More oddities in the U.S. "debate" over Israel/Gaza

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

This Rasmussen Reports poll — the first to survey American public opinion specifically regarding the Israeli attack on Gaza — strongly bolsters the severe disconnect I documented the other day between (a) American public opinion on U.S. policy towards Israel and (b) the consensus views expressed by America’s political leadership. Not only does Rasmussen find that Americans generally “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip” (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive — by a 24-point margin (31-55%). By stark constrast, Republicans, as one would expect (in light of their history of supporting virtually any proposed attack on Arabs and Muslims), overwhelmingly support the Israeli bombing campaign (62-27%).

It’s not at all surprising, then, that Republican leaders — from Dick Cheney and John Bolton to virtually all appendages of the right-wing noise machine, from talk radio and Fox News to right-wing blogs and neoconservative journals — are unquestioning supporters of the Israeli attack. After all, they’re expressing the core ideology of the overwhelming majority of their voters and audience.

Much more notable is the fact that Democratic Party leaders — including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi — are just as lockstep in their blind, uncritical support for the Israeli attack, in their absolute refusal to utter a word of criticism of, or even reservations about, Israeli actions. While some Democratic politicians who are marginalized by the party’s leadership are willing to express the views which Democratic voters overwhelmingly embrace, the suffocating, fully bipartisan orthodoxy which typically predominates in America when it comes to Israel — thou shalt not speak ill of Israel, thou shalt support all actions it takes — is in full force with this latest conflict.

Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice? More notably still, is there any other position, besides Israel, where (a) a party’s voters overwhelmingly embrace one position (Israel should not have attacked Gaza) but (b) that party’s leadership unanimously embraces the exact opposite position (Israel was absolutely right to attack Gaza and the U.S. must support Israel unequivocally)? Does that happen with any other issue?

Equally noteworthy is that the factional breakdown regarding Israel-Gaza mirrors quite closely the factional alliances that arose with regard to the Iraq War. Just as was true with Iraq, one finds vigorous pro-war sentiment among the Dick Cheney/National Review/neoconservative/hard-core-GOP crowd, joined (as was true for Iraq) by some American liberals who typically oppose that faction yet eagerly join with them when it comes to Israel. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world — Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East, the U.N. leadership — opposes and condemns the attack, all to no avail. The parties with the superior military might (the U.S. and Israel) dismiss world opinion as essentially irrelevant. Even the pro-war rhetorical tactics are the same (just as those who opposed the Iraq War were demonized as being “pro-Saddam,” those who oppose the Israeli attack on Gaza are now “pro-Hamas”).

Substantively, there are certainly meaningful differences between the U.S. attack on Iraq and the Israeli attack on Gaza (most notably the fact that Hamas really does shoot rockets into Israel and has killed Israeli civilians and Israel really is blockading and occupying Palestinian land, whereas Iraq did not attack and could not attack the U.S. as the U.S. was sanctioning them and controlling their airspace). But the underlying logic of both wars are far more similar than different: military attacks, invasions and occupations will end rather than exacerbate terrorism; the Muslim world only understands brute force; the root causes of the disputes are irrelevant; diplomacy and the U.N. are largely worthless. It’s therefore entirely unsurprising that the sides split along the same general lines. What’s actually somewhat remarkable is that there is even more lockstep consensus among America’s political leadership supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza than there was supporting the U.S.’s own attack on Iraq (at least a few Democratic Congressional leaders opposed the war on Iraq, unlike for Israel’s bombing of Gaza, where they virtually all unequivocally support it).

* * * * *

Ultimately, what is most notable about the “debate” in the U.S. over Israel-Gaza is that virtually all of it occurs from the perspective of Israeli interests but almost none of it is conducted from the perspective of American interests. There is endless debate over whether Israel’s security is enhanced or undermined by the attack on Gaza and whether the 40-year-old Israeli occupation, expanding West Bank settlements and recent devastating blockade or Hamas militancy and attacks on Israeli civilians bear more of the blame. American opinion-making elites march forward to opine on the historical rights and wrongs of the endless Israeli-Palestinian territorial conflict with such fervor and fixation that it’s often easy to forget that the U.S. is not actually a direct party to this dispute.

Though the ins-and-outs of Israeli grievances and strategic considerations are endlessly examined, there is virtually no debate over whether the U.S. should continue to play such an active, one-sided role in this dispute. It’s the American taxpayer, with their incredibly consequential yet never-debated multi-billion-dollar aid packages to Israel, who are vital in funding this costly Israeli assault on Gaza. Just as was true for Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, it’s American bombs that — with the whole world watching — are blowing up children and mosques, along with Hamas militants, in Gaza. And it’s the American veto power that, time and again, blocks any U.N. action to stop these wars.

For those reasons, the pervasive opposition and anger around the world from the Israeli assault on Gaza is not only directed to Israel but — quite rationally and understandably — to America as well. Virtually the entire world, other than large segments of the American public, see Israeli actions as American actions. The attack on Gaza thus harms not only Israel’s reputation and credibility, but America’s reputation and credibility as well.

And for what? Even for those Americans who, for whatever their reasons, want endlessly to fixate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who care deeply and passionately about whether the Israelis or the Palestinians control this or that West Bank hill or village and want to spend the rest of their days arguing about who did what to whom in 1948 and 1967, what possible interests do Americans generally have in any of that, sufficient to involve ourselves so directly and vigorously on one side, and thereby subject ourselves to the significant costs — financial, reputational, diplomatic and security — from doing so?

It’s one thing to argue that Israel is being both wise and just by bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip. It’s another thing entirely to argue that the U.S. should use all of its resources to support Israel as it does so. Those are two entirely separate questions. Arguments insisting that the Gaza attack is good and right for Israel don’t mean that they are good and right for the U.S. Yet unstinting, unquestioning American support for whatever Israel does is just tacitly assumed in most of these discussions. The core assumption is that if it can be established that this is the right thing for Israel to do, then it must be the right thing for the U.S. to support it. The notion that the two countries may have separate interests — that this may be good for Israel to do but not for the U.S. to support — is the one issue that, above all else, may never be examined.

