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The Inside Story on Our UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid State

A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

A people cannot be permanently repressed in all these ways without viewing the structure that has emerged as an apartheid regime.

Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.

Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, denounced it and demanded that the UN repudiate it. The newly elected secretary general, António Guterres, quickly and publicly called for ESCWA to withdraw the report from its website, and when Rima Khalaf, the head of the commission, resisted, Guterres insisted. Rather than comply, Khalaf resigned. Soon thereafter, the report was withdrawn from the commission’s website, despite its having been published with a disclaimer noting that it represents the views of its authors and not necessarily that of ESCWA or the UN.

What is striking about this response, which resembles in many respects the US government response to the Goldstone Report (the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9), is the degree to which Israel’s supporters, in response to criticism, have sought to discredit the messenger rather than address the message.

We had hoped that our analysis would prompt debate, dialogue, and consideration of our recommendations.

Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and I, as well as ESCWA, would welcome substantive discussion of and critical feedback on our report, and we had hoped that our analysis and conclusions would provide the basis for dialogue and further consideration of the recommendations appended at the end. ESCWA, for its part, took steps to ensure that the report lived up to scholarly standards, submitting the draft text to three prominent international jurists, who anonymously submitted strong positive appraisals along with some suggestions for revision, which we gratefully incorporated before the final text was released. For government officials and others to dismiss our report as a biased polemic is irresponsible, with respect both to the authority of the UN and to international law.

During my tenure as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories (2008-14), I saw how defenders of Israel attempt to discredit critics. My reports in that post often contained sharp criticisms of Israel and other actors, ranging from defiance of international law, unlawful expansion of settlements, excessive use of force, and complicity of international corporations and banks that do business for profit with the settlements. To my surprise, I never received substantive pushback regarding my allegations, but I did have the unpleasant experience of having my words on unrelated issues torn out of context. Among my harshest critics were not only the usual ultra-Zionist NGOs, but also Barack Obama’s diplomats at the UN, including Susan Rice and Samantha Power, as well as then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. I mention this personal experience only to note that it falls into a longstanding pattern of rebuttal that prefers to smear rather than engage in reasoned debate about important issues of law and justice.

The international crime of apartheid was set forth in the 1973 Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The main elements of the crime consist in deliberate and systematic acts of racial discrimination with the purpose of maintaining unlawful structures of domination by one race over another. Our report also considered whether, in the context of inquiring into the presence of apartheid, it was appropriate to consider Jews and Palestinians as distinct races; we found that there was abundant grounding to do so. As our report shows, “race” in this context is treated as a socially and politically constructed category defining a distinct people. It has no necessary correlation with biogenetic realities, which in this case show an overlap between Jews and Palestinians.

Even Palestinian citizens of Israel, who can vote and form political parties, are subject to many discriminatory laws.

The report also proceeds from the proposition that whether apartheid exists or not depends on the overall treatment of the Palestinian people as a whole. Adopting what we believed to be innovative methodology, we approached this challenge by dividing the Palestinians into four domains that correspond to the manner in which Israel has exercised its authority over the course of many decades, although specific tactics of control have varied through time. In the past, a thorough study by international law scholars found that Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories are consistent with apartheid. It called attention to the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians, who are subject to military administration as compared to the Jewish settler population, which enjoys the full benefit of the rule of law as it is observed in Israel in relation to Jewish nationals. That study found that such features as “settler-only roads,” dual legal systems, and the draconian separation of the two populations into regions on the basis of race are the hallmark of apartheid. Repressive practices that have made the lives of ordinary Palestinians a daily ordeal are part of this system, as international law establishes that penalizing resistance to apartheid is itself a crime of apartheid.

A second domain investigated in the report involves Palestinians who are residents of Jerusalem. Here the apartheid character of Israeli rule is exhibited in the way the government undermines the security of those Palestinians, manipulating their rights of residence as well as imposing a variety of discriminatory practices, ranging from fiscal measures to the issuance of building permits. The third domain concerns the Palestinian minority living in Israel, perhaps the most problematic component in terms of establishing a definition of apartheid that encompasses the entire Palestinian population. In this category are some 1.7 million citizens of Israel, who are allowed to form political parties and vote in elections. But this minority, which makes up about 20 percent of the overall Israeli population, is prohibited by law from challenging the proclaimed Jewish character of the state and is subject to a wide range of discriminatory nationality laws as well as administrative practices that severely restrict their rights, with effects on land acquisition, property, immigration, family reunification, and marital freedom.

