New Age Islam Edit Bureau
22 September 2015
Zionists Eyeing Al-Aqsa
By Ramzy Baroud
Saleh, Houthis In Trouble
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Why Bans Never Work
The Desperate Plight Of The Syrian Refugees
By Anwer Mooraj
Zionists eyeing Al-Aqsa
Published — Tuesday 22 September 2015
Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine, based on a series of objectives that were initialed by letters from the Hebrew alphabet, the consequences of which continue to guide Israeli strategies to this day. The current violence against Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem is a logical extension of the same Zionist ambition.
Plan A (February, 1945), Plan B (May, 1947) and Plan C (November, 1947) all strove to achieve the same end: The ethnic cleansing of Palestine of its original inhabitants. It was not until March 1948 that Plan Dalet (Hebrew for Plan D) brought together all of the preparatory stages for final implementation.
Championed by the Haganah Jewish militias, “Plan Dalet” saw the destruction of hundreds of villages, the depopulation of entire cities and the defense of the new country’s borders, ensuring Palestinian refugees are never allowed back. For Palestinians, that phase of their history is known as the “Nakba,” or the “Catastrophe.”
“Dalet” was an astounding success from the Zionists’ viewpoint. However, the borders were never truly defined — in order to allow for territorial expansion, at the opportune time. That moment came when Israel launched its war of 1967 (known to Palestinians as “Naksa” or the “Setback”), seizing East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, thus sealing the fate of entire historic Palestine.
Occupied Jerusalem was not open for negotiations: It is Israel’s historic, eternal and undivided capital, they claimed, citing or misinterpreting biblical references as they saw fit. Almost immediately, the Israeli government annexed Jerusalem by extending the West Jerusalem municipal borders to include East Jerusalem.
It was not until 1980 when Israel passed a law that explicitly annexed the illegally occupied city to become part of the so-called Israel proper.
Since then, Jerusalem has been a major point of strife, political conflict and controversy. The fate of Jerusalem and its holy sites cannot be understood separately from the fate of Palestine.
As West Jerusalem was conquered under “Plan Dalet,” East Jerusalem, like the rest of the occupied territories was, along with other Palestinian regions, the target of another plan: The “Allon Plan.”
It was named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli vision for the newly conquered Palestinian territories. While the Israeli government moved to immediately change the status quo governing East Jerusalem, the “Allon Plan” sought to annex more than 30 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza for “security purposes.”
It stipulated the establishment of a “security corridor” along the River Jordan, as well outside the “Green Line,” a one-sided Israeli demarcation of its borders with the West Bank. The plan envisioned the incorporation of all of the Gaza Strip into Israel and was meant to return parts of the West Bank to Jordan as a first step toward implementing the “Jordanian option” for Palestinian refugees, i.e., ethnic cleansing, coupled with the creation of an “alternative homeland” for Palestinians.
While the plan did not fully actualize, the seizure, ethnic cleansing and annexation of occupied land was a resounding success. Moreover, the “Allon Plan” provided an unmistakable signal that the Labor government, which ruled Israel at the time, had every intention of retaining large parts of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with no intention of honoring United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which challenged Israel’s military takeover of Palestinian territories.
To ensure seizure of new land would be irreversible, the Labor government needed to move some of its citizens (in violation of the Geneva Conventions) to the occupied territories. To capitalize on the government’s alluring settlement policies in the West Bank, a group of religious Jews rented a hotel in the Palestinian town of Al-Khalil (Hebron) to spend Passover at the “Cave of the Patriarchs,” and simply refused to leave, sparking the biblical passion of religious Orthodox Israelis across the country, who referred to the West Bank by the Biblical name, Judea and Samaria.
The move ignited the ire of Palestinians, who watched in complete dismay as their land was conquered, renamed and, later, settled by outsiders. In 1970, to “diffuse” the situation, the Israeli government constructed the “Kiryat Arba” Settlement on the outskirts of the Arab city, which invited even more orthodox Jews to Al-Khalil.
