In the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, President Lyndon Johnson, in a clear nod toward countering Israeli territorial aggrandizement, stated that “no nation would be true to the United Nations Charter, or to its own true interests, if it should permit military success to blind it to the fact that its neighbors have rights and its neighbors have interests of their own.”
Johnson was right to be concerned that Israel’s military conquests would threaten the prospects for Arab-Israeli peace and degrade the human and national rights of Arab populations falling under its rule. The war had resulted in Israel establishing a military occupation of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula (which was not returned to Egyptian sovereignty until after the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty), the Syrian Golan Heights, and the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip (occupations which persist to this day). Although Israel dismantled its illegal settlements and removed military bases from the Gaza Strip in 2005, its land, air, and sea blockade of the coastal enclave, along with its border closures of the territory, is proof positive of Israel’s ongoing effective control over, and thus military occupation of, the Gaza Strip.
It was in this spirit of preventing Israeli territorial expansion that the Johnson administration played a leading role in drafting and passing United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 in November 1967. The resolution, which has formed the cornerstone of Israeli-Arab peacemaking efforts ever since its adoption, emphasizes the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
In his speech to the U.N. Security Council explaining his vote in favor of the resolution, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Arthur Goldberg noted that it is “entirely consistent with the policy of the United States.” He pledged “that the diplomatic and political influence of the United States Government will be exerted in support of the efforts of the United Nations special representative” to implement the resolution’s goals.
The Johnson administration’s relatively evenhanded policy, including the president’s call for “justice for the refugees,” hearkens back to a bygone era in which the United States could still plausibly claim to be an “honest broker” in attempting to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict. Sadly, that period is now but a distant memory, jettisoned in favor of unconditional U.S. diplomatic and military support for Israel that plays such a key role in cementing Israel’s military occupation of Arab territories and preventing the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.
Forty-five years after Israel occupied the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel’s grasp upon these territories is firmer than ever, thanks to its ongoing colonization of these lands, which makes a mockery of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and is illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an Occupying Power from transferring its civilians into Occupied Territories.
Yet, rather than uphold the legacy of U.S. diplomacy in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, the Obama administration has attempted to strip the resolution of meaning by using its one and only veto in the Security Council in February 2011 to prevent a mildly-worded condemnation of Israeli settlement activity. Instead of concurring with a1979 State Department legal memo concluding that Israeli settlement activity “is inconsistent with international law,” members of Congress boisterously cheered for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when in a May 2011 address to a joint session of Congress he denied the existence of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem and boasted that there are now nearly two-thirds of 1 million Israeli Jewish settlers.
Israel’s ongoing colonization of Arab territories and its obstinate refusal to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 are abetted not only by U.S. diplomatic and political support, but as consequentially through military means as well.
In June 1967, President Johnson declared that
“this last conflict has demonstrated the danger of the Middle Eastern arms race of the last 12 years. Here the responsibility must rest not only on those in the area – but upon the larger states outside the area…We have always opposed this arms race, and our own military shipments to the area have consequently been severely limited.”
Unfortunately, Johnson’s successors did not see fit to continue this policy of restraint, giving Israel more than $67 billion of U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid grants and loans in the four decades after the war (1968-2008). In 2007, the Bush Administration signed an agreement with Israel to provide an additional $30 billion in weapons from 2009 to 2018. Not unsurprisingly, such largesse has only encouraged Israel to entrench its military occupation and extend its illegal colonization while at the same time providing it with the materiel needed to enforce this brutal military occupation.
Despite the Arms Export Control Act restricting the use of U.S.-supplied weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense,” Israel systematically violates this law with impunity to commit grave human rights abuses of Palestinians living under military occupation. No wonder then that Amnesty International determined that U.S. weapons to Israel were “fuelling conflict” and called for an arms embargo.
Even as the prospects for a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict recede in the face of Israel’s implacable colonization of Palestinian land ostensibly designated for an independent state, the imperative of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 242 is as urgent today as it was 45 years ago.
