The Man Who Haunts Israel

Khaled Mashaal was nearly assassinated by Benjamin Netanyahu. Then Israel’s Prime Minister was forced to bring the Hamas leader back to life. Now their deadly history hangs over the conflict that roils the Middle East


haled Mashaal lay dying in a hospital bed as poison flowed through his bloodstream, slowly shutting down his respiratory system. With a machine pumping air into his lungs, he had, at best, a few days to live. An antidote could save the Hamas leader’s life. But the only person who could provide it was the very man who had tried to kill him: Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Khaled Mashaal at an Amman military hospital after the attempt by Israeli operatives on his life in Jordan in 1997.Yousef Allan—AP

As the clock ticked down over four days in late September 1997, with Mashaal unconscious and steadily deteriorating, Netanyahu faced an excruciating choice. The Mossad agents who had sprayed poison into the Palestinian’s ear on a street in Amman, Jordan — in retribution for a series of suicide attacks within Israel — had been captured while fleeing. Jordan’s King Hussein vowed to put the Israelis on trial if Mashaal expired. The agents would likely face execution if convicted. Desperate to avert an international crisis that would derail his efforts to broker peace deals between Israel and its Arab enemies, President Bill Clinton intervened, insisting that Netanyahu, then serving the first of his two tenures as Israel’s prime minister, provide the antidote. The Israeli leader grudgingly complied, even traveling to Amman to issue a personal apology to the King. Mashaal was revived, his stature forever enhanced as “the living martyr.” Instead of killing one of Israel’s most despised enemies, Netanyahu had resurrected him.

Fifteen years later, in December 2012, Mashaal, in his trademark western suit and trim salt-and-pepper beard, stepped out of a giant replica of an M75 rocket in the heart of Gaza City to address a crowd of cheering Palestinians. “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take,” he thundered, as the green missile — among the models Hamas is currently firing into Israel by the thousands — towered several stories over his head. “We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.”

‘We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone. Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem.’

Today, Khaled Mashaal and Benjamin Netanyahu are again adversaries in an international crisis, as Israel wages war with Hamas in what might be its bloodiest fight yet against the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. In the 58-year-old Palestinian, who is now Hamas’s political leader and most visible spokesman, granting interviews to the likes of Charlie Rose and the BBC, Netanyahu faces an enemy who has only grown in stature since their existential encounter. Although he does not rule Hamas by fiat, Mashaal “is one of the most influential figures in Palestinian politics,” says Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group. Thrall says Mashaal is even a plausible candidate to lead the larger Palestinian national movement once the presidency of moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is 79, has ended.

oth Israel and the United States consider Mashaal a terrorist, linked to multiple deadly suicide bombings and thousands of rocket attacks against Israel. (Netanyahu ordered his assassination after one particularly awful explosion in a Jerusalem market killed 16 and injured 169.) Whether he is an incurable fanatic or a pragmatist capable of moderation is a subject of debate within Israel and beyond. In public remarks since the start of this month’s fighting, Mashaal has rejected any cease-fire that does not bring a fundamental change in Israel’s position towards Hamas and Gaza. “We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade,” Mashaal said in Qatar on July 24. But some analysts believe that Mashaal, who lives in exile in the Qatari capital of Doha — where he has met with Qatari and Turkish diplomats working with Secretary of State John Kerry for a ceasefire — is more willing to strike a deal than leaders of Hamas’s military branch. “The political wing seemed ready to stop this earlier, including Mashaal. The military wing has not been, and is calling the shots,” says Dennis Ross, a longtime U.S. Middle East peace negotiator now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 28, 2014. Netanyahu was pressured by President Bill Clinton to provide the antidote that saved Mashaal’s life in 1997.Gil Cohen Magen—AFP/Getty Images

Perhaps, but one Israeli government official describes Mashaal as a “radical” whose views differ little from those of Hamas’s Gaza-based military commanders. And undermining Mashaal has become a central component of Israel’s wartime public relations effort, which portrays the Palestinian as a kind of limousine jihadist. “This guy Khaled Mashaal, he’s roaming around, five-star hotel suites in the Gulf states, he’s having the time of his life, while he’s deliberately putting his people as fodder for this horrible terrorist war that they’re conducting against us,” Netanyahutold CNN on July 20. A few days later, two Gaza television outlets aired a peculiar clip of Mashaal speaking in public. “In the name of Allah, most gracious, most compassionate,” he began, “I want to start by thanking the excellent staff of the kitchen at my hotel.” He went on to explain that his hotel room had cost as much as “a hospital and three tunnels in Gaza.” According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli operatives had hacked into the television networks and broadcast the hoax video, dubbing fake audio over authentic footage.

Some analysts say that such ridicule may resonate with Palestinians. Mashaal has spent virtually no time in Israeli-occupied areas since his family fled the West Bank, where he was born, during the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Mashaal first moved to Kuwait, where he joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 15, then earned a physics degree and worked as a teacher. He later moved to Jordan, where he led Hamas’s powerful branch in the country, then to Syria and, in January 2012, fled that country’s civil war for Qatar, whose government funds and supports Hamas.

Mashaal made a rare visit to Gaza in 2012. Standing before a giant replica of an M75 rocket in the heart of Gaza City, he told a crowd of cheering Palestinians, “We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel.”Mahmud Hams—AFP/Getty Images

Mashaal’s visit to Gaza later that year — facilitated by the Muslim Brotherhood regime that then ruled neighboring Egypt — was his first and only known visit to the besieged Palestinian territory. That’s a problem for Mashaal’s street cred, according to Thrall. “Hamas’s popular support derives from its perceived authenticity and close connection to the grass roots, much of which is impoverished and resides in shabby refugee camps in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the West Bank,” he says. Little wonder, then, that Mashaal’s enemies keep up the campaign of mockery. Pro-Israel tweeters circulate a photo of Hamas officials in the cabin of a private jet, with a large large chocolate cake waiting to be eaten, claiming Mashaal is among them. (The photo in fact appears to show other Hamas leaders, but not Mashaal.) And in Egypt, whose new regime is hostile to the pro-Brotherhood Hamas, state television recently aired footage of Mashaal dining and working out in his hotel. “Where is the courage? Where is the heroism?” the Egyptian commentator sneered. “If you have real spirit in you, go back [to Gaza] tomorrow.”

ut it’s difficult to wholly discredit a man who forced an Israeli prime minster to give him a “second birth,” as Mashaal puts it. The near-death experience is not forgotten in the Arab world. Just last year Al-Jazeera aired “Kill Him Silently,” a 90-minute documentary recounting the story. It features a re-enactment of how two Mossad agents lay in wait outside Mashaal’s office on the morning of September 25, 1997. As he approached, one sprayed the painkiller fentanyl into Mashaal’s ear from a device disguised under a bandaged arm. The Israelis had hoped that their lethal dose of modified fentanyl — up to one hundred times more potent than morphine — would send Mashaal into a nap from which he would never awake, and that the agents would slip away, leaving no evidence of foul play.

But the plan went awry from the start. Mashaal’s bodyguards were suspicious of the Mossad agents even before their assault, and were able to chase and capture them. (Three other agents would later be found elsewhere in the city; all had entered Jordan using Canadian passports.) Mashaal knew the assailants had tried something strange, but thought they had failed to harm him. “I felt a loud noise in my ear,” Mashaal later said. “It was like a boom, like an electric shock. Then I had shivering sensation in my body like an electric shock.” But he was otherwise fine — or so it seemed.

The Israelis had hoped that their lethal dose of modified fentanyl would send Mashaal into a nap from which he would never awake

Only when he developed a severe headache and began to vomit later that day did Mashaal understand that the attack did, in fact, pose a threat to his life. Clinton mediated the ensuing diplomatic crisis in a furious effort to salvage a major peace agreement between Jordan and Israel that would be inked only weeks later. Netanyahu ultimately provided the antidote formula to Jordanian doctors, who would not trust any chemical supplied directly by the Israelis. He also apologized in person to the brother of the King, who refused to see him. Mashaal emerged a hero. He would assume Hamas’s top political post seven years later, in 2004, after the Israelis — this time dispensing with cloak-and-dagger technique — killed his predecessor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, by firing missiles at his car from helicopter gunship. (Al-Rantisi, as fate would have it, was released from an Israeli prison in the 1997 deal to save Mashaal’s life.) “A lot of people have underestimated [Mashaal], but he has proved very adept despite extraordinary challenges,” says University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami, including “his distance from Gaza and its leadership.” Reliable polling among Palestinians is scarce, but the wild cheers that greeted Mashaal as he stepped from the model rocket in Gaza speak to his popularity.

Netanyahu might describe that as a nightmare, though other Westerners are more hopeful. Underlying Mashaal’s public calls for the destruction of Israel are more nuanced positions. He has distanced himself somewhat from Hamas’s charter, filled with bigoted language about “World Zionism” and “warmongering Jews.” And he has offered a hudna, or long-term truce with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 borders and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

A picture of deputy chief of the Hamas movement, Ismail Haniya, is displayed amidst the rubble of his house, which was destroyed in an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 29, 2014.
A picture of deputy chief of the Hamas movement, Ismail Haniya, is displayed amid the rubble of his house, which was destroyed in an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 29, 2014.Oliver Weiken—EPA

Israel firmly rejects those positions, but some diplomats see an opening for progress. In 2009 a group of American foreign policy heavyweights, including Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Barack Obama’s current Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, called for “a more pragmatic approach toward Hamas” that could include negotiations with the group. And speaking at a security conference last week, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned that Hamas is not as bad as it gets. “If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse,” Flynn said. In public, at least, Israel calls such talk foolish and reckless. After Mashaal’s 2012 visit to Gaza, Netanyahu fumed at the world’s “deafening silence” after the Hamas leader expressed what an Israeli spokesman called a “maximalist position of opposition against Israel.”