The “change” that many anticipate (or, more accurately, hope) that Obama will bring about is often invoked as a substance-free mantra, a feel-good political slogan. But to the extent it means anything specific, at the very least it has to entail that there will be a substantial shift in how America is perceived in the world, the role that we in fact play, the civil-liberties-erosions and militarized culture that inevitably arise from endlessly involving ourselves in numerous, hate-fueled military conflicts around the world. Our blind support for Israel, our eagerness to make all of its disputes our own disputes, our refusal to acknowledge any divergence of interests between us and that other country, our active impeding rather than facilitating of diplomatic resolutions between it and its neighbors are major impediments to any meaningful progress in those areas.

UPDATE: One related point: I have little appreciation for those who believe, one way or the other, that they can reliably predict what Obama is going to do — either on this issue or others. That requires a clairvoyance which I believe people lack.

Some argue that Obama has filled key positions with politicians who have a history of virtually absolute support for Israeli actions — Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel — because Obama intends to continue, more or less, the Bush policy of blind support for Israel. Others argue the opposite: that those appointments are necessary to vest the Obama administration with the credibility to take a more active role in pushing the Israelis to a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, and that in particular, Clinton would not have left her Senate seat unless she believed she could finish Bill Clinton’s work and obtain for herself the legacy-building accomplishment of forging an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians (this morning’s NYT hints at that scenario).

I personally find the latter theory marginally more persuasive, but there is simply no way to know until Obama is inaugurated. Whatever else is true, the more domestic political pressure is exerted demanding that the U.S. play a more even-handed and constructive role in facilitating a diplomatic resolution, the more likely it is that this will happen.

UPDATE II: Donna Edwards, the newly elected, netroots-supported Democratic Congresswoman from Maryland, who removed the standard establishment Democratic incumbent Al Wynn from office this year, has the following to say about Israel/Gaza:

I am deeply disturbed by this week’s escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, as I have been by the ongoing rocket fire into southern Israel. To support Israel and to ease the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza, the United States must work actively for an immediate ceasefire that ends the violence, stops the rockets, and removes the blockade of Gaza.

That’s much further than most national Democrats have been willing to go. And it illustrates that primary challenges can — slowly but meaningfully — change the face of the Democratic Party.

UPDATE III: An abridged version of this post was published in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, here.

Crowded hajj also an intense personal experience

Like most Muslims, I had been preparing my entire life to one day embark on the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, that is one of the five Pillars of Islam. Yet when my wife and I set off to Saudi Arabia the first week of December, I could not have imagined what an intensely spiritual journey it would be.

By Aziz Junejo

Special to The Seattle Times

Like most Muslims, I had been preparing my entire life to one day embark on the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, that is one of the five Pillars of Islam.

God says in the Quran:

And proclaim that the people shall observe hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations.

Quran, chapter Al Hajj, 22:27
When my wife and I set off to Saudi Arabia the first week of December, I could not have imagined what an intensely spiritual journey it would be.

During the annual hajj, Muslims from every corner of the planet gather in Mecca to participate in a five-day set of rituals to attain complete forgiveness from God for their sins. We arrived in Mecca at night. The warm desert air, carrying bits of sand, brushed my skin softly as I started to repeat the obligatory beginning to hajj:

Here I am, O God. Here I am.

That first night, at around 3 a.m., as we descended by bus from the granite mountains that surround Mecca, we got our first glimpse of the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam.

For more than a billion Muslims worldwide, the Kaaba is the holiest spot in the universe. This stone cube-shaped structure was built by Abraham as a place to worship God. When Muslims pray five times a day, they face the Kaaba, bowing in praise of the one God.

The Kaaba is today encircled by the Grand Mosque with its majestic minarets illuminated by glowing lights.

That same morning, I walked barefoot through the huge doors of the Grand Mosque with nothing but the required two pieces of plain white cloth wrapped around me. It is what all men wear during hajj.

The sight was both stunning and deeply moving: My fellow pilgrims represented all humanity’s faces and cultures, black, white, rich, poor. We spoke different languages, yet dressed all as one, a symbol of the human equality of hajj and of our unity before God.

I was overwhelmed as I observed thousands and thousands of Muslims circling the Kaaba — a sea of white cloths in smooth, slow motion. My tears expressed what words never could.

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Over five days, the majority of us traveled on foot among the ancient cities of Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifa, and then back to Mecca, simultaneously performing rituals of worship in unison. It’s how the hajj has been done for more than 1,400 years.

The Prophet Mohammad said “hajj is Arafat,” and that second day was, indeed, the pinnacle event. For as long as the sun was in the sky, I stood with 3 million other Muslims on the desert plain of Arafat, my hands raised toward the heavens asking God to forgive my sins. This was an intensely personal and emotional journey, and yet I was most emphatically not alone.

By the end of this day, Muslims believe, forgiveness is granted to those present who ask with sincerity.

That day in the valley of Arafat, I had a glimpse of Judgment Day, when, Muslims believe, humanity will be raised up and gathered in one place to petition God for Paradise.

There were many occasions where hajj proved to be my ultimate test of patience; from the seemingly endless waits, the gridlock, and the eventual fatigue from heat and miles of walking with sand-filled sandals among crowds of millions of people, but I continually uttered aloud, “Here I am, O God. Here I am,” with patience and perseverance.

Returning to Sea-Tac Airport and hugging my loved ones, I recognized how thankful I was for the opportunity to have experienced this life-changing event. Having completed the fifth and final pillar of my faith, I pray I have returned a more tolerant person, an improved person and a more thankful person.

Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

Letter of support to the people of Palestine from Jewish Rabbis

The letter has been signed off by Rabbi Moshe Dov Beck, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, Rabbi Meir Hirsh and Rabbi Ahron Cohen.
Rabbi Yisroel Dovi Weiss
Rabbi Yisroel Dovi WeissImage source: Frummer Than Thou

Below are excerpts of the letter addressed to Dr. Mamoud Al-Zahar:

“We speak to you as the voice and the messengers of true Jewry — the Jewish people, true to the Almighty’s Torah, from around the world. Although we are limited in the means of expressing our deepest and true feelings, by the barriers of words, nevertheless, the Jewish people humbly offer to you and all of Gaza and the entire Palestine, a few words, to attempt to convey our deepest sorrow and heartfelt sympathy that we all feel for you, in this present tragic and traumatic time.

Great pain and sorrow has engulfed us by the tragic news of what has befallen you and your family, by the senseless murder of your dear son, Hussam and prior to this calamity, your other precious possession, your other son, Khaled.

We have not the words to console you, but our prayers are to the great Almighty, to console and comfort you and yours, upon this great tragedy. Amen…..

…True Jews around the world, of course including in the entire Palestine, never have and with the help of the Almighty, never will accept the ideology of Zionism and never will recognize the realization of its heretical plan, the state of “Israel”.

Our sole bond is with the Almighty and His Torah. Our sage’s state that we are required to emulate the Almighty, “just as the Almighty is compassionate, so are we to be compassionate.”

We always have and always will, with the help of the Almighty, remain unaffiliated and estranged from this aberration and the will of Satan, “Zionism and the state of Israel”….

…In the Torah it states, that transgressing against the Almighty, will not be successful. This state of “Israel”, according to the Almighty’s Torah, must and will eventually end.

Let us all pray and beseech Him, to bring about the total, peaceful and speedy dismantlement of this illegitimate state soon in our days. With the Almighty’s benevolence, may He make this happen, without any further pain or suffering. Amen….

…We implore you to convey the message to the people in Gaza and Palestine, that there are untold thousands of Jews worldwide and in Palestine who stand with you and who entirely oppose Zionism and the state of “Israel” and bear no responsibility for the actions of the Zionists. Educate your people that when you meet Jewish people, do not consider them your enemy. We all serve the one God.

Once again, we constantly pray — worry and hope for you all.

May we merit to see soon in our days, the total, speedy and peaceful dismantlement of the state of “Israel”. (Source: Neturei Karta)
Posted by Kashmiri Nomad at 18:53:00
Labels: Israel , Jews , Terrorism
Anonymous says:
Yesterday, 5:49:17 AM
“The truth of the matter is that until the 19th century, religious Jews, even those who wanted the establishment of a Jewish State, were opposed to such a State being established in the Holy Land.

Then the secular Jew Hertzl came along and convinced non-religious Jews and later even many religious Jews that Zionism–the establishment of a Jewish State in the Holy Land–was the way forward.

After World War II, Western nations, hoping to assuage their guilt over their inaction or even complicity in the Shoa, made it possible for Hertzl’s secular, “political Zionism” to be imposed on the people of the Holy Land.

Sixty years later, this blasphemy before the Face of Hashem continues to poison the Holy Land. The modern State of Israel is NOT Zion, is not the land to which Moses led the Hebrew Children. The secular government of modern Israel is usurper. It has no validity in the sight of the Almighty. The throne of King David is vacant and will remain so until the Messiah comes.

The radical settler movement claims to base their policies on the Torah are bogus. They twist and pervert true Judaism. Some of their Rabbis justify the massacre of innocents in Gaza by trying to invoke collective guilt.

The only times in the past when it was Hashem’s will that entire collectivities were to be destroyed, the Almighty himself acted directly or he sent a Prophet to reveal his commandment.

The savagery now being wrought by the Israeli Defense Forces is NOT a act of Hashem; it is a blasphemy and a violation of the Torah.

Our Father Abraham held himself to a very high standard. He feared that he might have killed innocent people during the wars he waged (described in Genesis 14). According to midrash Tanhuma:

“Abraham excoriated himself mercilessly saying, ‘Perhaps among those whom I have killed there were some righteous men…’ (Tanhuma 3:14 on Gen. 15:1 )

The concept of individual responsibility for wrongdoing is encapsulated in the prohibition towards the end of the Torah:

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)

This moral and religious norm appears elsewhere, in the Tanakh. For example, the prophet Ezekiel warns that:

“The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the rigor the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself alone.” (Ezekial 18:20)

Assam Muslim History

A Brief outline
This small piece of wriitng encompasses Muslim history in Assam from colonial period and geographical-historical realities that shaped Muslims destiny in the pages of history.

Contents

* Introduction

Introduction

Scope: Assam is the second largest Muslim populated state of India (in terms of percentage) only after Jammu and Kashmir. Muslims constitute about thirty percent of the state population[1]. They are historically concentrated in the south and west Assam in large numbers. Five of the six Muslims majority districts of Assam lie in these regions and also the other districts in these regions have significant percentage of Muslims[2]. Interestingly in Assam it is found that, wherever Muslim political structure developed, high percentage of Muslims are living there. Besides, the southern and western region, central Assam (mainly in the districts of Nagaon and Marigaon) has significant Muslim populations. Presently the state has almost eighty lakhs Muslim population. History of the origin of this huge numbers of inhabitants does not represent one single period. Almost a quarter of their Islamic origin belongs to 13th to 15th century A.D., which is the timing of my study on Muslims Socio-Political History.

