Right after the foundation of the State of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him, “You have done good by my people. Utter a wish and I shall grant it.” “I wish that Israel shall be a Jewish and a democratic state and encompass all the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan,” Ben-Gurion replied. “That is too much even for me!” God exclaimed. “But I will grant you two of the three.”
If someone had told me 50 years ago that the rulers of Israel, Jordan and Egypt had met in secret to make peace, I would have thought that I was dreaming.
If I had been told that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan had offered Israel complete peace in return for leaving the occupied territories, with some exchanges of territory and a token return of refugees, I would have thought that the Messiah had come. I would have started to believe in God or Allah or whoever there is up there.
Yet a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had indeed met in secret last year with the Prime Minister of Israel in Aqaba, the pleasant sea resort where the three states touch each other. The two Arab leaders, acting de facto for the entire Arab world, had made this offer. Benyamin Netanyahu gave no answer and went home.
“I’m here to say that our religion is for peace. Islam is for peace . . . Most people don’t care about religion. They care about peace.” — Ahmad Bilal
Ahmad Bilal, Faiez Ahmad and Luqman Munir couldn’t have been better positioned to talk about being Muslims than the cultural crossroads of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday.
The trio, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took part in the organization’s “Meet a Muslim Day,” an effort in cities around the country to dispel myths about Islam and put a human face on a population that’s been the subject of stereotypes, public suspicion and in extreme cases, threats and violence.
For three hours on a showery Saturday, the men stood among the throngs of tourists and St. Patrick’s Day parade spectators at a corner of Fourth and Pine with a sign that read, “I am a Muslim: Ask me anything.”
Witness the remarks of Steve Bannon, chief strategist in Donald Trump’s White House and the former chairman of the far-right Breitbart website. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon promised that the Trump era would be “as exciting as the 1930’s.” (In the same interview, he said “Darkness is good” – citing Satan, Darth Vader and Dick Cheney as examples.)
Even to mention the 1930s is to evoke the period when human civilization entered its darkest, bloodiest chapter. No case needs to be argued; just to name the decade is enough. It is a byword for mass poverty, violent extremism and the gathering storm of world war. “The 1930’s” is not so much a label for a period of time than it is rhetorical shorthand — a two-word warning from history.
Witness the impact of an otherwise boilerplate broadcast by the Prince of Wales last December that made headlines: “Prince Charles warns of return to the ‘dark days of the 1930s’ in Thought for the Day message.” Or consider the reflex response to reports that Donald Trump was to maintain his own private security force even once he had reached the White House. The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s tweet was typical: “That 1930s show returns.”
A month after being detain while returning to the U.S., the son of “The Greatest” was detained again before boarding a domestic flight in Washington, D.C.
By Marissa Payne and Des Bieler / The Washington Post
March 10, 2017
“We must step into the ring and fight this thing and keep fighting it until it’s done.” — Khalilah Camacho-Ali, wife of the late Muhammad Ali
A month after Muhammad Ali’s son and his mother, Ali’s second wife Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were detained in a Florida airport allegedly for their “Arabic-sounding names,” he says he was held up again, this time at Reagan National Airport on Friday. He and his mother had come to Washington to lobby to end racial profiling, and he was trying to board a flight back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A lawyer for Ali, Chris Mancini, said that as the son of the former heavyweight champion was trying to board a Jet Blue flight, he was detained by Department of Homeland Security officials for about 20 to 25 minutes. According to comments Mancini made to the New York Daily News, they rejected his identification and repeatedly asked where he was from, before allowing the 44-year-old to board after he produced his U.S. passport.
“None of this was happening Wednesday,” Mancini said of the Alis’ trip to D.C. in remarks to the Associated Press. “Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS.”
“[Since the election, people] previously marginalized or silenced now feel newly empowered. The majority of us need to push back against that and convey that America is still America . . . there is no place for hate or tolerance of toxic expression.” — Rabbi Daniel Weiner, Temple De Hirsch Sinai
A synagogue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood was vandalized overnight Thursday with anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying graffiti, said Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai.
A Seattle police officer discovered the spray-painted message Friday morning on the old sanctuary’s facade.