International law has detached apartheid from its South African origins; it’s now a stand-alone crime against humanity.

A fourth domain, and the one affecting the largest demographic segment, is made up of Palestinians registered as refugees by UN procedures or living under conditions of involuntary exile. In the background is the non-implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), which confirms the right of return enjoyed by Palestinians dispossessed or displaced by Israel in 1948. This right of return is declared in General Assembly Resolution 3236 to be an “inalienable right,” which thus presumably incorporates those additional several hundred thousand Palestinians displaced by the 1967 war. As far as is known, no Palestinian displaced since the establishment of Israel in 1948 has been granted the right of return to resume residence.

From the perspective of international law, the crime of apartheid has been detached from its historical origins in South Africa. Neither the 1973 Convention nor the 1998 Rome Statute underlying the International Criminal Court ties apartheid to South Africa, but rather treats its practice as a stand-alone crime against humanity. Thus, there are important differences between the way apartheid operated in South Africa and the way it is currently being imposed on the Palestinians, but these differences are not relevant to the question of whether it fairly and accurately applies to Israel. One notable difference is that in South Africa the Afrikaner leadership forthrightly proclaimed apartheid as a reflection of its ideological belief in the separation of races, whereas for Israel such a structure of separation on the basis of race is denied and repudiated. There are other differences as well, relating to degrees of labor dependence and the demographic ratio.

This quasi-permanent structure of domination cannot be justified convincingly by reference to Israeli security needs.

Our report concludes that Israel has deliberately fragmented the Palestinian people in relation to these four demographic domains, relying on systematic discrimination, including “inhuman acts,” to maintain its control, while continuing to expand territorially at the expense of the Palestinian people. On the basis of these findings—backed up by detailed presentations of empirical data, including reliance on Israeli official sources—we conclude that the allegation of apartheid as applied to the Palestinian people is well founded.

We realize that our report is the work of academic investigators and is not an authoritative finding by a formal judicial or governmental institution. At this point it has not—contrary to media reports and diplomatic denunciations—even been endorsed or accepted by the UN, or even ESCWA. We do recommend such an endorsement, and we urge the UN, national governments, and civil society to take measures designed to encourage Israel to dismantle its apartheid regime and treat the Palestinian people in accord with the dictates of international law and human rights, as well as elementary morality.

The broader setting associated with our contention that Israel has become an apartheid state draws on the reality that there is no peaceful resolution to the conflict on the diplomatic horizon, and thus no foreseeable prospect for ending the discriminatory regime. This quasi-permanent structure of domination cannot be justified convincingly by reference to Israeli security needs. A people cannot be permanently repressed in these various ways without viewing the structure that has emerged as an apartheid regime. Indeed, part of the reason for not awaiting a more formal assessment of these charges is our sense of urgency in ending a set of arrangements that have for so long been responsible for so much suffering and denial of basic rights, above all the right of self-determination.

It remains our central hope, one shared by ESCWA, that the widespread availability of the report will lead to a clearer understanding of the Palestinian plight and encourage more effective responses by the UN, by governments, and by civil society. Beyond this, it is our continuing wish that people of good will throughout the world, especially within Israel, will work toward a political solution that will finally allow Jews and Palestinians to live together in peace, with justice.

 

Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America’

Israel/Palestine

on March 24, 2017 25 Comments

While Richard Gere was in Israel and the occupied West Bank promoting his film “Norman,” he was recorded in an unguarded moment wandering the desolate streets of Hebron’s Old City. A dumbfounded Gere is near at a loss for words in the clip, which aired on Israel’s Channel 2 network.

Not a Palestinian in sight. Soldiers and settlers roam comparatively carefree. The roads are too quiet. All of the shops are shuttered. Gere is stunned:

“This is the thing that’s flipping me out right now,” Gere stammers to his Hebron guides, activists with the Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, former soldiers that now advocate against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory, “Of everything we’ve seen for two days, the people we’ve talked to, it’s…I mean…I’m…I’m touched by that, I know that story. But this is really bizarre.”