A prerequisite for any just and lasting Arab-Israeli peace is for Israel to end its military occupation of all Arab land conquered in 1967. Despite Johnson and Goldberg interpreting UN Resolution 242 as not requiring a full Israeli withdrawal to its 1949 armistice lines, the resolution restates a clear principle of international law: territory cannot be acquired by force. The United States must recommit to this principle by immediately ending all forms of support for Israel that enable it to continue to defy the United Nations.
The recent praise from two US senators who described Malaysia a ‘model Muslim country’ has been described by PAS Murshidul Am as “embarrassing” to Muslims in the country.
According to Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the US government’s animosity against Muslims was well documented and as such the statement by former presidential candidate John McCain and former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman was like allowing a tiger to look after a herd of sheep.
“It is common knowledge that the United States has been against Muslims for so long, so it is baffling when they describe Malaysia a model Muslim country.
“It is no different than allowing the tiger to be the shepherd. We are embarrassed by such statement,” said Nik Aziz.
Among others, McCain, from the right-wing Republican camp and Lieberman, the first Jew to have vied for a post in a presidential race, praised prime minister Najib Razak for his efforts in “introducing reforms” and strengthening democracy.
The duo were in the country for Invest Malaysia 2012 Conference.
‘Discomfort with Muslim’
Last year, Lieberman criticised president Barrack Obama for the latter’s ‘fear of offending Muslims’, saying Obama was hurting US’s war on terror.
Lieberman was also chose to disappointed that Obama chose touse the phrase “violent extremism” instead of “violent Islamist extremism”.
“The administration still refuses to call our enemy in this war by its proper name: violent Islamist extremism,” Lieberman said.
McCain meanwhile invited controversy when in 2008, a pastor who was his spiritual advisor described Islam as “anti-Christ” and Prophet Muhammad as “the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil.”
McCain who lost to Obama in 2008 had also expressed his ‘discomfort’ at the prospect of a Muslim in the White House, referring to his rival’s Muslim roots.An excellent distinction was drawn by Mr. Ram Narayan, he said, “being successful in America and being successful in politics are two different things.”
On May 15, 2012, Jeremy Ben Ami, founder of J Street, and Bill Kristol, founder of The Weekly Standard and director of Emergency Committee for Israel, took part in a debatethat addressed commonly-held positions of the pro-Israeli community on the future of Israel and Palestine. The debate itself was uneventful, a surprise given the fact that J Street and the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) represent views that are on opposing ends of the political spectrum. Both parties remained civil and even-toned. Ben Ami reiterated views that are integral to the left-leaning pro-Israeli platform; Kristol, for the most part, refused to engage him by claiming ignorance of many of the issues raised.
Bill Kristol was plenty clear on one point, however: for Kristol, continuing the 45-year military occupation of the Palestinian territories for an indefinite amount of time is thedefault option if a two-state solution cannot be realized. Because neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are close to engaging in negotiations, it would seem the intent of the Israeli government is for the occupation to continue. However, the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory is transforming this military occupation into what appears like an outright expansion of the state of Israel. The settlements are limiting the amount of land available for a Palestinian state and the expansion contradicts the notion that any kind of “status quo” is being maintained.
The occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are owned by the Palestinians and are intended for a Palestinian state. That land is now diminishing rapidly under the authority and approval of the Israeli government. Since 1967, Israeli settlers have colonized much of the West Bank, which is approximately the size of Delaware. While the majority remains Palestinian, a substantial and increasing percentage of the region’s population is now Israeli. In June 2009, for example, the IDF reported that approximately 304,569 settlers lived in the West Bank; this represented a 2.3 percent increase since January of that year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel, by 2010, that number had reached 314,132 settlers in the West Bank; that’s an increase of 10,000 settlers in just the West Bank within one year. On the whole, over half a million Israeli settlers resided in the occupied territories in 2010.
