There is no God but Liberty; our conscience its messenger
Monday, February 16, 2004

Palestinian Activism at Wesleyan University. As a 1997 graduate of Wesleyan, this story was particularly upsetting for me. Alas, it is none too surprising, given the rampant anti-Israel basis that I know exists on campus and the meek response of Jewish students. What is particularly annoying is that I am sure there was a group of well-meaning, but exceedingly naive college students were were fooled by the pro-Palestinian rhetoric. Let's be honest - these people are not pro-Palestinian; they are anti-Israel. If they were pro-Palestinian, they would have something to say about how Kuwait expelled 300,000 Palestinians in 1991. Looks like they only called for divestment from Israel. I am eagerly awaiting the divest from Kuwait campaign and protests in front of the Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington. Or do the human rights of Kuwaiti-Palestinians not count?

According to the American Jewish Committee:

February 13, 2004 - New York – The American Jewish Committee’s Connecticut chapter has sent a letter to Wesleyan University President Douglas Bennet urging him to join his colleagues across the country in condemning intimidation on campuses.
The letter, written by Connecticut Executive Director Jann Renert, comes on the heels of an anti-Israel program held on Wesleyan’s campus last Saturday. The conference, Activism 102, was sponsored by the Wesleyan Students for a Free Palestine, the Middle East Crisis Committee, and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

Sessions targeting Israel included divestiture and boycott strategies, media activism, direct action, and protest art. In addition, items distributed at the program included anti-Semitic articles and a fake dollar bill containing swastikas. Websites were also promoted that apparently endorse Palestinian terror attacks.

Activism 102 was attended by Matthew Scherzer, Connecticut assistant director, who noted it was “bad enough that the conference treated the only Jewish state by a harsher standard than any other country on the globe, but it also exhibited overt and crude anti-Semitism.”

“Campuses must be places where ideas can be freely expressed,” Renert wrote. “But when hatred against any group goes unchallenged by a school’s leadership, learning is sabotaged and an environment of intimidation takes its place.”

Further, the letter urged Bennet to “speak out against such activity” and to add his name to a widely circulated statement condemning intimidation on campus that has already been signed by more than 300 college and university presidents.

The chapter has requested a meeting with Bennet and is eager to work with the university to address this matter.

posted at 11:30 PM by Jonathan

Palestinians protest PLO dictatorship

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Palestinian journalists held a sit-in protest for freedom of the press.
Around 100 members of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate refused to leave the Palestinian Parliament building in Gaza City on Sunday, demanding that the Palestinian Authority apprehend those responsible for a spate of recent attacks on local correspondents. At least one Gaza journalist has been beaten up in recent weeks, and property belonging to two others were vandalized. No one has been caught for the crimes.

I've said it time and time again: The greatest danger to Arab society is not Israel, it is tyranny; the greatest purveyor of dictatorship and oppression in the Arab world is not Israel but corrupt Arab regimes. Liberated Iraqis realize this, Syrians clamoring for liberation understand this, and it is evident that Palestinians are waking up to this reality. Now if only radical Islamist and Ba'athist apologists here at home could prove so enlightened as to truly comprehend the source of mass misery that ails the Arab and Muslim world.

posted at 10:53 PM by Oubai

No Oil for Ba'athist Blood

More details of French complicity with Saddam's murderous regime are coming out. Ironic how the greedy "progressive" French government was able to so easily place a price on the lives of ordinary Iraqi's whose suffering under Saddam could have only been prolonged by their massive financial infusion into the Ba'ath military and political machine. For shame.

UPDATE: More from the Guardian on how Ba'athist oil was used to grease the wheels of "progressive" lawmakers.

posted at 9:03 PM by Oubai

A New Era for Algeria? Hopefully. It is good to see the workings of a semi-free press in Algiers. Reading the French-language dailies online, I can attest to the fact that the criticisms and self-criticisms are quite strong among a core group of courageous journalists. Again, why aren't Arab-American student groups taking up the noble cause of freedom for Algeria in the same way in which they take up the Palestinian cause? Why do they remain silent? Does freedom for Algerians not count? One can't explain away the tragic deaths of some 100,000+ Algerians in the past 15 years as the result of "occupation" or the "Zionist land grab" or "American policy." This was Algerians killing Algerians, Muslims killing Muslims, Arabs killing Arabs. What was the "root cause" of this horrible slaughter that has made the lives of so many Algerians - including MUSLIM friends of mine - so horrible? This from the International Herald Tribune today:

Despite the state of emergency, French- and Arabic-language newspapers in Algiers carry fierce critiques of the administration of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was elected in 1999 with the blessing of the army amid widespread accusations of vote rigging.
"Algeria and the Algerians deserve better from the present debate," La Tribune, a French-language paper, said in an editorial last week. It accused Bouteflika of using oil and gas revenues to finance social programs to win electoral support.

