WARNING : This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of other and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Gaza March

Tuesday, December 29, 2009, 11:50 PM
Unless the majority of Jews and Muslims speak up, the evil men continue to do what works for their best interests. To be evil is to kill, or justify killing of another human. Neither Torah nor Qur’aan supports what Hamas or Israeli governments are doing, yet the inaction of Jews and Muslims is apalling. Both the books say, "to save a life is to save the whole humanity or to kill a life is like killing the whole humanity."
Mike Ghouse

Approximately 1,000 men and women from 42 different countries, including the drivers of the move, the CODE PINK organization are daring to cross the Rafah Border going into Gaza as we speak now at midnight US Central time. This includes four of our heroes, whom I know- Aishah Schwartz (on facebook), Col Ann Wright, Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker from Dallas Peace center. I salute them. It reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March, where thousands of men and women dared bullets and marched on, got beaten, but didn't get beat. http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2009/12/gaza-march.html

these events have moved me;
when Nelson Mandela was released,
when Berlin wall came down,
when Obama was inaugurated,
and now with thousand of brave souls daring to cross the Rafah border,
I salute them.

If we do not stand up for the injustices done to people, any people, our lives ain't worth the xhit.

I am proud of you Roger and Diane for taking the stand and I salute you. In another strand, Aishah Schwartz was told by the Egyptians to remove the black/white checkered scarf, what a shame, she is going to wear it and March on.God, please help the cruel men and women around the world to have a heart, to respect the life of a stranger, to honor otherness of other, help them understand the value of life, and find solutions for all of us to co-exist. Amen!

I am short of crying
I love you all.
Mike Ghouse
A few comments on the facebook, some are critical,
Please feel free to write another perspective on this issue:

Aishah Schwartz - Sorry to have to bring this sad update to you my dear friend; only 100 are being allowed to go...and even in this very minute organizers are trying to convince us not to go...it is a very trying moment in time...subhan'Allah...

Mike Ghouse Aishah, you are standing up for the right thing, don't give up, Justice is with you, the good Jews are with you, the good Muslims are with you and God is with you- with any one who seeks justice for humanity. We love you guys out there

Suzanna L Brown Thank you for posting this Mike .... May there be - eyes and hearts wide open... with compassion ..... Live Simply, that Others May Simply Live ~ Blessed Are the Peacemakers ... bless them all!

Paul Goldstein I always admire your fairness of approach, Mike. It's a special quality that you have, one that's seldom encountered in the writings of others.

Mike Ghouse Suzanna, Paul and others who are yet to voice their opinoins, each one of us bears the responsibility to contribute towards peace and security for every humans, at least our share of iti. Thanks for speaking up.

Louay Safi Thank you Mike for sharing your thoughts on this!
It is deeply troubling after a long march toward a world governed by universal principles to see increasing numbers of privileging religious identity over the rules of fairness and justice. It is indeed saddening to see the world move, on our watch, backward. I'm grateful that people of fairness and courage are still around to remind all of us of our moral obligations.

Brijmohan Sharma This problems needs resolution. At least now. Which problem needs resolution : Killing of human being in that area. And for this A letter signed by all of us need to be sent to all heads of state of all countries that killing of people should be stopped.. the problem otherwise needs a resolution through peaceful means. A good causse Mike, the brother and friend, you are leading. regards. drbmsharma.

Myrna Weinreich Mike, you're truly all love as always ? . Here is the latest about 100 people being let through.. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/12/egypt-hundred-activists-depart-to-gaza-1300-others-denied-trip.html

Mike Ghouse Myrna, thanks for joining the hearts of kindness, who value life, life of every one. By the way Col Ann Wright who is leading the march, was a major figure in Am-bush Army, who resigned in protest of the wrong doing. We are very proud of all who have the guts to stand up against wrong doing.

Myrna Weinreich Mike, what exactly are the goals of the gaza march..to stand up for justice and compassion for all peoples? Is there anything specific that they're marching for? It's confusing because its all so complicated. There's so much to worry about around the globe, all the suffering. But we are taught that worrying is useless, just being proactive is a good start. Haven't these wars and strifes been going on for centuries?

Mike Ghouse The Children and women in Gaza need access to medicine, food and water. The Phosphorous bombing is destroying the people out there, it needs to be handled.

I cannot forget the scene from Holocaust where the men and women were marched to chambers and the GD world did not do a thing about it. The helplessness on their faces has been painfully ingrained in my heart, and I don't want to be another good for nothing human, who cannot see the helplessness of another people enduring the suffering. There is absolutely no justification for this. The Gazans are marching and we need to give them a moral boost that the world is with them, that is the lease we can do.

I am glad you understand the pain and suffering of humans under seize. The world would be a better place, if we look to people as people. Let's do our share. The Marchers are doing their share of Good.

Myrna Weinreich Well said Mike!

Dallas Observer Blogs has this: http://fwix.com/dallas/article/fee5dcd814/local_activists_response_to_egypts_ban_on_gaza_march_were_going_anyway

My response to some interesting comments in the above blog, and I am responding to some of the comments from the readers from here and other places:- Neither the merciless bombing of Gaza is reflective of Jewish ethos nor do the Hamas rockets reflect Islamic values. The acts of Bush gang did not reflect the values of America and Americans either. It is wrong to label or punish the civilians for the acts of the gangsters. It is time we laser focus on the wrong doer and find solutions instead of keep pointing fingers endlessly.-

Hamas charter calls for wiping out Israel, where as Major Israeli leaders have been calling the Palestinians all kinds of names and talked about exterminating them like roaches much before Hamas came into being. Neither of them meant it and it is dumb to keep pointing at each other without pointing fingers at oneself.

It is a shame that the silent majority of Jews or Muslims do not speak up for the fear of retribution by the extremists among them. I am proud of these few Jews who have the guts to speak up despite the criticism they may get from the “few” bullies among the community. There are thousands of Rogers out there, it is good to see them standing for Jewish values of justice and being just.

I was at the Parliament of worlds Religions and there were a few Rabbis who were sticking their necks by standing up for Justice. Justice to them means Justice to humans and not taking care of one side. That is being Jewish and the same debate goes on among Muslims.

The problem is neither Jewish nor Muslim, it is the greed of the extremist who are scaring the devil out of the commoners and benefiting some where. It is the extremists who are causing the pain and ensuring insecurity to Jews and hopelessness to the Palestinians. Shame on those Jews or Muslims who justify Gaza Killings or Hamas rockets killing innocent Children. Our hearts and minds should not justify killings, we need to rise above that.

Unless the majority of Jews and Muslims speak up, the evil men continue to do what works for their best interests. To be Evil is to kill, support or justify killing of another human. Neither Torah nor Qur’aan supports what Hamas or Israelis are doing, yet the inaction of Jews and Muslims is shameful. Both the books say, "to save a life is to save the whole humanity or to kill a life is like killing the whole humanity.

"The real question for the majority is to ask themselves – Sustainable security with Justice to both the Palestinians or Israelis, or the powerful decides on a painful agonizing insecurity to be endured for generations to come.

Mike Ghouse~~~~~~~

Local Activists' Response to Egypt's Ban on Gaza March: We're Going Anyway
By Megan Feldman in News You Can Actually Use, Actually
Wed., Dec. 23 2009 @ 12:15PM

Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker of the Dallas Peace Center
On Tuesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry warned activists planning to march across its border into Gaza to mark the anniversary of last year's conflict that they'll be "dealt with by the law." But that isn't stopping Roger Kallenberg and five other North Texans from making the trip.

The hardship facing Gazan civilians because of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade is "a human rights crisis," says Kallenberg, a retired teacher and Dallas Peace Center board member who plans to record his visit to Gaza and show the footage upon his return. "My goal is to have the world and particularly the Israeli government see the impact of last year's war. We need to know what's happening and how the arms makers of North Texas are contributing to that."

The activists -- approximately 1,000 from 42 different countries -- plan to fly into Cairo and march to the border (the only one not controlled by Israel) to join tens of thousands of demonstrating Palestinians, hoping the Egyptian government will reverse course. One of the event organizers said in a press release that she told the Egyptians that they're aware of the dangers but are committed to going forward.

"We responded that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take," retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright said in the statement. "We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges." She also said that no delegation that entered Gaza in the past 12 months has received permission before arriving at the Rafah border, and that in many cases the Egyptian government changed its position.

Kallenberg plans to leave Dallas tomorrow and arrive in Cairo on the 27th, he says, and the group will set out the next day for the border. As the sole Jewish member of the North Texas group opposing the blockade and the conflict last year that killed more than 1,000 Palestinians, he claims he's been criticized by members of the local Jewish community.

"It's hard for them to even say Gaza. They say, 'So you're going to Israel?'" he says. "It's something they don't want to see, even though it's in front of them."

One reason he's making the trip is to "help the Dallas Jewish community understand what collective punishment looks like," he says, arguing that Israel's bombing was a disproportionately brutal response to Palestinian militants firing rockets into Israel. "How does dropping bombs and bulldozing houses reflect Jewish values?"