Netanyahu may yet attempt to complete his unfinished business. Killing Mashaal in Qatar would create another dangerous diplomatic crisis. But Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, believes it should be done anyway, according to a July 21 report by Israel’s Channel 2. And Mossad agents drugged and suffocated the leader of Hamas’s military wing in a Dubai hotel in March 2010 (an incident famous for security camera footage that captured much of the operation).

A few years ago, an Al-Jazeera reporter asked former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, who oversaw the bungled Mashaal attack, whether Israel might try again to kill the Hamas leader. “The terrorist,” Yatom answered, “must understand that anyone who executes terror will not enjoy immunity.”

Why did Israel reject Kerry’s ceasefire proposal?

Why did Israel reject Kerry’s ceasefire proposal?

Is Israel willing to prolong the fighting and to intensify the killing and bereavement on both sides just so that its ally in Cairo gets the credit, rather than the Hamas-allied Turkey and Qatar? 

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

There is hardly any difference between the draft agreement presented by Kerry and the Egyptian proposal, apart from the question of who will be its sponsor: Cairo, or Turkey and Qatar?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

On Sunday morning, Haaretz’s excellent diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, published a commentary on the new draft proposed by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.

At the end of his article Ravid added:

[Kerry's] conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events. It’s as if he isn’t the foreign minister of the world’s most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast.

A report published in Haaretz reveals the text of the draft, compares it with the draft presented by Kerry last Thursday and discusses the negative aspects that appear in the draft. We do not have access to the full text of Thursday’s draft, but we do have the full text of the Egyptian draft of the ceasefire proposal, which Israel accepted and which was rejected by Hamas.

A close reading of the full version of Kerry’s “Hamas-inspired” draft and that of the Egyptians reveals insignificant differences between the two. The Egyptian draft, which was put together with Israel, while excluding the Hamas from the process, was formulated before the land invasion of Gaza and therefore does not address the question of Israel’s continual destruction of the underground tunnels.

           Click here for +972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

According to Haaretz, the Thursday draft allowed Israel to continue destroying the tunnels for a period of one week following the beginning of the ceasefire, whereas the “Hamas-inspired” draft does not allow it. Effectively, the current draft states that immediately after the onset of the ceasefire ”both sides will refrain from carrying out military or security activities that could lead to confrontation between them.” It is obvious that the draft forbids targeted assassination attempts against members of Hamas and the other organizations, but it is not at all clear that the continued destruction of the tunnels is forbidden as well.

Haaretz lists other problems in Kerry’s draft, the most important being the lack of any reference to the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. However, the Egyptian propsal does not deal with this issue, and it is clear to Israel that the demilitarization will not be achieved by a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. Therefore demilitarization was not stipulated as the objective of its current operation in Gaza.

Another claim presented by Haaretz is that the new draft requires both sides to return to the understandings reached after Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. This agreement was put in place in order to secure the reopening of the border crossings, as well as to enlarge the area to which Gazan fishermen have access. However, the Egyptian draft presented the agreement of 2012 as the basis of negotiations between Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel. It is important to note that Hamas considers the return to this agreement an accomplishment, in light of Israel’s breaching of the agreement and the tightening of the blockade on Gaza, which took place in the time since the agreement was signed. It was also claimed by Haaretzthat the draft does not mention the Palestinian Authority and thus weakens it. However, Egypt’s proposal also did not refer to the PA.

Secretary of State John Kerry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, September 15, 2013 (State Dept. Photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, September 15, 2013 (State Dept. Photo)

According to Kerry’s draft, it was claimed that the negotiations for a permanent arrangement with Hamas will address the organization’s demand to open a sea harbor and an airport in Gaza. There is no reference in the text of the draft to these demands, and the chances that they will be supported by the U.S. are next to nothing. The airport in Gaza was bombed in 2001 and has not been in operation since. The site of the harbor under construction was also bombed in 2001. Since Israel did not adhere to its commitment (part of the 2005 agreement regarding border crossings), to enable the construction while Mahmoud Abbas was in control of the Gaza Strip, it will not do so under Hamas rule.

There is only one difference between the drafts: the identity of their respective sponsors. According to the Egyptian draft, Egypt will supervise the implementation of the agreement, whereas in Kerry’s draft the role of supporting the agreement and providing humanitarian assistance was given to the European Union, the Arab League, the UN, the United States, Qatar and Turkey.

A senior official in Kerry’s delegation was therefore justified in stating that the Kerry draft was based on the Egyptian proposal, which had been wholeheartedly endorsed by Israel. Thus, if Israel is opposed to the Kerry draft, it is opposed to its own plan.

Is Israel willing to prolong the fighting and to intensify the killing and bereavement on both sides just so that the regime in Cairo gets the credit rather than Turkey and Qatar? Or maybe the fact that 86.5 percent of Israelis currently oppose a ceasefire is driving the spin masters who need to look for excuses to continue the fighting?

Elizabeth Tsurkov is a human rights activist and a graduate student in Middle East studies.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

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Israeli troops should have been able to tell slain Gaza children not Hamas members, colonel says

Israeli troops should have been able to tell slain Gaza children not Hamas members, colonel says

Updated Wed 23 Jul 2014, 10:40pm AEST

An Israeli military spokesman says the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) should have been able to tell that four boys it killed on a Gaza beach last week were not Hamas operatives.

The four boys from the one extended family – Zacaria, Aahed Bakr Jr, Mohammed and Ismail – were killed by a rocket strike while they played.

“The IDF had a target, a Hamas terrorist target,” Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

“We had intelligence pointing specifically to that location and we had the indication that the perpetrators were on the beach. We had a specific target indicating that they were supposed to be there.

“We had visual surveillance, clearly, to an extent that we should have been able to determine who was on the beach.”

Lt Col Lerner did not provide detail about how long the boys were being observed or by what method.

“We need to determine what happened between the gathering of the intelligence and what happened that caused this unfortunate human tragedy,” he said.

While the Israeli military continues its official investigation, the extended family of the four boys is devastated.

Father shares heartbreak of loss

Aahed Bakr, the father of Zacaria, still cannot comprehend what happened.

“I found my kids dismembered. Innocent kids dismembered – it was carnage,” he told 7.30.


“I fainted. I couldn’t understand. It looked like a lie or a movie scene. Even now I can’t understand or believe they died.”

Mr Bakr’s wife, Um Ataf, is inconsolable and he admits that privately he, too, is struggling.

“I cry when I am on my own, but I don’t like my wife and daughters to see me. Overnight I just think and remember what happened to them, my kids and the rest.”

Mr Bakr is a fisherman and his family has a long and strong connection with the sea.

“Every day [the children] were going [to the beach] to play, to check the boats, to relax a bit, to see other fishermen, to play with other kids, to swim,” he said.

“This is the only place where you can relax. Every day they went to the sea from morning until late afternoon.”

Boys were playing hide and seek

His son, Muntaser, Zacaria’s brother, was at the beach that day with his four relatives.

They were among a line of small buildings and sheds on a break wall. It forms part of Gaza’s harbour which on previous days had been hit by Israeli fire. The boys were playing hide and seek.

We had visual surveillance, clearly, to an extent that we should have been able to determine who was on the beach.

Lt Col Peter Lerner


Muntaser remembers a round of the game had begun and one of the boys was among the sheds when they came under attack.

“We started calling him until the rocket hit him,” Muntaser said.

“We ran away. I was running with them when they sent the second rocket.”

A photographer captured images of the boys running for their lives.

“I lost my friends,” Muntaser said. “I won’t be able to play with anybody and I can’t go to the port anymore.”

He is powerless, but is desperate to be powerful.

“I say to the resistance, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t give up, don’t do anything before taking revenge for my brother and my nephew and my two other cousins and take the revenge for the whole country … and take revenge for the world and all the sad people with no home’.”

In Gaza, Israel and Hamas are doing battle in a territory where half the population are children. Officials say at least 145 children have now been killed in the current conflict.

We can’t understand what’s happening around us. Everyday there’s a new massacre. It’s really something my brain can’t take anymore.

Aahed Bakr


“It’s a human tragedy,” Lt Col Lerner said. “Children are not our targets. We do not target civilians. It defeats the object of our mission.

“Our mission is against the bad people who are striking Israel, who are launching rockets indiscriminately at our population, at Tel Aviv, at Jerusalem, at Haifa, at Be’er Sheva.”

But that is cold comfort to Mr Bakr.

The Bakr boys were buried by the entrance to a simple cemetery near their home. Mr Bakr says the mourners were too afraid to dig the graves further into the cemetery, on a hill, in case they were seen by Israeli gunboats out at sea.

“No more,” he said. “We can’t understand what’s happening around us. Every day there’s a new massacre.

“It’s really something my brain can’t take anymore.”

Claims of war crimes

Meanwhile, an emergency session of the United Nations Human Rights Council has been told Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says there is a strong possibility the killing of civilians including children is a breach of the law.

Ms Pillay says 147 children have been killed in Gaza over the past 16 days.

“Their killing raises concerns about respect for the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack,” she said.

“Israeli children and their parents and other civilians also have a right to live without the constant fear that a rocket fired from Gaza may land on their homes or their schools, killing and injuring them.

About 650 Palestinians and 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the past 16 days.

India MPs demand probe on Shiv Sena MP who ‘force-fed’ Muslim worker

India MPs demand probe into ‘force-fed’ Muslim worker

TV grab of the incidentRajan Baburao Vichare (left) said he was only trying to protest against the quality of the food

Opposition MPs in India have demanded an investigation into reports that some Hindu MPs tried to forcibly feed a Muslim man fasting for Ramadan.

The MPs from the right-wing Shiv Sena party reportedly took their anger out on a government canteen worker because of the “poor quality of food”.

Opposition MPs said the incident was a violation of religious belief.

Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink from before dawn until dusk during the Islamic holy month.

On Monday, the opposition parties, led by the Congress, protested in parliament against the incident and demanded an apology from the Shiv Sena.