Since last three-four decades the histories of Muslims have been the center stage of many movements and violence in the state. The allegations and counter allegations not only draw the attention of national media, politicians, and the masses but also the international media and organizations[3]. They are marginalized in every possible way. They are looked merely as invaders and intruders in history and now suspected as immigrants. This twist and criticism, however, in turn led the curiosity of some writers and historians to explore the Muslim history in the state and their relation with power. But unfortunately most of the works carried out by them are neither comprehensive nor insightful. Their writings unveiled a small part of Muslims total history in Assam. For instance, some one may writes on Assam or specifically on Muslims, but they would either forget or ignore regions other then Brahmputra valley. So their studies are confined to Brahmputra valley only, for that matter Barak valley received scant attention[4]. It became a fact that so far nobody has made any such move on any specific period to explore the history of Muslims of Assam in true sense. A systematic study from 13th century, which is the starting point of their history, is crucial in the construction of both Brahmputra valley and Barak valley’s Muslim history.

The history of the Muslims of Assam is important for a comprehensive history of Assam. In fact, the way history of our country is incomplete without the reference of Assam. A history of Assam is also incomplete without the reference of Muslims history. In Assam, Muslim community is heterogeneous in character. Unlike other religious groups of the state, they are also divided culturally, ethnically and linguistically[5]. A systematic study of these different groups, in the light of various sources and conditions is necessary, for the sake of a comprehensive history of state and Muslims in particular. Actually historical processes of conversion in to Islam, settlement of Muslims from outside and the geographical variance of the state paved their division. It is a fact, neither at single point of time Muslims had entered Assam, nor the locals belong to Hinduism and tribal faith embraced Islam at a time. Muslims arrived and settled in different places at different stages of history. Similarly the conversions to Islam occurred at various point of times. The newly settled Muslims (13th to 15th A.D.) of Turk, Afghan, Arabic, Persian and other backgrounds, mingling with the newly converted Muslims, and Non Muslims paved the way for the enhancement of language, Polity, economy and society of Assam. Thus local languages and dialects became filled with new words used by the adventurer. Both Assamese and Bengali languages are fraught with Arabic and Persian words. So Muslims added new dimension to Assam, what every new community develops certain trends and cultural diversities in the society and polity of that land, which in turn enrich the existing one.

The history and cultural heritage of each and every community of a place express the composite nature of that place and its greatness. Assam for its reach diversity in religion, language, ethnicity and culture forms a distinct and interesting identity in the history and heritage of India. The legacy of Muslims is a significant part of it. So their history is imperative to develop a comprehensive history of Assam. And finally of course a study of the past of Assam’s second largest community Muslim will definitely help to develop better understandings among different ethnic groups.

Geography: Assam is located in the north east corner of India between the latitudes 28°18´and 24° N, and the longitudes 89°46´-97 E. It covered an area of 78.523 square Kilometers. Assam denote in this study contemporary Assam. However in some cases reference of Syllhet, a district of colonial Assam is imperative[6]. Because the present district of Karimganj has been a part of Syllhet throughout its history. It has the sane society, culture as that of Syllhet. When in 1947 Sylhet was declared a part of Pakistan, Karimganj subdivision was retained with India[7].

Assam is in the center of Northeast India. It is surrounded on the north by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, on the east by Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur, on the south Mizoram, Tripura, and on the west lays Bangladesh, Meghalaya, and West Bengal. Except its border with west Bengal and Bangladesh from all other sides, Assam is bounded by hills. The state is physically divided into three parts:

I. Brahmaputra Valley named after the river Brahmaputra, which flows from the east to the west in the northern part of Assam.

II. Barak Valley identified by the name of the river Barak that flows from east to the west in south Assam.

III. Hilly region comprising two hilly districts of Borail Range and Karbi Anglong Hills in the middle of Assam.

Borail Range and Khasi-Jaintia hills separate Barak and Brahmaputra Valley. This hilly barrier makes geographical oneness of both valleys almost in accessible. So are the cultures and histories of the people of two valleys. That is why, in this study the Socio-Political history of two valleys discussed separately. There are very few instances of uniformity existed between these valleys during medieval period also.

The history of Assam went through various phases of formation and fragmentation before to take the shape of modern one. Modern Assam is a creation of British colonialism[8]. In 1874, Assam was created as colonial province under a chief commissioner for an inexpensive and effective administration[9]. Consideration of historical continuity or cultural contiguity was not in the mind of British imperialist. The territories that formed the new province are:

I. Mughal territories of Bengal Subah comprising lower parts have Brahmaputra valley (West Assam) and Barak valley (South Assam)[10].

II. The territory of Ahom Kingdom comprising upper portion of Brahmaputra Valley (central and eastern part of modern Assam)[11].

III. Territories of Dimacha-Kachari Kingdom comprising two hilly districts and a portion of Barak valley[12].

IV. Some other small Kingdoms Domaria, Darang Etc[13].

That is why the history of contemporary Assam is not synonymous with the history of Ahom Kingdom or the area that came to be referred as Assam, after British colonization as well as in the post independent period[14]. During colonial period, British annexed hilly states like Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram etc. into Assam. But after independence except the present territory of Assam, which is under study, all other places gradually parted away as separate states while major portion of Syllhet went to East Pakistan (present Bangladesh). Since Brahmaputra Valley constitutes the two third territory of present Assam; In general its past is what history designates of Assam today to the most modern historians.

During ancient and medieval period Brahmaputra Valley is known by different names in the Epic, Puranic and early historical literature. It is mentioned as Pragjyotisha in both the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Pragjyotisha included not only the whole of Brahmaputra Valley and parts of North and East Bengal but also the hilly tracts up to the border of China. It is known for the first time as Kamrup in Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudra Gupta and in the Early Puranas. The boundaries of Pragjyotisha or Kamrup did not remain static, underwent changes in different age for political and other reasons[15]. After the expedition of Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1226 A.D., the big state of Pragjyotisha-Kamrupa collapsed. There emerged small states. The remnants of Kamrupa named as Kamata. It was in 15th century Thai Ahoms, belong to the Shan stock in South East Asia, who had ruled Upper Brahmaputra Valley from 13th to early 18th century, able to unite large tracts of Kamrup into one identity. The western limit receded from the river Karatoya to the river Manas. The river Manas was western frontier not all times, only during the high times of Ahoms[16].