Diane Baker, a hospice chaplain and Dallas Peace Center board member who's also making the trip, steered clear of condemning Israel, saying she has held a lifelong hope that the two countries could create a lasting peace. "I hope to come back with stories of love and hope," she says.

Lon Burnam, a state representative and director of the Dallas Peace Center, emphasizes that during the holiday season, Palestinian children in Gaza are struggling to eat, and that he aims to hold local events in the coming weeks to raise awareness. "People are more concerned about what's stuffing their own stockings than about what's happening in the Holy Land," he says.

Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker of the Dallas Peace Center On Tuesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry warned activists planning to march across its border into Gaza to mark the anniversary of last year's conflict that they'll be dealt with by the law. But that isn't stopping Roger Kallenberg and five other North Texans from making... Read more


Why I want to march in Gaza
Pam Rasmussen, The Electronic Intifada, 23 December 2009 On 29 December, I will attempt to cross into the Gaza Strip along with 1,300 other peace and justice activists from 43 countries.


EGYPT: Activists barred from Gaza 'freedom march'

Local Activists' Response to Egypt's Ban on Gaza March: We're Going Anyway ...Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker of the Dallas Peace Center The hardship ...



Friday, October 30, 2009

Democrats’ Attacks on Goldstone

It is time for the majority of Israelis and Jews around the world to speak up. Their silence is signalling the evil men to continue to hurt the future of the Jewish people.

Shame on the congressmen and women and the Senators of the United States, don't they have the GD guts to speak their conscience, if they have one? Our arrogance has no limits, the world votes one way and we the other.

In the long haul, the biggest enemies of Israel are these greedy men and women who are letting Hawks of Israel get away from murders and massacres and compromise peace and security of Israel and the Palestine for a long time to come. Justice is the only thing that is sustainable, the short term (in terms of Jewish history) gains for bullying the congressmen and women and getting the US to veto the UN Security resolutions is going to hurt the Israelis common people. The idiots have been doing this for 60 years, it is time to wake up and speak up if not evil persists the Neocons.

Mike Ghouse

Democrats’ Attacks on Goldstone
by Stephen Zunes

The Obama administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress appear to be continuing the Bush administration policy of ignoring and denouncing those who have the temerity to report violations of international humanitarian law by the United States or its allies. The latest example can be seen in their reaction to the United Nations Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict, which was headed by the renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

Goldstone, who has had a longstanding reputation for fairness and objectivity and who previously led the war crimes prosecutions for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, is a Zionist Jew and a longtime supporter of Israel. He rejected the original mandate of the UN Human Rights Council that the investigation focus solely upon violations of human rights by Israel and successfully demanded that the investigation be expanded to examine the conduct by both sides of the conflict.

The Goldstone Commission report cited a number of violations of the laws of war by Hamas, including its rocket attacks on Israel, its torture of Palestinian opponents, and its continued holding of kidnapped Israeli solider Gilad Shalit. The report's criticism of Hamas would have likely been even longer and harsher had the Israeli government agreed to meet with the commission and allow its members to visit Israel.

What upset Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats was that the report also concluded that Israel's military assault on Gaza was "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate, and terrorize a civilian population," citing deadly attacks against schools, mosques, private homes, and businesses nowhere near legitimate military targets. These conclusions echo detailed empirical reports released in recent months by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, among others.

Rather than challenge the content of the meticulously documented 575-page report, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice responded to its release by noting that the United States had long had "very serious concerns" about the mandate the Human Rights Council gave to Goldstone, calling it "unbalanced, one-sided, and basically unacceptable," ignoring that the original mandate was superseded long ago by a balanced directive. Rice was particularly critical of the report's recommendation that those Palestinians and Israelis suspected of war crimes be tried before the International Criminal Court, arguing, "Our view is that we need to be focused on the future." Though Rice had argued just a few months earlier during a UN debate on Darfur that war crimes charges should never be sacrificed for political reasons, she reinforced Assistant Secretary of State Phillip Crowley's insistence that the Goldstone Commission report "should not be used as a mechanism to add impediments to getting back to the peace process."

In late September, Michael Posner, the new U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, noted, "We disagree sharply with many of the report's assessments and its recommendations, and believe it to be deeply flawed."

Sixteen Democrats joined fourteen Republicans in writing a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacking what they called a "biased report." The letter insisted that Israeli human rights abuses must not be taken up in international fora but—despite the Israeli government's long history of covering up war crimes by its armed forces—the Israeli government must be trusted to handle the matter internally. The signatories praised what they called "the extraordinary measures taken by the Israel Defense Forces to minimize civilian casualties," praised the State Department for publicly raising its significant concerns about the report, and called upon the Obama administration to "denounce the unbalanced nature of this investigation." The letter was signed by such leading Democratic senators as Charles Schumer (D-NY), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).

The Palestinian delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva proposed a resolution to have the UN Security Council endorse the report and its recommendations. However, Obama administration officials made clear they would veto any such resolution and successfully pressured the Palestinian delegation in Geneva to drop its initiative.

In short, while Goldstone recognizes that "the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence," the Obama administration's view is that holding human rights abusers accountable for their actions is somehow incompatible with working for peace.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Democrats were echoing their Republican counterparts in denouncing Goldstone and his commission's report. Rep. Elliot Engel of New York and Rep. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, senior Democratic members of the House Middle East subcommittee, issued a joint statement claiming the Goldstone Commission report was "biased against Israel." Ignoring the detailed evidence to the contrary, they insisted that "Israel took every reasonable step to avoid civilian casualties" and that "it is ridiculous to claim that Israel did not take appropriate actions to protect civilian populations." Even though the UN report—like those of Amnesty International and others—challenged the myth that Hamas fighters had used Palestinian civilians as human shields, Engel and Berkley still insisted that the report ignored "the true root of this problem -- Hamas terrorists who ... are willing to risk their own civilian populations -- even their own children."

Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, whom the Democrats have named the Middle East subcommittee chairman and vice-chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, misrepresented the report even more blatantly. He denounced it by claiming, "In the self-righteous fantasyland inhabited by the authors, there's no such thing as terrorism, there's no such thing as Hamas, [and] there's no such thing as legitimate self-defense." In reality, the report refers to "terrorism" (or "terror" or "terrorists") more than 100 times, mentions Hamas more than 400 times, and fails to challenge the dubious claim that Israel launched its war on Gaza in self-defense.

The real fantasyland, then, appears to be among congressional Democratic leaders and members of the Obama administration who are willing to ignore empirical evidence if it reflects unfavorably against Israel or other U.S. allies.

The problem is not one of being too "pro-Israel," since it is just such war crimes and other gross and systematic human rights abuses by the Israeli government that have resulted in the rise of extremist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah in the first place. The problem is that the Democratic leaders in Washington, like their Republican predecessors, recognize that popular concern for human rights can be an impediment to their militaristic agenda in the Middle East. As a result, they have joined the Republicans in a campaign to, in effect, kill the messenger: attack the United Nations, Amnesty International, or anyone else—journalist, scholar, activist, or one of the world's most respected jurists -- who puts forward credible evidence of human rights abuses by the United States or its allies.

Stephen Zunes (www.stephenzunes.org) is a professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern studies at the University of San Francisco, a senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, and a longtime contributing editor at Tikkun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gaza Children to Learn about Holocaust

A new initiative by the United Nations.

I have been writing about this topic for nearly twenty five years, that a few basics need to be addressed and understood by all the parties in the conflict.

Neither Israeli nor the Palestinian leadership has focused on the human aspect or even the religious aspect of the conflict. The majorities on both sides want peace, unfortunately the one's running the show are revenge seekers and perhaps believe that peace comes after revenging is done. I hope the new breed of leaders emerge who are equipped with a heart to see the endlessness to revenge and a mind to see the wisdom in peace making that brings security and prosperity to the next generation.

Jews have a need to be understood and be acknowledged for their eternal security needs, not the military, but mental security where they can put their guards down and live their life in peace.

Palestinians have a need to be understood. They have suffered immeasurably; no human should be stripped of his or her hope and dignity; hopes to have a family, work and own a house and call a place their homeland.

The following initiative by the United Nations must be lauded. The Palestinians need to understand the suffering of the Jews and I hope a similar initiative is taken where the Israelis watch the conditions of hopelessness that the people of Palestine endure. Peace is in the interest of both people and these initiatives must be encouraged where the sleeping empathies are awakened.

Mike Ghouse


Teach Gaza children about Holocaust, UN tells Hamas,
Donald Macintyre reveals controversial plans to include a Jewish tragedy in lessons for Palestinian children

Monday, 5 October 2009

Palestinian schoolchildren should learn about the Nazis' slaughter of Europe's Jewish population during the Second World War as part of a curriculum component based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UNRWA says

The United Nations' refugee agency is planning to include the Holocaust in a new human-rights curriculum for Gaza's secondary-school pupils, despite strident opposition to the idea from within Hamas.