“It says, ‘The Holocaust is fake history,’ ” Weiner said. The “s” characters in the graffiti are dollar signs, Weiner said.
“It really is a toxic mix of Holocaust denial, the stereotypical charge that Jews are obsessed with money, and the notion coming from the (President Trump) administration that all facts are fungible . . . fake facts, fake history,” Weiner said.
Growing numbers of Americans question massive, automatic and unconditional U.S. support for Israel. The American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy will host an historic fourth annual conference on March 24, 2017 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC focusing on the key issues. This is a conference for everyone! Interested members of the public, students, news media, academics, policy experts and novices — now in its fourth year.
Keynote speakers: Hanan Ashrawi, John Mearsheimer, and Ilan Pappé.
“It appears that President Trump is prepared to go a long way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu with his domestic difficulties and that Netanyahu, in return, is willing to provide a kosher seal of approval for a president who was slow to condemn anti-Semitism.” — Martin S. Indyk, former special envoy to the Middle East
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was sitting in his residence in Jerusalem on Monday, being questioned by the police in a murky bribery and fraud investigation that could put an end to his political career, when the telephone rang.
On the line was President Trump, who wanted to talk to Mr. Netanyahu about Iran and a few other matters.
The prime minister excused himself for several minutes to take the call, and later issued a statement in which he thanked Mr. Trump “for his warm hospitality during his recent visit to Washington and expressed his appreciation for the president’s strong statement against anti-Semitism during the president’s speech before Congress.”
With this new law, the message to young Jews, and the rest of the world is no longer: “Come, see for yourself, let’s have a discussion — even an argument — in which I try to change your views. We know it’s complicated, but let’s not end our relationship.”
Instead, [the message] is: “Stay away. If you don’t agree with us, there is no place for you here.”
At first glance, Israel’s sweeping travel ban passed by the Knesset on Monday night essentially changes nothing. The authorities at Israel’s borders and airports already have complete discretion to keep anyone out, and numerous prospective visitors have been blacklisted and turned away because they are believed to be hostile to Israel.
They don’t need this law, which spells out support of boycotting of any Israeli institution or any area under its control as grounds to block their entrance as visitor.
But, actually, it changes everything. The statement it makes and the message it sends — that those who so deeply object to the occupation that they choose not to buy settlement products — are no longer welcome to visit, see and experience their country is a drastic shift in Israel’s relationship with the outside world.
Janessa Gans Wilder, founder and CEO of Euphrates Institute, has a powerful and refreshing perspective as a nonprofit executive and former CIA officer turned peace builder. She will share her journey of transformation from seeing Iraqis as the “other” to seeing them as brothers during the Iraq war. In 2006, Janessa founded Euphrates, a nonprofit organization that builds peace and understanding about critical Middle East issues. Euphrates informs people about Middle Eastern issues, inspires them with examples of solutions, and invites them to become effective global citizens. Janessa speaks frequently in interfaith, community, government, international, and educational settings. She has been published by CBS, CNN, The Christian Science Monitor, Democracy Now, and the Los Angeles Times.
In 1908, a group of Arab members of the Turkish parliament . . . had a brilliant idea: why not approach the Zionists and offer them an alliance against the Turks? . . . This was a historic moment, one of those moments when history holds its breath. A totally new vista opened up: an alliance between Arabs and Jews! A joint liberation movement!
So how the hell did it all start?
Last week I tried to describe the 1948 war, starting from the shooting at a Jewish bus on the morrow of the UN partition resolution. Some readers dispute the timing. They insist that the war started on May 15, on the morrow of the founding of the State of Israel, when the armies of the neighboring Arab states entered the country.
I have seen this many times. Every serious debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raises the question: “When did it start?” Each side has its own date, proving that the other side started it.
The Arabs started it, the Zionists assert. The conflict started with the “invasion” of the Arab armies. (“Invasion” in quotation marks, since they entered the territories allotted by the UN to the Palestinian Arab state, though their declared aim was to crush the new Jewish state right at the beginning.)
The Jews started it, the Arabs assert. They began to drive the Arab population out, leading to the Naqba (“disaster”).