Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Palestine and Israel (I/P) - My Position

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, a little bit after midnight (actually Thursday morning), I am scheduled to be interviewed by talk show host LiAmi Lawrence on RADIOKOLAMERICA.COM

LiAmi's audience are primarily Israeli citizens living in America, but he tells me that he also has a very diverse audience. 

The program will run 9-11 p.m. PST, which starts at midnight on the East Coast.  I will be the first interview so tune in at midnight and you should hear us shortly after.

I wanted to think out loud here a little bit ahead of tomorrow's interview.

Many people are interested in my story because I was raised Jewish (by a Christian mother and a Jewish father) and converted to Islaam later in life.  Many people, both Muslims and non Muslims, find it curious that a Jew could be attracted to Islaam.  I'm not sure why, because both religions have a LOT in common. 

So people are always interested in my story.  And they are especially amused at the thought of a former Jew being a Muslim chaplain. 

Two principal things caused me to leave Judaism:  Jesus and Zionism.

My mother never converted to Judaism after marrying my father, and she remained a practicing Christian, actually a Catholic.  Because of that, my brother and I were exposed to Christianity and its beliefs.  After my parents divorced, when I was about 12 years old, she forced us into Catholic baptisim and it was then I learned about Jesus (as).

Although I never believed that Jesus (as) was the son of G-d, nor did I believe that he was part of a trinity, or that G-d Himself was part of a trinity, Jesus (as) left a mark on my heart.

So as a child, it was initially Jesus (as) who started to pull me away from the religion of Judaism.  Although he left a mark on me, he didn't totally pull me away from Judaism due to Zionism.  I had an identity as a Jew and at the time I didn't know I could still culturally and ethnically identify myself as Jewish while being a member of another religion (Islaam) at the same time.  I now know that is possible.

I consider myself a cultural and ethnic Ashkenazi Jew (Polish) who is a Muslim. 

I was an ardent Zionist through my mid twenties.  I loved Israel and wrote many poems to her.  I published one on here before.  Like many other Jews, I didn't know anything about Palestine or Palestinians.  1948 and 1967 were sources of pride to me, but I didn't understand why at the time.  I was ignorant of the facts on the ground.  All I knew was that "we" got "our" country back - finally. 

When I became a Muslim, I started to learn.  First of all, it became clear very early to me that a lot of Muslims didn't like us (Jews).  Well, what's new, I thought.  I lot of people don't like us.  But I began to learn why many Muslims didn't like us.  And it had to do with Israel/Palestine (I/P). 

So I began to research ...

Because of my identify, my heart is with all the people in that land. 

But more importantly, as a human being, I cannot stomach what is going on over there.  It makes me sick and ashamed.

I want it to be different.

What goes on over there happens in a lot of places all over the world.  But for Jews, with a collective memory of the Holocaust, to subject the Palestinians to a lot of what we were subjected to in Eastern Europe makes me sick.

I wanted to collect my thoughts in one place and put them down on paper, in this case a computer screen.  I also want to raise awareness. 

This is a list of what I object to:

1.  The humanitarian 
impact of Israeli measures in Occupied Palestinian Terroritory (OPT)

Under international law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the fulfilment of their human rights, including the right to housing, health, education, and water. UNRWA calls on Israel to respect its legal obligations.

2.  The Separation Wall


Israel states that this wall is necessary in order to protect it, to prevent the access to Israel by Palestinian suicide bombers.  Building a wall around "Israel" is reminiscent of the East Berlin Wall.  It impedes access to education and healthcare for the Palestinian people and healthcare workers.  Besides, it is downright fucking humiliating and degrading.  It separates Palestinian families. 

The UN International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's barrier is illegal and that it violates International Law.  The court said it should be torn down.  But Israel has ignored this ruling and the Separation Wall stands.

3.  Illegal Settlement Building

It is prohibited under international law for Israel (or any other country) to transfer its citizens to occupied terrority.  But Israel continues to allow "settlers" to build and expand in occupied terrority.  Extreme settlers engage in violence against Palestinians in a measure called "price tags."  On the rare occasion when the Israeli government rules against the settlers, they take revenge and retaliate against Palestinians.  There is also a price tag on Palestinian violence in the form of mosque burning, destruction of Palestinian agriculture and animals, burning of olive groves, physical assaults, vandalism of wells and property, and on and on.  One hateful price tag occurs when settlers (who are usually on hilltops) open their sewage and allow it to pour down on to Palestinian towns and into Palestinian fields.  And no, it doesn't fertilize the fields, it destroys them.