John Ging, the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, told The Independent that he was "confident and determined" that the Holocaust would feature for the first time in a wide-ranging curriculum that is being drafted.

Mr Ging, a passionate advocate for Palestinian civilians in Gaza who has recently faced increasingly personal criticism and even threats by elements in the Islamic faction, added: "No human-rights curriculum is complete without the inclusion of the facts of the Holocaust, and its lessons."

The draft, to be completed within weeks and then put out for consultation with parents and the public, is built on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 in the shadow of what it called the "barbarous acts" committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

The one-time Irish Army officer has long been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy towards Gaza, including the conduct of last winter's lethal military offensive and what he described more than once in his interview as the "illegal siege".

Mr Ging said the curriculum would explain the genesis, and "inculcate the values" of the Universal Declaration which stipulates that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person". He pointed out that the UN General Assembly in 2005 unanimously urged "all countries to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to children so that we learn from history, so that we don't repeat history".

Although the UNRWA director strongly emphasised that the de facto Hamas government had not sought to interfere with the agency =96 which is responsible for the welfare of some 1 million Gaza refugees =96 other figures in the movement have angrily condemned the idea of including the Holocaust in any part of the curriculum. Yunis al Astal, a religious leader and a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said last month that it would be "marketing a lie" and a "war crime" to do so.

Mr Ging said the new curriculum would also include "tangible examples"
of other "blights and stains in human history". He added: "We want to succeed with the active support of the civilian population who want their children to be part of the civilised world and who have no interest in challenging globally accepted facts; no more than ... they start challenging whether the earth goes round the sun, or Hiroshima or Nagasaki, or the killing fields of Cambodia, or the ethnic cleansing of the Balkans, or the genocide in Rwanda, or apartheid in South Africa; or, for that matter, the Nakba." The last event on his list was the Palestinians' "day of catastrophe", the flight or forced expulsion of some 700,000 refugees in the 1948 war which saw the foundation of Israel.

He continued: "This is also part of the frustration here. There are so many global tragedies and travesties that are learned worldwide. Who learns about the Nakba? Again [that is] a very reasonable and legitimate demand but it's not 'either/or'; it's both."

Mr Ging added that UNRWA wanted to teach children that "those who fight for justice must fight with justice =96 lawful actions are the only way to prevail". "The children of Gaza need this more than children elsewhere, because their daily experience is not giving them the example they need to have," he said. He cited the struggles led by such figures as Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela who "eventually prevailed".

"We also want to teach them what he did when he prevailed," he explained. "He didn't seek retribution. He fought for human rights for all South Africans not just for black South Africans."
He added that the curriculum would also seek to demonstrate that war crimes, such as those in Rwanda and in the Balkans, can be punished by international law. "We are not seeking to transform the value system of the people of Gaza. We're seeking to protect the value system of the people of Gaza, and that's why the community will support us."

He argued that tackling the issue "would be so simple if we didn't have the illegality of the [Israeli-imposed] siege ... and the war and all the other illegalities that are the daily life of Palestinians here in Gaza", such as, "the fishermen not being allowed out to fish, sanitation not working, water being undrinkable, the private sector having lost all of the jobs and the dignity of work, students not being able to travel out of Gaza, sick people being trapped in Gaza.

"[It] is a seemingly endless list of travesty and injustice but we can't wait for those to be righted before we also do more to counter the effect of all that." Mr Ging said that the human-rights component in the existing curriculum had not been adequate to tackle topics of concern in Gaza, including the illegality of firing rockets, the issue of what constituted lawful resistance, and the effect of propaganda and "anti-Semitic rhetoric".

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan last night declined to comment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Israel Is Not for the Jews

Mr. Spencer writes that the problems and conflicts have begun since the Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948 and grudgingly acknowledges that the problem between Jews and Arabs is a phenomenon of 20th century and not in the past.

The conflict is about land and must be dealt as such. Those who have an interest in keeping the conflict going as it may ensure their existence, keep injecting religion into it? The problem is between the Arabs and Israelis and it should be handled based on justice, security and long terms sustainable peace for all.

To blame Islam or Judaism will not take any one further. Mr. Spencer, quit using the religion to aggravate the situation, instead find the scriptures to justify co-existence. Both the scriptures say to save a life is to save the whole humanity. Do Jews and Muslims believe in this? They do, it is the extremist Jews and Muslims that are the problem.

I hope we spend time on mitigating the conflicts and nurturing goodwill rather than aggravating it.

Mike Ghouse beleives peace makers are mitigators of conflicts and nurturers of goodwill. His views are listed on several blogs, which are all listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
# # #

The Qur'an: Israel Is Not for the Jews


Written by Robert Spencer - JihadWatch.org

Editors' preface: Who has rights to the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River? Zionists cite biblical passages in which God awarded them Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, in perpetuity in his covenant with the children of Israel. Muslims make a counter-claim based in part on verses of the Qur'an that describe the Jews in terms of contempt and in part on rulings in Muslim law that reject Muslims relinquishing rule over a territory under Muslim rule to nonbelievers. But other Muslims cite different Qur'anic verses in support of the Jewish claim. The conflict has a religious quality that makes it the more difficult to resolve.

The Middle East Quarterly commissioned two essays presenting different views of the Qur'an and its passages dealing with the Holy Land and Jews. The first author, Robert Spencer, argues that Islamic law has not recognized and will never recognize Jewish rights to this territory. In a second essay, Muhammad Al-Hussaini, a Muslim scholar, understands the text of the Qur'an to award the Holy Land to the Jews for all time, and he holds that Muslims can be convinced of this interpretation.

The status of Israel has become a pivotal issue in all talks about the Middle East. Israel's legitimacy rests, not just on United Nations resolutions or Zionist aspirations, but, for many, on Biblical narratives and the historical connections of Jews with the Holy Land. A minority of Muslims find justification for the Zionist enterprise equally in the Bible and the Qur'an and believe that the Qur'an offers divine sanction for the establishment of a Jewish state in southern Syria. However, the majority cite other Qur'anic verses and passages from the Hadith (purported records of the Prophet Muhammad's actions and sayings), stating the exact opposite. This second, negative attitude toward Jews is expressed in sacred texts and in the body of Shari'a (Islamic law) where Jews, like all non-Muslims, are assigned a status that does not permit their becoming rulers over Muslims or over Muslim territory.

Traditionally, this has not been an issue. Under the different Muslim empires, Jews were kept firmly in their place and represented no sort of threat to the ruling order. It is only in the modern period that this has become a burning issue. Thus, the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the British Mandate to modern Israel has been as much a religious as a political clash. The Arab onslaught of 1948 was religiously motivated, as is modern opposition to Israel by Islamist groups.

The Hamas charter asserts that "the Islamic Resistance Movement [i.e. Hamas] regards Palestine as an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future generations until Judgment Day." A waqf is a religious endowment bestowed by God. Consequently, "neither it, nor any part of it, should be squandered: Neither it, nor any part of it, should be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Muslim generations until Judgment Day."[1]

The charter is not unique: It represents a mainstream view among Muslims today. In contrast, several Muslim spokesmen have recently claimed that the Qur'an promises Israel to the Jews and that the claims of Hamas, Hezbollah, and allied groups are illegitimate on Islamic grounds. [2]

This is a comforting message, which some of these spokesmen have taken to Jewish audiences, reinforcing the idea that the Islamic jihad imperative against Israel is simply the province of a tiny minority of extremists and that the voices of reason, moderation, and Qur'anic authenticity will eventually prevail.

Muhammad al-Hussaini's Liberal Stance

Among these scholars is British-based imam Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hussaini, who asserts that early Muslim intellectuals recognized that Israel belonged to the Jews. "You will find very clearly that the traditional commentators from the eighth and ninth century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Koran to say explicitly that Eretz Yisrael [Heb. The Land of Israel] has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual convenant [sic]. There is no Islamic counterclaim to the Land anywhere in the traditional corpus of commentary."[3]

Although an extremely comforting message to supporters of Israel, it is not true and is based on a partial and inaccurate reading of the Qur'an.