Little has changed since, save the fact that the current Israeli government is a government of settlers, who are not engaged in a symbiotic relationship with the government but who dominate a political establishment that is teeming with zealots and fanatics, relentless on changing the status quo in Jerusalem, starting with Haram Al-Sharif, or the “Noble Sanctuary.”
Haram Al-Sharif is one of the holiest Islamic sites, but this is not just about religion. Israeli politicians have been “debating” the status of Haram Al-Sharif for many months, as right-wing, religious and ultra-nationalists elements are advocating the complete appropriation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, currently under the management of the Islamic Trust (known as “Waqf.”)
Israel’s new Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan is repressing any Palestinian in Jerusalem who dares challenge new Israeli rules regarding Muslim access to Al-Aqsa. Scores of Palestinians have been shot, beaten and many more arrested in recent days as they have attempted to confront Israeli police who escort Jewish extremists on their provocative “tours” of the Muslim holy site.
The current conflict suggests a repeat of what took place on Feb. 25, 1994 when a US-born Jewish fanatic, Baruch Goldstein, stormed into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of Al-Khalil and opened fire. Over 50 Palestinians were killed while kneeling for prayer on that day. In the name of “keeping the peace,” the Israeli army took over the mosque and began regulating Muslim access to it, allowing Jewish worshippers to the Palestinian holy site.
Israeli politicians now want to see the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s status changed as well. The government wants to ensure its complete dominance over Palestinians, while the extremists wanted to demolish the mosque. But to change the status of Haram Al-Sharif, which has been an exclusive Muslim site for the last 1,300 years, much blood would have to be spilled. That, too, is being managed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has successfully pursued the country’s attorney general to permit the use of sniper fire against protesting Palestinian youth.
The fact that plans to conquer even the remaining symbols of Palestinian nationhood and spirituality have finally reached Al-Aqsa is particularly alarming. Considering the turmoil throughout the Middle East region and the ineffectual Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu is likely to push forward with his plan, no matter the price or the consequences.
Saleh, Houthis in trouble
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
22 September 2015
Less than five months after seizing power, Yemen’s rebels are now in a catastrophic situation.
They are trapped without petrol or diesel. They have no electricity, port, airport, financial resources or international recognition. On top of that, due to the heavy shelling, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his leaders are sleeping in basements and the Houthis are hiding in the mountains.
This is a victorious war that faced difficult circumstances. In March, the Houthis had taken over much of Yemen, with the help of the former President Saleh’s forces. They refused all political solutions, although they were granted the majority of seats in the government.
Today, however, they are hiding in Sanaa and some isolated cities in the north. Hudaydah port has come under heavy shelling by coalition forces to prevent insurgents from using it, and as a result, it is now closed.
The capital, Sanaa, is now besieged; legitimate government forces, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are positioned a few kilometers away. These forces came from the province of Maarib after taking that over and changing the course of the war. Whether these forces enter Sanaa or not, the situation in Yemen has completely changed for the rebels affiliated to Iran and Saleh. They lost the strategic cities of Aden in the south and Marib in central Yemen. Keeping what they already seized will now cost them dearly.
The United Nations and major countries are now officially dealing with Aden as the temporary capital of Yemen. They are collaborating with the government, which returned to Aden from its exile in Riyadh, led by Khaled Bahah. This is the sole representative of the Yemeni people in terms of diplomatic norms and legal recognition. On the ground, the victories in Aden and Maarib have encouraged regions to declare loyalty to the government, and against the rebels, without significant clashes. This is why Houthis are trying to lead propaganda battles on the remote northern Saudi border, to keep the morale of their militias and followers
Even without Sanaa, the legitimate government is considered to be presiding over a country with Aden as the alternative capital. Marib is the country’s oil center and vital economic force; without it, Saleh will have to pay for the cost of war and the salaries of his troops from his personal safe at home. Similarly, the Houthis also lost their main source of money — and will have to wait until Iran pays them to finance their operations outside Saada.