“This is genuinely strange,” Gere adds, before telling his guides, Hebron is like the Jim Crow South:

“It’s the dead city, but who owns the city? And their [the settlers] feeling of ‘I’m protected, I can do whatever I want,’ and that sense of where the boundaries are. I mean it’s like…it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go, they could drink from that fountain, they couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t eat in that place. It was well understood. You didn’t cross it or you’d get your head beat in or lynched,” Gere said.

At one point soldiers stopped Gere and asked for his passport. He didn’t have it on him. But he’s from New York, he told them. Once the soldiers realized he is the Richard Gere–“Richard Gere, wow,” one said–the mood softens. But Gere is still visibly unsettled.

A car driven by a settler zooms by. Gere catches on, “These guys driving through. It’s a really dark energy. Wow,” he says, “it was kind of Mad Max.”

The scene that Gere had entered for the first time includes Palestinians who are made to use alleyways as the main roads are for settlers only. Palestinians cannot drive in the Old City, settlers can. There is one notorious sidewalk with a rope to segregate Palestinian and Israeli pedestrian traffic. It’s a scene many are horrified by the first time they enter. Philip Weiss had a similar response back in 2006:

“Every now and then in life, and maybe just when you want it, god throws down a thunderbolt. It happened to me on Friday in Hebron, in the Occupied Territories. A group of seven Israelis and I were sitting in an Arab man’s house, discussing the harassment and denial of movement to Palestinians in the center of that city—the second largest city in the West Bank—when I wondered for the 100th or thousandth time how the conditions I was seeing for myself in the occupation compared to apartheid in South Africa, which Americans rose up against 20 years ago.”

Before Gere went to Hebron, he spoke with Haaretz in Jerusalem:

“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone,” he says. “There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal – and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process.” He pauses before adding, “Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”

Later that same trip Gere met with Palestinian former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Following the meeting Gere was asked if he would ever act in a production by a Palestinian filmmaker (“Norman” writer and director, Joseph Cedar, is Israeli). “Why not,” Gere told the Arab News, continuing: 

“My only criteria are the quality of the script and the production. Naturally I’d have to be emotionally connected, but that isn’t enough. It has to be a quality film. I won’t discriminate if it’s a Palestinian film. In fact, I’d look closer if it was a Palestinian director.”

Gere added, “I have a special place in my heart for Palestinians, and I have a special empathy for their suffering.”

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/03/richard-exactly-america/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=c8c689aa43-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-c8c689aa43-309259350&mc_cid=c8c689aa43&mc_eid=39adaa9ab6#sthash.VPpHdxYv.dpuf

Trump To Critics: “I’m The President, And You’re Not”

UAE refuge is ‘something special’, say Syrians who fled civil war

One-page article

Having fled Syria’s civil war, about 120,000 Syrians have found a sanctuary in the UAE between 2011 and last year. Six of them tell of their yearning for their country’s peaceful past and their wish for a better life

Six years ago on March 15, fighting erupted in Syria that would change the face of the country forever.

In 2011, the regime of Bashar Al Assad clashed with anti-government forces in battles that would later involve ISIL, Al Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, leaving cities in ruins.

Consequently, about 5 million Syrians fled to neighbouring countries in what has become the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

More than 120,000 Syrians moved to the UAE and were given residency visas between 2011 and last year. That nearly doubled the Syrian population in the UAE to 240,000 as of last September.

Last summer, the Government said it would take in 15,000 refugees in the coming years.

The Syrian families that arrived here have found peace and employment. But most have lost their homes and are unable to return. Some have also struggled to find places for their children in schools and struggled with the costs of living. Here, six Syrians who fled tell their stories.

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snailMohammed Taha, 29, hails from Aleppo. Alex Atack for The National

Homeless and in search of dignity

Name: Mohammed Taha

Age: 29

From: Aleppo

Profession: He was a butcher and a chef. He is currently jobless.

Lives: On Dubai’s streets and in mosques

“I left my country to escape serving in Bashar Al Assad’s army or any party involved in destroying my country and killing my people. All we saw was bloodshed and I was terrified.

“I was supposed to serve in the army as part of the compulsory military service, but I fled Syria in 2014 when the war became severe.

