Archive | January 22nd, 2011

Hijab makes a return in Tunisia


by crescentandcross  


By Yvonne Ridley


Something really wonderful happened outside the Tunisian Embassy in London the other day as a crowd of us gathered to continue the demand for justice in the people’s revolution.

I was standing next to a sister, and, with tears in her eyes she revealed she had been inside the embassy that morning to get passports for herself and her family. Her face looked vaguely familiar but I could not remember where we had met previously.

Just a few weeks ago she would not have been allowed to put one foot over the threshold but this time she was welcomed like a long lost daughter and given the red carpet treatment by the embassy staff – one even asked if she wanted to meet the Ambassador.

The more she talked the more I knew that we had met previously, but where?

 Then we began speculating about the deposed dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his truly awful wife Leila who, we now know thanks to Wikileaks, fancied her chances of becoming the next leader of Tunisia when her ageing husband either stood down or expired.

We both laughed at the irony of the location of their current bolt-hole … Saudi Arabia, The Land of the Two Holy Mosques and wondered how Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were coping with hearing the athan five times a day.

They had banned the athan from being played on state television, shunned fasting during Ramadahn and dismissed the hijab as being a foreign import and not part of the Tunisian culture.

Let’s just say they made it up as they went along and if they wanted fatwas they would wheel out their tame and obliging scholars for dollars.

Ben Ali, a brute of a man who made words and phrases like torture, detention without trial, political and religious persecution commonplace in Tunisia, is also credited with ripping off the hijabs from the heads of Muslim women. He banned them from wearing their scarves in schools, hospitals and universities and other public places.

He saw that the Holy Quran was banned and desecrated in the cages and dungeons where prisoners of conscience are beaten if they dared to pray outside of allotted times.

His brutal regime brought in happy clappy clerics whose narcotic-style preachings in praise of Ben Ali and his corrupt government certainly had the desired effect … it drove God-fearing worshippers out of the mosques.

No wonder the Muslim youth no longer clamoured to get into masjids on Fridays to listen to these khateebs who spent half the khutbah praising the President and his followers.
To our Christian friends, put it this way – can you imagine sitting in a church pew listening to some vicar or priest urging you to thank God for Tony Blair, George W Bush or Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheyney? Exactly!
 My sister and I both wondered how Leila would view having to wear a black abaya every time she steps outside her new home. I’m sure the Saudi religious police will be on hand to give her some encouragement.

Of all the places in the world those two had probably expected to end up I think it’s a fair bet Saudi was no where near the top of their list as they boarded the flight from Tunisia.

In fact what wouldn’t I have given to see the expressions on their faces as the pilot delivered the bad news. Sorry, we can’t get clearance for Paris, New York, Monaco or Geneva but how does Jeddah sound?

It was Ben Ali’s barbaric actions and abuse of the most basic human rights which prompted me to first go and stand outside the Tunisian Embassy in London way back in November 2006 and protest in defence of our Tunisian sisters … and Islam.

This man and his godless wife despised the religion of their birth so much and everything it represented that they did their best to turn the country in to a secular state.

Did they do it to please themselves or the western powers which courted them and pretended to be their best ever friends?

I remember in February 2009 driving through Tunisia with the Viva Palestina convoy encountering literally hundreds of Ben Ali’s henchmen who did everything in their power to stop us from praying and attending Friday prayers.

The horrified expressions on their faces when we stopped our vehicles in the middle of the road and prayed in the street is something I will remember for ever.

I recounted the tale to the sister outside the embassy and again we both laughed at the ultimate irony Ben Ali and the light-fingered Leila (she is reported to have looted 1.5 tons of gold as she fled) were now languishing in Saudi.

How poignant, having been shunned by their fickle friends in the West,  it was Muslims who came to their rescue. Forgiveness is a major element in Islam and while it is far too early for Tunisians to even begin to think about that F-word, the ex-president and his wife should be grateful that some Muslims are prepared to show them the sort of mercy Ben Ali and Leila could never show their own people.

Now that he, in particular, has time to reflect on the brutalisation of our hijab-wearing sisters, practising brothers and human rights campaigners, I wonder if he will discover the beauty of real Islam and not the distorted, diluted version he tried to force on his people?

I turned to the sister outside the embassy and wondered out loud if Leila will ever discover the beauty of the hijab. The words were barely out of my mouth when I suddenly recognized this woman.

