Fedwa Wazwaz

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian- American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. By profession, she is a senior data warehouse programmer with the University of Minnesota. Read more about Fedwa Wazwaz.

Posts about Violence

Do we believe all lives are sacred?

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: February 6, 2015 - 6:18 AM

Thee alone do we worship, and Thine aid alone we seek. Show us the straight way, The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray. (Quran 1:5-7)

When the US was beginning to wage war against Iraq, the discourse in the public square was highlighting how evil Saddam Hussein is, and a laundry list of the evil he does plus speculation that he might have weapons of mass destruction.

The same programming is played over and over again after our relations with other leaders turns sour. Each side goes to their airwaves to promote themselves as the champion and protector of their people, hyping their people up and showing how evil the other is.  

The pictures and conversations when relations were good between such people goes into hiding, as well as the secret talks and deals on how to strike a deal that robs and oppresses others.

Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, said it best on his social media accounts:

These violent extremists kill, burn alive, torture, rape... Westerners, Japanese, Jordanians, Muslims and people of other faiths... While some States imprison, rape, torture and kill.

Muslims are caught between these two madnesses. Now the silent majority - full of spirit, moderation and courage -, must speak up against these two objective allies of their historical failure. We cannot play the victims anymore and we must confront both the extremists and the despots at the same time. If we are serious, and ready to stop being apologetic.

There is no question in my mind that ISIS is a barbaric movement, yet when the Iraq war was being promoted, even by Oprah Winfrey at the time, many raised concerns that this war might open the way for terrorists to rise to power and many feared no one would be able to control them.  No one listened as we were so caught up in the hysteria of fighting evil blindly, without seeing our own contributions.

As we condemn ISIS, we are also blind to our financing of Israeli apartheid and many military bombardments of Gaza, where our weapons and money burned Palestinian civilians - men, women and children alive.  We are also blind that our drones burn people alive as well.

The deceptive dawn is a vertical light, that splits the darkness of the night into two sets of darknesses.  It happens right before the darkest moment of the night.  

Similarly, we are caught up in a deceptive reasoning reality where we must prove how evil they are, blind to our contributions, deluded that therefore we proved we are civilized and better than them.  Each side claims the vertical light, and in fact it becomes a means to see the darkness within.

The real dawn is a horizontal light, a light that gently rises and brings clarity and understanding for all.  No one can claim it for themselves, but we join hands at the junction point that all lives are sacred and condemn violence by all. 

There is no resistance in my mind or heart that ISIS needs to be condemned.  I do not in any way incline toward the evil they say or do.  Many scholars have spoken up against their vile hatred and violence.  

However, the issue is not how evil they are, but how they got to power.  

I wrote the following article, Oprah Winfrey, Warmonger?, before the Iraq war.  I have argued then as I do now that these deals and wars spill anarchy in the region producing hotbeds for extremists, terrorists and further ethnic wars.  I spoke to many politicians in groups that went to argue against the war.  Many were caught in the hysteria.  I recall arguing with the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who was facing reelection at the time and was concerned to stand with his conscience at a difficult time, since he was in a tight race with former Senator Norm Coleman.  

I told him, "If you were going to die tomorrow - what does your conscience tell you?"  He stopped and paused and didn't say anything but later, he spoke against the war, saying he has to listen to his conscience.  He died and never made it to the next election.  

Coleman became senator and later on lost a reelection.  

The Iraq war went on and now that the consequences are unfolding - we point fingers at each other.

The same discourse took place when Al Qaida emerged as well.  One day we loved Taliban and now we hate the Taliban.  This is not freedom.

The Muslim community as always is caught off guard by the emergence of ISIS and many are at a loss at their behavior.  There are no credible solutions.  Condemnations were and are continually issued as well as many refutations by scholars and intellectuals on their barbarism.  Some went to declare ISIS as kafirs or apostates, to remove any Islamic credibility to their voices.  Yet, the chaos exists and in such a situation - who listens and uses their intelligence?

We must pause here.