“Both the regime and the extremist rebels were bombing the country with all kinds of weapons.

“My family’s home in Aleppo was levelled, bombed into the ground – just like many buildings and homes.

“My brother and I left Syria in search of a new life. We were lucky to have escaped the war in our country but our plight continues.

“My brother went to Turkey and I came to Dubai.

“I was lucky enough to find a job in a restaurant serving

Arabic cuisine in Satwa, where I rented a bed space in an apartment.

“The two owners of the restaurant, a Syrian and a Palestinian, had a fight and decided to close the restaurant. My residency visa was consequently cancelled.

“Afterwards, I worked in another restaurant. The owner said he had to test my culinary skills for a month. I accepted and worked with an invalid residency visa. After the test period,the restaurant owner refused to renew my residency visa and gave me half of my salary. That meant that I could no longer stay in Satwa, so I looked elsewhere for a cheaper place.

“I moved to an apartment in Hor Al Anz and lived with some Asians. The bed space cost Dh400. I kept looking for a job. But with my bad luck, the owners of the restaurants I sought employment at asked me to work for a period of time. But after the period passed, they refused to renew my residency visa or give me my pay.

“Many of them said that ‘we don’t renew residency visas for Syrians’.

“I ran out of money and I have been on the streets since last June. I sleep now in mosques in Muraqqabat. Sometimes I sleep in parks, and I ask the restaurants nearby for food and water.

“I have been to charity organisations and people there told me that they only give money to families, women and the elderly.

“I don’t know what to do. I feel like people have stopped helping one another. I go out looking for work daily but I hear the same excuses.

“I only want to work for Dh2,000 or even Dh1,500 a month and get a residency visa. I came here to live with dignity.”

* Nawal Al Ramahi

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snailNauran Al Chalati’s family members use Skype to communicate. Victor Besa for The National

A family separated by war finds togetherness online

Name: Nauran Al Chalati

Age: 27

From: Damascus

Profession: Formerly a student in Damascus, she is now a video editor at a production house in Dubai Media City.

Lives: In Dubai since 2013 with her eldest sister. Her brother and father remain in Damascus.

“Your home country is like your foundation. The moment you leave, especially in a panic, you lose equilibrium. This is exactly what happened to my family. We are all struggling, making our own little worlds far from one another.

“I don’t know when I will be able to have a meal with my siblings and my father that is cooked by my mother. It looks like a dream.

“I graduated from a private university in Damascus in 2013 at the age of 22. I was unable to start my career in Damascus because there was no job or security. Things were getting horrible and my mother realised that there was no future for her family in Syria. Since then, my family has been separated, living in different parts of the world.

“I moved to the UAE in April 2013 when my elder brother, who was working in Dubai at the time, sponsored a tourist visa. All of us, except one of my brothers, came here in 2013. My brother was not able to leave the country and did not want to leave my father alone.

“My family spends a few months together in Dubai. My father applied for jobs here but failed and had to return to Damascus. My mother decided to move to the United States as a refugee.

“She always believed that we would be in safe hands if we settled in the US. My brother in Dubai joined her after a few months. My sister and I still live in Dubai.

“But there are no more family dinners. We don’t celebrate festivals together. We can only see one another on Skype. This is the price my family has paid because of the conflict in Syria.

“I don’t believe that one day things will be OK in Syria. They won’t be, at least not in the near future. I want my family and I to be settled. I want to take my father and brother out of Damascus safely. A peaceful life is my dream but this peaceful life will not be in Syria.”

* Amna Ehtesham Khaishgi

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snailArtist Mohannad Orabi says Dubai has made him more open in his approach to people of different nationalities and cultures. Christopher Pike / The National

Daughter eases portraits of sorrow

Name: Mohannad Orabi

Age: 39

From: Damascus

Profession: An artist in Syria, he now paints in a studio adjacent to Ayyam Gallery in Alserkal Avenue

Lives: In Dubai with his wife and daughter.

“There are emotions that you feel for the things you leave behind. Each day we hear news from my country. I have had bad experiences, I lost people close to me in this war.

“I had visited Dubai three or four times as a tourist, but making my decision to stay was a completely different experience.

