Saturday, April 28, 2007

Islamists try to shout down the majority

From Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury in Bangladesh:

Intolerant are the Islamist radicals. They don't want anyone to raise voice and say -enough to the increasing trend of spreading religious hatred and provoking people with the false interpretations of Koran, saying "Jews and Christians are your enemies, go for jihad (holy war) against them". When the Islamofascist clerics openly give sermons saying, "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people", Islamic scholars like Imam Sheikh Abdul Haadi Palazzi, terming the interpretation of this verse of Koran said, "This quotation is based on a false translation, since the word "Awliya'", does not mean "friends", but rather "tutors". A correct translation is "O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for tutors. They are respectively tutors to each other. And whoso among you takes them for tutors is indeed one of them. Verily Allah guides not the unjust people".

The verse refers to a time when Islam was developing, and is an appeal to avoid considering it as a sort of sub-sect depending on Judaism or Christianity. "Do not take as tutors" means "Do not depend on them for your understanding of religion, for guidance in theology and ethics, etc." Apart from this, Islam surely does not forbid friendship between Muslims and non-Muslims, to the point that a Muslim man can take a Jewish or a Christian woman as his wife and mother of his children.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lebanon: We know who murdered Ziyad Qabalan and Ziyad Ghandour

The Murderers' Address is Known: Inside Lebanon's Militia Safe Havens and Mini-States
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Chairman

27 April/207

The hands of crime and hate that today killed in Lebanon the young men Ziyad Qabalan and Ziyad Ghandour are the hands of treachery, fundamentalism and terrorism. The same hands that are drenched in the blood of the innocent, the proud and the believers in sovereignty among our people. The same hands which, over the decades of the wars of others on Lebanon, targeted all our martyrs among the politicians, journalists, activists and free citizens and members of the clergy.

May the two martyrs rest in peace in the company of those who preceded them, and we ask the Almighty to grant their families and friends all the virtues of patience and consolation and faith. Lebanon and all its honourable and free men were the target of this barbaric and savage crime which, if anything, shows the degree of abjectness and baseness to which the planners and perpetrators and those behind them have sunken.

The purpose behind this massacre crime is clear: To sow the seed of strife among the Lebanese communities and disseminate a state of security anarchy in the country, in order to obstruct the rise of a strong, unified, and legitimate State, a free, sovereign and independent State that is self-reliant on its own institutions and armed forces, and the elimination of the authority, weapons and influence of the militias and their mini-states and security zones, as well as their culture of hatred and violence, the rejection of others and their fundamentalism.

The responsibility for this crime and any ramifications that may ensue lies squarely on the leaders and politicians of the militias who are trying by force, blackmail and threats to prevent the State from spreading its legitimate authority with its own armed forces over every inch of Lebanese soil. They are the same ones who stand today in the way of implementing the international resolutions and the control of the borders with Syria to deny the smuggling of weapons and infiltrators into Lebanon.

We urge everyone to display patience and have faith, to remain committed to the Lebanese State and its legitimate institutions, and not be dragged into the trappings of internecine strife and infighting. We call on the security forces of the army and police to shoulder their responsibilities and uncover the criminals and hand them over to justice. We from the Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC) strongly condemn this crime and join our voice to those who rely on the Almighty to guide us on the right path.

*Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
LCCC Web Site

CLHRF Website


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Al-Jazeerza Confab Draws a Minyan of Jews

It's a shame that no Israeli journalists were invited, or chose to attend, the Al-Jazeera forum. (Though imagine the fun for an Israeli to try to get a visa to Doha.) Still, the presence of Jewish journalists is at least a start towards ending the anti-Jewish diatribes that fill, say, much of the official Palestinian media. I did not know that Al-Jazeera's English version had so many subscribers in English!--Wendy in Washington

Doha, Qatar - Some participants at the third-annual forum of the Arab satellite network Al Jazeera were sorry they didn't bring matzo with them — had they known how many fellow Jews were attending the media conference, they would have made a Passover Seder.

Ethan Zuckerman, whose wife is a Reform rabbi, said that he had originally planned to hold a Seder in Doha. "I told my wife, and she wrote me a two-page Haggadah," he said, shortly after speaking on a panel on Internet and the media. "But I didn't bring the matzo."

The Jewish participants were by no means relegated to the sidelines.


The relatively high number of Jewish academics, journalists and media experts who attended the event stood in stark contrast to the view in some circles that the network is anti-Jewish and anti-Western. Some critics have gone so far to brand it "Osama Bin-Laden's TV Network," a name which Al Jazeera executives say comes from the Bush administration and conservative American television commentators.