It is easy to start a war, or a revolution to topple evil people, but many fail to understand that stopping such violence when it spills anarchy is a very, very difficult task, and requires very strong, reliable, competent and trustworthy leadership BEFORE it begins.

In addition, if the means and discourse that brought them to power are being promoted elsewhere, then we might find ourselves closer to the darkest hour.

Let us reflect that all lives are sacred, and before we obsess with our security from them, let us also reason with ourselves that others have as much right to be secure from us, so that the real dawn break can emerge.

UPDATE

I appreciate the civil comments.  I would like to explain that I am not advocating pacifism but moreso that when we make a decision to wage war, our discourse should obsess less on how evil the other is, and moreso on how trustworthy those making the call to war are.  In addition, we must acknowledge our contributions to the current climate and choose leaders who were not involved in these contributions.  That was the reason, I interviewed Shaykh Qays Arthur, on the story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba and Prophet Solomon, upon him peace.  As Albert Einstein said "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

SEE: Conversation with Qays Arthur on Faith and Guidance 5a and Conversation with Qays Arthur on Faith and Guidance 5b

and 

SEE: How to trust intelligently

"We trust politicians who speak straightforwardly, don’t promise what they can’t deliver, explain their policies and their difficulties with reasonable caution, and visibly try to deliver what they promise."

Regarding my usage of the Quran in blogs, this is more an attempt to respond to individuals and groups who are publicly and loudly making claims that the Quran promotes violence and extremism.  These claims are now on bus ads and subway signs, etc., 

Instead of mentioning their names, I prefer to respond to their arguments by exploring the Quran and letting its wisdom and guidance speak.

Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict - my blogs on this issue can be reviewed as well as the following sites Electronic Intifada and Jewish Voice for Peace.

UPDATE 2

The verses regarding warfare were explained many times in numerous blogs as well as inviting international speakers to visit Minnesota and engage the audience.

Regarding the verse mentioned in the comments section:  I recall in a class on communications, we discussed all types of communications.  There is a communication between family, loved ones, neighbors, and there is also communication during warfare.  People in the military discussed the this communication style.  It usually comes in form of commands, tough, forceful, as you are dealing with a climate of war.  The aim of such language is to take things seriously and to be vigilant, focused, and prepared to make split second decisions.  It is war, and war should be the last resort, but sadly it is now the first.  

During warfare, as I stated before, trustworthy leaders must have a strategy to stop the war, not just in combat, but to also prepared to nurture reconciliation, restoration and peace so that revenge attacks do not spill over.  The verse mentioned in the comment sections is a beautiful verse which speaks in the context of warfare when facing a force that is engaged in genocide.  One has a responsibility to stop such a force and push it to its boundaries.  When that force has been pushed back forcefully, then promote peace.  This is not easy to do.  It is easy to preach peace, love, compassion and mercy when you are not harmed.  Everyone does it, yes, including Muslims.

However, the truest and most authenic expression and manifestation of love, compassion and mercy is right at the point when you are fighting a force seeking to wipe you out, and you pushed them through combat to their boundaries and now have power over them.  How many can now desist and promote or preach peace?

Look carefully at the verse, as there are two wars being waged.  One against the transgressors (transgressing the boundaries of others) and another against the self to desist and promote peace when the war stops.  It is not the deceptive dawn, us versus them reasoning, but a holistic warfare to end oppression, as it is our duty to do so.

I recall reading something by Martin Luther King along the same lines.  Internally, King admonished himself, "You must not harbor anger."  To nurture society to a higher understanding and fight injustice, King said "there had developed beneath the surface a slow fire of discontent, fed by the continuing indignities and inequities to which the Negroes were subjected."  

So look at the verse again, and read the context and the time it was revealed.  There are two wars being waged, not one.