“The first impression was that Dubai was a little bit difficult. The lifestyle in Dubai is completely different to those in Damascus and Cairo. I had lived in Cairo for a year and a half before moving to Dubai in 2014.

“It’s very difficult to be outside my country, but it’s difficult to go back to Syria.

“My daughter is happy at school, she has a lot of friends. It has been faster for her to become part of a community than for my wife and I.

“I have two brothers in Syria and we call one another every day. I still have friends in Syria. I try to connect my family there with my daughter. We send pictures and communicate on social media.

“I have learnt from my wife, who is a graphic designer. She was working in Damascus for five or six years, but in Dubai it’s difficult to find a job even though she speaks good English and Arabic. She keeps trying, goes for interviews and sends her resume.

“I left my house, my studio, my car and my paintings. My brother tries to visit my house to check on my belongings.

“I remember a painting I started to draw but didn’t finish. I hope that I will go back to Syria and complete my painting.

“I could feel the sadness in my previous paintings because of what I have left in Syria and what has happened in my country.

“Now there is a little hope in my paintings. This hope perhaps comes from my daughter when I see her smile and being happy.

“Maybe when I see my daughter, this is the image I want to see of my country.

“I know that after all these dark days that we have endured, there is light. It’s coming soon.

“In Dubai, there is a different effect because there is an emotional influence of the place you move into. Dubai is the capital city of art in the Middle East. But the most important thing in Dubai is that I don’t feel strange because there are people from different nationalities and cultures. It’s a global city, it’s made me more open. For me, it’s very important to respect differences between one another. That influences my work.

“I was at a workshop in a university in Egypt and brought my family with me for one or two months. It is now almost five years since I left Syria.”

* Ramola Talwar Badam

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snailAsmaa Kftarou says non-discrimination between religions in Syria in the past is present in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National

Syria in their hearts, gratitude to UAE

Name: Asmaa Kftarou

Age: 44

From: Damascus

Profession: She was a civil servant at the ministry of religious affairs. She is currently unemployed

Lives: In Sharjah with her husband and five daughters.

“When I speak about Syria, despite the thousands of broken hearts, the unspeakable killings and the pain and suffering of millions who had no option but to flee in fear of their lives, I remain hopeful that the country will return to its former glory; that its soul is still intact; and that Syria will warmly embrace those people who are longing to return home.

“I’m from a well-known family in Damascus. My family come from a long line of Islamic educators and religious scholars in Damascus. My grandfather was the grand mufti for 41 years. He was known internationally and he spread Islam’s message of peace and love.

“Until 2010, I was working in the ministry of Islamic affairs in Damascus. I engaged in Islamic studies and taught Islam in schools in the capital. We had a stable and wonderful life in Syria.

“In 2011, when the killings started and after my husband, a member of parliament, barely escaped an assassination attempt, we had to leave Damascus out of fear for our daughters’ safety.

“Since then, I have been suffering deeply because I miss my family in Damascus and my country. To see what has happened to Syria saddens me to the core.

“We never once in Syria differentiated between different religions. We are all the sons and daughters of God and there was never anything but love between us. We’ve always tried to be accepting and good to people despite our differences. We tried to look beyond that to live together, and that’s how we had always lived in Syria.

“We found in the UAE a home that promotes peace and love between people, be they Syrian or Danish. There is a unity here that is truly special.

“Nevertheless, I haven’t found work here. I am still waiting to return home and begin to rebuild.

“It has been very difficult. We have five daughters, four of whom are studying. We need to support them.

“My husband has just finished his contract as an academic at Abu Dhabi University. They haven’t renewed it.

“My husband was of great importance in Damascus as a parliamentarian and a teacher. For him to be out of a stable job that befits his status is difficult.

“It’s been a struggle of course, but we’ll always hope for the best. As we all carry Syria in our hearts, we maintain our gratitude to the country that has provided us with a warm adopted home.”

* Naser Al Wasmi

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snailRuba Musleh started a business here to make life better for herself and her family. Anna Nielsen for The National

Memories of a decent life … and a desire for stability

Name: Ruba Mousleh

Age: 33

From: Harasta

Profession: Currently an employee of Nokia in Dubai where she moved in 2012 after the company closed its office in Syria because of the rising instability. She now lives in the UAE with her brother and family.