In a letter to the speaker of parliament, a group of opposition MPs urged her to direct the government to carry out an “immediate inquiry and appropriate action so that such wanton behaviour is no longer repeated,” the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The MPs described the incident as “controversial and inhuman as the victim of this barbaric act is a Muslim who is fasting during Ramadan”.

Shiv Sena, a powerful regional party based in western Maharashtra state, has denied the incident took place.

A video was aired on several news channels apparently showing one of its MPs trying to force bread into the mouth of the restaurant worker.

The MP involved, Rajan Baburao Vichare, said he was only trying to protest against the quality of the food.

“The canteen management here is in a bad state. The chapatis (bread) they made didn’t even break, the quality of vegetables and pulses is bad. Making this a religious issue doesn’t make sense,” Mr Vichare told a news channel.

Shiv Sena has a history of inciting religious violence. It was blamed for inciting tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities during the 1993 Mumbai riots, in which about 900 people died.

The party was founded to keep south Indian migrants out of Maharashtra state and to halt the spread of Islam.

It is currently the sixth-largest in parliament, with 18 seats, and is an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Malaysia’s Risky Talks With Rebels in Ukraine Paid Off

Malaysia’s Risky Talks With Rebels in Ukraine Paid Off

July 23, 2014 4:29 p.m. ET

A representative from pro-Russian separatists and Colonel Mohamed Sakri, right, of the Malaysian National Security Council, exchange documents on the handing over of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17′s black boxes, in Donetsk this week. Reuters

As attempts to retrieve the bodies and flight recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 dragged on over the weekend, Prime Minister Najib Razak risked a gambit that European leaders wouldn’t: sending officials into a war zone to meet with armed rebels whose government almost no one recognizes.

After a nervy journey through checkpoints that dot eastern Ukraine’s conflict zone, the team met separatist leaders in their stronghold of Donetsk, who handed over the flight recorders—known as black boxes—and released the bodies for repatriation via Ukrainian government-held territory.

While European governments wrestled with how to get to the site without legitimizing the rebels or risking security, Mr. Najib put aside diplomatic protocol and safety fears and sent his team.

“What was key to him was the outcome,” said a person close to the prime minister’s office. “He was looking at people who controlled an area of land. And on that land was our plane, our bodies, our black boxes.”

The mission’s success delivered a political victory for Mr. Najib’s government, still reeling from its missteps after the disappearance of another Malaysia Airlines flight in March with 239 aboard.

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But it also handed a gift to the rebels in the form of an accord, signed by the top Malaysian official present in Donetsk, calling the crash site “the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.” That offered a level of apparent recognition that even the rebels’ main backer—Russia—has avoided.

“It’s a tragic occasion, but we’ve proven we can be a subject of an intergovernmental agreement,” said Sergei Kavtaradze, an aide to rebel leader Alexander Borodai.

That recognition could antagonize Kiev and Washington, which have striven not to give any credibility to the rebels, whose main leaders are Russian citizens with few ties to the area.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a briefing Monday that the negotiation “in no way legitimizes” separatists. A Ukrainian government spokesman declined to comment. People close to Mr. Najib’s office said the dealings didn’t amount to recognition.

Still, Mr. Najib’s intervention resolved a diplomatically awkward situation, enabling the bodies to be retrieved and an investigation to be initiated.

When Mr. Najib, 61 years old, received word of Malaysia’s second aircraft disaster in less than five months last week, he immediately went to the Kuala Lumpur airport operations center and took charge. There were 43 Malaysian passengers and crew members aboard the plane, making the country’s losses second only to the Netherlands. As a predominantly Muslim nation, Malaysians are used to quick burials, and the sight of bodies lying around the crash area was particularly upsetting.

Mr. Najib—who has preserved Malaysia’s traditional stance of not taking sides among the U.S., Russia and China—worked the phones with foreign leaders. But he steered clear of joining many Western leaders in blaming the rebels for downing the airliner.

Instead, he quietly began looking for a back channel to speak with the insurgents, said one of the people close to Mr. Najib’s office.

Known as a calm and pragmatic mediator, Mr. Najib reached out to Mr. Borodai, a former Moscow PR man, through an unidentified intermediary.

Negotiating with another country’s rebels violates an informal rule of diplomatic protocol, and Mr. Najib faced the danger of public embarrassment and offending other nations if his attempt to negotiate a deal fell through and the attempt went public.

Prime Minister Najib Razak forged a deal with rebels to hand over the bodies and the black boxes.Reuters

“He felt we were at a complete impasse and no one was getting anywhere with this,” said a second person close to the prime minister’s office. “The prime minister was really aware that there were risks. People could blame him for negotiating with terrorists.”

Mr. Najib spoke with Mr. Borodai at least twice by telephone, said the people close to his office, making clear that he wanted three things: the remains, the data recorders and access to the site for investigators.

Mr. Najib, under pressure from the opposition and even some of his own advisers to take a tougher line on the rebels, told almost no one of his initiative.The Malaysians phoned Mr. Borodai from Kharkiv, a city northeast of Donetsk and hundreds of miles inside the government-held territory, and asked the rebels to pick them up. The insurgents refused and met the Malaysians at a town on the front line, from where they drive to Donetsk with an armed convoy.

At first, some rebels said they would investigate the incident themselves, or ship the flight recorders to Moscow. They also demanded a cease-fire, which could have allowed them to consolidate their hold on eastern Ukraine.

As talks progressed, Mr. Najib ordered a 12-person team headed by Col. Mohammad Sakri of the Malaysian National Security Council to head from Kiev to the rebel-held area.

As the dozen Malaysian officials in a convoy of rental cars negotiated their way through checkpoints that dot eastern Ukraine’s conflict zone Mr. Najib steeled their nerves in a phone call.

“Tell people it was Malaysia’s plane and the team is going through to recover our dead and the plane, and that it is only right,” Mr. Najib told Col. Sakri, according to a person familiar with the call.

Mr. Kvatardze said the rebels were surprised by the audacity the Malaysians showed in driving through a zone that has been torn by a three-month conflict.

Arriving in the rebel-held regional capital of Donetsk early Monday afternoon, they headed into talks with top insurgents at the seat of their flimsy political organization known as the “Donetsk People’s Republic.”

The meeting took place on the 11th floor of the regional assembly building that the rebels seized in April, a drab gray structure that used to house the local Communist Party headquarters.

Col. Sakri, a diminutive, bespectacled civil servant, stood in contrast to the burly rebel gunmen who guard the building. The meeting lasted several hours, only breaking when the Malaysians went to pray.

By the end of the discussions, Mr. Borodai said he would pass the bodies and black boxes only to the Malaysia team, said one person close to the prime minister’s office. Another call between Mr. Borodai and Mr. Najib sealed the deal.

Just after 1 a.m., Col. Sakri signed an agreement with a top separatist official confirming the handover of the black boxes.

The stamp of the National Security Council of Malaysia is misspelled, “Sekurity,” suggesting a hasty effort to fulfill bureaucratic protocol by having the stamp made locally.

Col. Sakri thanked Mr. Borodai, calling him “His Excellency.”

“We don’t blame anybody, we don’t believe anybody, we just want to deliver the bodies as soon as possible,” he said.

—Felicia Schwartz in Washington contributed to this article.

Write to Alexander Kolyandr at


Gideon Levy: the most hated man in Israel

Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?



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For three decades, the writer and journalist Gideon Levy has been a lone voice, telling his readers the truth about what goes on in the Occupied Territories.




Gideon Levy is the most hated man in Israel – and perhaps the most heroic. This “good Tel Aviv boy” – a sober, serious child of the Jewish state – has been shot at repeatedly by the Israeli Defence Force, been threatened with being “beaten to a pulp” on the country’s streets, and faced demands from government ministers that he be tightly monitored as “a security risk.” This is because he has done something very simple, and something that almost no other Israeli has done. Nearly every week for three decades, he has travelled to the Occupied Territories and described what he sees, plainly and without propaganda. “My modest mission,” he says, “is to prevent a situation in which many Israelis will be able to say, ‘We didn’t know.’” And for that, many people want him silenced.

The story of Gideon Levy – and the attempt to deride, suppress or deny his words – is the story of Israel distilled. If he loses, Israel itself is lost.

I meet him in a hotel bar in Scotland, as part of his European tour to promote his new book, ‘The Punishment of Gaza’. The 57 year-old looks like an Eastern European intellectual on a day off – tall and broad and dressed in black, speaking accented English in a lyrical baritone. He seems so at home in the world of book festivals and black coffee that it is hard, at first, to picture him on the last occasion he was in Gaza – in November, 2006, before the Israeli government changed the law to stop him going.

He reported that day on a killing, another of the hundreds he has documented over the years. As twenty little children pulled up in their school bus at the Indira Gandhi kindergarten, their 20 year-old teacher, Najawa Khalif, waved to them – and an Israel shell hit her and she was blasted to pieces in front of them. He arrived a day later, to find the shaking children drawing pictures of the chunks of her corpse. The children were “astonished to see a Jew without weapons. All they had ever seen were soldiers and settlers.”

“My biggest struggle,” he says, “is to rehumanize the Palestinians. There’s a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I’m a product of this machinery as much as anyone else. [We are taught] a few narratives that it’s very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us… So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any questions marks, with hardly public debate. To raise your voice against all this is very hard.”

So he describes the lives of ordinary Palestinians like Najawa and her pupils in the pages of Ha’aretz, Israel’s establishment newspaper. The tales read like Chekovian short stories of trapped people, in which nothing happens, and everything happens, and the only escape is death. One article was entitled “The last meal of the Wahbas family.” He wrote: “They’d all sat down to have lunch at home: the mother Fatma, three months pregnant; her daughter Farah, two; her son Khaled, one; Fatma’s brother, Dr Zakariya Ahmed; his daughter in law Shayma, nine months pregnant; and the seventy-eight year old grandmother. A Wahba family gathering in Khan Yunis in honour of Dr Ahmed, who’d arrived home six days earlier from Saudi Arabia. A big boom is heard outside. Fatma hurriedly scoops up the littlest one and tries to escape to an inner room, but another boom follows immediately. This time is a direct hit.”