With the support of Saudi Arabia and its allies, the government in Aden will neither need to run oil-production plants in Marib, nor reopen the 500-km pipeline to the Red Sea. It will deprive its opponents of the main refinery products, without which, they will run out of their stock of fuel and their forces will be impaired. They might also shut down the electricity plant that is also based in Marib. This power plant also supplies electricity to Sanaa.
For this, the Yemeni government forces do not have to liberate the rest of Yemen, and can be content with their current victories. For they are already in control of the oil, money and power. The rebels will be forced to negotiate — and accept a lower offer than was presented to them a month ago.
Why bans never work
September 22, 2015
They are regressive, reactive, redundant, and counter-productive.
One of my earliest memories of the "don'ts" was the familial ban on the Indian films Insaaf ka Tarazu, and Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Both films had the sultry siren Zeenat Aman, both were "banned" so as not to corrupt the impressionable minds of staid teenagers in the Zia-governed Pakistan. I saw the former when I was in college, and the latter I've yet to see. Aman's body, strategically covered in a wispy piece of cloth too flimsy to be a sari, too skimpy to be mistaken for a ghagara-choli, and too desi to be a sarong, without any pretence of undergarments, writhing under a waterfall drenched to the skin, and sashaying, barely clad, towards the very gorgeous Shashi Kapoor became the first celluloid ban of my young life. Little did I know every second thing around me was banned, furthermore many more would be banned as I became wiser and less of a daydreamer.
Notwithstanding the fact that many of the bans put into place by government are on stuff that is already prohibited in Islam, there is no denying another very simple fact: bans do not work. Nope. Never did, never will. Bans merely evoke myriad reactions in very exasperated people, and the aftermath is mostly an overdoing of the banned stuff on the sly. In contradiction to his personal choices that he practised without any pretenses, the uber sophisticated sartorialist Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto thought taking Pakistan to the other extreme, fundamentalism, would win him the support of the clergy, and without much ado, he banned liquor-consumption, gambling, and nightclubs. Not only did he not win the puritan brigade over, his April 1977 act of prohibition unleashed the genie of uncontrolled drinking in Pakistan. Savouring a couple of drinks in a bar gave way to drinking like there is no tomorrow. Tomorrow of self-restraint and caution.
Pakistan on particularly unoriginal days is known as Banistan, as the rational and the liberal cringe at the logic of banning things in the 21st century. It's one thing for things to never be in use, but to assume a ban would stop people from indulging in it secretly is a fallacy commonly used as a tool to whip people into submission (no pun intended). When an inconsequential film's trailer appeared, people went on a rampage in their own countries, destroying their own property, and harming their own people, in Pakistan the next step was the banning of YouTube. And while YouTube, still banned, and still in use in numerous contexts, many of them instructive and educational, its ban has also highlighted one secret Pakistanis were too happy to conceal until hell froze over: many Pakistanis seek gratification in pornography. Yes, that makes them utterly human, and typically sexualised. And very bad in the eyes of the puritan brigade, whose proclivity for watching banned pornography is another banned subject.
Ban a book; it would be the best marketing push it could have in the time of lazy readers, and the invention of e-readers. Ban a film, and that becomes a guarantee of record business online, and on pirated dvds. Ban a food item, and you ruffle not merely culinary feathers but also open a Pandora's box of resentment and religious persecution. Ban a religious organisation that incites hatred and violence, and funds acts of terrorism within and outside the homeland, and before you exclaim good-riddance, it's back.repackaged and rebranded as a social-work organisation. Ban a political leader who talks more tommyrot than Donald Trump injected with heroin, and you create a martyr. Ban dancing in clubs, and create a parallel world of drunken soirees that go into wee hours of night, and inebriated drivers who kill or get killed. Not necessarily in that order. Ban ads of condoms, while the number of unwanted pregnancies, and the business of illegal abortions flourish faster than teenagers making out in a car going from base one to three. Ban TV anchors for talking against the military or judicial high brass, and you see them become heroes. Ban. O the endlessness of bans.