The general atmosphere at the event was open and friendly among Arab and Western participants. "If there is any antisemitism lurking around here, it hasn't been directed at me," said Danny Schechter in a heavy New York accent. "They make a distinction between U.S. or Israeli policy and religion."

Schechter, vice president of Globalvision, a documentary film production company, said that he attended the event because "in the post-9/11 world it is imperative to understand what people think and this forum provides the opportunity to mingle, discuss and even to get into arguments."

Like many other participants, his main criticisms were that few women participated and panel discussions were not engaging enough. Indeed, whether dressed in sharp suits and ties or starched white floor-length dishdashas and white head coverings, the well-heeled forum panelists mostly agreed with each other. If anything, it appeared that some of the Al Jazeera moderators were avoiding conflict.

Several of the top employees at the network's English operation are Jewish: [David] Marash and his wife Amy work in the Washington bureau with an Israeli-American producer, and former BBC journalist Tim Sebastian moderates the televised monthly Doha Debates.

Al Jazeera has been harshly criticized in the West for providing airtime to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, but it notes that American networks borrowed that material. It was also the first Arabic network to give Israelis air time. "Al Jazeera was seriously attacked by Arabs — Islamist, nationalist, and even governments like Saudi Arabia — for inviting Israeli journalists and government officials to present their point of view," Atwan said.

Despite the network's declared dedication to openness, not one member of the Israeli media was present at the forum, even though the Israeli YES satellite carrier pushed BBC Prime off air to make room for Al Jazeera English, which already boasts of having 500,000 homes viewing in Israel. The absence of Israelis was particularly noticeable given the theme of this year's event: "Media and the Middle East, Beyond the Headlines."

"I don't know the reasons no Israeli journalists attended, but I think there is a general attitude of talking about peace with Israel but not talking to Israel," said Yoav Stern, the Arab Affairs correspondent of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

"I think it's a pity," said Stern, who is frequently interviewed in Arabic on Al Jazeera. "I know that Al Jazeera specifically can make pioneering decisions in this regard, because it has credibility and trust from its viewers."

Full text in the Forward, at:

UPI: Israel Boycott "Absurd"

I'm uncomfortable with all the anonymous sources in this article, about the fruitlessness and stupidity of the Arab boycott of Israel. But I'm even more annoyed that people are still too frightened to tell the truth using their own names!
--Wendy Leibowitz

DAMASCUS, Syria April 23 (UPI) -- The Arabs set up an organization decades ago to boycott Israel to isolate the Jewish state, but the effectiveness of the boycott dwindles by the year.

Sources close to a four-day meeting that opened in Damascus Monday are describing the conference's agenda as "ridiculous" in the wake of pressure on Arabs to abandon "the weapon of the boycott."

The sources told United Press International on condition of anonymity the "absurdity" of the agenda was a reflection of the pressures placed on the Arab countries by Western powers led by the United States.

"The participating Arab countries in the conference are like someone drowning and trying to prove he is still alive, especially after previous meetings have failed in imposing a ban on multinational firms" dealing with Israel, one source said.

The Central Arab Boycott Office was established by the 22-member Arab League in 1951, three years after the state of Israel was established in part of Palestine, to boycott Israeli products and international firms working with Israel. But the effectiveness of the boycott on the Israeli economy began to dwindle in the early 1990s after the Middle East peace process was launched.

Officials said 14 Arab countries were taking part in the current meeting, with Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania absent, having reached peace agreements with Israel. They complained the West, particularly the United States, has been pressing the Arabs to abandon the boycott on the grounds that it is counterproductive to the peace process, now frozen for several years.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bangladesh: a new Jihadist center

