FreeArabForum
There is no God but Liberty; our conscience its messenger
Sunday, February 15, 2004

Time is running out, everything is changing all over the world. The United States is trying to make pressure. The European Union is trying to make pressure...


Another round of political prisoners are being released from Syrian jails, according to the NYT. This is not enough, for there languishes 20 million more prisoners of conscience in the gray gulag that has become Ba'athist Syria. Notice how Ba'athist deputy Prime Minister Walid Moallem disingenuously tries to spin the prisoner release as an indicator of the regime's confidence rather than its current tenuous geopolitical status. If the Assad regime is so confident it ought to have no problem with revoking the state of emergency, allowing a free and independent press, and legalizing opposition political parties. I have no problem with democratic change incurring in gradual steps; so why not start with the simple and relatively tame move to allow for a greater degree of freedom of expression in Syria ? Answer: Assad is scared, his and other high ranking Ba'athists' private jets are fueled and ready at moments notice for their ignominious flight to their French villas in preparation for the coming time where statues of Assad are replaced with sculptures of art and murals of Ba'athist slogans are painted over with odes to freedom.

posted at 11:27 PM by Oubai

Do you know who Majalli Whbee is? You should, for he is another Arab whose voice is not represented by the likes of the ADC or the myraid Arab-American groups on college campuses. His is an Israeli Druze member of the Knesset, Israel's Parliament. He is an Arab and a member of the Likud, which probably puts him more to the right politically than 50% of Israel's Jewish population.

So next time a self-righteous (and self-appointed) leader of the Arab-American community says that "all Arabs are united against Israel," think of MK Whbee. I am sure that they would consider him a "traitor" to the "Arab cause," but then again, what have the Saudis - the supposedly leaders of the Arab world ever done for the Druze, apart from build Wahabbi mosques around their villages in Lebanon and condemn them as "atheists?"

posted at 11:09 PM by Jonathan

No Oil for Ba'athist Blood

This is a step in the right direction and will hopefully serve as a moral lesson for other American and European companies that there ought not be free trade with countries that inhibit freedom


posted at 11:01 PM by Oubai

This was just sent to me from an Assyrian-American political activist. Worth reading and reflecting upon, though I cannot comment or as yet verify factual information therein

Iraq Broadcasting Station, Kirkuk
Statement of the ChaldoAssyrian Group

We the undersigned ChaldoAssyrians, members of the new Iraq Broadcast Radio Station in the city of Kirkuk, hereby withdraw our staff members as of 8/2/2004.

The decision to withdraw from the radio station came as a direct result of accumulated issues that do not support the current efforts to establish a Democratic Iraq, free from censorship and oppression. These issues have been selectively ignored by both the Administration and the Iraq Broadcast Radio Station which is composed entirely of Kurdish members.

The Station¹s Management is not composed of staff reflective of the diverse population of Kirkuk. The absence of this diverse makeup has resulted in biased and negative treatment of our staff. Our air time has been reduced from three to two hours per day with no explanation as to the circumstances leading to this decision. Our petition to reinstate our time has been ignored outright by the Management.

The behavior of the Kurdish inspection guards at the radio station also displayed the intolerance targeted at our group by continuously harassing the female broadcasting personnel of our staff and treating them with disrespect bordering on sexual harassment. This treatment is totally unacceptable. Our requests to the Management to address the questionable behavior have also been ignored. We can only deduce the reason behind the Management choosing to ignore the behavior of the guards as stemming from prejudice and racism. They simply do not correct the situation because they (the Management) are also of Kurdish background.

We hereby demand the following actions to be implemented:

- Diversify the Management to reflect the ethnic makeup of the city of Kirkuk.

- The Radio Station must reprimand the guards guilty of sexual harassment, prejudice, racism and chauvinism. Guards hailing from diverse backgrounds other than Kurdish must be hired ­ they must include Arabs, Chaldo-Assyrians, and others.

- The ChaldoAssyrian Group must be allotted equal airtime as all other broadcast entities at the station.

