Some Hope on Sad Friday



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It's orthodox "Good Friday" and I always wondered why it was called that. And here, it's not. The Arabic-speaking locals where Jesus was crucified call it "Sad Friday." Still, even here, Jesus is pictured as a European and does not have facial features resembling people from the region.

On the way from Ramallah to Jerusalem, one passes the Kalandia checkpoint, where art has sprung up on the wall Israel is building through Palestinian territory, helping to decimate Palestinian life.

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Gandhi was fond of saying that he was a Muslim and Hindu and a Jew and a Christian. That might have had an effect on me when I went to enter the grounds of the Dome of the Rock where both the Muslim guardians and Israeli soldiers asked me if I was a Muslim. I indicated I was.

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The Muslims were rather accepting; the Israeli soldiers less so; it was on their prompting that I said "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet," which I think technically makes me a Muslim and for that I have the Israeli military -- and Gandhi -- to thank. One Israeli soldier was quite disbelieving of my claim as I was leaving the grounds of the Dome of the Rock. In the midst of his interrogating me, a large group of Jews who seemed intent on praying on the ground of the Dome of the Rock appeared; the Israeli soldiers stopped them and -- after they were permitted to sing for quite a while -- they were shoved back.

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I've heard of right-wing Jewish groups who are intent on doing away with the mosque on the presumed hope that they will find a temple beneath it, but this group seemed act as thought they thought the mosque was theirs.

[originally published at husseini.org on April 21, 2006]

I'm not in Israel

Israeli Border Form

I'm in Ramallah and am filled with thoughts. Here is a simple one: Upon traveling from Amman to Ramallah yesterday, had a long hassle with Israeli authorities at Allenby Bridge; I had to fill out their form if I wanted to enter. It "asks": "IS IT YOUR FIRST VISIT IN ISRAEL." I responded "Yes" since I have been inside Israel in the past and wanted to get past the border military personnel; but I was going from the Allenby Bridge, near Jericho, to Ramallah. I am not going "in Israel." Which begs the question: What does Israel have to do with this; why are they controlling the border?

[originally published at husseini.org on April 20, 2006]

End the Myth of "Preemption"

The Bush administration has just released their National Security Strategy document which re-affirms the U.S. policy of so-called "preemption." The document actually states that "no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression."

But that is exactly what the Bush administration did.

Claiming that an action is "preemptive" presumes that there's something to preempt. Of course, there were no Iraqi WMDs. There was no imminent attack. There was nothing to preempt. But the use by many, not only in the Bush administration, but also alleged critics of it, of such a term assists in the war plans.

James Bamford titled his book "A Pretext for War," which is a rather good term. A "pretext war" is waged on alleged motives which have no relation to the actual motives for war.

Some use the term "preventive" war rather than "preemptive" war, since one might argue that the U.S. is out to prevent the emergence of something that might one day be a threat. But this too is dubious given the circumstances. What we are talking about with the U.S. government in Iraq is exactly what the Bush administration is trying to deny: aggressive war. With Iran or Syria we are talking about the threat of the use of aggressive war.

The Nuremberg Tribunal, when prosecuting Nazi war criminals called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing ... to initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

I raised this issue of the term "preemptive" with some "anti-war leaders" before the war -- and got dazed looks in return.

Three years after the invasion of Iraq, with all the rationales for war debunked, many alleged critics of Bush are still referring to the war as "preemptive."

The administration understands the terms and how to twist them to suit its purposes. Those who claim to oppose those purposes should understand the terms and use them properly if they really want positive change.

This is an aggressive war.

[originally published at husseini.org on March 16, 2006]

Syriana

This movie, much lauded by U.S. liberals, which purports to explain the dynamics of the contemporary Mideast, makes no mention of Israel.

[originally published at husseini.org on March 6, 2006]

Port-Mortem

Bush seems to recognize profiling -- when the alleged victim has $1 billion in their pocket. "Security hawks" find flaws with "government secrecy." "Free traders" go domestic. God willing, all the hypocrites will be reduced to the dust bin of history; but preserved there in intricate detail.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 22, 2006]

Pick Your Global Protests

Three years ago, on February 15, 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, there were quasi-global peace protests.

The streets of New York City, London, Rome, Madrid, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and many other places were filled with people protesting against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

It's a shame that those protests didn't happen earlier -- imagine if they happened before Congress gave its dubious "authorization" for war in October 2002, for example. It's conceivable at least that Bush would have had a harder time launching the invasion.

But it is more regretful that these protests have not grown; have not continued to include more of the globe and have not become deeper in nature. Quite the contrary, they have atrophied. Over a month ago I was on a program on Pacifica station WBAI's appropriately-named program "Wake Up Call" in New York with leaders from various groups: United for Peace and Justice, International Answer and International Action Center. I challenged them on their non-follow-up on global protests. They all ignored the point. [Listen at the Wake Up Call archive blog.]

In the last few weeks we have seen very different quasi-global protests in various Arab and Muslim countries sparked by the insulting depictions of Muhammad.