Hussaini bases his argument primarily upon Qur'an 5:21 in which Moses declares: "O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers." [4] He then cites the classic Qur'an commentator Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), who explains that this statement is "a narrative from God ... concerning the saying of Moses ... to his community from among the children of Israel and his order to them according to the order of God to him, ordering them to enter the holy land."[5]

Tabari is not unique in this. Another respected Muslim exegete, Ibn Kathir (1301-73), says about Qur'an 5:21 that the Jews "were the best among the people of their time. ... God states next that Moses encouraged the children of Israel to perform jihad and enter Jerusalem, which was under their control during the time of their father Jacob. Jacob and his children later moved with his household to Egypt during the time of Prophet Joseph. His offspring remained in Egypt until their exodus with Moses. They found a mighty, strong people in Jerusalem who had previously taken it over. Moses, God's Messenger, ordered the children of Israel to enter Jerusalem and fight their enemy, and he promised them victory and triumph over the mighty people if they did so."[6]

But that is not the end of the story. Ibn Kathir then says that the Jews "declined, rebelled, and defied his order and were punished for forty years by being lost, wandering in the land, uncertain of where they should go. This was their punishment for defying God's command." In contrast, "The Muslim Ummah [community] is more respected and honored before God, and has a more perfect legislative code and system of life, it has the most honorable Prophet, the larger kingdom, more provisions, wealth and children, a larger domain and more lasting glory than the children of Israel."[7]

The idea that the "glory" of the children of Israel was not lasting explains why Hussaini's exegesis is incomplete. He quotes Tabari, saying that God wanted the children of Israel to enter the Holy Land but stops short at the rest of what the Qur'an says about them. But he argues that this promise is lasting, basing his comments on the nature of the Qur'an itself as understood in traditional Islamic theology: "It was never the case during the early period of Islam ... that there was any kind of sacerdotal attachment to Jerusalem as a territorial claim. Jerusalem is holy but Mount Sinai is more holy. Sinai is mentioned far more often, and Jerusalem isn't actually mentioned [in the Qur'an] by name."[8]

If this exegesis is correct, why does the Islamic world from Morocco to Indonesia manifest such hostility to Israel? Why have so few Muslims noticed that God wants the Jews to possess the Holy Land? One answer is that Hussaini's primary authority, Tabari, has more to say about the Jews. Qur'an 2:61 says of some Jews who rebelled against Moses that "abasement and poverty were pitched upon them, and they were laden with the burden of God's anger; that, because they had disbelieved the signs of God and slain the Prophets unrightfully; that, because they disobeyed, and were transgressors." Qur'an 9:29 directs Muslims to "[f]ight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden-such men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book-until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled." "Those who have been given the Book" is the Qur'anic term for Jews and Christians, and the tribute (jizya) is a poll tax levied upon the People of the Book in an Islamic state. Tabari discusses 2:61 in the context of 9:29, emphasizing that this tax was meant to be humiliating:

Abasement and poverty were imposed and laid down upon them, as when someone says "the imam imposed the poll tax (jizya) ... on non-Muslim subjects," or "The man imposed land tax on his slave," meaning thereby that he obliged him [to pay] it ... God commanded His believing servants not to give them [i.e., non-Muslims] security-as long as they continued to disbelieve in Him and his Messenger-unless they pay the poll tax to them.[9]

Conversion or Submission of Jews

The principle that Muslims must not give the Jews security unless they convert to Islam or pay the jizya directly contradicts Hussaini's assertion that they were to possess the land forever. A people that may never have security unless it converts or submits to the rule of others cannot have a land to rule by itself. The idea that "good Jews" are those who convert to Islam is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition. In the 1970s, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, currently the grand sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University and the leading authority for Sunni Muslims today, wrote a 700-page treatise, Jews in the Qur'an and the Traditions, in which he concluded:
[The] Qur'an describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people's wealth frivolously, refusing to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness ... only a minority of the Jews keep their word. ... [A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims, the bad ones do not.[10]

The Jews and Christians who do not believe in Muhammad as a prophet will find that "shame is pitched over them (like a tent) wherever they are found, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah and from men." [11] This probably refers to the dhimma, the contract of protection under which Jews and Christians live as subject peoples under Islamic rule. However, even if one understands it to refer to the covenant that God made with the Jews to give them the Land of Israel, the Qur'an also says that they broke their contract:

So for their breaking their compact we cursed them and made their hearts hard, they perverted words from their meanings; and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of; and thou wilt never cease to light upon some act of treachery on their part, except a few of them. Yet pardon them, and forgive; surely God loves the good-doers.[12]

Being thus accursed, the Jews are not the legitimate heirs of the promise made in Qur'an 5:21. The true heirs are those who have remained faithful to God (i.e., the Muslims), not those whom he has cursed (i.e., the Jews). Even this is not the full extent of Qur'anic anti-Semitism. The Muslim holy book contains many passages that form the foundation for hatred of Jews that exists independently of the actions of contemporary Jews or the State of Israel. The Qur'an portrays the Jews as the craftiest, most persistent, and most implacable enemies of the Muslims.
The Qur'an is supplemented by the Hadith, purported records of the Prophet Muhammad's actions and sayings. Some hadith predict that at the end of the world, in the words of Ibn Kathir, "the Jews will support the Dajjal (false messiah), and the Muslims, along with 'Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews." [13] The idea that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from Muhammad himself, who said, according to a hadith, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'"[14]

This hadith is a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists. On March 30, 2007, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said on Palestinian Authority television:

The Hour [resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the rock and the tree will say: "Oh, Muslim, servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!

Continuation of Qur'anic Anti-Semitism

A vivid illustration of the Qur'an's enmity toward the Jews and how contemporary Islamic spokesmen echo it, came in 2004 from Islam Online, a website founded by the internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Although Qaradawi has won praise from Islamic studies professor John Esposito for engaging in a "reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism, and human rights," that reformist impulse does not carry over to Qaradawi's view of Jews (he has justified suicide bombings against Israeli civilians), or the anti-Semitism he has allowed to be published on Islam Online.[15]

In 2004, the site posted an article entitled, "Jews as Depicted in the Qur'an," in which Sheikh 'Atiyah Saqr, former head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar University and Seminary in Cairo, depicts Jews in a chillingly negative light, illustrated with quotations from the Qur'an. [16] Among other charges he levels at the Jews, Saqr says that they "used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to God"; they "love to listen to lies"; they disobey God and ignore his commands; they wish "evil for people" and try to "mislead them"; and they "feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity."[17]

Though he offers many examples of the alleged evil traits of the Jews supported by the Qur'an, Saqr does not mention the notorious Qur'anic passages that depict an angry God transforming Jews into apes and pigs. The first of these depicts God telling the Jews who "transgressed the Sabbath ... Be you apes, miserably slinking!" It goes on to say that these accursed ones serve "as a punishment exemplary for all the former times and for the latter."[18]

The implication is that today's Jews are bestial in character and are the enemies of God, just as the Sabbath-breakers were. Tantawi has called Jews "the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs." [19] Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, has said in a sermon that Jews are "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."[20]

Yet Hussaini actually asserts that the Muslims who oppose his perspective have no Qur'anic case, asserting that "no fundamentalist, no matter how hard they try, can overrule the existing tradition to say there is, in fact, an Islamic counterclaim to Eretz Yisrael." [21] The Qur'anic evidence above explains why mainstream Muslim voices and prominent Muslim leaders never invoke Qur'an 5:21 to argue that Muslims ought not to be waging jihad against Israel. This is simply not a mainstream view or one that most of those who are familiar with the totality of the Qur'an would ever advance. It gives Jews and all supporters of Israel hope, yes, but only a false hope.

Muslims can get beyond anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism only by forthrightly acknowledging that the Qur'an and Sunna do, indeed, teach that the Jews are accursed and are to be warred against. Muslims must explicitly formulate theological frameworks that reject literalism in this regard. To deny that the Qur'anic evidence actually says what it does, however, is only to allow the endemic and pandemic problem of Islamic anti-Semitism to continue unchallenged.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) (Regnery, 2005) and The Truth About Muhammad (Regnery, 2006).
[1] "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas)," Aug. 18, 1988.
[2] See, for example, Abdul Hadi Palazzi, "What the Qur'an Really Says," Viewpoint, Winter 1998; Jamie Glazov, "The Koran and the Jews," interview with Khaleel Mohammed, FrontPageMagazine.com, June 3, 2004.
[3] Simon Rocker, "What the Koran Says about the Land of Israel," The Jewish Chronicle, Mar. 19, 2009.
[4] All translations of the Qur'an from A.J. Arberry, ed., The Koran (London: Allen and Unwin, 1955, subsequently Oxford University Press).
[5] Rocker, "What the Koran Says about the Land of Israel."
[6] Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir (abridged), vol. 3 (London: Darussalam, 2000), pp. 142-3.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Rocker, "What the Koran Says about the Land of Israel."
[9] Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2008), p. 35.
[10] Ibid., p. 33.
[11] Qur'an 3:112.
[12] Qur'an 5:13.
[13] Muhammed Ibn Ismaiel al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari: The Translation of the Meanings, vol. 4, book 56, Muhammad M. Khan, trans. (Houston: Darussalam, 1997), no. 2925.
[14] Ibid.
[15] John Esposito, "Practice and Theory: A Response to 'Islam and the Challenge of Democracy,'" Boston Review, Apr./May 2003; "Al-Qaradawi full transcript," BBC News, July 8, 2004.
[16] Qur'an 3:75; 5:64; 3:181; 5:41; 5:13; 2:109; 3:120; 2:61; 2:74; 2:100; 59:13-4; 2:96; 2:79.
[17] Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Special Dispatch, no. 691, Apr. 6, 2004.
[18] Qur'an 2:63-6; 5:59-60; 7:166.
[19] MEMRI, Special Report, no. 11, Nov. 1, 2002.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Rocker, "What the Koran Says about the Land of Israel."
This article republished by gracious permission of The Middle East Quarterly
Robert Spencer
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2009, pp. 3-8
The Middle East Forum

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Obama, the time has come

[America has worked steadily and aggressively to advance the
cause of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- in which peace
and security take root, and the rights of both Israelis and
Palestinians are respected.... The time has come to re-launch
negotiations without preconditions.]