We had first met in 2006, outside the Tunisian Embassy in London, at a protest. She told me in graphic detail of her detention, abuse and torture at the hands of Ben Ali’s thugs.

I will never forget her dramatic words back then as she said in a shakey voice: “I came to London with my hijab still in my pocket.” I remember being moved to tears by her story, one of many countless Tunisian sisters can tell and no doubt will over the coming months.

And now she is planning to return but with her head held high and wearing her hijab with pride.

* Yvonne Ridley is the European President of the International Muslim Women’s Union

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Zionist Expropriation of Palestinian Land



Dear All,

Many of us recall childhoods spent collecting coins for the Jewish National Fund’s famous little blue boxes. The money in the boxes, we were were told, would go towards planting trees that would “make the desert bloom” in Israel. But what we didn’t know was that from the founding of the Jewish state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was planting forests in order to mask and excuse the destruction of Palestinian villages and expropriation of Palestinian land. The JNF continues this practice today.

On January 16, Israeli authorities demolished the Israeli Bedouin village of Al Araqib for the ninth time in the past six months in order to build a forest for the JNF. Bulldozers from the Israel Land Administration remain on the villagers’ land, even though the demolitions are completed.

Tu B’shvat is a Jewish holiday known as the New Year of the Trees. JNF tree planting ceremonies on stolen land are now ubiquitous as a way to mark this holiday. This Tu B’shvat, please affirm that planting forests on top of uprooted communities is not the Jewish way. Click here to sign a petition of protest to the JNF initiated by Jewish Alliance for Change. We also urge you to send an email to Caterpillar on the US Campaign to End the Occupation site. Caterpillar is the US company that provides Israel with bulldozers that destroy Palestinian trees and homes.


May the seeds of action we plant this Tu B’shvat bear fruit soon and in our own day.


In Justice and Peace, 


Rabbi Brant Rosen, 
Chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Zionist Expropriation of Palestinian Land



‘And No One Wants to Know’: Israeli Soldiers on the Occupation

David Shulman – The New York Review of Books – The information was meticulously checked and re-checked for accuracy; there is no mistaking the ring of truth in the reports, which reveal consistent patterns, and thus have a powerful cumulative force. To read them is to see the profound moral corruption of the occupation in all its starkness. They show us ordinary, decent young soldiers, caught up in an impossible situation, sometimes trying desperately to make sense of that situation, but mostly following their orders without question. In a number of cases, those interviewed have clearly been psychologically and spiritually scarred by their participation in horrific events of which they had little understanding at the time.



Dozens Of Palestinians Injured in East Jerusalem Clashes

Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – The sources stated that 13 residents, including 4 pregnant women, were wounded in Shu`fat and were moved to a local medical center. Most of the injuries resulted from inhaling gas fired by the army, and rubber-coated bullets.



`Good hit. Alpha.`

Amira Hass – Haaretz – T. asks his audience: “Who knows who Salah Shehadeh is? Salah Shehadeh is the Hamas chief of staff. In 2002 there`s Sheikh Yassin, he`s the spiritual leader, and there`s Salah Shehadeh, the military commander. [The base commander] told me it was Salah Shehadeh, and I said, Great. I have no idea who or what you`re talking about. We made a good hit, `alpha` in air force jargon, and that`s it, we went to bed. The next day, actually the same day, we`re told that the strike killed Salah, his wife, his daughter, his son and others … That`s the subject. And I fired …



I get a closeup picture of the health care system and women’s lives in Palestine

Alice Rothchild – Mondoweiss – The incredible fragmentation of care between PMRS, the Ministry of Health, UNRWA (for refugees), and the private sector is staggering. Pregnant patients may get free care at an UNRWA clinic, but stop in at PMRS for a prenatal ultrasound. Labs are done at a variety of locations (with variations in quality) so communication and follow up are problematic. Some of the private care that patients reported is best described as creative and unrelated to general medical practice, but clearly lucrative. –



Hebron Reflexion : They left their mark everywhere

Paulette Schroeder – CPTnet – One week after they had arrested her sons, the military came for the mother. She remained in prison for 26 days. When asked how the soldiers treated her, she said they “used words that no woman should hear.” At one point, they ordered her to strip, then checked her private areas, using a detector on some places of her naked body. She said that if the soldiers did this to a woman in prison, what must her sons be experiencing.