The facts are available to those who investigate this subject. In March 2012 the Civil Administration, an agency within the Israel Defense Ministry, was forced to release maps and documents that demonstrate how 10 percent of the land in the West Bank has been designated outright to Israeli settlers. The documents also reveal that the wall that was constructed in order to maintain Israel’s security serves to strategically maximize the amount of Palestinian land granted to settlements. The Israeli Civil Administration is also seeking to legalize unauthorized outposts throughout the West Bank, which further increases the amount of land appropriated by Israel. These documents and policies lend credence to the hypothesis that the settlement-construction process has been orchestrated by the Israeli government. Inevitably, through the construction of these settlements and the legalization of unauthorized outposts, the state of Israel has been expanding.
That the settlements are expanding is hardly news to most people following the politics of the region. In 2010, for example, planning officials told Ha’aretz of plans to build 50,000 additional housing units in East Jerusalem alone; 20,000 of these housing units were already in advanced stages of approval and implementation. At that time, a representative of the NGO Ir Amim said that if these plans for construction go through, attaining a viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via a two-state solution would be nearly impossible. Along these lines, former President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, and leaders of European countries have urged Israel to halt the construction of settlements — to no avail. In anticipation of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval of further settlement construction, Fatah spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi declared, “What Netanyahu is doing is clearly at the scale of a grand deception.”
So is it possible for Israel to maintain the status quo, as Kristol asserted? With such rapid expansion, there is no static status quo. These takeovers of Palestinian land preclude the possibility of continuing the military occupation in its current form. Furthermore, the rapid expansion of settlements is rendering the possibility of two separate territories impossible. The settlements and the wall are rendering the borders between Israel and a hypothetical, already diminishing Palestine porous and fluid. These developments suggest that the current government of Israel is engineering a road to a greater Israel and not to two independent, sovereign states.
Tal Ben Shahar’s class in positive psychology was one of the most popular in the history of Harvard University. Yet despite his pedagogical success, four best-selling books, a consulting practice with Fortune 500 companies and sundry television appearances, he decided it was time to move home … to Israel. How he reached this decision and its implications are beautifully presented in an unusual film entitled “Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference.”
For me, there are two striking elements about this recent documentary. The first is the total absence of exploration of the supposedly unceasing and (often hyperbolized) strife that the word at large has come to associate with the modern Jewish State. The second is the clear presentation of an unarguable dedication to and successful implementation of the Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) that urgently bubbles throughout that tiny land mass in the most insistent, daring and intrinsic manner.
For instance, when the tragic earthquake of 2010 devastated Haiti, Israel, with its unfortunate but useful familiarity with public scenes of mayhem, was one of the first responders. Within days, Israeli doctors and army personal had set up a state-of-the-art field hospital and saved many lives. A pregnant woman named Jeanne-Michelle was so thankful to them for delivering her baby that she named the child Israel. The doctors interviewed saw this as an obligation, an obvious and necessary component of their national identity. This type of Israeli benevolence is as common as it is unrecognized. And it’s not just with Israel’s friends. Despite its status as mortal enemy No. 1, Israel offered similar assistance to the Islamic Republic of Iran after their devastating earthquake at Bam in 2003. Iran declined, preferring the death of its own citizens to the acceptance of help from the “Little Satan.”
Simcha Blass, a Polish immigrant to Israel, along with his son Yeshayahu, was a water engineer and a pioneer of the drip irrigation system — an invention that has literally allowed the desert to bloom by producing greater crop yield while using less water. Note Mark Twain’s description of the Israeli flora from his trip there in 1867: “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent, mournful expanse … a desolation … We never saw a human being on the whole route … Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere.” Things have changed. Israel is now an exporter of high quality produce all over the world (when not being needlessly boycotted) and has shared their water technology with many other countries with harsh climates such as Niger, South Africa and Senegal. These Israeli engineers take great pride in their assistance and the local populations are extremely grateful. Those beneficiaries don’t discuss perceived sieges and occupations as they are willing to recognize the true nature of the people helping them — congenial, habitual givers who are infused with the intuitive desire to make the world better.