Obama at Cairo:

-- President Barack Obama at the United Nations, September 23,

Advocates for a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict know that achieving true peace is not now, nor has it
ever been, easy.

President Obama acknowledged this simple truth in his speech
before the United Nations, even as he pledged to "continue to
seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the
Arab world. He said: "I am not naive. I know this will be

This is an historic moment for American Jewish peace advocates,
a time to rally without hesitation around the cause in which we
believe and for which we have fought so long. Let us grab it.

Now we must follow President Obama's speech with bold steps of
our own. We must publicly support the President's efforts toward
negotiation, and help achieve the very peace that Israelis,
Palestinians, and three-quarters of Jewish-Americans say they

Since his inauguration, President Obama, Secretary of State
Clinton, and Mideast Envoy George Mitchell have invested
enormous energy and capital working, in the President's words,
"steadily and aggressively to advance the cause of two states."

Slowly, these efforts have begun to bear fruit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to shift the
Obama administration away from a focus on settlements and onto
an agenda of Palestinian economic progress, but the White House
hasn't budged. "We continue to emphasize," the President clearly
stated, "that America does not accept the legitimacy of
continued Israeli settlements."

Similarly, Obama has been adamant that the Palestinian Authority
increase security and restrain anti-Israel incitement. American
security teams working on the West Bank report a greatly
improved situation but, in the words of the President, more
progress is needed: "We continue to call on Palestinians to end
incitement against Israel."

President Obama spoke with much greater frankness at the U.N.
than we are accustomed to hearing from US Presidents. But, if
these frank words are not followed by firm action, they will
achieve nothing. If the world, American political movers and
shakers, and Israelis and Palestinians alike don't believe that
the President has our support, he will not have the political
space he needs to take that action.

If we truly believe what we say we believe -- that Israel's
security is best served by peace, and that only a two-state
solution will resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- then
we must see President Obama's speech at the UN as a call to

Those of us in the American Jewish community who have long
advocated for such a solution are right to feel heartened by the
President's vision and to recognize the role that we have played
in achieving this historic moment.

But our job has only just begun.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Obama caves in to Netanyahu

It is dead wrong to stereotype any group of people. There are an overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews that want peace, they get bulldozed by the insecure hawks like all majorities among Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and otherwise. Good people need to stand up and speak, if not the bad people will run the show to the detriment of every one, including themselves - Mike Ghouse

From Tikkun Magazine
The Drama and the Farce

Unwilling to challenge the Israel Lobby, Obama Caves to Netanyahu, according to Israeli Peace Movement leader Uri Avnery - 26.9.09

NO POINT denying it: in the first round of the match between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama was beaten.

Obama had demanded a freeze of all settlement activity, including East Jerusalem, as a condition for convening a tripartite summit meeting, in the wake of which accelerated peace negotiations were to start, leading to peace between two states – Israel and Palestine.

In the words of the ancient proverb, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Netanyahu has tripped Obama on his first step. The President of the United States has stumbled.

THE THREEFOLD summit did indeed take place. But instead of a shining achievement for the new American administration, we witnessed a humbling demonstration of weakness. After Obama was compelled to give up his demand for a settlement freeze, the meeting no longer had any content.

True, Mahmoud Abbas did come, after all. He was dragged there against his will. The poor man was unable to refuse the invitation from Obama, his only support. But he will pay a heavy price for this flight: the Palestinians, and the entire Arab world, have seen his weakness. And Obama, who had started his term with a ringing speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, now looks like a broken reed.

The Israeli peace movement has been dealt another painful blow. It had pinned its hopes on the steadfastness of the American president. Obama’s victory and the settlement freeze were to show the Israeli public that the refusal policy of Netanyahu was leading to disaster.

But Netanyahu has won, and in a big way. Not only did he survive, not only has he shown that he is no “sucker” (a word he uses all the time), he has proven to his people – and to the public at large – that there is nothing to fear: Obama is nothing but a paper tiger. The settlements can go on expanding without hindrance. Any negotiations that start, if they start at all, can go on until the coming of the Messiah. Nothing will come out of them.

For Netanyahu, the threat of peace has passed. At least for the time being.

IT IS difficult to understand how Obama allowed himself to get into this embarrassing situation.

Machiavelli taught that one should not challenge a lion unless one is able to kill him. And Netanyahu is not even a lion, just a fox.

Why did Obama insist on the settlement freeze – in itself a very reasonable demand – if he was unable to stand his ground? Or, in other words, if he was unable to impose it on Netanyahu?

Before entering into such a campaign, a statesman must weigh up the array of forces: What power is at my disposal? What forces are confronting me? How determined is the other side? What means am I ready to employ? How far am I prepared to go in using my power?

Obama has a host of able advisors, headed by Rahm Emanuel, whose Israeli origins (and name) were supposed to give him special insights. George Mitchell, a hard-nosed and experienced diplomat, was supposed to provide sober assessments. How did they all fail?

Logic would say that Obama, before entering the fray, should have decided which instruments of pressure to employ. The arsenal is inexhaustible – from a threat by the US not to shield the Israeli government with its veto in the Security Council, to delaying the next shipment of arms. In 1992 James Baker, George Bush Sr’s Secretary of State, threatened to withhold American guarantees for Israel’s loans abroad. That was enough to drag even Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid conference.

It seems that Obama was either unable or unwilling to exert such pressures, even secretly, even behind the scenes. This week he allowed the American navy to conduct major joint war-games with the Israeli Air Force.

Some people hoped that Obama would use the Goldstone report to exert pressure on Netanyahu. Just one hint that the US might not use its veto in the Security Council would have sown panic in Jerusalem. Instead, Washington published a statement on the report, dutifully toeing the Israeli propaganda line.

True, it is hard for the US to condemn war crimes that are so similar to those committed by its own soldiers. If Israeli commanders are put on trial in The Hague, American generals may be next in line. Until now, only the losers in wars were indicted. What will the world come to if those who remain in office are also accused?

THE INESCAPABLE conclusion is that Obama’s defeat is the outcome of a faulty assessment of the situation. His advisors, who are considered seasoned politicians, were wrong about the forces involved.

That has happened already in the crucial health insurance debate. The opposition is far stronger than anticipated by Obama’s people. In order to get out of this mess somehow, Obama needs the support of every senator and congressman he can lay his hands on. That automatically strengthens the position of the pro-Israel lobby, which already has immense influence in Congress.

The last thing that Obama needs at this moment is a declaration of war by AIPAC and Co. Netanyahu, an expert on domestic American politics, scented Obama’s weakness and exploited it.

Obama could do nothing but gnash his teeth and fold up.

That debacle is especially painful at this precise point in time. The impression is rapidly gaining ground that he is indeed an inspiring speaker with an uplifting message, but a weak politician, unable to turn his vision into reality. If this view of him firms up, it may cast a shadow over his whole term.

BUT IS Netanyahu’s policy wise from the Israeli point of view?
This may well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Obama will not disappear. He has three and a half years in office before him, and thereafter perhaps four more. That’s a lot of time to plan revenge for someone hurt and humiliated at a delicate moment, at the beginning of his term of office.

One cannot know, of course, what is happening in the depths of Obama’s heart and in the back of his mind. He is an introvert who keeps his cards close to his chest. His many years as a young black man in the United States have probably taught him to keep his feelings to himself.

He may draw the conclusion, in the footsteps of all his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower (except Father Bush during Baker’s short stint as hatchet man): Don’t Mess With Israel. With the help of its partners and servants in the US, it can cause grievous harm to any President.

But he may also draw the opposite conclusion: Wait for the right opportunity, when your standing in the domestic arena is solid, and pay Netanyahu back with interest. If that happens, Netanyahu’s air of victory may turn out to be premature.

IF I were asked for advice (not to worry, it won’t happen), I would tell him:

The forging of Israeli-Palestinian peace would mean a historic turnabout, a reversal of a 120 year old trend. That is not an easy operation, not to be undertaken lightly. It is not a matter for diplomats and secretaries. It demands a determined leader with a stout heart and a steady hand. If one is not ready for it, one should not even start.

An American President who wants to undertake such a role must formulate a clear and detailed peace plan, with a strict timetable, and be prepared to invest all his resources and all his political capital in its realization. Among other things, he must be ready to confront, face to face, the powerful pro-Israel lobby.