For further reading, I recommend the following books as well as the authors:

  1. Muslim and Non-Muslim Relations Reflections on Some Qur’anic Texts, Dr Jamal Badawi
  2. Islam and Peace, Dr Ibrahim Kalin
  3. Warfare in the Qur’an, Dr Joel Hayward
  4. Publications and writings of Tariq Ramadan

Lessons on power and oppression from Moses

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: January 30, 2015 - 4:41 AM

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)

Fellow Muslims ask me why I focus on other Prophets more than Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings.  The reason is that I teach the way I learn.  My learning and teaching style is what I call a “Listening In” conversation.  Most conversations tend to be framed in the “elephant in the room” format.  The elephant is understood as the obvious truth which no one is allowed to talk about.  Often times, the obvious truths are based on many layers of self-deception that hinder our understanding of ourselves, thus others.  In the eyes of anti-Muslims, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, or the recent Charlie Hebdo affair – the obvious truth is Islam promotes terrorism and hatred. 

“In the hours following a shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead, Maher had this to say: ‘Turns out the attacker was Islamic—what are the odds, huh? It’s almost like there’s an elephant in the room.’”

SEE The Cowardice of Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The problem with this format is no one asks: who created the room?  And how and why is there an elephant in the room?  The room is usually the psychological and social construction of those with power and voice, while the elephant in the room is always the little people, or people who are unprotected and voiceless.  It is somewhat dishonest to argue – “It’s almost like there’s an elephant in the room.”

Truth is not as obvious as societal ills and psychological constructions bury the reality of things and people.  In addition, as Novelist Chimamanda Adichie argues in a TED talk, that our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories, and if we hear only a single story about another person or country, and make it the definitive story, we risk a critical misunderstanding. 

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.

For this reason, I learned not to attach to the crowd, but to pray for guidance, search, investigate and verify what I hear, as people when they love or hate, project their own issues onto others, and even God – and attack people for issues they hate within themselves.  Or they try to define that person or group with a single definitive story, leading and enabling racism or xenophobia.

I learned about the Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, only after sifting through and trying to separate fact from fiction surrounding his personality. Some Muslims and non-Muslims have used and misused his name in projecting his image that stood in sharp contrast to the normative and authentic details of his life. There was so much ridiculous or distorted information surrounding him, that one felt uncomfortable and disturbed connecting to him. 

In a “Listening In” conversation, the room is opened slightly either via a window or a crack to allow a light, an invitation to a conversation outside the room that calls us to reflect and better understand a higher level conversation that is taking place, a conversation where God is very much listening to our conversations and engaged and inviting us to guidance.

This conversation does not seek out the crowd, as the crowd usually follows authority, voices of influence and power.  Rather, it seeks out a small group of people who within their circle of influence and power can take the conversation forward, creating a ripple to other circles of influence.

Through this learning style, I learned that Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings did not promote nepotism, tribalism or a crowd mentality that shouts down the voice of consciousness.  He tore down psychological and social constructs that prevented the light from entering in the room.  He taught his followers Jihad an-nafs, or the inner struggle of the soul.  It is not self-hatred or blame.  When you hate yourself - you engage in communication of projection and fear what is different.  God told Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings; it is not you they are against, but the truth.  The elevation of truth can destroy the psychological and social constructs or the room which enable racism and xenophobia and other forms of oppression.

At times to engage in the “elephant in the room,” conversations, there is an invisible social agreement that is not accepting of everyone.  As we saw in the Charlie Hebdo affair, there were double standards regarding free speech that mocks people with power and those without influence and power.  Today, at 4pm there is an event at the University of Minnesota that is discussing the Charlie Hebdo tragedy that took place in Paris, France.  Check out the “elephant in the room” format where speakers will discuss Free Speech without any Muslim speaker.  What value is in a speech or discussion where others are treated as objects and interrogated, psychoanalyzed and judged – but not engaged as human beings?

However, in “Listening In” conversations – is all about empathy and guidance, seeking the betterment of oneself and others.

For example, Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings did not violate the boundaries of another human being be it mentally, socially, or even spiritually.  Once he tried to counsel a woman who was weeping at her brother's death - the woman did not know who he was, and told him - you do not know my pain.  He stopped.  He did not speak to her from behind a wall, but connected directly to her as a human being, yet still he stopped and left when she was not able to receive it.  She later realized who he was and went to find him and accepted his advice of being patient. 