In small biographical details, he recovers their humanity from the blankness of an ever-growing death toll. The Wahbas had tried for years to have a child before she finally became pregnant at the age of 36. The grandmother tried to lift little Khaled off the floor: that’s when she realised her son and daughter were dead.

Levy uses a simple technique. He asks his fellow Israelis: how would we feel, if this was done to us by a vastly superior military power? Once, in Jenin, his car was stuck behind an ambulance at a checkpoint for an hour. He saw there was a sick woman in the back and asked the driver what was going on, and he was told the ambulances were always made to wait this long. Furious, he asked the Israeli soldiers how they would feel if it was their mother in the ambulance – and they looked bemused at first, then angry, pointing their guns at him and telling him to shut up.

“I am amazed again and again at how little Israelis know of what’s going on fifteen minutes away from their homes,” he says. “The brainwashing machinery is so efficient that trying [to undo it is] almost like trying to turn an omelette back to an egg. It makes people so full of ignorance and cruelty.” He gives an example. During Operation Cast Lead, the Israel bombing of blockaded Gaza in 2008-9,  “a dog – an Israeli dog – was killed by a Qassam rocket and it on the front page of the most popular newspaper in Israel. On the very same day, there were tens of Palestinians killed, they were on page 16, in two lines.”

At times, the occupation seems to him less tragic than absurd. In 2009, Spain’s most famous clown, Ivan Prado, agreed to attend a clowning festival on Ramallah in the West Bank. He was detained at the airport in Israel, and then deported “for security reasons.” Levy leans forward and asks: “Was the clown considering transferring Spain’s vast stockpiles of laughter to hostile elements? Joke bombs to the jihadists? A devastating punch line to Hamas?”

Yet the absurdity nearly killed him. In the summer of 2003, he was travelling in a clearly marked Israeli taxi on the West Bank. He explains: “At a certain stage the army stopped us and asked what we were doing there. We showed them our papers, which were all in order. They sent us up a road – and when we went onto this road, they shot us. They directed their fire to the centre of the front window. Straight at the head. No shooting in the air, no megaphone calling to stop, no shooting at the wheels. Shoot to kill immediately. If it hadn’t been bullet-proof, I wouldn’t be here now. I don’t think they knew who we were. They shot us like they would shoot anyone else. They were trigger-happy, as they always are. It was like having a cigarette. They didn’t shoot just one bullet. The whole car was full of bullets. Do they know who they are going to kill? No. They don’t know and don’t care.”

He shakes his head with a hardened bewilderment. “They shoot at the Palestinians like this on a daily basis. You have only heard about this because, for once, they shot at an Israeli.”

I “Who lived in this house? Where is he now?”

How did Gideon Levy become so different to his countrymen? Why does he offer empathy to the Palestinians while so many others offer only bullets and bombs? At first, he was just like them: his argument with other Israelis is an argument with his younger self. He was born in 1953 in Tel Aviv and as a young man “I was totally nationalistic, like everyone else. I thought – we are the best, and the Arabs just want to kill. I didn’t question.”

He was fourteen during the Six Day War, and soon after his parents took him to see the newly conquered Occupied Territories. “We were so proud going to see Rachel’s Tomb [in Bethlehem] and we just didn’t see the Palestinians. We looked right through them, like they were invisible,” he says. “It had always been like that. We were passing as children so many ruins [of Palestinian villages that had been ethnically cleansed in 1948]. We never asked: ‘Who lived in this house? Where is he now? He must be alive. He must be somewhere.’ It was part of the landscape, like a tree, like a river.” Long into his twenties, “I would see settlers cutting down olive trees and soldiers mistreating Palestinian women at the checkpoints, and I would think, ‘These are exceptions, not part of government policy.’”

Levy says he became different due to “an accident.” He carried out his military service with Israeli Army Radio and then continued working as a journalist, “so I started going to the Occupied Territories a lot, which most Israelis don’t do. And after a while, gradually, I came to see them as they really are.”

But can that be all? Plenty of Israelis go to the territories – not least the occupying troops and settlers – without recoiling. “I think it was also – you see, my parents were refugees. I saw what it had done to them. So I suppose… I saw these people and thought of my parents.” Levy’s father was a German Jewish lawyer from the Sudetenland. At the age of 26 – in 1939, as it was becoming inescapably clear the Nazis were determined to stage a genocide in Europe – he went with his parents to the railway station in Prague, and they waved him goodbye. “He never saw them or heard from them again,” Levy says. “He never found out what happened to them. If he had not left, he would not have lived.” For six months he lived on a boat filled with refugees, being turned away from port after port, until finally they made it to British Mandate Palestine, as it then was.

“My father was traumatised for his whole life,” he says. “He never really settled in Israel. He never really learned to speak anything but broken Hebrew. He came to Israel with his PhD and he had to make his living, so he started to work in a bakery and to sell cakes from door to door on his bicycle. It must have been a terrible humiliation to be a PhD in law and be knocking on doors offering cakes. He refused to learn to be a lawyer again. He became a minor clerk. I think this is what smashed him, y’know? He lived here sixty years, he had his family, had his happiness but he was really a stranger. A foreigner, in his own country… He was always outraged by things, small things. He couldn’t understand how people would dare to phone between two and four in the afternoon. It horrified him. He never understood what is the concept of overdraft in the bank. Every Israeli has an overdraft, but if he heard somebody was one pound overdrawn, he was horrified.”

His father “never” talked about home. “Any time I tried to encourage him to talk about it, he would close down. He never went back. There was nothing [to go back to], the whole village was destroyed. He left a whole life there. He left a fiancé, a career, everything. I am very sorry I didn’t push him harder to talk because I was young, so I didn’t have much interest. That’s the problem. When we are curious about our parents, they are gone.”

Levy’s father never saw any parallels between the fact he was turned into a refugee, and the 800,000 Palestinians who were turned into refugees by the creation of the state of Israel. “Never! People didn’t think like that. We never discussed it, ever.” Yet in the territories, Levy began to see flickers of his father everywhere – in the broken men and women never able to settle, dreaming forever of going home.

Then, slowly, Levy began to realise their tragedy seeped deeper still into his own life – into the ground beneath his feet and the very bricks of the Israeli town where he lives, Sheikh Munis. It is built on the wreckage of “one of the 416 Palestinian villages Israel wiped off the face of the earth in 1948,” he says. “The swimming pool where I swim every morning was the irrigation grove they used to water the village’s groves. My house stands on one of the groves. The land was ‘redeemed’ by force, its 2,230 inhabitants were surrounded and threatened. They fled, never to return. Somewhere, perhaps in a refugee camp in terrible poverty, lives the family of the farmer who plowed the land where my house now stands.” He adds that it is “stupid and wrong” to compare it to the Holocaust, but says that man is a traumatized refugee just as surely as Levy’s father – and even now, if he ended up in the territories, he and his children and grandchildren live under blockade, or violent military occupation.

The historian Isaac Deutscher once offered an analogy for the creation of the state of Israel. A Jewish man jumps from a burning building, and he lands on a Palestinian, horribly injuring him. Can the jumping man be blamed? Levy’s father really was running for his life: it was Palestine, or a concentration camp. Yet Levy says that the analogy is imperfect – because now the jumping man is still, sixty years later, smashing the head of the man he landed on against the ground, and beating up his children and grandchildren too. “1948 is still here. 1948 is still in the refugee camps. 1948 is still calling for a solution,” he says. “Israel is doing the very same thing now… dehumanising the Palestinians where it can, and ethnic cleansing wherever it’s possible. 1948 is not over. Not by a long way.”

II The scam of “peace talks”

Levy looks out across the hotel bar where we are sitting and across the Middle East, as if the dry sands of the Negev desert were washing towards us. Any conversation about the region is now dominated by a string of propaganda myths, he says, and perhaps the most basic is the belief that Israel is a democracy. “Today we have three kinds of people living under Israeli rule,” he explains. “We have Jewish Israelis, who have full democracy and have full civil rights. We have the Israeli Arabs, who have Israeli citizenship but are severely discriminated against. And we have the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, who live without any civil rights, and without any human rights. Is that a democracy?”

He sits back and asks in a low tone, as if talking about a terminally ill friend: “How can you say it is a democracy when, in 62 years, there was not one single Arab village established? I don’t have to tell you how many Jewish towns and villages were established. Not one Arab village. How can you say it’s a democracy when research has shown repeatedly that Jews and Arabs get different punishments for the same crime? How can you say it’s a democracy when a Palestinian student can hardly rent an apartment in Tel Aviv, because when they hear his accent or his name almost nobody will rent to him? How can you say Israel is a democracy when… Jerusalem invests 577 shekels a year in a pupil in [Palestinian] East Jerusalem and 2372 shekels a year in a pupil from [Jewish] West Jerusalem. Four times less, only because of the child’s ethnicity! Every part of our society is racist.”

“I want to be proud of my country,” he says. “I am an Israeli patriot. I want us to do the right thing.” So this requires him to point out that Palestinian violence is – in truth – much more limited than Israeli violence, and usually a reaction to it. “The first twenty years of the occupation passed quietly, and we did not lift a finger to end it. Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise,” where Palestinian land is seized by Jewish religious fundamentalists who claim it was given to them by God. Only then – after a long period of theft, and after their attempts at peaceful resistance were met with brutal violence – did the Palestinians become violent themselves. “What would happen if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams [the rockets shot at Southern Israel, including civilian towns]? Would Israel have lifted the economic siege? Nonsense. If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda. Nobody would give any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they had not behaved violently.”

He unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians, but adds: “The Qassams have a context. They are almost always fired after an IDF assassination operation, and there have been many of these.” Yet the Israeli attitude is that “we are allowed to bomb anything we want but they are not allowed to launch Qassams.” It is a view summarised by Haim Ramon, the justice minister at time of Second Lebanon War: “We are allowed to destroy everything.”

Even the terms we use to discuss Operation Cast Lead are wrong, Levy argues. “That wasn’t a war. It was a brutal assault on a helpless, imprisoned population. You can call a match between Mike Tyson and a 5 year old child boxing, but the proportions, oh, the proportions.” Israel “frequently targeted medical crews, [and] shelled a UN-run school that served as a shelter for residents, who bled to death over days as the IDF prevented their evacuation by shooting and shelling… A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organisation. They say as a justification that Hamas hides among the civilian population. As if the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv is not located in the heart of a civilian population! As if there are places in Gaza that are not in the heart of a civilian population!”

He appeals to anybody who is sincerely concerned about Israel’s safety and security to join him in telling Israelis the truth in plain language. “A real friend does not pick up the bill for an addict’s drugs: he packs the friend off to rehab instead. Today, only those who speak up against Israel’s policies – who denounce the occupation, the blockade, and the war – are the nation’s true friends.” The people who defend Israel’s current course are “betraying the country” by encouraging it on “the path to disaster. A child who has seen his house destroyed, his brother killed, and his father humiliated will not easily forgive.”

These supposed ‘friends of Israel’ are in practice friends of Islamic fundamentalism, he believes. “Why do they have to give the fundamentalists more excuses, more fury, more opportunities, more recruits? Look at Gaza. Gaza was totally secular not long ago. Now you can hardly get alcohol today in Gaza, after all the brutality. Religious fundamentalism is always the language people turn to in despair, if everything else fails. If Gaza had been a free society it would not have become like this. We gave them recruits.”

Levy believes the greatest myth – the one hanging over the Middle East like perfume sprayed onto a corpse – is the idea of the current ‘peace talks’ led by the United States. There was a time when he too believed in them. At the height of the Oslo talks in the 1990s, when Yitzhak Rabin negotiated with Yassir Arafat, “at the end of a visit I turned and, in a gesture straight out of the movies, waved Gaza farewell. Goodbye occupied Gaza, farewell! We are never to meet again, at least not in your occupied state. How foolish!”

Now, he says, he is convinced it was “a scam” from the start, doomed to fail. How does he know? “There is a very simple litmus test for any peace talks. A necessity for peace is for Israel to dismantle settlements in the West Bank. So if you are going to dismantle settlements soon, you’d stop building more now, right? They carried on building them all through Oslo. And today, Netanyahu is refusing to freeze construction, the barest of the bare minimum. It tells you all you need.”

He says Netanyahu has – like the supposedly more left-wing alternatives, Ehud Barak and Tzipip Livni – always opposed real peace talks, and even privately bragged about destroying the Oslo process. In 1997, during his first term as Israeli leader, he insisted he would only continue with the talks if a clause was added saying Israel would not have to withdraw from undefined “military locations” – and he was later caught on tape boasting: “Why is that important? Because from that moment on I stopped the Oslo accords.” If he bragged about “stopping” the last peace process, why would he want this one to succeed? Levy adds: “And how can you make peace with only half the Palestinian population? How can you leave out Hamas and Gaza?”

These fake peace talks are worse than no talks at all, Levy believes. “If there are negotiations, there won’t be international pressure. Quiet, we’re in discussions, settlement can go on uninterrupted. That is why futile negotiations are dangerous negotiations. Under the cover of such talks, the chances for peace will grow even dimmer… The clear subtext is Netanyahu’s desire to get American support for bombing Iran. To do that, he thinks he needs to at least pay lip-service to Obama’s requests for talks. That’s why he’s doing this.”

After saying this, he falls silent, and we stare at each other for a while. Then he says, in a quieter voice: “The facts are clear. Israel has no real intention of quitting the territories or allowing the Palestinian people to exercise their rights. No change will come to pass in the complacent, belligerent, and condescending Israel of today. This is the time to come up with a rehabilitation programme for Israel.”

III Waving Israeli flags made in China

According to the opinion polls, most Israelis support a two-state solution – yet they elect governments that expand the settlements and so make a two-state solution impossible. “You would need a psychiatrist to explain this contradiction,” Levy says. “Do they expect two states to fall from the sky? Today, the Israelis have no reason to make any changes,” he continues. “Life in Israel is wonderful. You can sit in Tel Aviv and have a great life. Nobody talks about the occupation. So why would they bother [to change]? The majority of Israelis think about the next vacation and the next jeep and all the rest doesn’t interest them any more.” They are drenched in history, and yet oblivious to it.

In Israel, the nation’s “town square has been empty for years. If there were no significant protests during Operation Cast Lead, then there is no left to speak of. The only group campaigning for anything other than their personal whims are the settlers, who are very active.” So how can change happen? He says he is “very pessimistic”, and the most likely future is a society turning to ever-more naked “apartheid.” With a shake of the head, he says: “We had now two wars, the flotilla – it doesn’t seem that Israel has learned any lesson, and it doesn’t seem that Israel is paying any price. The Israelis don’t pay any price for the injustice of the occupation, so the occupation will never end. It will not end a moment before Israelis understand the connection between the occupation and the price they will be forced to pay. They will never shake it off on their own initiative.”

It sounds like he is making the case for boycotting Israel, but his position is more complex. “Firstly, the Israeli opposition to the boycott is incredibly hypocritical. Israel itself is one of the world’s most prolific boycotters. Not only does it boycott, it preaches to others, at times even forces others, to follow in tow. Israel has imposed a cultural, academic, political, economic and military boycott on the territories. The most brutal, naked boycott is, of course, the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas. At Israel’s behest, nearly all Western countries signed onto the boycott with inexplicable alacrity. This is not just a siege that has left Gaza in a state of shortage for three years. It’s a series of cultural, academic, humanitarian and economic boycotts. Israel is also urging the world to boycott Iran. So Israelis cannot complain if this is used against them.”

He shifts in his seat. “But I do not boycott Israel. I could have done it, I could have left Israel. But I don’t intend to leave Israel. Never. I can’t call on others to do what I will not do… There is also the question of whether it will work. I am not sure Israelis would make the connection. Look at the terror that happened in 2002 and 2003: life in Israel was really horrifying, the exploding buses, the suicide-bombers. But no Israeli made the connection between the occupation and the terror. For them, the terror was just the ‘proof’ that the Palestinians are monsters,  that they were born to kill, that they are not human beings and that’s it. And if you just dare to make the connection, people will tell you ‘you justify terror ’ and you are a traitor. I suspect it would be the same with sanctions. The condemnation after Cast Lead and the flotilla only made Israel more nationalistic. If [a boycott was] seen as the judgement of the world they would be effective. But Israelis are more likely to take them as ‘proof’ the world is anti-Semitic and will always hate us.”

He believes only one kind of pressure would bring Israel back to sanity and safety: “The day the president of the United States decides to put an end to the occupation, it will cease. Because Israel was never so dependent on the United States as it is now. Never. Not only economically, not only militarily but above all politically. Israel is totally isolated today, except for America.” He was initially hopeful that Barack Obama would do this – he recalls having tears in his eyes as he delivered his victory speech in Grant Park – but he says he has only promoted “tiny steps, almost nothing, when big steps are needed.” It isn’t only bad for Israel – it is bad for America. “The occupation is the best excuse for many worldwide terror organisations. It’s not always genuine but they use it. Why do you let them use it? Why give them this fury? Why not you solve it once and for all when the, when the solution is so simple?”

For progress, “the right-wing American Jews who become orgiastic whenever Israel kills and destroys” would have to be exposed as “Israel’s enemies”, condemning the country they supposedly love to eternal war. “It is the right-wing American Jews who write the most disgusting letters. They say I am Hitler’s grandson, that they pray my children get cancer… It is because I touch a nerve with them. There is something there.” These right-wingers claim to be opposed to Iran, but Levy points out they vehemently oppose the two available steps that would immediately isolate Iran and strip Mahmoud Ahmadinejadh of his best propaganda-excuses: “peace with Syria and peace with the Palestinians, both of which are on offer, and both of which are rejected by Israel. They are the best way to undermine Iran.”

He refuses to cede Israel to people “who wave their Israeli flags made in China and dream of a Knesset cleansed of Arabs and an Israel with no [human rights organisation] B’Tselem.” He looks angry, indignant. “I will never leave. It’s my place on earth. It’s my language, it’s my culture. Even the criticism that I carry and the shame that I carry come from my deep belonging to the place. I will leave only if I be forced to leave. They would have to tear me out.”

IV A whistle in the dark

Does he think this is a real possibility – that his freedom could be taken from him, in Israel itself? “Oh, very easily,” he says. “It’s already taken from me by banning me from going to Gaza, and this is just a start. I have great freedom to write and to appear on television in Israel, and I have a very good life, but I don’t take my freedom for granted, not at all. If this current extreme nationalist atmosphere continues in Israel in one, two, three years time…” He sighs. “There may be new restrictions, Ha’aretz may close down – God forbid – I don’t take anything for granted. I will not be surprised if Israeli Palestinian parties are criminalized at the next election, for example. Already they are going after the NGOs [Non-Government Organizations that campaign for Palestinian rights]. There is already a majority in the opinion polls who want to punish people who expose wrong-doing by the military and want to restrict the human rights groups.”

There is also the danger of a freelance attack. Last year, a man with a large dog strutted up to Levy near his home and announced: “I have wanted to beat you to a pulp for a long time.” Levy only narrowly escaped, and the man was never caught. He says now: “I am scared but I don’t live on the fear.  But to tell you that my night sleep is as yours… I’m not sure. Any noise, my first association is ‘maybe now, it’s coming’.  But there was never any concrete case in which I really thought ‘here it comes’. But I know it might come.”