This will not succeed unless public opinion in Israel, Palestine, the Arab world, the United States and the whole world is thoroughly prepared well in advance. It will not succeed without an effective Israeli peace movement, without strong support from US public opinion, especially Jewish-American opinion, without a strong Palestinian leadership and without Arab unity.

At the appropriate moment, the President of the United States must come to Jerusalem and address the Israeli public from the Knesset rostrum, like Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter before him, as well as the Palestinian parliament, like President Bill Clinton.

I don’t know if Obama is the man. Some in the peace camp have already given up on him, which effectively means that they have despaired of peace as such. I am not ready for this. One battle rarely decides a war, and one mistake does not foretell the future. A lost battle can steel the loser, a mistake can teach a valuable lesson.

IN ONE of his essays, Karl Marx said that when history repeats itself: The first time it is as tragedy, the second time it is as farce.

The 2000 threefold summit meeting at Camp David was high drama. Many hopes were pinned on it, success seemed to be within reach, but in the end it collapsed, with the participants blaming each other.

The 2009 Waldorf-Astoria summit was the farce.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solutions for Israel and Palestine

Justice, security and peace for Israel and Palestine
Mike Ghouse, Dallas
Originally written on Nov 26, 2007

"Peace hinges on hopes for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis, anything short of justice will not produce sustainable peace" - If Jews and Palestinians can take the position that we cannot have peace when others around us don't and work on first removing bias and stereotyping from their own minds, conflicts will fade and solutions emerge.


The real threat to the peace process between Israel and Palestine stems from their inability to look at their own policies critically. It is time to quit blaming and start finding solutions. Damn it, the leaders ought to be ashamed of them if they cannot look in the eyes of Palestinian and Israeli Children and commit to give them a better life.

The leaders need to learn that, they cannot have peace and security when they keep threatening others around them, period.


Jews have a need to be understood and be acknowledged of their eternal security needs, not the military, but mental security where they can put their guards down and live their life in peace.


Palestinians have a need to be understood. They have suffered immeasurably, no human should be stripped of his or her hope and dignity; hope to have a family, work and own a house and call a place their homeland.


Our Presidents need to seriously look at what works. They need to have the vision for peace. They must understand that it may be going against the general opinion and must take bold steps and produce peace for the people of Israel and Palestine. It will save lives and brings peace to them and takes a burden off us.

We must protect Israel, our ally; however, if that protection is based on injustice to either Palestinians or the Jews, our integrity becomes questionable. We need to be above reproach and seek justice for one and all.

Mighty empires can crush the weak for a short term; in the long run every one goes down the tube. We cannot rob anyone and live with a good conscience.


Words are the most powerful weapons of mass destruction. Just about every war and every conflict in the history of mankind has started out with a choice of wrong words.

There was a time when diplomats were trained in the art of speaking and the art of negotiating. Their whole purpose was to bring results through a dialogue.

Power makes one arrogant, and that arrogance translates into treatment of others in less than equal fashion, the mightier may bully and make their way for the moment, but in the back of their minds, they know they have to live with caution every minute of their life, as the oppressor will pounce in the moment of vulnerability.

Let our words become the mitigators of conflict and not aggravators of it. It does not mean we have to be pussy cats; we have to speak with strong convictions.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Israel and Saudi Cohorts Now?

"You cannot have security when you threaten others around you- Mike Ghouse"

I am responding to two columns about the subject line posted below. The Neocons are individuals with an extremist mind-set regardless of their religious or political affiliations. They are in every group.

They believe that only war and annihilation of others solves their conflict, how dumb! You cannot have security when you threaten others around you; it is such a simple idea to understand.

They are the real threat to the security of every nation including Israel and the United States. They are Cheney, Bush, Rove, Palin, McCain, Netanyahu, Lieberman and their likes. Their policies and actions are the reason conflicts flare and continue it is time to dump them and take the approach of diplomacy.

The more wedges they create between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Hamas and the Fatah groups, the more instability they will bring to the region. The Neocons (extremist) are adept in creating chaos and insecurity all around them. I hope they resort to do the opposite of what they do – their passion for destruction if turned around for peace; they can bring peace and stability to the region, until then, we the common people of all nations need to speak up.

I am disappointed in Joe Biden; he has joined the bandwagon of the Neocons. Bombing Iran will aggravate the situation and not bring any solution.

Mike Ghouse is a Pluralist, Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Peace, extremism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/




With the failure of the Western powers to foment a popular uprising after the 12 June elections in Iran that they hoped would lead to regime change, the West has now had to return to the ‘Iran has nuclear weapons’ meme in order to pave the way for an attack against Iran in the hope that regime change can be affected that way.

In an interview on Sunday, Vice-President Joe Biden, when asked, “…if the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, they have to take out the nuclear program, militarily the United States will not stand in the way?” responded saying: “Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination that they're existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.”

Biden was then asked: “You say we can't dictate, but we can, if we choose to, deny over-flight rights here in Iraq. We can stand in the way of a military strike”, to which he responded, “I'm not going to speculate… on those issues, other than to say Israel has a right to determine what's in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine what's in our interests.”

Yesterday (5 July) ‘Timesonline’ reported that the Saudis had made it clear to Meir Dagan, Israel’s Mossad chief, that they would not object to Israeli overflights if they were on their way to targets in Iran. While a flight to Iran from Israel via Saudi Arabia would be much longer that a direct flight to Iran overflying Jordan and Iraq, a flight via Saudi Arabia would not require permission from any other country; not even the US to fly over Iraq. And if the Israelis can get permission from the Saudis to have support aircraft in the air in Saudi airspace to refuel the Israeli strike aircraft over, say, the Persian Gulf, then an Israeli strike against Iran is feasible.

It’s interesting that the report about the Saudi’s giving clearance for overflights to attack Iran were quickly denied by Netanyahu’s office. Clearly, the Israelis are anxious to bury this information though, one suspects, that it is now too late and the Iranians will now have their spies in Saudi Arabia scanning the skies and radio bands for high flying aircraft heading west to east across Saudi Arabia toward the Persian Gulf.

It may well be that Israel could be keen to take advantage of the unrest that has recently unsettled Iran but now seems to have died down. A strike now, they may feel, might just reignite the embers of insurrection that still glow especially if there was also a strike against Iran’s security forces and it’s military.

Even if Israel did strike against Iran via Saudi skies, Israel would still need to rely on the US for support. The fuel required for the mission would need to be supplied by the US as would most of the munitions. US forces would also need to be on standby ready to prevent any Iranian retaliatory strikes against Israel and the US. Israel would also need to have its troops on standby at home in preparedness for retaliatory attacks from both Hezbollah and Hamas.

For Israel, a Hamas and Hezbollah strike against them would be what they want. It would provide the casus belli for Israel to invade both the Gaza Strip and south Lebanon – perhaps all of Lebanon – knowing that the Iranians would not be in a position to help them. And with Iran out of the equation, Syria would not dare move against Israel.

With the failure of the post-election Iranian revolution, Israel will now resort to its old rhetoric of ‘Iran has a nuclear weapons program’ to try again to get public opinion onside for when they launch their attack against Iran to effect regime change. With the US now clearly not standing in the way and the Saudis prepared to let the US off the hook with regard to being seen by the world as facilitating an Israeli attack by allowing the Israelis to overfly Iraq despite all the talk of pursuing a “diplomatic solution”, everything seems in place for the Israelis to feel free to attack Iran when ever they feel they are ready.

The prospect of a final confrontation between Israel and Iran is now off the back burner and back on to the front burner. The problem is, If and when it happens, it won’t be a simple make or break fight for Israel or Iran; the repercussions will reverberate around the world for years to come.

Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv and Sarah Baxter

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” a diplomatic source said last week.

Although the countries have no formal diplomatic relations, an Israeli defence source confirmed that Mossad maintained “working relations” with the Saudis.
John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who recently visited the Gulf, said it was “entirely logical” for the Israelis to use Saudi airspace.

Bolton, who has talked to several Arab leaders, added: “None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn’t trumpet it as a big success.”

Arab states would condemn a raid when they spoke at the UN but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed, he said.

Referring to the Israeli attack on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, Bolton added: “To this day, the Israelis haven’t admitted the specifics but there’s one less nuclear facility in Syria . . .”
Recent developments have underscored concerns among moderate Sunni Arab states about the stability of the repressive Shi’ite regime in Tehran and have increased fears that it may emerge as a belligerent nuclear power.

“The Saudis are very concerned about an Iranian nuclear bomb, even more than the Israelis,” said a former head of research in Israeli intelligence.

The Israeli air force has been training for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear site at Natanz in the centre of the country and other locations for four years.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peres leaves for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

Perez to Azerbaijan

Peres leaves for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

Dialogue is the hallmark of civil societies, where they resolve the conflicts by sitting down with each other, face to face and lay things out on the table.