Johnny Dawood, Group Responsible
Youkhanna Gewargis Yousif, Announcer
Amer Poulis, Translator
Ramziya Aprim Goriel, Announcer
Shameram Asya Yalda, Announcer

posted at 8:48 PM by Jonathan

ok, i know people don't read German, but I will tell you about this piece from a German website. It is the story of Reem Musa, the star of the Israeli girls soccer team. What who is Reem? Well, the star of the Israeli girls' team is a 13 year old Arab Muslim. Zionism is racism? What a farce

Read the story here

MONEY QUOTE:

Israels dribbelnde Friedenstaube
Im nationalen Mädchenfussballteam ist die Palästinenserin Reem Musa der Star, und das ganze Land liebt sie. Nur in ihrem Heimatdorf sagt mancher, dass der Koran das verbietet.
Der Star verspätet sich und lässt sich entschuldigen. Nur kurz unter die Dusche, dann komme sie, lässt Reem Musa ausrichten. Reem ist 13 Jahre alt und wird als beste Fussballspielerin Israels gefeiert. Der 42 Jahre alten Mutter Affifa sind die Allüren ihrer Tochter peinlich, sie lächelt gegen die Verspätung an und offeriert süssen Mohnkuchen. Reems Vater bittet, Platz zu nehmen in den abenteuerlich geblümten Wohnzimmersesseln, und füttert seine Gäste mit Zeitungsartikeln und einem Brief des israelischen Premierministers, in dem er Reems Ballkünste und ihren Einsatz für Israel lobt.


posted at 1:01 PM by Jonathan

In a piece for the DAILY STAR
Majid Mohammadi, an independent writer based in New York, writes of the Saudi government's hostility to Valentine's Day.

MONEY QUOTE:

These crises are best reflected in the policy toward public culture and morality. Morality and culture in Saudi Arabia and Iran are totally ideologized, and specifically enforced by religious policies of the state and government institutions, particularly “morality police” having a free hand in internal affairs ­ despite several catastrophic incidents where the actions of this “police” have led to violence against civilians, and indeed death. This free hand is granted because the Iranian and Saudi religious establishments offer legitimacy to the state.

I couldn't agree more!

posted at 12:51 PM by Jonathan

Think there is an "Arab" position on Israel's security fence? If you listened to the strident voices of many Arab-American groups, you would. But, thanks to the free and critical journalists of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency - which is critical of Arab and Jew alike - one can see a different perspective.

He’s not the messiah, just the man
behind the West Bank security fence
By Dina Kraft

TEL AVIV, Feb. 11 (JTA)

MONEY QUOTE:

In the West Bank Palestinian village of Masha, where a fence separates the village from neighboring Jewish settlements, two Palestinian workers are putting up an Arabic-language danger sign warning residents not to approach the fence for risk of being shot.

One worker who identified himself only as Faras says he has spent the last year and a half building the fence. He motions toward his home village, a collection of houses on an adjacent hillside.

HE DOES NOT (ed) "have any opinions.... HE SAYS. HE is "just doing this for the money. For me .... [it is] a good job.”

Faras earns about $815 per month after taxes for the work — more than double the average salary of West Bank Palestinians. He agrees with friends and relatives who say the fence is not good for the Palestinian people, but says he has no alternative to working on the construction crew.

*******

In an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood that will be on the Palestinian side of the fence, another Palestinian construction worker offers a different view.

Mahmoud rumbles by in an orange earth mover, shuts off the roaring engine and tells a reporter he is in favor of the fence.

"I AM...." building the borders of the Palestinian state,....... HE SAID. “How many U.N. resolutions have dealt with the issue? How many millions of Arabs have not improved the lives of the Palestinians?”

After a long period of unemployment, Mahmoud recently joined a fence construction crew made up entirely of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. He is happy with his monthly salary.