“There were bombs going off in the area and access to my house was impossible when things started getting bad.

“Today, almost five years after the conflict erupted, no one is allowed to go to Harasta. We don’t even know what state our house is in.

“There was a lot of fighting between the Assad regime and the Free Syria Army. The situation was bad. There were bombings and fighting but people got used to it.

“I was lucky that I didn’t lose a family member. For those who lost their loved ones, they won’t ever be able to get used to it. I decided to leave because there’s no house to go back to. Our safety wasn’t guaranteed and I was given an opportunity to improve my life and my family’s.

“When I think about going back … I know that living there is extremely difficult. To find a job that can sustain you is close to impossible. Getting food, -water, and having a basic life are extremely difficult.

“Here it’s safe and we’re grateful, but it’s been difficult. I’ve tried to improve my life. I work and I’ve tried to get my family here. I was successful but I faced many complications. Also, I started a business, called Fruit Monsters, to try to make life better for my family and I.

“But my business is on its last legs and getting my parents to stay here is proving to be more difficult each month. We need to find a stable situation that can give us a feeling of permanent safety, not just a temporary solution.

“Life is difficult here. I pursued my master’s degree at Knowledge Village and it’s been two years since I tried to start a business. But the visa situation is difficult.

“Our life in Syria was very decent before the war. My parents were teachers and my brother a businessman. I had a job in an international company and we had our lives full of friends, social events, volunteering at NGOs, and it was safe.

“I don’t know how it is now. I don’t know if I can go back and deal with the level of danger, the corruption, the standard of living, which are definitely more difficult than when we left.

“When I think about going back, I don’t know what to do. I just want stability and safety for my family. I am beginning to lose hope.”

* Naser Al Wasmi

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snailF. Saad has been taking photos free in hopes of finding work. Vidhyaa for The National

Hardship of life through the lens

Name: F. Saad

Age: 42

From: Damascus

Profession: She was a photographer who ran her own studio. She is now jobless

Lives: In Abu Dhabi with her husband and daughter. Her two older children are students in Germany.

“My country has been destroyed. Sometimes we think that even if the war were to stop now, it would take 20 years for Syria to be a country that anyone can live in.

“After the war you need years of construction and to heal the psychology of people who saw the bombings, the blood, the deaths.

“It’s not only about the bombings, the gangs or the arms. No, there is something deeper that has affected the people and children who were brought up seeing that during the past six years.

“My father, stepmother, sister and family are in Syria. I have a sister and brothers here in the UAE. So half my family is there and half here.

“We have an apartment in Syria with three bedrooms and a very big yard. I lived in an area that is now under government control.

“Three years ago, gangs entered the town and destroyed my photo studio and bombed some houses.

“We were there when the armed gangs entered. We stayed in shelters for two weeks with no food, nothing. And more than 100 people.

“I came here with my husband and three children. My daughter and son are in Germany for studies. I cannot go back to Syria and there is no way they will give us visas to go to Germany.

“We came to Abu Dhabi in 2014 in the middle of the school year and it was not easy to get my youngest daughter in school. She was only five, so she stayed at home until the next year.

“Life is peaceful and everybody respects each other.

“We live respectful lives here, but you need money for rent. School fees are a struggle, daily life is a struggle and that is because we don’t have jobs.

“We live with my sister-in-law and depend on her. Without her support, we couldn’t survive.

“She is the only one with a permanent job.

“In Syria we lived well because our jobs brought us good money. My husband was the owner and manager of a garage. He got residency here through a company, but it shut down last month. “I had my own studio and took photographs of events and weddings.

“Here, I have taken photographs for conferences but they have been mostly for free as I try to get connections for work.

“My husband and I are struggling to find any kind of jobs.

“If you are in my situation, you will not think about the future. You think about now.

“I’m feeling numb, the feeling you get when you completely stop being scared of anything.

“We are fragile inside. We are partially broken emotionally because we lost a lot of people we loved. We had to leave our country and have no jobs.”

