself would be enough to earn the AANM the prestigious ikhras “Shoe-Of-The-Month” Award, as the usurping Zionist squatter state has no moral or legal right to exist. However, AANM one-upped itself in a statement from its official Twitter account when ikhras editors called out this glaring offense:
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell.
After recently publishing the 10 Ikhras talking points on Palestine for Arab-Americans we received an enormous amount of feedback and questions. Talking point #8, in particular, “Religion: A Distractor And An Opportunity”, was a subject of great interest and led to many questions and inquiries. This is not surprising given the currently dominant, but false, religious framing of the conflict in Palestine in public discourse and the continued exploitation of popular religious mythology in Zionist propaganda narratives. In addition, the religious right within the US Muslim (Palestinian, Arab and non-Arabs alike) community and its counterproductive role in Palestine solidarity activism has further reinforced the Zionist claim system by repeating essentially the Jewish Zionist narrative as if historical while overlaying Muslim titles on the characters. It is essential for Palestine solidarity activists to be informed about the ancient history of Palestine, the abuse of religion by advocates of the Zionist colonial project, and the adoption of self-colonizing myths by members of our own community. In order to effectively dispel the religious myths exploited by Zionism, informed activists will be addressing myths common to all three monotheistic religions. This must be done without catering to the religious sensitivities of any faith group, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. To help confront and effectively respond to this abuse of religion in furtherance of the Zionist colonial project, ikhras is publishing this primer on the topic of religion and Palestine for activists. We are also providing a list of books for further reading on various aspects of the ancient and modern history of Palestine. Before Zionism appropriated the land it sought to appropriate its ancient past. The struggle for the liberation of Palestine begins by reclaiming our history and heritage. This contribution comes in response to the many inquiries and questions ikhras has received on the subject. It is our sincere hope that it helps cast aside self-colonizing mythologies, generates real knowledge, and empowers Palestinian, Arab, and all Palestine solidarity activists.
[Ikhras Editors Note: The 10 talking points on Palestine for Arab-Americans were first published on August 25, 2014 just two days before Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza was coming to an end with the announcement of an open-ended-cease-fire between the Zionist occupation regime and the Palestinian resistance forces. The ikhras talking points were received with great approval. In addition to the positive feedback we also received constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. As a result the following talking points were updated and republished September 4, 2014.]
California State University Political Science Professor As’ad Abukhalil recently shared (originally in Arabic on Facebook but subsequently translated and published on his Angry Arab blog in English) his “Tips for Arabs About Speaking (about Palestine) to Western audiences.” We highly recommend Arab-Americans study it. We at ikhras have formulated a comprehensive set of ten talking points on Palestine that Arab-Americans will also find helpful. They would be most effective when used in conjunction with Professor Abukhalil’s recommended preparation and presentation style and methods. Undoubtedly there will be those who will not use these talking points because they offend the sensibilities of the US political class and fall outside the strictly defined parameters of acceptable public discourse on Palestine. To those people unwilling to challenge the dominant and rigid narrative that prevails in the US and are more concerned with garnering mainstream acceptance than speaking truthfully and forcefully, you have already rendered yourself useless before uttering a single word. You cannot be an effective advocate on behalf of the Palestine cause unless you’re willing to challenge the false assumptions and lies about the Zionist settler-colonial entity and the supposedly virtuous US imperial project that undergirds it. If you’re unwilling to do so it’s preferable to just ikhras rather than join the mealy-mouthed blathering which serves only to reinforce false narratives and assumptions. Remember, you don’t have to talk about Palestine, but should you choose to do so, these talking points will help you do it properly.
The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe of the Month for March, 2013 is Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr. Nasr is receiving this coveted award for an article she wrote titled “What the city of Haifa taught me.” The article first appeared in Arabic in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Nahar, and the English version appeared the next day on the website of the Saudi family news channel Al-Arabiya.
Nasr begins her article reminiscing about the “countless stories about Haifa’s golden days pre-1948.” The reader can almost detect a mocking undertone, as if life in pre-Nakba Haifa was not quite as “Golden” as relayed by the Palestinian refugees she encountered growing up in Lebanon, or was at least only part of the story of Haifa. Sure enough Nasr then goes on to share her awakening:
As part of an effort to construct and promulgate a public relations narrative in preparation for Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East, the White House summoned a group of Arab-American “leaders” to a meeting. Overcome by the lure of being invited to the White House and being part of the mainstream these groups and individuals sacrifice intellectual honesty and personal integrity while adopting all the false pretenses of the American imperial project.
Barack Obama met with several so called leaders and organizations that allegedly represent Arab and Muslim Americans ahead of his visit to occupied Palestine. The “Arab-American” groups that attended the meeting were the same unrepresentative, Washington-based cliques that are usually called upon when American politicians need submissive token Arabs to perpetuate the fiction the US government is taking all views into consideration. The groups included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the two-man American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP), and James Zogby’s one-man shop, the Arab American Institute (AAI).
Ikhras is pleased to announce the winner of the Muntadhar Zaidi Shoe of the Month Award for March, 2012 is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. The well-known public activist, former candidate for the presidency of the collaborationist Palestinian National Authority, and head of the Palestine National Initiative earned the prestigious ikhras shoe award by traveling from occupied Ramallah to Washington, DC to attend J Street’s 2012 annual gala.