Has he ever considered not speaking the truth, and diluting his statements? He laughs – and for the only time in our interview, his eloquent torrents of words begin to sputter. “I wish I could! No way I could. I mean, this is not an option at all. Really, I can’t. How can I? No way. I feel lonely but my private, er, surrounding is supportive, part of it at least. And there are still Israelis who appreciate what I do.  If you walk with me in the streets of Tel Aviv you will see all kinds of reactions but also very positive reactions. It is hard but I mean it’s…it’s…what other choice do I have?”

He says his private life is supportive “in part”. What’s the part that isn’t? For the past few years, he says, he has dated non-Israeli women – “I couldn’t be with a nationalistic person who said those things about the Palestinians” – but his two sons don’t read anything he writes, “and they have different politics from me. I think it was difficult for them, quite difficult.” Are they right-wingers? “No, no, no, nothing like that. As they get older, they are coming to my views more. But they don’t read my work. No,” he says, looking down, “they don’t read it.”

The long history of the Jewish people has a recurring beat – every few centuries, a brave Jewish figure stands up to warn his people they are have ended up on an immoral or foolish path that can only end in catastrophe, and implores them to change course. The first prophet, Amos, warned that the Kingdom of Israel would be destroyed because the Jewish people had forgotten the need for justice and generosity – and he was shunned for it. Baruch Spinoza saw beyond the Jewish fundamentalism of his day to a materialist universe that could be explained scientifically – and he was excommunicated, even as he cleared the path for the great Jewish geniuses to come. Could Levy, in time, be seen as a Jewish prophet in the unlikely wilderness of a Jewish state, calling his people back to a moral path?

He nods faintly, and smiles. “Noam Chomsky once wrote to me that I was like the early Jewish prophets. It was the greatest compliment anyone has ever paid me. But… well… My opponents would say it’s a long tradition of self-hating Jews. But I don’t take that seriously. For sure, I feel that I belong to a tradition of self-criticism. I deeply believe in self-criticism.” But it leaves him in bewildering situations: “Many times I am standing among Palestinian demonstrators, my back to the Palestinians, my face to the Israeli soldiers, and they were shooting in our direction. They are my people, and they are my army. The people I’m standing among are supposed to be the enemy. It is…” He shakes his head. There must be times, I say, when you ask: what’s a nice Jewish boy doing in a state like this?

But then, as if it has been nagging at him, he returns abruptly to an earlier question. “I am very pessimistic, sure. Outside pressure can be effective if it’s an American one but I don’t see it happening. Other pressure from other parts of the world might be not effective. The Israeli society will not change on its own, and the Palestinians are too weak to change it. But having said this, I must say, if we had been sitting here in the late 1980s and you had told me that the Berlin wall will fall within months, that the Soviet Union will fall within months, that parts of the regime in South Africa will fall within months, I would have laughed at you. Perhaps the only hope I have is that this occupation regime hopefully is already so rotten that maybe it will fall by itself one day. You have to be realistic enough to believe in miracles.”

In the meantime, Gideon Levy will carry on patiently documenting his country’s crimes, and trying to call his people back to a righteous path. He frowns a little – as if he is picturing Najawa Khalif blown to pieces in front of her school bus, or his own broken father – and says to me: “A whistle in the dark is still a whistle.”

Gideon Levy’s book ‘The Punishment of Gaza’ is available from Verso Books. You can buy it HERE.

You can watch Johann’s speech to the Protest the Pope rally  HERE.

You can follow Johann Hari’s updates on Israel and other issuesHERE.

Jewish men go on rampage in Paris streets and clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators

Shocking scenes as 150 Jewish men go on rampage in Paris streets and clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators

  • About 150 men took to the streets armed with metal bars and sticks
  • None were arrested despite going on the rampage in front of police
  • Six pro-Palestinian demonstrators arrested over synagogue break in 


A group of 150 Jewish men were seen brandishing iron bars and cans of pepper spray as they clashed with Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris.

Video footage of the clashes show the group chanting racist slogans as they roamed the streets.

It came as President Francois Hollande warned that he did not want to see ‘the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France’.

Scroll down for video

A still taken from the video shows dozens of men in Paris walking down the streets armed with chairs and other weapons, before clashing with pro-Palestinian demonstrators

A still taken from the video shows dozens of men in Paris walking down the streets armed with chairs and other weapons, before clashing with pro-Palestinian demonstrators


Around 150 mainly young men were seen carrying weapons, like chairs, and chanting racist slogans as they went on the rampage

Around 150 mainly young men were seen carrying weapons, like chairs, and chanting racist slogans as they went on the rampage



INCREDIBLE FOOTAGE of Israeli/Palestinian violence in Paris


French Jewish groups have complained about an increase in anti-Semitism in recent months, with many accusing Muslim youths of targeting them.

But a video shot close to the Place de la Bastille on Sunday, and verified by police before being posted on YouTube, appears to show pro-Israel groups are also actively involved in clashes.



In Paris, CRS riot police did not arrest any of the group, thought to be linked to the Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight.

In the video, those amongst the group can be heard chanting ‘**** you Palestine’ as they smash up chairs and metal tables to be used as missiles.

CRS riot police did not arrest any members of the rampaging group, thought to be linked to the extremist Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight

CRS riot police did not arrest any members of the rampaging group, thought to be linked to the extremist Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight


The group were carrying gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks, and some wore crash helmets while others simply covered their faces

The group were carrying gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks, and some wore crash helmets while others simply covered their faces



The men are armed with gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks and some wear crash helmets.

The video shows the men running towards pro-Palestinian demonstrators, before skirmishes break out.

Six pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested on Sunday, accused of trying to break into two Paris synagogues. Two Jewish men were reportedly injured.

A protester wearing a gas mask holds a fake rocket during protests in Paris over the weekend

A protester wearing a gas mask holds a fake rocket during protests in Paris over the weekend

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators were said to have tried to break into two Paris synagogues on Sunday which resulted in six arrests and two Jewish men being injured

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators were said to have tried to break into two Paris synagogues on Sunday which resulted in six arrests and two Jewish men being injured

In the wake of the clashes Mr Hollande said the country will ‘redouble vigilance’.

He was due to meet the head of Jewish umbrella group CRIF today.

Alexis Bachelay, a Paris MP for the ruling Socialist party, said: ‘There has evidently been a media manipulation about who really got assaulted.

‘These are extremely serious facts that need to be investigated thoroughly by the police. It is not the first time that young French people of Muslim origin are stigmatised by the media.

‘French people of Muslim origin should be protected by the law when demonstrating. They should not be attacked by radical groups like the LDJ’.

Read more: 
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‘Sderot cinema’: Image shows Israelis gathering to watch nighttime attacks on Gaza

Southern Israeli city is in the Negev desert close to the Gaza Strip.


Journalist Allan Sorenson posted this photo on Twitter, which he told The Stream was taken in Sderot on July 9.

Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard.

RAMADAN DUA LIST – Guidelines, Tips & Dua Suggestions

Allah loves to hear you make dua to Him.
RAMADAN DUA LIST – Guidelines, Tips & Dua Suggestions


One of the reasons most of us are excited about Ramadan is because it is in this beautiful month that we are hoping to get our duas accepted. And honestly truth be told not a single one of us is not in need of a dua being answered.

What is Ramadan Dua List?
What duas should I make?
Are there any Ramadan Specific duas?

A list consisting of personal duas + duas from Sunnah and Qur’an that you intend to make during the month of Ramadan in the form of a book or a printout. These duas can be made throughout the day at any time or you can allot specific timings to specific duas. A List will improve productivity + ensure you do not forget any dua.

1st Part
 – Atleast 10 duas that you intend to make during Fajr Salaah. The Duas need to be less than 10. Do not overwhelm yourself. If you can make alot of dua then go ahead, whatever floats your boat.
2nd Part – Repeat the same with different set of duas for Dhohr.
3rd Part – Repeat the same with different set of duas of Asr.
4th Part – Repeat the same with different set of duas for Maghrib.
5th Part – Repeat the same with different set of duas for Isha.
6th Part – Atleast 20 Duas that you intend to make before breaking fast and during Qiyaam or Tahajjud. These duas need to be special and the ones that you want the most. Make sure you include duas that balance deen and duniya. Do not forget to include Ummah in this particular section.

List down atleast 4 duas that you will and should make in every single sujood. Again make sure these are the duas that you need the most. I would repeat my advise and admonish you not to increase the number.

Yes! There are 2 authentic Ramadan Specific duas.
Dua 1: “After” breaking fast.
Note: All the duas that circulate during Ramadan “before” breaking fast are da’if. It is best to say bismillah and break your fast. And then make the following dua. Simple and easy.

ذَهَبَ الظَّمَأُ وَابْتَلَّتِ الْعُرُوقُ وَثَبَتَ الأَجْرُ إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ ‏

Zahabaz Zama’u wab tal latil uruqoo wa sabbatal ajr InshaAllah
Thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills.

Marwan ibn Salim al-Muqaffa’ said: I saw Ibn Umar holding his beard with his hand and cutting what exceeded the handful of it. He (Ibn Umar) said that the Prophet (ﷺ) said when he broke his fast: Thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills.
{Sunan Abi Dawud – Hassan}

Dua 2 : During Last 10 Days of Ramadan.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي 

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-’afwa, fa’fu ‘anni
O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-’afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).”