Human beings are genetically programmed, it seems, to have fascination for things that are off-limits to them. Remember the story of that couple in paradise, where a forbidden apple became their undoing? Men have renounced thrones for women who they were told, all politically correct and polite, unfit for them. Women have tossed diamonds like Le Cour de la Mer, big enough to buy small countries, in memory of men they knew they couldn't marry. Fine, that I just took from the Titanic. The crux of the matter is ingenuous: banning of things evokes a negative response invariably, and every negative has an equal and opposite reaction, in my mind. The increase in desire and its practice. Other than curbing hate-speech, and incitement to violence, I find bans to be regressive, reactive, redundant, and counter-productive. As long as minds have the power to think.Oh never mind. What if someone thinks of banning minds now? Or are they already banned?
The best way to ascribe irrelevancy to things is to NOT ban them. In fact, give the idea of banning the ban some serious thought. Bans induce an allure, and you know how human beings like to be lured.
The desperate plight of the Syrian refugees
By Anwer Mooraj
September 19, 2015
It’s depressing, isn’t it? Those flashes of media sadism. These days every time you switch on the international news channels, they show you hordes of refugees crossing the oceans in ill-equipped boats or trudging across countries in a bid for a better life. A popular destination is the bloc that doesn’t seem to understand anything anymore — Europe — the place where sandwiches have more than two ingredients.
The migrants come from different parts of the world, victims of strife or man’s inhumanity to man. First it was the Rohingya, and the world learned that the Burmese army had a new Special Forces unit — the Buddhist priests. Currently, it’s the Syrians. The reactions of the Europeans have been mixed and one cannot deny that both moral and humanitarian concerns have been interlaced with considerations of race and religion before a country decided how it should react to requests for asylum. In Asia, the most receptive country has been Turkey that has taken in almost half of the Syrian refugees. Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have also done their bit. In the Gulf, the UAE has taken in 250,000 refugees, while the combined total of oil-rich Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain is a fat zero. That’s what makes the filigree of narrative so compelling.
The surprise is South America, where Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have joined the humanitarian club. In Europe, the Austrians, Germans and Swedes have been most welcoming in accepting applications for asylum. The British and French reception was slower, but it came eventually. And so did the Americans and Canadians who responded favourably, though they took in a trifle.
But it was the snotty-nosed Hungarians who behaved abominably. For them it was a crippling embarrassment. Muslims were not welcome, even if some of them looked like Latvians who had just spent a summer on the Cote d’Azur. The Hungarians pushed every button on the panic switchboard and thought of a number of humiliating ways to irritate the unwanted guests. The refugees were herded into pens and packets of food were thrown over a fence as if they were feeding a pack of Afghan hounds. They used tear gas and water cannon when the mob got rowdy, and packed them like sardines into rolling stock and sent them to the Serbian and Austrian borders. It was bad enough that Hungarian photographers were tripping Syrian children and women before taking their photographs.
But then, the Hungarians were always a murky lot. Even during the Second World War they were up to no good and sent thousands of Jews to labour camps in Poland. Why Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb, wanted to shoot an Austrian Archduke and his wife instead of a Hungarian and start the First World War, I will never know. What is remarkable is that even the Serbs, the chaps who not so very long ago massacred the Bosnians and the Albanians, and had to be taught a lesson by Bill Clinton, bitterly criticised the Hungarians.
The Syrians are in this mess because the world has abandoned them — the United Nations is dysfunctional, Europe has become particularly feeble, America keeps making promises, Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting each other, countries in the Gulf are busy funding terrorist organisations and attracting tourism, the Chinese are sprouting proverbs and Russia, well… the less said about Russia, the better. But I wonder why neither of the two highly popular international news channels, CNNand the BBC, have devoted a special programme to discussing just how the Syrians had gotten into this sordid mess in the first place? Would they start with George W Bush’s blitzkrieg on Iraq? Or the clandestine and arcane funding of the Islamic State?