Perhaps that it why Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agasi named his electric car company “Better Place.” He and his team are not just making the cars, but are creating a nation-wide system to fulfill his “vision of zero-emission vehicles powered by electricity from renewable sources — a reality in countries around the globe.” Perhaps Better Place will be the company that finally breaks the back of our fossil-fuel dependence and does more to green this planet than any other. In 2008 Israel became the first country to commit to the model and since then Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii and Ontario have followed suit. Why do we read more about check points than this revolutionary green technology? Why does a perverse Turkish flotilla attract so much more media attention than all of the cutting edge medical, agricultural and environmental innovation? Why is every defensive, counter-terror operation pathologically obsessed over while organizations such as Aleh,Yad Sarah and Magen David Adom passionately excel in caring, nurturing, assisting, providing and supporting the most challenged, needy, hurt and down-trodden members of Israeli society in ways that the whole world could learn from?
One is tempted to surmise that there are many people whose hatred of the Jews (not just Israel) and what we stand for simply overrides their ability to connect with the many values that they themselves hold and strangely causes them to identify with the enemies of the Jews — whose values they would normally disagree with. In favor of women’s rights? Where are you more likely to find them, in Tel Aviv or Gaza City? Think Democracy is a favorable political system? Where is it more alive, Jerusalem or Cairo? And amazingly, despite the ability of Muslims, Christians and others to hold office, vote and avail themselves of all of the rights and privileges of the government, Israel is called an “apartheid state” while actual apartheid states like Saudi Arabia — a place which I am unable to travel because I’m a Jew and allows no non-Muslims to visit Mecca — receives little opprobrium.
Inevitably, there will be those who will take the position that no amount of benevolence can make up for their perceived persecution of the Palestinians and Israel’s supposed use of disproportionate force in conflicts. It is a difficult thing to be misunderstood — to strive to do good only to be rebuffed and maligned for the attempts. It’s an odd claim, but the truth is that the Palestinians have no greater friend than Israel, which has happily built roads, schools, hospitals and industrial zones for them while always believing that both peace and prosperity were indeed possible. What other nation in the history of time has ever voluntarily entered into negotiations to give back land won in defensive wars and offered to split its ancient and historical capital in half? And as for warfare, Israel routinely incurs heightened risk to its own soldiers to minimize civilian casualties. As British Colonel Richard Kemp testified after the ’08 war in Gaza: “During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.”
There are many sources in Jewish canonical literature that demand moral excellence; “Justice, justice shall you pursue,” “Do not take revenge, do not bear a grudge, love your fellow as yourself,” “Remember the stranger, the orphan and the widow … you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.” These teachings have been etched into the collective consciousness of the Jewish nation and reverberate in our behavior to this day. We have many flaws as well, but the modern state of Israel should hold its head high. Despite its craven detractors, it remains on mission as “a light unto the nations.”
The first generation immigrants are still not a part of the society, our interests are narrower, reflective of our own groups, once we become universal in our approach, and put America first, and then we will have universal acceptability from most segments of the American society.
The immigrant Indians, be it Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Sikh, have India’s interests first over America’s (Remember our behavior after Pokhran?) interests, the Arabs have their own interests over American Interest, and the Jews have Israel’s interests first over American interests. Why should the majority of Americans who have American interests in their hearts elect someone whose loyalty to America comes second? Most of us are guilty with dual loyalty.
A comment was made that a Muslim or a Sikh can be president of India, a Christian can be the defense minister, and would that happen in America? The commentator expressed a doubt, if a Hindu or Buddhist will be elected President of the United States.
The story is different with India, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and others have fought together for Independence; they have given their blood to earn the freedom. India is theirs, no one has an advantage over the other and thank God for that. India is indeed an open society, we do have our share of bigots like all other nations, but still it is not as blatant with the general population as it is with a few.
Who gets to be the President or Prime Minister of India is not an issue, although the right wing (insecure) politicians have made an issue from time to time.
A few among us are still prejudiced, as they believe, “don’t do unto us in America, what we do to fellow Indians back home.”
The American story is different, we are all new here, and our numbers have become significant in the last 20 years and we have ways to go.