Mashiah, a civil engineer by training, spent 23 years in the army working in construction. He returned to the military fold from his job as general manger of road construction at Solel Boneh, one of Israel’s largest construction companies, to take on what he calls the “ultimate mega-project.”


posted at 10:15 AM by Jonathan

I'm sure some readers will be terribly offended by what is on this site. Well, good. This is a place to challenge views. I know some Arab nationalists and Islamists will try to tar and feather me and call me a "right-wing Zionist" or a "Likudnik" or something else to shut down the debate. Well, to put my cards on the table ...... I am a registered Democrat, I believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, would have voted for the arch-secularist Shinui Party in Israel in the last elections, and I have long advocated for the better integation of Arabs into Israeli society. I believe strongly in women's rights, both at home and abroad and will challenge any regime that treats women like property rather than as human beings. I am against all forms of scapegoating and am firmly against holding individuals responsible for the acts of the ethnic or religious group that the belong to. I believe that all peoples of the Middle East - Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Baha'i, Bedouin, Berbers, Chechens, Circassians, Copts, Druze, Jews, Kurds, Maronites, Melkites, Samaritans, Shiites, Syriacs, Turkmen, Turks, Yezidis, and Zoroastrians - among others - should be free to speak their own language and practice their religion or practice NO RELIGION AT ALL without governmental interference or intimidation from their neighbors. Call me a Likudnik if you will. I actually prefer "old-school liberal"

posted at 3:09 AM by Jonathan

Very often, people ask why aren't moderate Muslims speaking out? Well, they are, on this site and on others. We are proud to highlight the voices of those Arab and Muslim intellectuals who dare to challenge the status quo. Such is the case with Professor Salim Mansur from Canada in his forthright analysis of how destructive anti-Semitism has been to the Middle East.

MONEY QUOTE:
Writing as a Muslim, I believe it must. For what is involved here in the spreading slime of anti-Semitism among many Arabs and Muslims - as it once was in Europe - is the wreckage of Islam. A wreckage in the making by those committing crimes against humanity in humanity's name, while others, professing the faith, acquiesce by remaining silent.

posted at 2:59 AM by Jonathan

Screw [Palestinian] nationalism if it means the death of innocent Israelis????? So says my colleague Forsan Hussein, a Palestinian-Israeli who has long worked for peaceful coexistence between Israel's Arab and Jewish citizens. Forsan and I do disagree on a lot of issues facing the Middle East, but I must give credit where credit is due. His is an important voice. I have known Forsan going on two years now, through his work at the Abraham Fund. He and I also used to get coffee together back in the day

Money quote:

What would a politician like (editor : Arab-Israeli MK Azmi ) Bishara say about you?

Hussein: "He'd say that I'm not nationalistic enough, that I'm not concerned enough with the homeland. My stay in the U.S. has made me a less romantic person, not in terms of love - I'm less romantic when it comes to slogans. I'm much more rational. I don't let myself get carried away by all those big words. I want to think about them more. We have to redefine concepts like nationalism. Who is a nationalist - someone who takes a Palestinian flag and marches in the streets of Tel Aviv shouting, `Death to the Jews'? If so, then I'd rather not be a nationalist at all than wrap myself in this mantle and cause the death of innocent people. Nationalism can go screw itself if even 1,000 people have to die for Palestine to be liberated. What is this land worth to us if, in the end, we bury so many bodies in it? The value of life is the most sacred thing that God gave us, and I'm not a religious person."

How do you deal with militant Jews that you meet, or with Palestinians?

"In the course of my lectures, I've met Palestinians as well as very right-wing Jews. It's not easy to deal with either of them, but I must admit that I've received harsher threats from the Arab side. A few months ago, at the end of a lecture at the University of North Carolina, a Palestinian-American in the audience stood up and said: `I think that a person like you who defines himself as a Muslim and an Israeli should be shot and killed.' Some Muslims who were sitting in the back of the hall stood up and applauded. I took a deep breath, looked straight at him, and said: `I believe that one can live or die for the sake of a [lofty] purpose, and I choose to live. But if, within this process, death is a possibility, then I won't be the first to die and I surely won't be the last.'"


I wish Forsan the best and pray that no one dares harm him for his outspoken views.

posted at 2:48 AM by Jonathan

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