The territory of Ahoms is called Asham in Ain-e-Akbari and Asam in Padshahnaamaa. The same word is applied by, Francis Hamilton in his account on Assam compiled during 1807-8. Assam is apparently the English form of Asam. Again, there are differences of opinion among historians on the origin of the word Asham. According to one group of historian Mughal called Brahmputra Valley in the name Asham, as the land is uneven or peerless and in Sanskrit Asham means uneven. The second opinion is that Asham originated from the word Tai-Ahom, the ruling dynasty of mainly upper Assam[17]. Shihabuddin Talish the noted historian of the Mughal governor of Bangla subah Mirjumla, in his account Fatihat I Ibriyat referred Asham as, the territory beyond Hajo and Kamrup Sarkar of Mughal Empire. So the term originally been applied to the tract of the country ruled by the Ahom, subsequently used to refer the area under the control of Assam[18].

The upper portion of Barak valley is known as Kachar. According to local dialect Sylheti Bangla, Kachar means a stretch of land on the foot of mountains. While the lower portion of the valley comprises undivided Sylhet district which included present Karimganj district of Assam. The picturesque valley of Barak is the natural extension of vast Bengal plain. According to Nihar Ranjan Roy, author of Bangalir Ithihas, Barak and Surma valley is the extension of Meghana valley. There is no natural boundary between these two valleys. That is why the society and culture of East Maimansingh, Plain Tripura is well tied with Sylhet and Kachar that there is no difference exist between the two[19]. It was included in various Kingdoms that had emerged during prehistoric and early historic period like Gauda, Samatata and with the Aryanisation it include as Pratyant. During 6th and 7th century this land became part of Kamrup and later in early medieval period an independent state of Harikala emerged[20].

Like other parts of Bengal Austric people are the first to settle in the valley of Barak. The next group of people migrated to valley are Indo-Mongoloid Bodos, who gradually mixed with Austric people. Khasis are considered to be the descended of Austric speaking people but physically looked more as Mongoloid[21]. Aryans are the third group of people settled around 6th and 7th century A.D. As the valley of Barak is extension of Meghna valley, Aryans moved to this place from East Bengal. It was the fertility of soil which, attracted large number of Aryans, most of them were Brahmins. This is the way, the influence of the language of Aryan spread to the greater Sylhet and Kachar[22]. Historian P.C.Choudhury opined that Srihatta is one of the last of the last Buddhist center in India. Mr. Choudhury writes details on Srihatta in his history of Assam. However, in this study, Sylhet is also used in reference with the present territory of Assam, for its historical continuity with, modern Karimganj district of Assam[23].

The geography has to do a lot with the history and culture of a place. It played a great role in shaping the destiny of people and their history. Assam surrounded by mountain barriers from three sides. The land of Assam connected with rest of the world through many routes such as Patkai route, which was use by Ahoms and other Tibet-Burman tribes of the North East. The hilly passes of Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal were also probably used by certain waves of the Tibet-Burman tribes’ movement. The landed western boundary of both Brahmputra valley and Barak Valley are, with Bengal. These two land borders were two important routes, through which the Aryan migration from North India took place. Actually, all migrations and invasions, from Gangetic valley or North India had occurred through those two routes, including that of Turkish, Afghans, and Mughals during medieval period.

People: Assam is described as the land of anthropological Museum for its diverse ethnology. Population of Assam is composed of various races and tribes. The ancestor of these tribes and races migrated to Assam in different period of times. Details have been briefly mentioned earlier. Khasis of Austric origins were the first to settle in Assam. Subsequently Bodos of Mongoloid origin established in different regions, and gradually, became divided in to various groups, identified as Rabha, Bodos, Tiwa, Karbi and Dimasa etc. The northern Assam’s tribes Miri, Mishing, Daflas also entered Assam in the same period that of Bodos but remained concentrated on the northern bank of Brahmputra in the north east corner of Brahmaputra valley, bordering Arunachal Pradesh. The original term Bodo denote a large number of peoples-Garo, Rabha, Koch, Mech, Hajong, and Lalung etc, who speak Bodo languages. Not a very distant past the Bodos proved themselves to be very powerful occupying almost the entire Brahmputra valley. The other tribes Kakis, Nagas and Mar entered the hilly regions of central Assam at the same time of Bodo’s, through the Burma-Manipur route. Jaintia is another tribe that settled at the same period, in some areas of Barak valley. Indo-Aryans moved to Assam from Northern India by 6th and 7th century. Those groups of Aryans settled in different pockets of Brahmaputra and Barak valley. Brahmins of Srihatta are the first Aryan settlers and Kalitas of Brahmputra valley, who claimed to be Aryan origin[24].

The Muslim of Turkish, Afghani and other origin, came from North India to enter Assam during medieval period, for different reasons, a brief of that has already been given. Besides, a large number of newly converted Muslims of Bengal settled down in different areas of Assam. The other group of peoples who entered Assam followed by the Muslim was Tai Ahoms[25]. Initially, they settled in upper Assam but gradually moved further west up to the Central Assam. Both of these two groups of people Muslims and Ahoms migrated to Assam from two opposite direction, Muslims from the west and Ahoms from the East of Assam.

Language: Assam is a land of languages and dialects, as many as forty-five languages spoken by its communities. It is a mini India in terms of language. There are many ethnic groups, each have their own language, culture and tradition and of course very distinct customs. From a small tribe of four to five thousands Mech, to Bengali the largest ethnic group, every one have their language, culture and dialects. At present Assamese and Bengali are two principle languages of Assam. Assamese is the official language of Brahmputra valley and it is the common language of same valley. People of different languages, dialects used Assamese as the medium of communication with others in Brahmputra valley; many even officially accepted it as their mother tongue. Ahom having their own tribal dialect now speak and used Assamese as their mother tongue. Similarly Muslims of Bengali origin officially used Assamese as their mother tongue; though in their homes speak different Bengali dialects[26]. The reason of Bengali Muslim accepting Assmese is largely because of political compulsion and security[27].