Bangladesh is becoming a new center for Islamist extremism, according to this article by Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury:
Incidents of extremism and terrorism have witnessed a sharp increase in Bangladesh in recent years, with the number of attacks last year exceeding the total number of incidents in the preceding five years. Most of the attacks have been directed against religious minorities, secular intellectuals and journalists as well as against politicians belonging to secular parties and leftist activists. Islamist extremists have sought to impose an Islamic way of life on people in rural areas, often through the use of force. Women have been coerced into veiling themselves and men have been forced to grow beards and wear skull caps.
According to terrorism experts and several analysts, Bangladesh is increasingly recognized as the locus of a significant and expanding threat emanating from radicalized Islamist extremist mobilization and its systematic transformation into political and terrorist violence. Notwithstanding vociferous official denials, it has, for some time now, been an established staging post for terrorism within the region, and is seen as a potential center of Islamist consolidation for the "global jihad" as well.
Worse, these processes are rooted in an entrenched political dynamic that has progressively diminished the space for secular or moderate politics in the country. Given the polarization and extreme hostility between the two dominant political parties in Bangladesh, and the near complete split down the middle in voting patterns, the Islamist parties have become central to the processes of government formation in the country, and have gradually expanded their political presence as well. These trends have been compounded further by the combination of religious mobilization, intimidation and extremist violence that these radical parties and their armed allies engage in, as well as their very wide and expanding presence in the social sector, particularly education. Given these broad trends, the scope for any reversal of the Islamist extremist consolidation in Bangladesh has shrunk progressively.
Salahuddin should know, because he has been warning about this trend for several years, and is living in a nightmare of legal persecution because of his warnings.
Ami Isseroff  

Hamas attack was a cover for kidnap attempt

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A rocket and mortar attack carried out Tuesday morning by the armed wing of Hamas was a cover for an attempt to kidnap an Israeli soldier, Israeli military sources told CNN.

Hamas' militant wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on its Web site -- the first attack since a shaky truce with Israel took effect five months ago.

The group's spokesman, Abu Obeida, promised "a cruel and painful response to any aggression in the Strip [Gaza]" and said in the statement, "we want to remind Zionist forces that we still hold Gilad Shalit and we are still prepared to kidnap others."
Any excuse to damage Israel is good for the criminal Hamas. Lies are usually told to justify the unjustifiable.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Hamas fireworks for Israel Independence day

In honor of Israel's Independence day, Hamas claims they fired about 40 rockets into into Israel, breaking the "truce." Israeli sources say that about two rockets and six mortar shells actually landed in Israel.  This is not much different from what has been happening until now, except that Hamas now claims credit for it.
Hamas broke the truce after Israel killed 9 Palestinians in Gaza. Israel killed 9 Palestinains in Gaza however, because they were firing rockets on Israel.
It was a day like all days: IDF discovered and detonated 20 kilos of explosives in the West Bank. In Gaza, Palestinians killed a twelve year old caught in cross-fire and a few others were injured when a bomb they were making went off. "Do not try this stunt in your home."
Meanwhile, IDF also arrested a good number of fugitives in the West Bank. Another Independence Day...
Ami Isseroff

Monday, April 23, 2007

NUJ Boycott: "Neither Balanced Nor Fair"

Curiouser and Curiouser

The Guardian newspaper of Britain, which is usually knee-jerk anti-Israel, with an emphasis on "jerk," came out with an editorial criticizing the National Union of Journalists' recent decision to boycott Israel, calling it "a curious business." Indeed, it is curious to lash out at Israel a time when a Palestinian organization is holding British journalist Alan Johnon hostage. Ignoring his fate is part of what unions do as a reluctance to criticize "the Palestinian occupied and oppressed." It is also curious that British journalists in Israel are ignoring the boycott, and there are no signs that anyone will obey or enforce the boycott in any way.

But it's even "curiouser," as Alice in Wonderland might say, that the Guardian criticized the union's action, and that the action might be withdrawn. Perhaps cracks are starting to appear in the relentless anti-Israel rhetoric, that does nothing to help the Palestinians, and a lot to demonize those calling for a boycott of the only country in the region with anything approaching a free press. --Wendy Leibowitz

Neither balanced nor fair

Friday April 20, 2007
The Guardian

The decision of the National Union of Journalists to urge a boycott against Israel is a curious business. The union - currently celebrating its centenary - has a decent enough record of defending press freedom in this country and abroad. At its annual delegate meeting last week it debated a strong resolution condemning the apparent kidnapping of the BBC Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, as well as other motions about the threats to journalists in Ethiopia, Russia and Zimbabwe. Such declarations of concern matter. All recent surveys of journalism around the world show that, in virtually every region, there are determined attempts to suppress the fundamental right to report news; at least 100 journalists died in the course of their work last year. The voice of journalists in Britain deserves to make itself heard and to be taken seriously.