posted at 3:47 PM by Jonathan

I would hope that all leading Arab-American organizations that have professed concern for the 'people of Iraq' would, if asked, be willing to condemn anti-Christian threats in Iraq. For more information on Assyrians in Iraq, take a look at my November 2002 opinion piece in the Forward in which I write:

It will not be easy, of course, to draft a centralized legal framework that will be amenable to all of Iraq's citizens. This is particularly true given the ethnic and religious cleavages within Iraqi society, not to mention the fact that the country is emerging from decades of totalitarianism. The provisional authority should do its best to guide the process of turning power over to the Iraqi people without seeming heavy-handed and unfairly critical of some aspects of the emerging political system that might seem culturally foreign to Western observers. It must also be sensitive to the concerns of the Shi'ites, who constitute a plurality of the population and were repressed by the Sunni-dominated Ba'ath regime.

The Bush administration, for its part, should now do as much as possible to make all Iraqis, regardless of ethnicity or religion, feel included in the new polity. Given that ethnic strife and persecution of Christians and Jews were hallmarks of the nominally secular Ba'ath regime, the creation of a pluralistic Iraq should be endorsed by all members of the international community who wish to see a state at peace with its neighbors. An Iraq in which Assyrian rights are not adequately protected will likely not be the democratic, pluralistic society that is needed in the region.

Iraq: Assyrian Christian Minority Feels Threatened
By Valentinas Mite

Prague, 13 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- It has been a deadly week in Iraq. Two separate suicide bombings have left some 80 people dead and many more wounded.

It is a situation that has reduced nearly every Iraqi to living in fear. The attacks do not appear to discriminate between the country's disparate national and religious groups.

For Iraq's minority groups, it is especially difficult. The country's Assyrian Christian community, for one, says it fears its churches will become the next target of a terrorist attack. Willeam Warda is the head of the Culture and Information Department of the Assyrian Democratic Movement grouping many of Iraq's Assyrian communities. He says a number of Assyrian Christian churches have begun to receive threatening letters and leaflets -- and that the threat appears to be credible.

posted at 3:35 PM by Jonathan

Liberate Islam from Islamists

Berkeley Muslim Student Association is hosting a conference on "Liberation Through Islam". They would do better to sponsor a dialogue dedicated to the emancipation of Islam from forces of anti-woman, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-gay, anti-secular Islam, Wahhabism. Though judging from Berkeley MSA's reaction to scholar Dan Pipe's call upon Muslims to embrace moderate Islam as an alternative to extremism, their end goal of "liberation through Islam" no doubt includes measures for the eradication of free-thinking Muslims and other such strains of subhuman heresy.

If the MSA wants to have an intellectually honest discussion of liberation it ought to take notice of the greatest Islamic liberator of our time: America. Muslims in Afghanistan are now free, Muslims in Iraq are now free, Muslims in Syria are clamoring for freedom, Muslims in Balkans are free, thousands of Muslim refugees are free in America, and millions more live in the freedom afforded to them by our great nation; all this at the hands of the Great Satan. Yet still the MSA continues to peddle its propaganda of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism to a new generation of American born Muslims. Islamist organizations like the MSA are blinded by hate and driven by cowardice. I don’t understand how they can call for “liberation” when they are unwilling to liberate their minds from anti-Western Wahhabi dogma; no wonder they react with such visceral malice to those that attempt to point out obvious inconstancies in their hypocritical political agenda.

posted at 12:38 AM by Oubai

from the most recent issue of the FORWARD. Can't say I am a fan of political Islam in any form, but Ali's comments to al-Jazeera are quite revealing.

To Bolster Muslim Moderates, Add Democracy and Stir
Hadi Ali is not the stereotypical face of political Islam. His beard is cropped close to his face. He wears sweater vests instead of clerical robes. His formal education is in physics, not theology. All in all, he looks more like a professor of literature at a small Midwestern college than the No. 2 official in the Kurdistan Islamic Union, the third-largest political force in northern Iraq.

In substance as well as style, Ali's interpretation of political Islam is unconventional. "Al Jazeera was here a few days ago, and they asked me about Israel," he told me during a visit in late December to his home in Erbil, the unofficial capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. "I told them that Arab regimes have exploited Israel to guarantee their own existence. They have used it to justify repressive 'emergency rules' and proliferated emotional emblems so that their citizens do not pay attention to their own lack of freedom."

He chuckled, "I think they were surprised to hear me say this."

posted at 12:02 AM by Jonathan

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