Assamese is a language of Sanskrit origin directly connected with proper Magadhi Apabramsha. Cultural fusion among various tribes and races among themselves has shaped the development of this language for centuries. That is why influences of Austro-Asiatic, Mongoloid and Tibet-Burman dialects are palpable in Assamese language. During medieval period Arabic, Persian played important role in the development of Assamese language[28]. Bengali the official language of Barak valley is also the common language of Barak and acted as medium of communication among various linguistic groups. Eighty percent of the people of Barak valley have Bengali as their mother language. Hindi speaking tea garden labours, Bishnupria Manipuri speaking peoples, Khasia and all other small groups of valley use Bengali in common interaction. However majority of Bengali speak a dialect known as Sylheti Bangla[29]. Bodo is third popular language of Assam and second in Brahmputra valley. The total number of Bodo is much larger then the Bodo speakers. The number of Bodo speaker is increasing. More and more Bodos now, officially adopting Bodos as their mother tongue[30]. English is use in two hilly districts. Hindi and Bodo are the two other popular languages of the state. Besides language having significant number of speakers are Rabha, Santhali, Nepali, Mishing, Manipuri, Garo, Rabha, Dimasa, and Bisnupria etc. Many of these languages have neither own script nor written form. People of Assam also used language and dialects like Ahom, Koch Rajbanshi, and Lalung.

Historically both Assames and Bengali developed out of Sanskrit language as early as in the 7th century A.D. Their direct ancestor is Magadhi Apabramsha. Maghadi was the principle dialect, which correspondents to the Eastern Prakrit. East Magadhi was spoken prachya Apabramsha also spread to the east keeping north of the Ganges and reached to the Assam. Each of the descendents of Magadhi Apabrahmsa viz, Oriya, modern Bengali and Assamese equally connected with the common immediate parents. S.R.Chattarjee classified Eastern Apabramsha in to four dialect groups as (1) Radha dialects which comprehend West Bengal, gives literary Bengali, colloquial and origin in the South-West (2) Varendra dialects of North Central Bengal (3) Vanga dialects comprehends the dialects of Eastern Bengal and (4) Kamrup dialects which comprehend Assamese and the dialects of North Bengal.[31]

Sources: Sources played most important role in the writing of history of a place, community etc. The richness in sources means writing is easier, more details and perfect. Though incase of my study, source materials are not ample, but did found almost all sorts of materials primary and secondary. Writers on ancient Assam relate various aspects of Bengal with the society and polity of Assam in making the comprehensive history of latter. Both primary and secondary sources are used in this study. However, the less number of primary sources made more depended on secondary sources. Inscriptions and archeological remains, found at different places of Karimganj and rest of Assam can be counted in primary Sources. Secondary sources are large number of books and articles published in different languages by medieval and modern writers. Language of these books and articles are mainly Persian, English, Bengali and Assamese. Some of those books written on a particular region or particular aspect of Muslims in Assam can be considered as an initiative, to put forward the so far unnoticed sides of Muslims life and history. Writers on ancient Assam relate various aspects of Bengal with the society and polity of Assam in making the comprehensive history of latter. As S.Chatterjee a historian on Assam history describes Assam is a sister state of Bengal. That is why the reference of Bengal is imperative in the history of medieval Assam too. Rafiul Hussain Barua’s Islami Oitijya Aaru Asham and Mohini Saikia’s Assam-Muslim Relation and Its Cultural Significance are two books devoted on Assam’s Muslim history. But these books lack lot of information and proper analytical point of view. Their woks are mainly political narratives and they do not try much to explore more beyond the Brahmputra valley. On the other hand mainstream books on Assam history merely depicted Muslims as invaders, foreigners while largely ignoring the fact that Muslims contributed a lot to society, culture and economy of Assam. Most of these authors did not even try to incorporate the rich history and heritage of the Muslim of Barak Valley, where Muslims have been an important political and social force since 14th century.

Muslims Relation: Islam starts its journey in India almost from 8th century A.D[32]. Merchants, Sufis and political adventurers basically made it to spread Islam throughout India. Sufis can be called the torchbearers of Islam in India. Moinuddin Chisti, the famous Indian Sufi settled at Ajmer by the end of eleventh century[33]. The Arab merchants, however, brought Islam to the coast of Kerala in 7th century, and by that time a large Muslim society got developed in Malabar[34]. Similarly the Arab and Persian merchants visited coastal areas of Bengal, places like Chittagong much before the political conquest of northern India by the Turks. According to historians, during pre Turkish period, Sufis and merchants had entered Bengal in many occasions for preaching and trading purposes. Persian and Arab merchants even established important colonies in the contemporary towns of Bengal for commercial and maritime contact much before its conquest by the Muslim forces of Turkish origin (1205-6 A.D)[35]. History of Bengal is important for writing a history of Assam because Bengal and Assam being two land bordering states influenced each other’s society and polity for a long period of times. During many times the frontiers of Assam extended into Bengal, similarly the frontier of Bengal penetrated into Assam. Kamrup the old name of Assam was not unknown to Arabs. We find references of the word Kamrud in various accounts of Arab geographers and writers, which discussed trade relationship of Arab with Kamrud. Arab geographer Al Idris mentioned about the import of aloe wood from Kamrud.[36] The word Kamrud is the arabisation of the name Kamrup. The trade relationship of Arabs, tends to believe that Arab Muslims while trading with the coastal Bengal might visited Assam, as latter was well-known to them. We know from Minhajuddin, author of Tabaqat e Nasiri that Muslim traders were frequent to Navadip, the capital of Bengal. So, the people of Lucknawti misunderstood Bakhtiyar Khilji and his small number of soldiers, as Arab horse traders because Arab horse traders were regular to Bengal[37]. Similarly we find evidences of Muslim settlements in Sylhet, which was also known as Khanda Kamrupa before its political conquest by Muslims (1303). It is not confirmed whether those