How seriously can one take the same conference's decision (with 66 votes in favour and 54 against) to pass a resolution urging the boycott of all Israeli goods in protest at that country's "savage pre-planned attack on Lebanon"? If it were press freedom in the Middle East that truly concerned delegates, Israel - which has a comparatively open and robust domestic press - would hardly be the obvious starting point. One might, for example, rather focus on Iran, Libya or Syria. If, on the other hand, the journalists' union prefers to busy itself with individual governments' foreign policies then, again, there is no shortage of unsavoury regimes around the world which might merit some form of consumer boycott.

There are a number of reasons why the NUJ boycott motion was misguided - and the exceptionalism of focusing on Israel and its foreign policy is certainly one of them. But there are equally troubling editorial aspects to a motion which strays beyond the reasonable and traditional concerns of a journalists' union. All reporters covering the Israel-Palestine story know that every single word they write will be weighed and scrutinised by both sides for fairness, balance, accuracy, sourcing and general integrity.

This is perhaps the most complex, long-running and intractable international dispute in the world. It is likely that a majority of British journalists covering the story are members of the NUJ. It is doubtful that many of them will have welcomed a motion which will inevitably be seen by some as casting doubts on whether they can truly approach their work in a spirit of fairness and distinterested inquiry. In a statement this week the union's general secretary, Jeremy Dear, pointedly said that it was open to union members to seek to overturn the decision. They would be well advised to do so.

April 20, 2007 4:12 AM
Why should anyone suggest boycotting Israel rather than Syria, Libya or Iran ? Which of the four countries named have not bombed another country, invaded another country, and are not involved in the military occupation of another country ?

If the members of the NUJ feel that this call for a boycott of Israeli goods balances their criticism of the Zimbabwe situation or might help free the BBC's Gaza reporter, for example, I wish them luck and I do hope that it would produce the desired results.

One wonders, though, how this boycott would be practiced by those members operating in Israel. I see a bright future for various international freight companies, working busily to sustain and airlift providing ``kosher'' (not the best of terms) goods for the observing members.

It is exactly this sort of fatuity that brings unions into disrepute - gesture politics at its very worst. An empty gesture at that.

April 20, 2007 8:43 AM
Just when I had thought that I had correctly classified The Guardian as a radical left anti-Israel publication, they turn my opinion upside down with an admirable piece such as this. I wish we could read more items like this that provide The Guardian's readers with a better opportunity to form their own opinions about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, rather than being continually fed pro-Palestinian propaganda.

Contrary to what most Gaurdian readers are led to believe, there are two sides to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and readers are entitled to hear the Israel side sometimes too. They are at least entitled to occasionally hear an unbiased and balanced view (neither Palestinian nor Israeli) such as the one expressed in today's Guardian Leader article.

So, is the sun rising in The Guardian at long last?


April 20, 2007 9:02 AM
This exceedingly stupid NUJ decision has another unwelcome effect. We need foreign journalists in conflict zones to report excesses, human right abuses, all the terrible aspects that accompany conflict. Certainly, we need such reporting from Israel and from Palestine. Yet, to be believed, to maintain basic reliability, reporters must exhibit essential impartiality and professionalism. Boycotting one side to a conflict exhibits neither.

Next time a British journalist reports on excesses of occupation, he or she will be open to the allegation of belonging to a trade union whose official policy is biased against Israel. Whether they are right or wrong, they will be dismissed out of hand. And this proves, if any further proof was ever needed, why knee-jerk postures have an ultimate effect in defiance of their avowed intention.

More comments at,,2061803,00.html

NUJ Insults our intelligence, claims boycott of Israel will not affect reporting

NUJ Boycott Explanation: Boycott Israel because Palestinians Kidnap Reporter

Below is the entire text of a reply sent by the UK National Union of Journalists regarding their recent vote to boycott Israeli goods. The people who prepared this statement do not, apparently, grasp the full illogic of this paragraph:

The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting.

Previously I had pointed out the perversity of punishing Israel because Palestinian terrorists kidnapped a British reporter. It seems that is exactly what these people want to do!! The equivalent approximately, would be if a British union in World War II had published a resolution condemning Poland for the Blitzkreig.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Arafat's Swiss Bank Account

Let's review some recent history, circa 2004, about the Palestinian Authority leadership's kleptocracy.

Arafat's Swiss Bank Account

by Issam Abu Issa
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2004

Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank, currently resides in Qatar. He is founder of the Palestinian National Coalition for Democracy and Independence, a Palestinian democratic reform movement.

Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are known internationally for the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. As ruinous as that violence has been, another cancer permeates Arafat's administration; its name is corruption. From firsthand experience, I understand just how deep it is. Here is what I know.

Full article:

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.