I was recently in Saudi Arabia for Hajj or pilgrimage.  With a group of people, we climbed the mountain of Hira and saw the cave where Prophet Muhammad used to spend time in to reflect.  When he received revelation, he started out alone with a few supporters and slowly, he invited others - by promoting the truth.  He was offered power, money and many material gifts to give up his mission but he continued to build a community of people who enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.  Those closer to him, including his immediate family members were held to a much higher standard than those further away.  He corrected his closest friends as well as family members.

This community was nurtured to accept diversity, human differences, and was open to growth and the gifts of each other.  He did not just create a community for the strong, but also for the weak and oppressed.  He gave people the courage to grow instead of to hide or pretend.  They came to him with all sorts of problems, and he was known and mocked as “all ears” for being a compassionate listener.

He listened to the young and old, the weak and strong, and the poor and rich.  He spoke on behalf of the weak and the strong, as the boundaries he set were boundaries to enable the community to grow and enable the growth of each other.  It is not our differences or fear of our differences that nurture hatred amongst us, but rather it is acts of injustice that breeds hatred.  And when these acts of oppression are not repaired and we have the power and voice to do so, then the hatred brews and festers.  The obvious truths we want to discuss or elephant in the room may really be our attempt to erase in our psyche the injustices we committed against others. 

Gary Younge raises an interesting point in this article here:

"The west does not see itself the way others see it; indeed it often does not see others at all. Solipsistic in its suffering and narcissistic in its impulses, it promotes itself as the upholder of principles it does not keep, and a morality it does not practice.  Therein lays the dysfunction whereby it keeps doing hateful things while simultaneously expressing bewilderment at why some people hate it. It’s as though we are continually caught by surprise that others have not chosen to ignore their humiliation, pain, anger and sorrow just because we have."

Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, taught his followers to seek acceptance of God first and foremost, and in doing so, freed humanity from the illness of perfectionism.  When we seek acceptance from God instead of people - we nurture a community to work hard and acknowledge that imperfections are part of being human. 

Across the globe, amongst Muslim communities and others - what we see are communities built that protect the rights and needs of the strong and demand higher standards for the vulnerable and unprotected.  Whether we use the language of promoting faith or freedom - the problems that our communities face are the same.

The word for oppression in the Arabic language is dhulm, which means darkness.  One of God’s names is An Nur or The Light.  Hence, one understanding of dhulm or oppression is a disconnection from God, the Light. 

In this blog and the continuing blogs, I will discuss power and oppression by looking at the story of Prophet Moses, upon him peace.  He is one of the five resolute Prophets, mentioned more times in the Qur'an than any Prophet.  As Muslims, we learn of his story through Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings.  As the Prophetic voice is a voice that connects people to each other.

In the series on Faith and Guidance, I discussed two important stories of Islamic teachings – the story of Salman al Farisi traveling the journey of faith from a position of weakness and the Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, traveling the journey from a position of power facing another force of power, Prophet Solomon, upon him peace.  In both stories, the journeys were about people true to their faith and/or values.

The story of Moses, upon him peace is a story about people in power clashing with people who are weak where both sides are not true to their faith and/or values.  However, things are not so simple.  Amongst those in power are many shades, most notably are people who resist and support the call to truth, and amongst those who are weak, are people who support the oppression of their own people or rebel for tyrannical motives.  Yet, deeper still are a few righteous believers, and within them the noble family of Moses, upon him peace.  Truth is not an “Us vs Them” story or a single definitive story about “Them.” 

Under the watchful gaze of God, Moses, upon him peace, was raised in the home of Pharaoh.  The beauty of this part of the story is that God tells us that He cast His love unto Moses in the home of Pharaoh.  Pharaoh’s wife, Asiya, developed a fond love of Moses, upon him peace and wanted to keep him as a son, hence protecting him in a climate of deep seated oppression:

"'Throw (the child) into the chest, and throw (the chest) into the river: the river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him': But I cast (the garment of) love over thee from Me: and (this) in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine eye." (Quran 20:39)

Moses was reared, like all Prophets, by God Himself.  From their birth, they are connected to The Light of God, as they are to be the light and the way to God.