* Ramola Talwar Badam

Massacre of 26 April 1963 Video of Duvalier terror

Jon Stewart To The Media: It’s Time To Get Your Groove Back

Israel Defence Minister calls for mass expulsion all Palestinian citizens of Israel

 pig

The final and only solution is a pure Jewish state empty from all the Palestinians

In an exclusive interview with Ben Caspit from Al-Monitor February 22, 2017, Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman confirmed that he still “supports a two-state solution”, but one involving population as well as land “swaps” and as one part of a regional. In another word, Liberman is clearly advocating for all Palestinian citizens of Israel (currently 20% of the population) to be stripped of their citizenship and forcibly expelled into the tiny Palestinian territories. This would include all the current Knesset members who are Palestinians. The second part of his plan is the total annexation of all areas that contain Jewish settlements that are currently built on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank. Practically a solution worse than the bantustan solution with an aryan twist. A Jewish state empty of Palestinians, and a tiny Palestinian “state” empty of Jews.

Below is except from the interview which interesting headed as “Israel defense minister: we must coordinate moves with Trump

“I don’t know what anyone else’s position is. All I know is my position. I haven’t budged from it in close to 15 years. On this particular issue, over time I have only become more convinced of my position. As part of a two-state solution, we must establish a Jewish state, not a binational state. The model that is now on the table is based on the creation of a homogeneous Palestinian state, in which there are no Jews, alongside a binational Jewish state with [an Arab] minority making up 20% of the population. I oppose that. I support a two-state solution that includes an exchange of territories and populations rather than ceding territories for peace. The concept of territories for peace has failed.”

“I spoke about this plan at the Munich Conference [Feb. 19]. The auditorium was packed, but no one fell out of their seats [when I presented my plan]. I didn’t hear a single protest. In private talks I had later with numerous senior officials, everyone told me how much sense the plan makes. I spoke loudly and clearly, and I didn’t see anyone shocked by it.”

Full Interview Here:

Scholars ask to have their names added to ‘Professor Watchlist’

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The newly inaugurated U.S. administration has created an atmosphere of violence, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. A less discussed aspect of these attacks is on academic freedom. The 2016 election has taken to new extremes the threats to academic freedom. We can see a preview of what this administration intends in their response to the recent cancellations of “talks” by professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who engages in public, cruel harassment of students who are critical of his extremist views, from the lectern through trigger cameras that project students’ images without their consent. He then proceeds to taunt them and incite actions against them on the basis of their physical appearance, race, sexuality, and gender. Instead of condemning this kind of incitement, President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from UC Berkeley after Yiannopoulos’ “talk” was cancelled at UC Berkeley and other UC campuses. 

We can also see indications of things to come in the lack of condemnation – hence tacit permission – of attacks by the [David] Horowitz so-called Freedom Center on certain University of California campuses for considering establishing themselves as a set of sanctuary campuses. The recent Executive Order in the form of a travel ban on people coming from seven Muslim majority countries (blocked by an appeals court) has ensnared students, faculty and visiting scholars who have had their academic lives and careers put into jeopardy as a result of the proposed ban. The absence of international scholars from large parts of the Middle East would severely affect the quality and reach of our educational institutions. Similarly, the anti-immigration bashing and the threat to build a wall with Mexico puts the important DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in jeopardy, directly threatening our undocumented college studentsThe politically motivated attacks on research scientists working on climate change and fetal tissue research are further indications of a political climate intent on thoroughly trampling over academic freedom.

Furthermore, with regard to academic freedom and free speech, a legislator in the state of Arizona proposed a bill that would prohibit state institutions from offering any classes or activities that “advocate solidarity” or “promotes division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people.” In other words, discussion of social justice should not be part of the educational curriculum. While this bill died before it reached a vote, Arizona already bans the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 education, a law that is being challenged in court. We can expect to see more of these attempts to limit academic freedom in the coming four years. These initiatives are important for us to know and attempt to counteract. These are very direct interventions in our campus lives, potentially putting a chill on our educational atmosphere and affecting academic freedom.

A recently formed “Professor Watchlist” purports to alert students about professors they claim “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.” This watchlist echoes Horowitz’s project, Campus Watch and the insidious, anonymously sponsored Canary Mission. The latter lists both faculty and students, threatening the latter with slanderous public information for use by prospective employers and the former with threats of violence. The Professor Watchlist names numerous professors from California institutions of higher learning. In response to the Professor Watchlist, faculty from throughout California, at public and private universities, have followed the lead of faculty at the University of Notre Dame, in sending the Professor Watchlist our names to be added to their list. We refuse to be intimidated by such harassment tactics.