Israel`s Labor party not to be mourned 

Jonathan Cook – The Electronic Intifada – But peace failed to materialize, and the settlements` continuing expansion steadily eroded the Palestinians` belief in Israel`s good faith. Labor`s last shot at peace-making was the Camp David summit of 2000. When Barak, as prime minister, failed to reach a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, claiming there was “no partner,” he killed off Israel`s fickle peace camp and made his party politically irrelevant again.



Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reports on ongoing seige of Gaza and anti-democratic onslaught on Israeli Rights Community

Hadas Ziv – Physicians for Human Rights – Dr. Sara Roy of Harvard University, comments: “The greatest and most damaging aspect of Israeli policy has been the transformation of Palestinians in Gaza especially, from a people entitled to, and capable of, national self-determination and developmental change into a group of aid-dependent paupers worthy only of the humanitarian minimum.”



Symbolism isn`t Everything…But it is Something 

Joharah Baker – MIFTAH – As for symbols such as the Palestinian flag waving over the PLO mission in Washington DC, I can say this. While most people take the sight of their national flags for granted, we Palestinians have never had this luxury. That is why it is an accomplishment – however symbolic – to see it flying in the US capital even if this has not changed the status quo of the Palestinians vis-א-vis its relationship with the US. If nothing else, it is a reminder that, “yes, we are still here and we are not going anywhere.”



Al Araqib Residents Expelled To Make Way for Trees

Hithabrut-Tarrabut – Press release – On Sunday, January 16th, 2011, the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) accompanied by a heavy police presence destroyed the Bedouin village of Al Araqib for the 9th time since its total destruction in July 2010. During the village`s destruction the police forces used large amounts of violent force, including sponge bullets (a police method of crowd dispersal) which injured eleven of the residents, one of them in his eye.



Israeli Settler Right Bullies Rabbi Ascherman, Protesting at His Home

Richard Silverstein – Tikun Olam – This is the same type of hooliganism the Israeli right has used over the years against the activist community. They did the same to Naomi Hazan after Im Tirzu decorated her image with a rhino horn and ridiculed her as a supporter of Hamas and Israeli traitor. And of course, the height of such incitement was in the lead up to Yizhak Rabin’s assassination when the Israeli right massed in downtown Jerusalem baying for the prime minister’s blood. Many will remember the leading politician who, like a Roman emperor at the Coliseum, gave Rabin a thumbs down from a downtown Jerusalem balcony that night: Bibi Netanyahu.



For previous articles since 2004 go to respective sections

Posted in WorldComments Off on News**News**News



by crescentandcross  


US Threatens More Iran Sanctions on Eve of Talks


National Guard, Reserve Suicides Soar


Muslim Groups Concerned Over House Probe of Muslims


Report: FBI Spy Powers Too Broad


Soldier Who ‘Accidentally’ Shot Palestinian in His Bed to Be Discharged


Zio-Nazi : Death of Bil’in Woman Caused by Poor Medical Care


Iran: Military strike would not stop uranium enrichment


Lieberman corruption case to be decided by the end of February


Lieberman: We will tell US to stop foreign aid to PA


‘I Wake Up Screaming’: A Gitmo Nightmare


US was Cheerleader for Massacre


Russia, Jordan vow to achieve an independent Palestinian state



Please check out the brand new book detailing Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here

Posted in WorldComments Off on News**News**News

Sarving up Palestine One Slice at a Time



by crescentandcross 



by Philip Giraldi,

 January 20, 2011

As of last week, 110 countries in the United Nations have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine.  All recognize Palestine as including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, essentially the borders as they existed prior to the June 1967 Six Day War.  Nearly every country in Latin America, Asia, and Africa has recognized Palestinian statehood and there are indications that many European nations will soon follow suit.  Which leaves the United States, yet again, on the wrong side of history.  In fact, Washington has gone in completely the opposite direction, insisting that there cannot be any Palestinian state until negotiations are completed between the two parties involved, meaning that Israel shall have a veto on any such development and will postpone it until some time in the next century.

In fact, the United States is completely in lock step with Israel on the prospects for a Palestinian state.  The White House and State Department have condemned every move to obtain independent recognition of statehood.  The US position is summed up by House Resolution 1765, drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “Supporting a negotiated solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes,” which had 54 co-sponsors. 