I don't think the two events are un-related. The "peace movement" in the U.S. has not meaningfully reached out to the rest of the world, most notably people in Arab and Muslim countries -- even as it criticizes Bush for his "unilateralism". Where are the regular global protests? Where are the global sister cities projects? Where are the internet chat rooms where people can cross cultures and learn about others' perspectives and organize for a more just world?

Why has the peace movement not built these structures? I suspect that it is because building a new just world from the ground up would first, require alot of work that goes beyond rhetorical denunciations of Bush; but it would also open the door to what I said: a new just world. That is, the global inequalities which currently exist would have to be addressed and ultimately eliminated. However much they are opposed to Bush, many in the U.S. I think must feel threatened by such a possibility. Working with others requires working with people raised in other cultures; that can be enrolling, it can also be uncomfortable and threatening.

So there are no global protests every month expressing solidarity and demanding justice. Instead, there are protests of the sort we are now seeing: a wounded and insulted people lashing out in an unproductive fashion.

So, we need to pick our protests. If people in places of privilege who say they want change really want to establish methods by which we can all interact with mutual respect and justice; then we need to have the courage to change and build a global peace and justice movement from the ground up. If we don't really want that, we'll do nothing substantial; gripe at Bush (and pro-war Dems for that matter) and then watch as other protests develop and gradually engulf the world.

Pick your protests. Pick your world.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 15, 2006]

A Political Confessional

As I understand it, one is not supposed to edit their own Wikipedia entry. Today I violated that rule by editing -- starting, really -- the entry on me, which was just a stub. The rub is I crited me:

Criticisms of Husseini

Husseini wrote the article "Follow the Policy: Why So Long for Iraq to Comply?" shortly before the invasion of Iraq. The piece purported to explain why Iraq hadn't complied with the United Nations disarmament demands. It ignored the possibility that Iraq had actually complied. This was the case even though Husseini in other instances had questioned the U.S. government claim that Iraq had not complied.

It felt good, but I of course reserve the right to respond to these allegations.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 13, 2006]

What Would Muhammad Do?

People being bombed, occupied and oppressed. Would the Prophet Muhammad -- if peace is to be upon him -- do what some of his alleged followers are doing? Would he be upset at how he is depicted -- or how the poor and oppressed are treated? Is peace to come to him with some people, in his name, acting as they do?

And so, people in "the West" can pretend that it's cartoons that Muslims are upset about; not bombings and occupations and oppression.

This global non-dialogue must end. True civilization must begin. 

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 7, 2006]

Post SotU - My Day Job Goes All Night

My work at "double you double you double you dot a sea see you are a see why dot oh are gee" has led to this one-page PDF crit of the State of the Union Address. If people can get photocopies made, and have the guts and love to share information with other people they see in the course of a day, we have the tools to build an information infrastructure to foster democracy at the local level. Let the blogosphere hit the grassroots. Samizdat away!

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 2, 2006]

To Effectively Challenge Bush, Democrats Need New Leadership

On Monday Al Gore gave a speech on the NSA spying and other issues filled with accurate accusations about the Bush administration. On Tuesday, this was defused by the White House pointing to the "hypocrisy" of someone from the Clinton-Gore administration, which had a very poor record on civil liberties, being a spokesperson on the issue. There was actually some substance to the charge, though the Bush administration hardly has standing on the issue.

The same pattern has been apparent on Iraq. Whenever the Bush administration has been cornered, for example on its lies about non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it has pointed to the Clinton administration and present-day Democratic leadership having made similar statements. Therefore the record and prominence of these Democrats is defacto helping the Bush administration continue its policies.

The Democrats are being led by people who voted to authorize the unconstitutional war -- such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton; and people who made warrentless claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction such as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, who have failed to even indicate repentance about their statements when given the opportunity to do so.

Republicans, when targeting a Democratic president have ditched their leadership to achieve their goal. In December 1998, as Clinton was facing the prospect of impeachment, Republican Bob Livingston was about to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. It was then revealed that Livingston had had affairs. On December 17, 1998, Livingston admitted to having affairs, but said he would not relinquish becoming House Speaker. Two days later, he resigned and the impeachment of Clinton proceeded. Notable, the Clinton administration appealed to Livingston to stay on.

There are Democrats who stood up to Bush before the war in one manner or another and have continued to so. The most obvious are Jim McDermott, who in 2002 said Bush was lying about Iraq, when it was manifestly unfashionable to do; Barbara Lee, who voted against one of the initial 9-11 presidential powers resolutions; Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in 2002 for her questioning of the administration and Dennis Kucinich who, among other things, held a series of hearings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion about the Bush administration's disinformation (I was a panelist at one of the hearings). I'm sure there are others.

If the Democratic Party wants to be a serious entity, the people who have been manifestly complicit with the Bush administration plans for war and unconstitutional actions -- or who claim to be so naive that they believed Bush's rhetoric -- need to step aside; and people who scrutinized Bush and have continued to do so need to become the leadership. If it wants to enable more of the Bush administration's policies, it will continue on its current track.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 19, 2006]