Muslims belong to the merchant class or general. Burhanuddin was a Muslim from that community, his story with Gaur Govinda, the local ruler of Sylhet known to all[38]. Infact, the killing of Burhanuddin’s son is considered an immediate cause of Muslim political interference in Sylhet. The story is largely represented in every book written on Shahjalal and the history of region. Both traditions and literature are the sources of these events. However, for us it pointed Muslim presense in Barak valley even before its conquest by the later. It was a brief introduction of Muslim relationship with Assam in pre Turkish Bengal and Assam.

Formal history of the Muslim Socio-Political life in Brahmaputra valley begins in 1206 A.D. it was in this year, as per the records of history, Assam first witnessed the arrival of Muslims. It was when Turkish military commandant Ikhtiyaruddin Mohammad Bakhtiyar Khilji (1201-06) – the first Muslim ruler of Bengal entered Kamrup – was on his way to Tibet expedition[39]. Thus the beginning of 13th century is a landmark in the history of Assam in general and Muslims in particular. The Muslim Socio-Political life actually started taking off from that time. Bakhtiyar Khilji’s (1201-06) Tibet campaign through Kamrup and his disastrous retreat left many of his soldier’s prisoners in the hands of hostile Kamrup forces. When local king freed these soldiers, they adopted the land of Assam as their home. Ali Mech, a tribal chief of Mech tribe embraced Islam and became a trusted guide of Bakhtiyar Khilji during this campaign[40]. Many of his fellow tribes might accept Islam at that time. We found Koch and Mech came forward to rescue Khilji and his soldiers. Bakhtiyar Khilji might get defeated at a sudden attack but this campaign brought West Assam under the Muslim rule of Bengal. Since after Khilji’s Tibet expedition, the Turkish and Afghan rulers of Bengal led a series of invasions in Assam to further their territorial limits and to repel the revolts against the authority of Lakhnawati in West Assam[41]. During this political interference in Brahmputra valley, Sufis and new group of Muslim ruling class entered Assam and established Muslim settlement in different places. They gradually developed a new society and culture, which by and large contributed many new things to Assamese society and local languages[42]. During those successive wars of medieval period, many Muslim soldiers of Turk, Afghan and Muslims of other origins settled in Brahmputra valley. Some of them were war prisoner, while rest might voluntarily settle down in valley. It was obvious that with the expansion of Turkish rule in lower Brahmputra valley, Muslim officials were appointed in different parts of newly controlled areas. Many of them might choose to remain in Assam. There were Muslim artisans, traders, etc. settled across Ahom territories at the invitation of Ahom Kings[43].

A formal history of the Muslim in Barak valley begins after the conquest of Sylhet by Sikandar Khan Ghazi in 1303 A.D. However, the evidence of Muslim settlements this date is testified by the presence of Burhanuddin in Sylhet. But the process of Muslim settlements got intensified, just after the political conquest of Sylhet by the Sikandar Khan Ghazi, nephew of Sultan Shamsuddin Ferozshah (1301-22), the sultan of Bengal[44]. The great Sufi saint Hazrat Shahjalal Mujrrad accompanied Muslim forces and acted as a strong spiritual guide who also advised warfare. With this conquest a large number of Muslims belong to different origins like Turkish, Afghan, and Arabic settled in the valley, besides Muslims from other parts of Bengal and northern India also settled down in the undivided Barak valley[45]. This process of settlement from the outside of valley continued while at the same time many locals belong to Hinduism and tribal faiths embraced Islam. So the political conquest of Sylhet led the expansion Muslim rule in South Assam. Even during 18th century, the Raja of Dimasa-Kachari Kingdom encouraged Muslim peasants, soldiers and traders from lower Barak valley and Bengal to migrate to his territory i.e. Cachar[46].

The final wave of the Muslim settlement took place during late 19th and early 20th century. To enhance income from revenue, British brought thousands of peasants from East Bengal districts of Dhaka, Maimansing, Rangpur, etc. who cleared low alluvial forest in Brahmaputra valley and made Assam economically sound for British. These peasants came to form about one tenth to one sixth of the population of Assam by 1951.[47] .In the early 19th century, thousands of people from districts of Sylhet and Cachar (Barak valley) of colonial Assam shifted to undivided Nagaon district in Brahmaputra valley. Majority of these people were Muslims. At the same time British planters brought thousands of tea garden labourers from U.P., Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Andra Pradesh, etc. to both of the valleys of Assam[48]. These people later on became permanent residents of Assam; almost all of them were Hindu by faith, however, some of them belong to Muslim community also.
The objective of my study is to give an idea of the Socio-Political History of Muslims belongs to a period from 13th to 15th century. It is large work and covered varied topics and sites of the Muslim of that period. It is already mentioned that the valley of Brahmputra and Barak are quite different to each other and so that its history. My study covers the Muslims socio-political history of 13th and 14th century in Brahmputra valley while in Barak valley 14th and 15th century. As we know Muslim as a political force, emerged in the valley of Brahmputra by 1206 A.D., and in valley of Barak, almost one hundreds year after, during 1303 A.D.