Below is a letter we are sending to Professor Watchlist:

We, the undersigned faculty in various universities and colleges in California, write to request that you place our names, all of them, on Professor Watchlist.

We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our California colleagues, such as Professors Bettina Aptheker, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Melina Abdullah, Hatem Bazian and some 20 others, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality, and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians, and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy, and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect.

This is the sort of company we wish to keep.

We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called “dangerous,” reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly. So please add our names, the undersigned faculty from California institutions, many of whom belong to California Scholars for Academic Freedom, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.

Most sincerely,

Ece Algan
Director, Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies California State University at San Bernardino

Richard P. Appelbaum
Distinguished Research Professor
Sociology and Global Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Paola Bacchetta
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Carole H. Browner
Distinguished Research Professor
Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Anthropology, and Gender Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Edmund Burke, III
Professor Department of History
University of California, Santa Cruz

Lara Deeb
Anthropology
Scripps College

Julia Elyachar,
Anthropology and Economics
University of California, Irvine

Richard Falk,
Fellow, Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Former Special Rapporteur, UN Human Rights Council

Aranye Fradenburg
Professor, Department of English
University of California, Santa Barbara

Margaret Ferguson,
Distinguished Professor of English,
University of California at Davis

Mayanthi L. Fernando
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Cruz

Gary Fields
Associate Professor
Department of Communications
University of California, San Diego

Prof. Claudio Fogu

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/02/scholars-professor-watchlist/#sthash.C1nQqyWD.dpuf

Science in a Golden Age – Al-Razi, Ibn Sina and the Canon of Medicine

We explore the links between medical research in the Golden Age of Science and the modern practice of medicine today.

Standing in one of the largest neo-natal units in the world at Hamad Hospital in Qatar, you would not immediately be able to draw a link between the pioneering medical research being conducted and the work of physicists from the 9th century. In this episode of Science in the Golden Age, theoretical physicist Jim al-Khalili guides us through a journey of discovery where he highlights the links between medical research in the Golden Age of Science during the 9th and 14th centuries and the modern practice of medicine today.

At Hamad Hospital, a new treatment is being trialled for babies born with a neurological disorder called neo-natal encephalopathy. Senior consultant Dr Samawal Lutfi explains how the double blind placebo control method ensures the accuracy of the study. This notion of a control group goes all the way back over a thousand years to a Persian physician by the name of Al-Razi who built the first hospitals in Baghdad. He was an early proponent of applying a rigorous scientific approach to medicine and used a control group when testing methods to treat meningitis in the 9th century.

At Harefield Hospital in the UK, we meet Professor Magdi Yacoub, a pioneering transplant surgeon and one of the world’s leading heart specialists. Professor Yacoub explains how the 13th century Syrian scholar Ibn al-Nafis redefined the understanding of pulmonary circulation. He challenged the commonly accepted wisdom of the Greek scholar Galen, who had said that blood passes directly between the heart’s right and left ventricle through the septum, the dividing wall that separates them. Ibn al-Nafis put forward the idea that blood could not pass directly between the right and left chambers of the heart – and that the lungs had a role to play in this process.

Ibn al-Nafis’ description was not widely accepted at the time, and it wasn’t until his manuscript was re-discovered in the 20th century that his work was universally recognised. From Al-Razi, to Ibn al-Nafis, to the 10th-century philosopher and physician Ibn Sina, Jim examines the most influential medics of the Golden Age. He shows us his personal copy of Ibn Sina’s Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (‘The Canon of Medicine’), a comprehensive text which was the pinnacle of medical knowledge at that time. It was widely copied and translated, becoming a standard medical reference across the world for centuries. Jim ends his journey at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, learning how the institute is using the latest equipment to map the human genome.

The genome is the complex genetic code contained in every one of our cells and sequencing it can reveal possible diseases that are inherited. Focusing on genetic and hereditary diseases specifically affecting the Qatari population, scientists from around the world have come together to work on this ambitious project that some-what parallels Baghdad’s Bayt al-Hikma (The House of Wisdom), the renowned centre of learning that played an integral role in the Islamic world’s scientific advancement.

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