(Please feel free to include these in your list)

Include Ummah and their hardships in your dua list.
Muslims from Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Kashmir, Srilanka .. the list is endless.
Single mothers.
Couples with fertility issues.
Single muslims struggling to get married.
Muslims with diseases.
Muslims in Debts.
Dua for protection against fitna of grave, Dajjal and Hell fire.
Dua to be amongst Sabiqoon mentioned in Surah Al Waqiyah and under the shade of Allah’s throne on the Day of Judgment.
To drink water from the fountain of Al Kauthar from Prophet’s  hands on Day of Judgment (salallahu aleyhi wasallam).
Dua for your progeny,your husband,parents,siblings and inlaws (even if you are single).
Dua for money/bling and financial security – You can make dua to be a billionaire with Allah anything is possible.
Dua to make you a rich muslim who spends in the path of Allah and is not greedy or stringy or one who spends money on wrong affairs.
Dua to be free from grudges, jealousy,ungratefulness and hatred.
Dua for Muslim Prisoners and their families.
Dua for humanity and Orphans.
Dua for studies and goals in life.
Dua for Jannatul firdous al alaa.
Dua to be the neighbour of Prophetﷺ and his companions (salallahu aleyhi wasallam and radiallahu anhuma).
Dua to ward off hardships that one’s qadr might have and replace them with blessings.
Dua to keep us humble and on the right path without hardships being reminders to humble us.
Dua for good health for self and loved ones.
Dua for calling us to Mecca and Madina for Hajj and Umrah time and again!
Dua for Muslims who have Psychological diseases and hardships.
Dua for Cancer patients.
Dua for protection against punishment of grave and the pain of death.
Dua to cross the bridge of Siraat with the speed of light and more.
Dua for protection against black magic and evil eye.
Dua to make family ties strong.
Dua to be the Oolil Albaab/People of sound understanding.
Some suggestions from the top of my head! 

Tip 1 – Recite the Dua Prophet Muhammad ﷺ often made.

اللهم آتنا في الدنيا حسنة، وفي الآخرة حسنة، وقنا عذاب النار

Allahumma atina fid-dunya hasanatan, wa fil-akhirati hasanatan, wa qina ‘adhab-annar
O our Rubb! give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:The supplication most often recited by the Prophet (ﷺ) was: “Allahumma atina fid-dunya hasanatan, wa fil-akhirati hasanatan, wa qina ‘adhab-annar (O our Rubb! give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the punishment of the Fire).”‘
{Al-Bukhari and Muslim}
In the narration of Muslim it is added that whenever Anas supplicated, he used to beseech Allah with this Du’a.

Tip 2 – Purchase Fortress of the Muslim
Purchase atleast 10 copies. Consider this an investment. Gift it to your friends/family/reverts you know of. 
Keep it handy at all times specially during Ramadan. Have free time? Open the book and start making duas from it.
An online version is available but I highly recommend that you purchase a hardcopy. Once you are online there are so many distractions. And personally I like to sit on my prayer mat and make dua in the seclusion of my room. I do not like distractions and I reckon no one else does. Gifting it to others and they benefiting from it will gain you more reward, and who doesn’t want extra reward in Ramadan? 
Get highlighters in 5 different colours and mark your duas. 
For instance all duas marked with green are the ones you intend to make in Fajr Salaah and the ones with red in dhohr and so on. That way you will be dividing your duas and making sure you make all of them without getting tired or disinterested.


  1. It is from the sunnah to repeat your dua 3 times.
  2. It is from the etiquette of dua to make it in a moderate voice.
    Not too loud.
    Not too low.
    O people! Don’t exert yourselves, for you do not call a deaf or an absent one, but you call the All- Listener, the All-Seer.
    – Prophet Muhammad
    {Sahih Al Bukhari}
  3. Call Allah using His Beautiful Names
    Al Wali – The Protecting Friend.
    Al Qareeb – The One who is Near.
    Al Wakeel – The Most Trustworthy.
  4. If Allah granted the dua of Shaytan do you think he will not grant your dua?
  5. Remember that the reply of dua comes in 3 forms
    a) Yes.
    b) Yes but on a later date, not immediately.
    c) Some difficult/trouble is waved off.
    “No believer makes Dua and it is wasted. Either it is granted here in this world or deposited for him in the Hereafter as long as he does not get frustrated.”
    - Aisha radiAllahu anha
  6. Make dua for your friends and Ummah, Angels will make the same dua for you. It is an absolute win win situation. Make sure you make dua for atleast 10 close friends.
  7. Begin & End your dua by sending Salaam on Prophet Muhammad.

    Invoke blessings at the beginning and the end of your supplications. Allah is sure to accept both blessings and it is unlikely that He would not accept what is in between.”
    – Abu Sulaiman Ad-Darani“Duaa is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.”
    – Umar radiAllahu anhu

    Study this in details HERE

  8. Some Salaf made dua for 20 years and were still hopefull that their dua will be accepted and responded to. Always remember this if you tend to get impatient.
  9. Dua is a form of Worship. You get rewarded for making dua. This itself should be reason enough for us to be constantly engaged in making dua.
  10. When Allah mentions dua in Qur’an he establishes a direct connection with you. Even Prophet Muhammad is moved away from inbetween. Usually Allah commands prophet Muhammad to “tell it” to the people. But when it comes to verse about Dua “qul” is removed. This conveys pure tawheed. Dua makes a “direct” connection between you and Allah, not even Prophet Muhammad, no messenger, no wali is between you and Allah.
    SubhanAllah take a moment and visual a pure direct connection that is established between you and Allah whenever you start making dua!!
    Fathkuroonee athkurkum
    So remember Me; I will remember you.
    {Surat Al Baqarah 2: Ayaah 152}
  11. Dua is more likely to be answered in sujood, before tasleem in fard Salaah, between Adhan and Iqamaa, before breaking fast, 1/3rd end of the night also known as tahajjud or qiyaam ul layl, when it rains,.. to name a few.
    Learn to combine these.
    Example – Dua in Sujood during Ramadan at Tahajjud on the possible odd nights of laylatul Qadr!
  12. To humble yourself before Allah whilst making dua, confess your sins.
  13. Know that Allah is shy and will not return a servant empty handed.
    Salman Al-farsi narrated that the Prophet said:
    “Indeed, Allah, is Hayy, Generous, when a man raises his hands to Him, He feels too shy to return them to him empty and rejected.”
  14. Make dua with sincerity & Humility. You must ensure that your heart/Qalb submits totally, sincerely and wholeheartedly to Allah. Allah does not listen to an absent heart.
    “O you who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly, without reservation…”
    {Surat Al Baqara 2 : Ayaah 208}
    Your Qalb/Heart cannot be compartmentalized. You cannot dedicate one piece of it to Allah and another to some other illah/god, like wealth, status, career, spouse and so on.
  15. Make dua with Yaqeen and certainity. Make sure you put your faith in the dua and be positive that Allah will answer it. Have Tawakkul-this is going to happen! Don’t say I don’t know if this is going to work. If you are not committing any major sins it will work – bi’ithinillah. Be firm and don’t be hesitant that Allah will not answer you.
  16. Allah loves it when you make dua.
  17. Allah gets angry when you do not ask him or make dua to Him.
    “Whoever does not call upon Allah, He will be angry with him.”
    - Prophet Muhammad
    {Sunan Ibn Majah}
  18. Dua is your weapon against everything and everyone.
  19. Only dua has the power to change Qadr/Destiny. Make dua that if there are hardships written in your qadr that Allah replaces them with blessings instead.
  20. Your dua is more likely to be accepted if you constantly and sincerely repent. Repentance cleanses you of your sins and you are in a purer state when you plead Allah.
  21. Be Patient. Do not be in a haste. Keep negative thoughts concerning your dua and Allah at bay. Erase them totally if possible.
    “(The du’aa’) of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not hasty in seeking a response and does not say, ‘I prayed but I have not had a response.’”
    - Prophet Muhammad
    {Sahih Al Bukhari & Sahih Muslim}


a)    Dua for the best of both worlds
Rabbana atinafee addunya hasanatan wafee al-akhiratihasanatan waqina AAathaba annar.
Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.
{Surat Al Baqarah 2 : Ayaah 201}

b)    Dua during Distress (Keeping in mind as humans we are never “totally” free from distress,thus making this dua constantly is very beneficial.)
La ilaha il-lallah Al-`Alimul-Halim. La-ilaha illallah Rabul- Arsh-al-Azim, La ilaha-il-lallah Rabus-Samawati Rab-ul-Ard; wa Rab-ul-Arsh Al- Karim.
None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the incomparably great, the compassionate. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the rub of the mighty throne. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah the rub of the heavens, the rub of the earth, and the rubb of the honorable throne.{Sahih Al Bukhari}

c)     Dua for Spouse and Children
Rabbanahab lana min azwajina wathurriyyatinaqurrata aAAyunin wajAAalna lilmuttaqeena imama
Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.
{Surat Al Furqan 25: Ayaah 74}

d)    Dua for Forgiveness and a Beautiful End
Rabbana faghfirlana thunoobana wakaffir AAannasayyi-atina watawaffana maAAa al-abrar
Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die in the state of righteousness along with Al-Abrar (those who are obedient to Allah and follow strictly His Orders).
{Surat Ali Imran 3: Ayaah 193}

e)    Dua for Protection against Debt, Oppression, Sadness.
Allahumma Inni A’udhu Bika Minal-Hammi Wal-Hazani Wal-Ajzi Wal-Kasali Wal-Bukhli Wa Dala’id=Dain Wa Qahrir-Rijal
O Allah, I seek refuge in You from sadness, grief, helplessness, laziness, being stingy, overwhelming debt, and the overpowering of men

f)      Dua for Guidance & Protection against harm 
Allahumm-aghfir li, warhamni, wa-hdini, wa ‘afini, warzuqni
O Allah! Forgive me, have mercy on me, guide me, guard me against harm and provide me with sustenance and salvation
{Sahih Muslim}

g)    Dua for Guidance towards the best of Manners
Inna salati wa nusuki wa mahyaya wa mamati lillahi rabbil-alamin, la sharika lahu, wa bidhalika umirtu wa ana min al-muslimin. Allahummahdini liahsanil-amali wa ahsanil-akhlaqi la yahdi li ahsaniha illa anta wa qini sayy’al-a’mali wa sayy’al-ahaqi la yaqi sayy’aha illa ant.
Indeed my salah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am one of the Muslims. O Allah, guide me to the best of deeds and the best of manners, for none can guide to the best of them but You. And protect me from bad deeds and bad manners, for none can protect against them but You.
{Sunan An Nasai}

h)   Dua for Safety and Wellbeing
Allahumma inni as’alukal-huda wat- tuqa wal-’afafa wal-ghina
O Allah! I ask you for your guidance, piety, safety and wellbeing and contentment and sufficieny.
{Sahih Muslim}

i)      Dua for Protection Against Hellfiire
Rabbanaisrif AAanna AAathaba jahannama inna AAathabahakana gharama Innaha saat mustaqarran wamuqama
Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily! Its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it (Hell) is as an abode and as a place to dwell.
{Surat Al Furqan 25: Ayaat 65-66}

j)      Dua for confessing your Sins – Dua of Yunus aleyhi salaam. If you know what verse follows this verse you will never stop making this dua! SubhanAllah. May Allah answer our prayers as He responded to the call of our beloved Prophet Yunus aleyhi salaam.
La ilaha illa anta subhanaka inneekuntu mina aththalimeen
[none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)], Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.
{Surat Al Anbya 21: Ayaah 87}