In the meantime ikhras will continue to express the views which any informed, objective observer of the Arab world will recognize represents 99.9% of Arab public opinion. Aside from a small clique of Arab-Americans in Washington with no connection to the Arab world, and the paid mouthpieces of authoritarian, illegitimate Arab regimes reliant on the imperialist powers to maintain their rule, the Arab people continue to reject the existence of Israel just as strongly as they did in 1948. There is near unanimous agreement and continued support for the three “No’s” of Khartoum: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” Arabs should have no qualms about openly saying they do not recognize Israel or that Israel has no right to exist. Our struggle is not against an occupation of a part of Palestine, the struggle is against the very existence of the Zionist colonial project on even one square kilometer of Palestine.
This article offers a reminder of what the struggle for Palestine is really all about, and reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of Arabs both within the Arab world and among Arab communities abroad including in the United States. One important point the article makes which we, for obvious reasons, found delightful was the call to not ignore those within our own community that advocate for “peace” and “normalization” with Israel. Although these defeatist and colonized minds remain no more than a handful of outcasts making it tempting to simply dismiss them, it is imperative, given the disproportionate attention they receive, as this article points out, to not ignore them. We at ikhras were thrilled to read this article as it goes directly to the ikhras mission which has always been to confront these debased, unrepresentative voices.]
Anti-Zionism in the 21st Century: the struggle continues.
London, (Pal Telegraph) – The essence of the Palestinian struggle is the battle against Zionism. It is a battle against its racism, against its murderous war crimes, against its insatiable territorial hunger, against its disdain for non-Jewish human rights, and against its devoted attempts to destroy Palestinian national identity. As voices of normalization are on the rise, and social media is invaded by paid pro-Zionist bloggers, there is an increased need for anti-Zionists to draw attention to the crimes committed by ‘Israel’, and to speak up against the ongoing media silence and the apologist activities of those misleadingly portraying themselves as ‘peace doves’.
The following is a petition and open letter to Mona Eltahawy. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/monaeltahawybds/ We call on all Pro-Palestine solidarity activists and supporters of the Egyptian revolution and the 2011 Arab uprising to read, sign and circulate this petition. (Arabic follows English)
Petition and Open Letter to Mona Eltahawy
While antiwar activists all over the world protest Tony Blair and demand that he face prosecution for war crimes, Ziad Asali and the American Task Force on Palestine beg to differ.
The American Task Force On Palestine issued a press release welcoming the resumption of the peace process charade. In addition to congratulating Obama on getting the negotiations “back on track”, the ATFP absurdly equates Palestinian suffering with Israeli suffering, and calls for Palestinains to take “concrete steps” to “instill mutual confidence”. We are not told which sort of measures taken by an occupied and brutalized population would be concrete enough to instil confidence in their occupier and colonizer.
The ATFP also believes that a US regime that sustains the Zionsit colonial regime and is complict in all of Israels crimes “has a crucial role to play in facilitating negotiations that will result in a successful outcome.” And according to the ATFP a “succesful outcome is an “independent Palestinian state to live side-by-side in peace with a secure Israel — within internationally recognized borders and with normal relations across the Middle East.” In other words, a few bantustans that the Israelis will generously allow the Palestinians to refer to as a state and the Arab world’s normalization with Zionism.
An announcement we received from the US Palestinian Community Network:
As the direct negotiations begin at the US State Department, it is critical that our voices are heard saying that the Authority does not speak for Palestinians and that we will not allow Palestinian national rights – particularly the right to return – to be bargained away.
Please join us at 9:00 AM – when the negotiations are scheduled to begin – on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010, outside the US State Department at 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We call on all Palestinians, Arabs and supporters in the D.C. area to join us to make a visible presence against these direct negotiations.
SEPT 2: PALESTINIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY REJECTS FUTILE NEGOTIATIONS IN WASHINGTON, DC
Palestinians in the United States say that renewed negotiations do not represent the will, or the rights, of the Palestinian people
Palestine is not for Sale
Protest and Press Conference by Palestinians in the United States to say “No” to Washington Negotiations
Outside the US State Department, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC
9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010
*Press contacts will be available in both English and Arabic.
On Thursday, September 2, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepare to meet in Washington, DC for a new round of direct negotiations, the Palestinian American community will convene at the State Department to demonstrate their support for Palestinian collective rights and reject the ongoing negotiations that marginalize and undermine them. The US Palestinian Community Network, a Palestinian community based organization with members and affiliates in over 20 states, says that these negotiations present a threat to Palestinian rights, including the right of return, and that the Palestinian Authority leadership has not represented the Palestinian people, especially the seven million Palestinians living in exile and throughout the diaspora.
Well before the expiration of its electoral mandate last year, the Palestinian Authority has not defended the rights of Palestinians to self-determination, equality, and return but instead has negotiated for little more than the ownership of disconnected Bantustans in the West Bank.
USPCN Coordinating Committee member, Monadel Herzallah comments, “The Palestinian Authority has failed to establish national unity, has failed to steadfastly demand the end of the Gaza blockade, has failed to dismantle the Annexation Wall. Rather than enter into direct negotiations with Israel–in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the flotilla massacre, and increasing aggression against Palestinian resistance, the Palestinian Authority should hold Israel to account by suing them in third party jurisdictions, raising their violations before UN treaty-making bodies, and supporting a grassroots international movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel. Refusing to do so and entering negotiations under duress affords Israel the veneer of diplomatic engagement as it continues to inflict structural violence and racism against all Palestinians the world over.”
Palestinians from Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. will gather outside the State Department to say that “Palestine is Not For Sale”, present a petition to the Palestinian leadership demanding they end these nonsensical negotiations, and declare that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority representatives cannot represent Palestinians, whom it has shunned throughout its leadership.