The Muslim Neocons (Necons are insecure extremists of all faith labels) in Azerbaijan seem to match with the Christian and Jewish Neocons who do not want to talk with their adversaries. Who do you make peace with if not the adversary? To be a peacemaker is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.

I hope the majority of Azeri's see sense in building goodwill with other nations, and I sincerly hope the majority of Israelis ask their leaders to bring peace. It pays to resolve the issues and move on to live in peace and security. Let Hamas be a partner in the dialogue and start the process.

Mike Ghouse
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President Shimon Peres on Sunday embarked on what his office terms "historic visits" to the Muslim states of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

President Shimon Peres.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region World The visit to Azerbaijan is the first official visit by a high-ranking Israeli dignitary.

Although Beit Hanassi put an embargo on publicizing the visits prior to his departure, reports that the visits were to take place began appearing in the media of both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as well as media outlets in other countries more than a month ago.

Not everyone in Azerbaijan is happy about Peres's arrival. According to various Internet reports, some of the elders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan have protested the visit.

Chabad house in Kazakhstan 'navigating a spiritual desert'
"We are against the visit of the leader of the criminal Zionist regime and we express our protest against the invitation, sent to him. We demand categorically that the Azeri leadership cancel this visit," says a statement, released by the Nardaran believers.

"The Israeli president's visit to Baku will damage Azerbaijan's international image as a Muslim state and will be an insult to the Islamic world," the statement continues. "Building ties with the Zionist regime, hostile to the Muslims, could damage Azerbaijan as part of the Islamic world. We urge the government to prevent the visit as a sign of respect for the Islamic religion."

Foreign Ministry officials in Baku attribute the statement to meddling by Iran.

According to the Pakistan Daily, Peres will be in Azerbaijan "to consolidate energy and military ties with Baku which began in 1992."

The visits by Peres are intended to upgrade Israel's relations with both countries, each of which prides itself on having treated its Jews well and as having served as a haven for other Jews during World War II.

Peres is scheduled to travel with a large entourage, including Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer; National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau; Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buhris, along with several CEOs of Israel's defense industries and 60 heads of major companies.

In Kazakhstan, Peres is slated to be the guest of honor at the Third Congress of leaders of World and Traditional Religions, where he is to deliver the keynote address.

He is also scheduled to hold meetings with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom he has met on previous occasions and whose singing voice, leadership and hearty personality he has publicly praised at various Kazakhstan functions in Israel. He is also expected to meet with other prominent Kazakhstan officials.

The businesspeople accompanying Peres plan to participate in a bilateral business forum in Astana. As part of the forum, cooperation agreements on peaceful space exploration and in areas of foreign policy, as well as on a Kazakhstan-Israel business forum, are expected to be signed.

Azerbaijan's priority fields for cooperation with Israel are agriculture, management of water resources, medical training and hi-tech. As in Kazakhstan, agreements are expected to be signed between the three ministers and their Azeri counterparts.

The visits to the two Muslim countries are a collaborative effort between Beit Hanassi, the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Export Institute, and the Israel Manufacturers Association.

In addition to the meetings with Azeri and Kazakh officials, Peres is expected to meet with members of the Jewish communities in both countries. In Kazakhstan - where Jews have lived for centuries - he is scheduled to attend the inauguration of a new synagogue.

He will also use the visits as a platform to make Israel's policies and aspirations for peace better known to that part of the world.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Israel Won't Freeze Settlements

Men like Lieberman and Netanyahu on one side and Mashaal on the other are the real obstacles to peace in Middle East. They believe they can get away with their immense military power they have, but in the long run they are screwing the people of Israel with more insecurities and long term turmoil. No one will have peace if one keeps usurping the rights of the neighbors. The moderate majority of Israel, Jews and Palestinians need to wake up. - Mike Ghouse

Published on Thursday, June 18, 2009 by Haaretz (Israel)
Lieberman to Clinton: Israel Won't Freeze Settlements
by Haaretz (Israel)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday that Israel could not accept the Obama administration's demand to "completely" halt activity in West Bank settlements.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens to Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) as he speaks at a joint news conference following their meeting at the State Department in Washington June 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas) "We have no intention to change the demographic balance in Judea and Samaria," Lieberman said during his talks with the secretary of state in Washington. "Everywhere people are born, people die, and we cannot accept a vision of stopping completely the settlements. We have to keep the natural growth."
Still, he said, Israel "ready for direct negotiations with the Palestinians."

Meanwhile, Clinton reiterated that the U.S. viewed a total settlement freeze as "important and essential" step toward achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

She said that special Mideast envoy George Mitchell would look at a "number of critical concerns" regarding settlements.

"There are a number of critical concerns, many of which overlap in their impact and significance, that will be explored in the coming weeks as Senator Mitchell engages more deeply into the specifics as to where the Israelis and the Palestinians are willing to go together."

Clinton also said that Israeli leaders have in the past shifted their stance on the issue, and expected the current government to evolve in the same fashion.

Israel maintains that it reached understandings with the Bush administration on settlement construction that would allow for continued building within existing communities on the West Bank. The Obama administration rejects this position.

Clinton cited a recent Washington Post op-ed piece by former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer.

In background discussions with journalists, former Bush administration officials said that no formal agreements exist which support Israel's contention that the U.S. approves of settlement construction to accomodate natural growth, Kurtzer wrote.

Meanwhile, Mitchell, who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, said that the U.S. seeks a "prompt resumption" of peace negotiations, and predicted preparations for the process could conclude within a matter of weeks.

Western and Israeli officials said this week that while the United States wants Israel to impose a moratorium on new tenders for building in settlements, it was nevertheless considering allowances that could permit some projects already under way to proceed.

U.S. President Barack Obama's blunt and public call for Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank has opened a rare rift between the close allies. But both sides say they are eager to work out their differences.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Mitchell in Europe next week to try to hammer out an agreement, Israeli officials said.

"That's our goal but we're not there yet," a senior Israeli official said.

Mitchell has said a key element has been trying to pin down exactly what Israel means by the "natural growth" of settlements that Netanyahu has said he will defend. In principle, Netanyahu says he wants growing families to be able to accommodate their children in the towns that Israelis have built.

While firm in demanding a ban on new tenders as part of an overall settlement freeze, Western and Israeli officials said the Obama administration was assessing in which cases continued building could be permitted.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said allowances for continued building could be made if, for example, a project in a settlement was nearing completion or for cases in which money has been invested in a project and cannot be reimbursed.

"There's room for some flexibility in defining what's acceptable in terms of a settlement freeze. Where do you draw the line?" the official said of deliberations within the Obama administration.

The officials said the Obama administration has yet to agree to any exceptions, and stressed that Washington's stated goal of a total freeze in settlement activity, including building in existing blocs to accommodate growing settler families, known as "natural growth", would not change.

Mitchell said in Washington on Tuesday of his meetings with Israeli and other officials: "There are almost as many definitions (of natural growth) as there are people speaking."

He added: "Different people have different interpretations of different phrases ... and we're trying to reach an agreement and understanding that helps us move the process forward."

Netanyahu has asserted that his government does not have the legal authority to stop building in cases in which tenders for new structures have already been awarded or when homes under construction have already been purchased.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected any loopholes that would allow any building.

Yariv Oppenheimer of the anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now said Israel was likely to use any U.S. flexibility to ramp up building in the West Bank.

"In the past, every time there was an understanding, the outcome was Israel doubled the number of settlers in the West Bank," he said.

Some half a million Jews live among nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories which were captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

© 2009 Haaretz

Time for a Common Vision?

Islamists and the West: Time for a Common Vision?

If you are a moderate Israeli or Palestinian, Jew or a Muslim, you will find value in this piece by Ahmed Yousef.

The real enemies of Peace in the Middle East are the right wingers on both sides of the issue. They are the ones who believe in annihilation of the other to achieve peace, dialogue is not part of their brain system. Sadly, we the Americans are duped by our media to see only one point of view without questioning it, some of us have lost to see another point of view at all.

The right wingers on either side of the issue may not like this piece as they may never had an opportunity to extricate themselves from the massive doses of propaganda they may have inhaled.

The goal should be peace – Hope for Palestinians to live a normal human life and Security for Israelis who can live a normal daily life.

Two critical things emerge in this commentary;

i) “The Palestinian cause lives in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion Muslims spread over five continents. It is the pivotal factor in matters of war, peace, as well as other complex problems in the Middle East. Thus, a just resolution of the Palestinian case is vital for achieving stability, security, and prosperity in what is called the Middle East arc of crisis.” Indeed, this issue is the epicenter of a whole lot of problems, the Muslims have been talking about it, writing about it, but American Media had no inclination to pick on this.

ii) “Thus Hamas (both as a movement and as a government) fell victim to the misguided policies of the George W. Bush administration not only toward the Palestinian people and their national cause but also toward the peoples of the Arab and Islamic regions more broadly." And I would add, toward the people of Israel. The Neocons have done more harm to Israel's security than Hamas could ever dream of.