The story of Moses is a beautiful story of power and oppression.

Has the story of Moses reached you?

Updated:

Joe Sacco: On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks

Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
A History of the Prophets of Islam Vol. 1 and 2 by Suzanne Haneef

What Does Our Faith Say About Power and Oppression?

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: December 18, 2014 - 9:37 PM

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 
― Robert F. Kennedy


In 2013, the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Islamic Center of Minnesota began a dialogue series called "Prophets, Patriarchs, & People of Promise!"


Over several dialogues we brought in speakers who helped us to explore and share with each other their faith tradition and perspectives on Abraham, the Angels, Adam and Eve, Jesus, Moses, David, and Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings.  For Muslims, all prophets are spiritual brothers, with Prophet Muhammad being the last and final messenger of God in this long chain of prophets.  The discussions were quite interesting and the series helped to throw a pebble, creating a tiny ripple of understanding between the faith traditions.


This Sunday, we are moving past this series to a new dialogue:  Faithful Response:  What does our faith say about how we respond to issues of power and oppression?


I will share my perspective with another speaker, Dr. Cameron B. R. Howard, assistant professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Dr. Howard received her Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University in 2010. Among her publications are contributions to the New Interpreter's Bible One-Volume Commentary (Abingdon Press, 2010) and the twentieth-anniversary edition of the Women's Bible Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012). Her current research focuses on postcolonial approaches to the Hebrew Bible. Howard is also a frequent contributor to WorkingPreacher.org and co-hosts a monthly podcast at EntertheBible.org.


First, let me clarify that not all forces of power are necessarily abusive or tyrannical.  I discussed this issue in the dialogue on Prophet Solomon here and here.


And not all forces or voices who are weak are necessarily oppressed.  I discussed this briefly in the blog on Salman al Farisi here.  I will elaborate more on this issue in a coming blog.

In addition, it is true that many times, religion has been used to create problems in society, to control and oppress others.  

However, there are cases in history and now, where power is not a force of good, but is abusive and people of influence - attach themselves to those in power for glory and fail to be sincere advisers.  In such situations, as people of faith who believe in God, we ask ourselves:

Do you see power shaping your community?
What is our responsibility in such situations?
What do we see in the Muslim and Christian traditions that address issues of power?
What does our faith say about how we respond to issues of power and oppression?
Please add your voice to our conversation!

Join us to listen and then dialogue within small groups to go deeper and learn from each other as well.  

RSVP here.

When
Sunday, March 16
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Where
Islamic Center of Minnesota
1401 Gardena Ave. NE
Fridley, MN  55432

Parking
Participants in the Muslim Christian Dialogue are invited to park on the street,  in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of Minnesota or in the parking lot of Totino Grace High School directly across the street.

Voices for Palestine 3

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: August 6, 2014 - 6:37 AM

"It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation. True peace must be anchored in justice."    --Desmond Tutu

On July 31st, over 60 Minnesota mosques, interfaith groups, civil liberties organizations, and other groups concerned about peace and justice held a press conference at Masjid An Nur in Minneapolis to call for an immediate end to Israel’s airstrikes on civilians in Gaza. The groups also joined the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

What is BDS?

The global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and is coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), established in 2007.  BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.

The speakers included Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders as well as activists from various participating organizations.

Imam Makram El Amin of Masjid An Nur, stressed on the Islamic teaching of standing up for justice and quoted the saying of Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings:

Whosoever of you sees a wrong, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his speech; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.

Elisabeth Geschiere, representing Break the Bonds organization, talked about the group’s opposition to the State of Minnesota investing close to 30 million in Israeli bonds. She also emphasized that Minnesota’s investment in Israel supports an apartheid system in both Israel and the Occupied Territories that causes thousands of civilian deaths, many of whom are children, and which involves the widespread abuse of human rights.