However, America is an open society, a true land of opportunity, and has done well giving a Catholic, and an African American a break. Despite a few bigots in the Republican Party, Romney will be the nominee; in fact those bigots are back peddling now.
Jindal and Haley are Americans first, they will go against India if they have to, you and I don’t have the balls to do that. We are too worried of being branded “drohi” by fellow “Desh drohi’s”. To put it bluntly, our loyalties are yet to be tested.
The day, we the Indian Americans demonstrate America first, no one will stop us from becoming the President of the United States.
The first decade of the twenty-first century is over. One stint of the third millennium is gone. May be it was a challenging time for Muslims. But, when it was not? Perhaps, more such times are in store. More challenges would be waiting for us to respond. Many sleepless nights and tiring days await our mettle. The past looks like a horrific epoch, the present is also testing our perseverance and attentiveness but the future might be mindboggling and evermore callous. We are not sure what is there for us with the Providence. But, we cannot escape the falling days. We have to live them. We have to live every moment of them. Here comes the question, how?
Muslims have the largest denominational population in the world. They have 56 countries to boast of. They are custodians of immense natural resources. They have the culture which had left indelible marks on human history. They have the religion which attracts thousands of souls every year from a cross section of humanity in spite of the venomous propaganda against it. Then, what lacks?
Externally, Muslims are deficient in only one thing. They are not dexterous to break the shell of imposed segregation. Through systematic propaganda and deployment of ‘Muslim’ elements for a realistic show, the hegemonic forces have created the confusion among Muslims as well other fellow beings that they are enemies to each other. Muslims think that they are in the whirlwind of an insurmountable hatred and animosity perpetuated by ‘others’; whereas ‘others’ are made to believe that if there is any problem in the world, it is the Muslims. This vertical division of humanity into supposedly two incompatible worlds is the real strength and success of the well known hegemonic forces.
Internally, Muslims are also deficient in only one thing. They have lost their faith in themselves. They are made to think that they cannot acquire a steering wheel. They must better follow others since they are ‘backwards’. They live in past. They are fragmented. They are heavily dependent on others’ contribution. They are humanity’s burden. They are not creative. They are not contributory. They have no future role and therefore no future at all.
A deeper analysis would make it clear that these two deficiencies are actually nothing but only one dilemma; rather the byproducts one thing, the ‘identity crisis’. Like a patient suffering from amnesia, neither we are recognizing ourselves nor our surroundings in a better way. We have forgotten that we are the creation of an assignment. Our only identity is our sensitivity towards that assignment. Without engaging ourselves in that assignment we are really nothing. The Qur’an has beautifully spelled out this assignment in these words “Ye are the benevolent people raised for mankind”. So, without benevolence to humanity we are naught, just zero.
Our journey beyond ‘now’ must incorporate this key aspect of our very existence as a Muslim. Our any quantum of benevolence towards others would unfold a friendly world around. Our very thinking towards that end would purify our spirits and energize us for taking up the assignment in the right earnest. It will break the shell of segregation and it will give meaning to our life. It will give us the positive strength we are craving for. It will set our mission right. It will do wonders with us and others. The stronger we join ourselves with others the weaker the divisive forces will be. The fervently we engage ourselves with others the faster we will raise our mission.
Our struggle to have cognizance of our own identity has the real worth for our future. Right now we have the sense of identity but the wrong identity. We are just not a tribe, a caste, a community, or a nation but a proactive humanity, called Ummah. There could be only two groups within humanity, proactive and reactive. Presently we are on the other side of our identity. If we are just reactive we are not part of the Ummah. If we are not proactive we are not part of the Ummah. Let us join Ummah by becoming proactive at our own level. Let us join Ummah by opening our warm arms for everyone. Let us join Ummah by feeling concern for every suffering soul. Let us join Ummah by becoming people-oriented as desired in the very definition of Ummah, i.e. Ummah lin-Nas (the group for People).
The human engagement is our panacea. Our mission! Our future!! Our journey beyond now!!!