It declares that “any attempt to establish Palestinian statehood outside the negotiating process will invoke the strongest congressional opposition” and condemns any attempt to “establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.”  It urges the Palestinians to “cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process” to “resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately,” and to “support the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.”

And to make sure that the 110 countries who have signed on to the statehood agenda get the message, HR 1765 calls on the White House to “lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state” and “affirm that the United States would deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state…”  If it sounds a bit like George Bush’s famous dictum, “you are either with us or against us,” it should.

Make no mistake, Israel does not want a Palestinian state because it would require the resolution of certain “core issues.” These would include the actual sovereignty of a Palestinian nation, access to Jerusalem, fixing the borders, and the sharing of limited water resources, most which now go to feed the illegal Israeli settlements which Washington has officially condemned but done nothing about for forty years.  Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is content to let the entire negotiation process drag on until there is nothing to negotiate.  Israel has already sliced up the West Bank with its Jewish only roads and settlements and will soon encircle East Jerusalem with housing developments being built on land illegally annexed.  The only thing the Palestinians have going for them is their birth rate:  they will soon constitute a majority in the pre-1947 mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River.

A settlement in the Middle East is strongly in the US national interest as the Israeli repression of the Palestinians has been a recruiting tool for militants worldwide, most of whom wind up blaming Washington.  It is reasonable to assume that the Obama Administration would like to have the whole festering Israel-Palestine mess go away, but, like the review of options on Afghanistan, our man in the White House is only listening to one side of the argument, and that side as always only offers the Israeli perspective.  According to Laura Rozen over at Politico, there are currently two task forces working with the White House and National Security Council on “options.”  But before anyone gets too excited by the unusual display of activity, it should be noted that the two groups are headed by Steven Hadley working with Sandy Berger and by Martin Indyk.

Both groups are reporting to Dennis Ross, who recently went to Israel to “seek more clarity from Israeli leaders on their security requirements.”  Indyk and Ross are well known as Israel-firsters and Berger is best remembered for having stuffed classified documents from the National Archive into his trousers.  Hadley, who worked for W, is best recalled for nothing in particular but he is along for the ride to show that the effort is bipartisan.  Obama would love to have some kind of two state solution and the Ross-Indyk-Hadley-Bergers would sorely love to deliver one, but on Israel’s terms.  Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren is reportedly part of the negotiating process, possibly the first time that an Ambassador of a foreign country has been allowed to sit in and influence the policy of the US relating to his own country, but why should anyone be surprised by that?

It is interesting to note that George Mitchell, the Administration’s designated rainmaker for Israel-Palestinian rapprochement, is nowhere in sight, leaving the task to those best equipped to appease Israel and its lobby.  And what they are trying to do is calculate what the absolute minimum might be that the Palestinians can accept to label a state while leaving the largest part of the pie to the Israelis, together with absolute control over a client nation of helots that they can then abuse at will.  That way it will look like there has been a two state solution, Obama will bask in glory long enough to get reelected and everyone that matters in Washington will be happy.

I know there are readers out there who must believe that there is actually a secret, underground State Department, possibly concealed somewhere in the Department of Agriculture, that is actually going around the world and doing what is best for America and its people.  Alas, it is not true and what we are seeing is what we are getting.  Consider how Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Pakistan last week to threaten its already shaky government into invading Waziristan to kill the militants who have been hiding there.  Joe suggested that American soldiers might do the job if the Paks are not up to it. 

It is difficult to imagine what Biden thought to accomplish by his performance, but a good outcome from all the saber rattling is hard to imagine.  Much like Hillary Clinton going around last week and calling on Arab countries to liberalize their political systems.  Sure Hillary, just like the Palestinians did when they elected Hamas in a free and fair election and Washington and Tel Aviv decided that the result was not quite acceptable.  What happens when the Muslim Brotherhood wins an election in Egypt? 

What will happen if parties unacceptable to Washington rise to the top in the current unrest in Lebanon and Tunisia?  It would all amount to much ado about nothing except that the consequences are deadly serious with American soldiers and local folks dying in their thousands because the Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes find it hard to admit that they have made a mistake.  Whether Obama or Palin is elected in 2012 almost seems irrelevant.  Six more years of this and we will be finished as a nation, bankrupt and despised everywhere, our only legacy a network of seven hundred-plus military bases falling into ruin worldwide, meant to give us peace and prosperity but delivering on neither.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Sarving up Palestine One Slice at a Time

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