Jordan Ash, representing the Jewish Voice for Peace, gave an impassioned speech on the Jewish perspective on the current conflict. His speech is reproduced below:

“When asked to teach someone the entire Torah while standing on one foot, Rabbi Hillel said, ‘That which is hateful to you, do not do to others. This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it.’ Supporters of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza have violated this central tenet of Judaism by disregarding Israel’s hateful actions. 

Several sources have confirmed that this entire escalation was artificially created by the Israeli government which knew for weeks that the three kidnapped teenagers were dead, but maintained the lie that it hoped to find them alive, to justify the mass arrests and collective punishment of Palestinians.  The Israeli government also insisted falsely that Hamas was responsible.

The result of this manufactured crisis has been devastating.  Over 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians and including many children, and 7,000 Gazans have been injured. Fifty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed.

I am a member of the Mount Zion synagogue in St. Paul which recently completed a year of tzedek¸a year of justice.  In his sermon to kick the year off, Rabbi Spilker said the pursuit of justice has been part of Judaism since Abraham’s arguing with God over innocent lives in Sodom and Gomorrah. 

It is this tradition that requires us to look at the root cause of the current crisis – Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. The occupation denies the very humanity of Palestinians, while valuing Jewish lives at the expense of others.

For almost fifty years, the Israeli military has had total authority over every aspect of Palestinian life in these areas.   Palestinians are subjected to daily and systematic home demolitions, checkpoints, arrests and indefinite detention.   The occupation denies the very humanity of Palestinians, while valuing Jewish lives at the expense of others."

Dr. Jehad Adwan, Clinical Asst. Professor at the U of M School of Nursing, gave a first-hand account of life in Gaza. With several of his family members still in Gaza, he talked about how he feels sad, angry, and vulnerable. As the Israeli offensive unfolds deep into Gaza, he is unable to sleep and stays glued to the computer, scouring for news about his family and friends. He recounted his visit to Gaza in 2013 and highlighted the deplorable conditions that exist in Gaza due to the Israeli blockade. He expressed his distress on the death of a physician and a professor as their U.N. marked vehicle was shot up by the Israeli army. His heartrending story of the suffering in Gaza left many in the audience in tears. He appealed to the people of conscience to not remain silent at the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and to join the BDS movement to help relieve the suffering of people in Gaza.

The press release of July 31 from the organizing group in part read:

“Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza has killed more than 1500 Palestinian civilians - including 300 children - and injured 6000 civilians. It has devastated the civilian infrastructure, including the health sector, which is facing severe shortages. Israel is using the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip. UN reports indicate that 80 percent of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians, raising serious concerns about Israel's disregard for international and humanitarian law.

In Israel, two civilians have been killed by Hamas rocket attacks, some property has been damaged and more than 50 soldiers have died since the Israeli military invaded Gaza. The loss of life or infrastructure on either side is unacceptable.”

To listen to the local speakers from various organizations see the YouTube videos below:

and

Below are the participating Minnesotan organizations:

Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center
Al Amal School
Al Aqsa Institute
Al Farooq Youth & Family Center
Al-Wafaa Center for Human Services
American Muslims for Palestine-MN Chapter
American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa
Anti-War Committee
Blaine Community Center
Break the Bonds-Minnesota
Brooklyn Park Islamic Center
Building Blocks of Islam
Burnsville Mosque
Church of All Nations-Columbia Heights
Council on American-Islamic Relations, MN
Darul Arqam Center of Excellence
Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights
EngageMN
Faribault Islamic Center
Friends of Sabeel North America-Minnesota Chapter
Good Deeds Charity-USA
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Islamic Center of Minnesota
Islamic Civic Society of America
Islamic Community Center of Minnesota
Islamic Institute of Minnesota
Islamic Society of Woodbury- East Metro
Ja'afari Islamic Center
Jewish Voice for Peace
Masjid Al Huda
Masjid Al Taqwa
Masjid Al-Iman
Masjid An Nur
Masjid Ar-Rahman
Masjid As Salaam
Masjid Tawbah
MidEast Peace Now
Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Minnesota Dawah Institute
MIZNA
Muslim American Society of Minnesota
Muslim Healthcare Professionals of Minnesota
Muslim Youth Leadership Award
Muslim Youth of Minnesota
National Lawyers Guild-Minnesota Chapter
Noor Kids
North American Council of Somali Imams
Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel
Northwest Islamic Community Center
Save The Kids Augsburg Chapter
Sisters Need A Place
Southeastern Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers
St. Cloud State University Muslim Student Association
Students for a Free Palestine-St. Cloud State University
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Minnesota
Underground Seminary-Minneapolis
University of Minnesota Muslim Student Association
Vets for Peace
Women Against Military Madness
ZACAH