Fastajabna lahu wanajjaynahumina alghammi wakathalika nunjee almu/mineen
So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.
{Surat Al Anbya 21: Ayaah 88}

May Allah make us from the believers whom He saves!! Ameen

k)    Dua for protection against an oppressor or when you are feeling totally helpless – Dua of Nuh aleyhi salaam
Rabbahu annee maghloobun fantasir
Indeed, I am overpowered, so help(me).
{Surat Al Qamar 54: Ayaah 10}

l)      Dua for the best disposal of your Affairs – Dua of Ibrahim aleyhi salaam
HasbunaAllahu waniAAma alwakeel
Sufficient for us is Allah , and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.
{Surat Ali Imran 3: Ayaah 173}

m) Dua for Job Security + Marriage –  Musa aleyhi salaam. One of my favourite Duaas. This dua ensured Musa aleyhi salaam got a job security for 8-10 years and got him married.
Rabbiinnee lima anzalta ilayya min khayrin faqeer
My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.
{Surah Al Qasas 28: Ayaah 24}

n)   Dua for seeking Allah’s Mercy
Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum! Bi rahmatika astagheeth!
O Living, O Self-Sustaining Sustainer! In Your Mercy do I seek relief

o)    Dua for entrusting your affairs with Allah – Dua of Yaqoob aleyhi salaam
Innama ashkoo baththee wahuzneeila Allahi
I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah
{Surah Yusuf 12: Ayaah 86}
Waofawwidu amree ila Allahi inna Allahabaseerun bilAAibad
And I entrust my affair to Allah . Indeed, Allah is Seeing of [His] servants
{Surah Ghafir 40:Ayaah 44}

p) Dua for Protection Against Hellfire, Grave & Dajjal
Allahumma inni a’udhu bika min ‘adhabi jahannam, wa min ‘adhabil-qabr, wa min fitnatil-mahya wal-mamat, wa min sharri fitnatil-masihid-dajjal.
“O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the torment of Hell, from the torment of the grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the mischief of Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal (Antichrist).”
{Sahih Muslim}

q)    Dua for acceptance of dua!
Rabbana wtaqabbal duAAa
Our Lord, and accept my supplication.
{Surat Ibrahim 14: Ayaah 40}

SubhanAllah nearly every week we get emails from sisters asking us for duas that might get them pregnant. I pray Allah answers your dua for a poius, healthy and beautiful progeny this Ramadan.
Here are some of the duas you can make.

1. Dua of Zakkariyya aleyhi salaam
Rabbi hab lee min ladunka thurriyyatantayyibatan innaka sameeAAu adduAAa
“My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.”

{Surat Ali Imran 3: Ayaah 38}

2. Dua of Zakkariyya aleyhi salaam
Rabbi la tatharnee fardan waanta khayru alwaritheen
“My Lord, do not leave me alone [with no heir], while you are the best of inheritors.”
{Surat Al Anbya 21 : Ayaah 89}

3. Dua of Ibrahim aleyhi salaam for his sons Ismael and Ishaq 
Rabbi hablee mina assaliheen
“My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.”
{Surat As Saffat 37: Ayaah 100}

4.   Dua from Surat Al Furqan
Rabbanahab lana min azwajina wathurriyyatinaqurrata aAAyunin wajAAalna lilmuttaqeena imama
“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”
{Surat Al Furqan 25: Ayaah 74}

5.  Dua from Surat Al Ahqaf
RabbiawziAAnee an ashkura niAAmataka allatee anAAamta AAalayya waAAalawalidayya waan aAAmala salihan tardahuwaaslih lee fee thurriyyatee innee tubtuilayka wa-innee mina almuslimeen.
“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.”
{Surat Al Ahqaf 46: Ayaah 15}


Crying and Beseeching Allah in times of hardship comes naturally. Especially when we are feeling helpless. This problem arises when we are surrounded with blessings and yet our heart yearns for the sweetness of crying out to Allah either in repentance or in humble gratitude. Here are few tips that might help you:
1. Imagine yourself lying alone in your grave.
2. Imagine your sins that Allah in His ultimate mercy covered and has still kept hidden.
3. Imagine seeing Hellfire.
4. Imagine standing naked on the day of judgment waiting to receive your book of deeds.
5. Imagine Allah turning away from you or making you blind on the day of judgment.
6. Imagine the innumerable blessings of Allah that you DO NOT deserve yet Allah has showered you with.
7. Imagine the diseases and hardships Allah has saved you from which others are suffering with. Rape, Marital Abuse, Cancer, Abusive Parents and the list of evil things which could have happened but DID NOT is literally ENDLESS!
8. Last and the MOST IMPORTANT make a constant small effort to gain more knowledge. The greater knowledge you have about the seerah, names of Allah and Tafseer of the Qur’an inshaAllah the greater will be your humility, fear and Love of Allah. We pray Allah keeps us away and saves us from being those who have knowledge but are arrogant. Knowledge is beneficial only when it increases us in humility.

If someone is new to Islam and is wondering why should I even be crying or trying to cry?

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“No man will enter the Fire who weeps for fear of Allah, Most High, until the milk goes back into the udders. And the dust (of Jihad) in the cause of Allah, and the smoke of Hell will never be combined.”
{Sunan An Nasai}

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said Allah will give shade to seven (types of people) under His Shade (on the Day of Resurrection). (one of them will be) a person who remembers Allah and his eyes are then flooded with tears.
{Sahih Al Bukhari}

I pray every single dua we make this Ramadan gets accepted. One of the duas that I wanted to be answered the most took 3 YEARS! So if you have been making dua for something please do not give up. I am extremely grateful to Allah for not anwering my dua for those 3 years. I learnt so many lessons in deen and duniya as a consequence of that dua not being answered for so long. There is always so much wisdom behind Allah’s plan which we seldom cannot see or get irritated with.
“Had Allah lifted the veil for His slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allah is more keen for the benefit of the slave than His own self, his heart would have melted out of the love for Allah and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allah.
Therefore if the pains of this world tire you do not grieve. For it may be that Allah wishes to hear your voice by way of dua. So pour out your desires in prostration and forget about it and know, that verily Allah does not forget it.” 

- Ibn al Qayyim (rahimahullah)
Be consistent and ask for whatever you want. Allah is the owner of the heavens and the Earth! For Him nothing is impossible.

No person by himself is capable of fighting against the current of misfortune or trials, nor can humans fend off  the blows of disaster & tests when they strike. This is because man was created weak and fragile. However, when in times of difficulty, the believer places his dependency and trust with his Lord; he knows that all difficulties can be overcome. By leaving your affairs to Allah, by depending upon Him, by trusting in His promise, by being pleased with His decree, by thinking favorably of Him, and by waiting patiently for His help, you reap some of the greater fruits of faith and display the more prominent characteristics of the believer. When you incorporate these qualities into your character, you will be at peace concerning the future, because you will depend on your Lord for everything. As a result, you will find care, help, protection, and victory.

Scientists Discover That Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer


A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. We recently posted an article about meditation,

and how neuroscience can now explain what happens to the brain when we meditate. Now, scientists have discovered the first

evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. The study was published in the

June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of

prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting

shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. (1)

Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time,

patients did not eat which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch,

changing the signalling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”  (1)

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration

of the heatopoietic system. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to

recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.  What we started noticing in both our

human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the

blood cells come back. ” - Valter Longo, corresponding author. (1)

Again, because fasting significantly lowers white blood cell counts, this triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new

immune system cells.  More importantly, it reduces the PKA enzyme, which has been linked to aging, tumour progression and cancer.(1)

It’s also noteworthy to mention that fasting protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial where patients fasted for 72 hours prior to chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may

mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.” Co-Author Tanya Dorff   (1)

Fasting is a tradition that’s been incorporated into many ancient cultures, from Vedic to Buddhist and more, fasting should not be confused

with starvation. It’s the process of restrain and control from the sensorial experience of eating and at the same time making sure you are

doing it correctly. When I fast, I usually do water fasts and I have been doing them for almost eight years now and I always feel great and

full of energy after doing so.

More Research

1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease:

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have found evidence that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent

the effects of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Research also found that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days

out of the seven can show clear beneficial effects for the brain.

2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes:

Regularly going a day without food reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that fasting releases a significant

surge in human growth hormone, which is associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Shedding fat is known to

cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.

3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells:

A study from the scientific journal of aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects

from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors.

The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer.

As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps,

which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA

and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs

to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction

Again, make sure you do your research before trying this out. Hopefully this can kickstart you further into looking into it if you are truly interested.

Related CE Article: Can We Eat To Starve Cancer? The Diet That Keeps Cancer Away