4.  The status of East Jerusalem

To include planning and zoning restrictions, house demolitions and displacements, residency status problems, etc.

5.  Annexation and Land Confiscation

To include declaring Palestinian owned land as a closed military zone.  This is the only declaration Israel legally can use to appropriate Palestinian land under international law and they take full advantage (mis-use) of it.

6.  Refugees

There are Palestinian refugees who have been driven out of their land or who have fled all over the world.  But they are especially living in numeorus refugee camps surrounding Israel in places like Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

What is to be done with all of these people?  What rights do they have?

Refugees have an internationally recognized right of:

a.  right of return - whether they fled or where forced
b.  compensation for damages
c.  right to regain their properties or receive compensation
d.  right to support for voluntary resettlement

right is supported by customary international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights laws.  In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body, and has also been recognized by independent organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  The U.S. government supported Resolution 194, and voted repeatedly to affirm it until 1993. At that time, the Clinton administration began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as matters to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict. (source)


I'm purposely 
not going into a lot of detail here on any of what I mentioned above, like I said, I'm just trying to organize my mind. 

I'm not interested in Israeli justifications, rationalizations, excuses, or anything else for why they do what they do.

I am against violence - whether it's aimed at the Palestinian population OR the Israeli population.

There are three major positions for resolution of the I/P problem.  Yes, there are others, but these three are the most often put on the table.

1.  Israel wants it all.

2.  The Palestinians want it all (back).
3.  A two-state solution.

Here's my position:  a two-state solution based on 1967 agreements as a starting point.  My position is not popular among many Muslims, believe me. 

But let's get real.  Israel is not going anywhere.  Do Muslims really believe that some day Israel will be wiped off the map?  But there must be justice and a resolution for the Palestinian people.

Allahu Alim.  Only G-d knows this.

But for now, what is needed is a solution to this madness.  The two sides must engage in real talk.  They must stop with all the excuses and why they can't "get 'er done." 

It appears to be the leaders of both I/P that impede the peace process.

Survey after survey show that people want peace. 

There are both Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights organizations that are working hard to make peace happen.  Let's pray for these people and groups that they are successful in driving public opinion and public policy.

So, hopefully, you will listen to me tomorrow night.  LiAmi tells me his website will have a link to the interview in case you can't stay up late.

Keep me in your du'a.


Safiyyah said...

Just finished the interview! It went well, I think. We didn't talk about I/P much, but more of my personal story. Thanks to LiAmi and his co-host who were so nice, and thanks for the opportunity. Gave out my website link during the interview so hopefully will meet new people and have interesting, respectful dialogue.

teeraljannah said...

I would like to watch, please post the link when you can!

American Muslima Writer said...

Yes please do post the link when you can.

Masha'Allah I agree.

Well said.

Well said.

T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T said...

Basically with this logic (and you're certainly an intelligent individual), we should've expected South Africa to settle for a two state solution, a state for the blacks and a state for the whites, to avoid mingling, similar to the status quo in the holy land which is even worse. Creating a Palestinian state next to Israel will not stop the chaos, it will incite more (border mayhem, protection of Israeli frontiers by Palestinian authorities that will trigger rebels etc). When Israel realises the racism of its laws and apartheid, restructured its system and the obligatory loyalty to the "Jewish state", lets the refugees back, encourage real secular values for a multitude of religions, apologizes for the land theft, humiliating strip search of Palestinians, targetted killings and demolitions, then we can talk. The name ISRAEL (although mentioned in the Quran endlessly) is now socially and politically associated with Jewish supremacy, racism, bloodshed and aparthied. I'm against ethnic nationalism and nationalism of all sorts, Muslim oriented included. One country, one land, MANY people; anything else and it's an eternal war! That being said, opposing Israel politically is in no way to be taken as opposing Judaism or the Jews in general. Although this exists amongst many Muslims unfortunately that many anti-zionists are also fervent anti-semitics. The latter collaboration is not acceptable for the inticement of hatred to an already dire situation. Finally, Safiyyah, I'd love to be in contact with you on a personal level. I absolutely love your blog and your writing. It's often that I beg to differ, but it's simply due to my love of a good debate. If you don't mind, I'd love to be a friend and a sister in faith. Much love, T.