While Hamas Charter calls for annihilation of Israel, the Israeli leaders have called for the elimination of the Palestinians, both are wrong and both really don’t mean it, but use it to dig in their heels and literally impose their thoughts on to the common Israelis and Palestinians.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, Terrorism, India, Islam, Peace and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and several Blogs listed on his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/


Islamists and the West: Time for a Common Vision?
Ahmed Yousef


The Palestinian cause lives in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion Muslims spread over five continents. It is the pivotal factor in matters of war, peace, as well as other complex problems in the Middle East. Thus, a just resolution of the Palestinian case is vital for achieving stability, security, and prosperity in what is called the Middle East arc of crisis. A just solution should enable the Palestinian people to set up their own independent state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It should provide the base for a vision that gives more than 6 million refugees their right to return to their land.

The Palestinian cause serves as a gauge of Arabs’ and Muslims’ feelings toward the West, in particular toward the United States. Seriously addressing the issue in an impartial manner is thus at the core of building a new and mutually respectful relationship with the West. To this end, Islamists have called for serious dialogue, not only to address points of religious and political disagreement, but also to prepare both sides to work together in a way that does not disregard Muslim feelings, but rather reinforces a culture of tolerance, cooperation, and coexistence.
A just solution should enable the Palestinian people to set up their own independent state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It should provide the base for a vision that gives more than 6 million refugees their right to return to their land.
Relations With the West: Understanding not Confrontation

Since its founding, Hamas has adopted a flexible and moderate religious stance and called for mutual understanding with the West to avoid conflict and confrontation. Islamists in Palestine welcomed and were encouraged by Western calls for democracy and the protection of human rights and opposed views that considered the West as an enemy or considered it to be a monolithic entity. Hamas’ position is that Western countries should be judged on the basis of their policies and positions, rather than on the basis of sweeping generalizations.

Palestinian Islamists hoped that the West would reciprocate and interact with them in the same spirit, rather than on the basis of stereotypes and preconceived judgments. Unfortunately, Islamists have been instead put on trial and treated with hostility by the West. The United States has accused Hamas of extremism and terrorism, mobilized the entire world against it, and looked at Hamas’ 2006 election victory as a painful blow to both its “war on terror” and its plan to encourage democratization in the Middle East. Thus Hamas (both as a movement and as a government) fell victim to the misguided policies of the George W. Bush administration not only toward the Palestinian people and their national cause but also toward the peoples of the Arab and Islamic regions more broadly.

Despite all the wrongs, aggression, and plotting by the Bush White House, however, the Islamists do not hold the entire West responsible for those policies and still look forward to positive, balanced relations with the Obama administration and also with other Western countries, especially the European Union member states.
What has become increasingly evident is that a misconception of Palestinian Islamism exists.
What has become increasingly evident is that a misconception of Palestinian Islamism exists. The accusations made are far removed from Hamas’s vision and political plan. Hamas is treated like an extremist movement with goals similar to those of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Hamas leaders have defined the organization clearly as both a Palestinian national liberation movement and as a civil-political movement. It is important to lay out what Hamas’s relationship is to religion, democracy, and resistance in order to understand its vision and goals. Hamas draws its concepts and values from Islam and works to liberate Palestinian lands from Israeli occupation using all legitimate means and serving the Palestinian people wherever they may be as circumstances permit. Hamas is not a clerical religious movement as some try to portray it, nor is it a fundamentalist movement in the Western sense―meaning extremist and narrow-mindedly bigoted. Rather, Hamas follows the moderate, centrist approach and does not see anyone as an enemy, except for the occupiers who have stolen the land of the Palestinian people. Both Jews and Christians are “People of the Book,” and Muslims respect their traditions and keep their promises towards them.

Hamas is also a civil movement that has adopted a consultative approach and uses democratic means for the internal succession of power. Hamas believes in the peaceful succession of power in Palestine, partnership on the basis of citizenship, and in cultural diversity and political pluralism. It also regards respect for human rights and relevant international conventions to be a part of Islamic teaching, and considers human dignity to be the highest goal of human existence.

Hamas also prefers that Palestine by liberated by peaceful means, and calls upon the world to implement UN resolutions related to the Palestinian cause, particularly Resolution 194, ensuring the right of refugees to return, as well as resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from occupied Arab territories.

Hamas adopts resistance in all its forms as a reaction to the occupation but does not deliberately attack civilians. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin launched an initiative calling on the international community and the occupation government to agree to spare civilians. This offer still stands, but Israel has rejected it. The movement also agreed to a comprehensive truce, which Israel declined. For more than two and a half years, Hamas has been calling for a prisoner exchange, but Israel continues to procrastinate and place obstacles in the way.

Hamas believes that the battleground is within occupied Palestine, and thus does not attack Israeli targets outside of Palestine. It looks forward to making a positive contribution to a peaceful and secure world free of violence, calls for the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders, and demands the return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes. Hamas also believes in dialogue with the West and wants a partnership with the Western world on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Hamas also believes in dialogue with the West and wants a partnership with the Western world on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
This is certainly different from the stereotype of Hamas portrayed by Israel. That country has tried to demonize Hamas, brand it as extremist and terrorist in order to distort its image, and rally the Western world against it in order to justify its own crimes against humanity committed in Palestine, the latest of which was its sweeping attack on the Gaza Strip that began on December 27, 2008.

Dealing with Hamas: The Crisis and the Key to the Solution

Many have wondered about the point of the Western sanctions imposed on the Hamas government in the wake of its sweeping victory in the January 2006 legislative elections. Reports have proven that the sanctions are illogical and misguided, sustained only by the excessive pressure exerted by the U.S. administration on the international community to punish the Palestinian people for exercising their democratic rights. Unfortunately, the Quartet spearheaded the sanctions campaign against Hamas, strengthening U.S. and Israeli efforts to delegitimize the organization and deprive it of its right to lead the Palestinian people, who had elected it in free and fair elections, as certified by the international observers who monitored the voting process.

Many cunning and deceitful methods have been used―at home and abroad―to undermine the work of the Hamas-led government. This includes destabilizing the already shaky foundations of the Palestinian political system by kidnapping more than 44 Hamas MPs in the West Bank as well as several cabinet ministers.

The Bush administration expected the Hamas-led government to fall within two or three months. When this did not happen, Washington worked to recruit members of the Fatah movement to overthrow the government of Ismail Haniya and create conditions suitable for reinstalling Fatah or its supporters. Hamas had faced myriad obstacles during its time in power. They included the restrictions on freedom of movement of MPs and government ministers imposed by the West and some regional powers. Other obstacles were a series of strikes and political-administrative harassment from Fatah, which dominated most of the government’s security and administrative bodies.

During its rule, Hamas sought to avoid internal conflict and bloodshed. It was aided in this regard by the active role played by the Egyptian security delegation residing in the Gaza Strip, which coordinated with the Palestinian organizations and created an atmosphere of cooperation. Unfortunately, however, all of Hamas’ serious attempts to avoid conflict ran up against the iron wall of international sanctions and local acts of instigation.

Hostility toward Hamas and refusal to recognize the election victory was not universal within Fatah. Some Fatah members recognized the legitimacy and right to rule of the Hamas government, believing it would enhance the Palestinian democratic process and allow the achievement of higher national goals.
Policies designed to isolate or marginalize Hamas (the movement and the government) will only pave the road for extremism and terrorism.
There have been attempts in the West, particularly in Europe, to lift the sanctions against the Palestinian people and promote communication with the Hamas movement and government, seeking to integrate them into the political process. Those who have done so are fully aware of Hamas’s importance as a fundamental player that cannot be ignored, and they also realize that there will be no political solution without the consent or blessing of Hamas. Many in the West, politicians and others, and including many international organizations, also recognize the need to positively engage Hamas in the political process.

These conclusions were not reached in a vacuum, but were the fruit of many behind-the-scenes meetings with a number of European organizations, which became familiar with Hamas’s ideology and political vision in talks with the movement’s most prominent leaders at home and abroad. These meetings have shown that the West can deal with Hamas.

Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian political map. It is a moderate Islamist movement that has repeatedly stressed its commitment to democratic principles. It has also stressed its desire to strengthen the political partnership between itself and other Palestinian movements. Since Hamas has such deep roots within all sectors of Palestinian society, isolating it is hardly a viable option.

Policies designed to isolate or marginalize Hamas (the movement and the government) will only pave the road for extremism and terrorism. Recognizing the election results and allowing Hamas to proceed with its reform program, on the other hand, would contribute to the emergence of realistic views and foster political maturity, while expanding a culture of tolerance, respect for pluralism, and the peaceful succession of power. The West must ask itself: Does it want to support moderation and pragmatism, or open the door for extremism to the extent that that everyone ends up riding the wheels of terrorism and the clash of civilizations?

Dr. Ahmad Yousef is Palestinian deputy foreign minister in Gaza and former political advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.