In the coming days, we will have many educational workshops to educate the participants on BDS and how to proceed. If you wish to join us or would like to invite any of the speakers for an interview or a conversation, contact me at fwazwaz@hotmail.com

Voices for Palestine 2

Posted by: Fedwa Wazwaz Updated: July 31, 2014 - 9:06 PM

“He said: ‘Here is a she-camel: she has a right of watering, and ye have a right of watering, (severally) on a day appointed.’” (Qur'an 26:155)

 

People assume that the absence of violence is a state of peace.  I disagree.  You can have very dangerous forms of oppression from spiritual, mental and emotional abuse with the absence of violence.  It takes a skilled wounded or enlightened healer to hear the voice of the oppressed in the midst of a dominating abuser who has mastered the art of deception and projecting their sickness unto the victim.

In reality, peace is defined by the presence of healthy boundaries that allow everyone a path to the watering place, a path to growth, and a path to life.  When these healthy boundaries do not exist – the foolish condemn the violence, the wise condemn those who transgressed the boundaries and demand the boundaries be returned to a healthy state that allows everyone a path to the watering place.

Since the creation of the state of Israel – the plan was to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land as I had explained in this blog:  Fighting for survival, not destruction of Israel.  Then and Now, peace was used a means to transgress the boundaries of the native Arabs from every aspect to allow Israel to dominate and overpower the native population and gradually expel them.  The Peace Process did not change any of this.  

Before Hamas

In this blog, I will introduce you to the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.  Since the media has focused on Hamas, Hamas, Hamas, and Tunnels – I felt if we listen to the plans and aims of Israeli leaders before Hamas, we might see beyond the fear mongering and prejudice logic and hear the voice of the oppressed.   In his own words from the site Palestine Remembered:

"We do not seek an agreement with the [Palestinian] Arabs in order to secure the peace. Of course we regard peace as an essential thing.  It is impossible to build up the country in a state of permanent warfare. But peace for us is a mean, and not an end. The end is the fulfillment of Zionism in its maximum scope. Only for this reason do we need peace, and do we need an agreement." (Shabtai Teveth, p. 168)

"The Arabs cannot accept the existence of Israel. Those who accept it are not normal. The best solution for the [Palestinian] Arabs in Israel is to go and live in the Arab states---in the framework of a peace treaty or transfer." (Simha Flapan, p. 99)

Ben-Gurion clearly never believed in static borders, but dynamic ones as described in the Bible. He stated during a discussion with his aides:

"Before the founding of the state, on the eve of its creation, our main interests was self-defense. To a large extent, the creation of the state was an act of self-defense. . . . Many think that we're still at the same stage. But now the issue at hand is conquest, not self-defense. As for setting the borders--- it's an open-ended matter. In the Bible as well as in our history, there all kinds of definitions of the country's borders, so there's no real limit. Bo border is absolute. If it's a desert--- it could just as well be the other side. If it's sea, it could also be across the sea. The world has always been this way. Only the terms have changed. If they should find a way of reaching other stars, well then, perhaps the whole earth will no longer suffice." (1949, The First Israelis, p. 6)

Ben-Gurion told Nahum Goldman (one of the prominent Zionists leaders) before he died:

"I don't understand your optimism.," Ben-Gurion declared. "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipes us out".