Safiyyah said...

@ T - I think that the SA situation, while being similar, is not the same.

I don't personally think that one big happy state would work. What is important to the Zionists is a JEWISH state. Not a state with majority Jews and a few other people. Look at what's happening right now: even Christian churches in EAst Jerusalem are being "price-taged" by extremeists. Too many folks over there want it all. On the other hand, why should the Jews have their own state with its own demography? Lebanon, for example, has a huge Palestinian refugee population that will probably not be returning to their homes anytime soon. Yet, Lebanon will not give citizenship to these people because it would upset their delicate demographic balance. Lebanon for the Lebanonese. But who is a Lebanonese? Same thing with Palestinians. When Jordan was giving Palestinians Jordanian citizenship, the PLO objected and asked Jordan to stop. Never mind that they had Jordanian citizenship themselves, lol. But, in principle only, the suggestion is that the people should have a Palestinian identity, not a Jordanian identity.

Safiyyah said...

Oh, T - contact me any time :)

Safiyyah said...

Yuck, I meant to type "why SHOULDN'T" the Jews have their own state

T said...

Thank you for replying, Safiyya. This is a very delicate and complicated issue. Answering why shouldn't the Jews have their own state is an interesting point, one that several orthodox Jews replied to by saying Jews are not allowed to have a state till the messiah descends - along the lines - for divine reasons. This is biblically speaking from the point of view of a group of Jews in the US for example who are anti-zionist. Politically speaking, the matter becomes the complete opposite of scripture. Before the British mandate of Palestine, Palestine had had Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities living side by side, despite my criticism of many Ottoman mishandling of affairs in its empire. Although the Jewish community was a minority - Jews living in Palestine and other arab countries did not face the prosecution or massacres they had faced in Eastern Europe, Russia, Germany and elsewhere, and if they claim Arabs were violent to them, it is in frustration to the Palestinian question (Saddam Hussein kicking out the Iraqi Jews out of Iraq who considered Iraq home is not something any Arab or Muslim should be proud of nonetheless!). Spanish Iberia (Andalous), the Jewish community had prospered side by side Muslims with Islamic rule. the Patio of the lions are testament to that in the Alhambra Palace today (it was a gift from the spanish Jews to the Hakam) that Jewish icon physicit and philosopher Maimonides was able to write his jewish theology books which are still in reference today. The myth that Jews cannot live with Muslims (Arabs or not), is easily refuted by simple history (A documentary on the history of the Jews quotes a rabbi from the US who mentions the sharp contrast between the sephareds and ashkenaz when the former migrated to the US, speaking Arabic along with their version of Hebrew, being better educated and better off financially). Besides that. During the British mandate and the zionist plot to take over from the British, some Jews dressed up as Arabs entering bedouin villages to view entrances and exits, were warmly welcomed by the bedouins only to be killed the next morning or kicked out of thier farms/villages. The first bombing in Palestine was by the Haganah against the British (King David hotel bombings, air force, sabotage of Haifa railroads) all the while running clandestine mass immigration operation from Eastern Europe and North Africa. You're right, it's not the same as in South Africa. It's far worse. Founded on violence, it cannot survive without it to maintain its nuclear weapons and subjugation of all other ethnicities. On the other hand, Jewish communities today in the Maghreb refuse to make Aliyah despite the calls of Israel. They simply don't want to, Tunisia/Morocco is their home since centuries! I visited the Tunisian Synagogue (the Ghriba) which dates to the 5th century (oldest synagogue in the world!)despite the savage attacks it faced in 2002, it is part of the Tunisian heritage as well. I was very fortunate to have had a wonderful conversation with a Tunisian Jewish silversmith in Djerba from whom I bought beautiful silver necklace. he said "Here as a Jew, I have more rights and protection than even a Muslim". I was quite happy and rather surprised to hear that expecting him to tell tales of misery. I apologize for endlessly going on, this matter specifically is of major interest to me. There is an interesting lecture by Palestinian rights advocate Lebanese American Prof Asad Abukhalil who will best answer you about the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan (btw many of those who were "offered" citizenship refused it, palestinian flame of identity is not fading with the ethnic cleansing of the land) - both of whom he visited, and speaks from secular humanism background on the Case Against Israel rather than a religious one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKvJrf3bOnY&feature=related there are 5 parts. Let me know your thoughts, please. Much love, T.