I was stunned by this pessimism, but he went on:

"I will be seventy years old soon. Well, Nahum, if you asked me whether I shall die and be buried in a Jewish state I would tell you Yes; in ten years, fifteen years, I believe there will still be a Jewish state. But ask me whether my son Amos, who will be fifty at the end of this year, has a chance of dying and being buried in a Jewish state, and I would answer: fifty-fifty."

"But how can you sleep with that prospect in mind," I broke in, "and be Prime Minister of Israel too?"

Who says I sleep? he answered simply. (The Jewish Paradox by Nahum Goldman, p. 99)

Ben-Gurion was correct about many things: Thieves do not sleep well; usually they're afraid of retribution. This is exactly how the average Israeli feels.

With Hamas

Throughout the decades of negotiations for peace, Israel has not defined its borders.  As before Hamas, those borders continue to be dynamic and not static.  As I explained before, Hamas is a resistance group that does use crude rocket fire and does not discriminate between civilians and soldiers lives, in the face of very sophisticated military weapons that Israel has deliberately used to target civilians.  Read the findings of Goldstone Report.

Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza has killed more than 1000 Palestinian civilians - including 250 children - and injured 7000 civilians. It has devastated the civilian infrastructure, including the health sector, which is facing severe shortages. Israel is using the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip. UN reports indicate that 80 percent of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians, raising serious concerns about Israel's disregard for international and humanitarian law.

In Israel, two civilians have been killed by Hamas rocket attacks, some property has been damaged and more than 50 soldiers have died since the Israeli military invaded Gaza. The loss of life or infrastructure on either side is unacceptable.

Many voices across the spectrum and across the world are raising their voices against the Israeli grave violations of international law in Gaza.  These voices have researched, investigated and verified the story from the beginning to now.  Here are a few voices in this blog.  I will keep mentioning more in future blogs.

64 public figures, 7 Nobel laureates, call for arms embargo on Israel

Israel's military technology is marketed as "field-tested" and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel's system of occupation, colonisation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights. We call on the UN and governments across the world to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid.

Besides the sophisticated heavy military artillery, Israel has responded by saturating the media and pubic square with psychological warfare - by attacking calls for investigations, silencing voices and hurling a hurricane of false accusations.  In an article in the Nation, Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza—Debunked, Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist responded to the following points:

(1) Israel is exercising its right to self-defense.
(2) Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.
(3) This Israeli operation, among others, was caused by rocket fire from Gaza.
(4) Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.
(5) Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses human shields.

Israel's propaganda machine, however, insists that these Palestinians wanted to die ("culture of martyrdom"), staged their own death ("telegenically dead") or were the tragic victims of Hamas's use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes ("human shielding"). In all instances, the military power is blaming the victims for their own deaths, accusing them of devaluing life and attributing this disregard to cultural bankruptcy. In effect, Israel—along with uncritical mainstream media that unquestionably accept this discourse—dehumanizes Palestinians, deprives them even of their victimhood and legitimizes egregious human rights and legal violations.

Read her article above to hear her arguments. 

Freedom for Palestine: #GazaNames Project

Jewish Voices for Peace and Institute for Middle Eastern Understanding made a short video to introduce the faces and names of some of the victims of this massacre.  It is important for us to stop and read the names and look at the faces of those killed to help us overcome the dehumanization of Palestinians' campaign.

Worldwide protests

Protests broke out all over the world in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

On 7/26/2014 - at a rally in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, Max Blumenthal, an award-winning journalist and author of the bestselling book Republican Gomorrah, and Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel spoke against the Gaza slaughter.

I encourage you to follow the names of these voices on Facebook and Twitter to keep abreast of the current situation as it unfolds.  The voices of the oppressed are not always present and prevalent.  They must be dug out from the darkness of propaganda and psychological warfare and made conscious.  And we must condemn and stop the transgressions of boundaries which allow one party a right to the watering place and denies the other that same right.

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