References

[1] Sanjib Baruah, India Against Itself: Assam and The Politics of Nationality, New Delhi, 1999, p.19

www.assam.nic.in, Demography of Assam, Official Website of the Govt. of Assam

The Statesman’s Year Book, 2007, p. 620

[2] Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Committee of India: A Report of Prime Minister High Level Committee, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi, 2006, p. 33

[3] Sanjib Barua, India Against Itself, Assam and The Politics of Nationality, New Delhi, 1999, p.23

[4] David R. Syiemlieh, A survey of research in History on North East India 1970-1990, Regency Publication, New Delhi, p.6, 1999

[5] B.K. Bordoloi and R.K. Athparia, General Edited by K.S. Singh

[6] Makhanlal Kar, Muslims in Assam Politics, New Delhi, 1997, pp. 1-2

Sujit Choudhury, Folklore and History: A Study of the Folkcults of the Bengali Hindu of Barak valley, New Delhi, 1995, p. 1

[7] Sujit Choudhury, Srihatta Cacharer Prachin Itihash, Silchar, 2006, p. 11

www.karimganj.nic.in, History of Karimganj, Official Website of Karimganj District, Assam,

Kamaluddin Ahmed, Bangiyo Chaturtadash Shatake Surma-Barak, Shatabdir Tatyapunji, Silchar, 1998, p.19

Manorama Year Book, 2006, p. 610

[8] Sanjib Barua, India Against Itself: Assam and The Politics of Nationality, New Delhi, 1999, p.21-37

[9] H.K. Barpujari, Administrative Reorganisation, edit. H.K. Barpujari, Comprehensive of Assam, vol. iv, Guwahahti, 2004, pp. 260-64, 267-73

[10] Makhanlal Kar, op.cit. pp. 2-3

Edaward Gait, A History of Assam, Guwhati, Reprint 2005, pp.263-264

Sanjib Barua, op. cit., p. 24

[11] Edward Gait, op. cit. pp. 196-203

[12] Ibid., pp. 245, 275

[13] Edward Gait, op.cit., pp. 283, 288-290, 293-95

[14] Sanjib Barua, op. cit., p., p. 24

[15] H.K. Barpujari, Introduction, Edit., H.K.Barpujari, A Comprehensive History of Assam, Vol. I, Guwahati, 2004, p.1

[16] Mirza Nathan, Baharistan-I-Ghaybi, Trans. Moidul Islam Borah, Guwahati, 1992, pp.479- 588

Shihabuddin Talish, Introduction of Fathihat –i-Ibriyath (A History of Assam), Transl. Tajul Haque Choudhury, unpublished Thesis , J.M.I, New Delhi, 2006, P. 20-30

Sanjib Barua, op. cit., p. 22

[17] H.K. Barpujari, Introduction, Edit., H.K.Barpujari,, The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol. I, Guwahati, 2004, p.1

[18] Shihabuddin Talish, Fathiya-I-Ibrtiyah ( History of Assam), Introductin and Editing, Tajul Haque Choudhury, unpublished Thesis , J.M.I, New Delhi, 2006, P. 31

[19] Sujit Choudhury, Srihatta O Caharer Itihash, Silchar, 2006, p. 11

[20] Jayanta Bhushan Bhattacharya, Cachar under British Rule in North East India, New Delhi, 1977, pp. 3,4,

[21] Sujit Choudhury, op. cit., p. 21

[22] Hrishikesh Choudhury, Srihatter Prachin Itihash, Agartala, 1998, P.22

[23] P.C. Choudhury, History of the Civilization of The People of Assam, Guwahati, 1959, pp. 423-25

Sujit Choudhury, op. cit., p.218

[24] H.K. Barpujari, op. cit., pp. 9-24

Hamid.Naseem.Rafiabadi, Assam From Agitation To Accord, New Delhi, 1998, p. vii

[25] H.K.Barpujari, op.cit. p.17

[26] B.K.Bordoloi and R.K. Athaparia, People of India, Assam, vol. xv, Calcutta, 2003, p. No xiv,

[27] Monirul Hassan, The Assam Movement: Class Ideology and Identiry, Delhi, 1993, p. 27,

[28] Rekibuddin Ahmed, A Study of Persian Language and Literature in Assam from 13th to 18th Century, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Dept of Persian, J.M.I, New Delhi, 2000, p. 10

[29] Manorama Year Book, 2006, p.610

www.assamgovt.nic.in/languages. asp, State Govt. Official Website, Assam

[30] Sanjib Barua, op. cit., pp.19, 20

[31] S.K.Chattarjee, Origin and Development of Bengali Language, vol. 1, Calcutta, 1926, p, 140

B.K.Barua, History of Assamese Language, Guwahati, 1956, p, 1

[32] Khalique Ahmed Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion and Politics in India During The Thirteen Century, Delhi, 1978, p. 75

[33] Ibid., p. 77

[34] Dr. K.K.N. Kurup, The Sufis and Religious Harmony in Kerela, (edit.) Asghar Ali Engineer, Sufism and Communal Harmony, Printwell, Jaipur, 1991, p. 80

[35] Prof. Shahid Ali, Dr A.K.M.Ayub Ali and Dr M.A.Aziz edit. Islam in Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1995, p. 11-14

[36] Ibid., p. 12

[37] Minhaj Siraj, Tabqat-i-Nasiri, Trans. H.G.Raverty, vol. I., New Delhi, 1970, p. 557

[38] Abdul Karim, Advent of Islam in Sylhet and Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet, Edit. Sharif uddin Ahmed, Sylhet: History and Heritage, Dhaka, 1999, p. 129

[39] S.L.Barua, Acomprehensive History of Assam, , New Delhi, 1997, p.172-173

[40] Minhajuddin Siraj, op. cit. p. pp.560-61

[41] Mohini Kumar Saikia, Assam Muslim Relation and Its Cultural Significance, Golahghat, Assam, 1978, pp.130-36

[42] The Brahmputra Beckons, edit. by Devdas Kakati, Madrass, 1982, p. 38

[43] Mohinki Kumar Saikia, op. cit., pp. 144-53

[44] Abdul Karim, Advent of Islam in Sylhet and Hazrat Shahjalal in Sylhet, Edit. Sharif uddin Ahmed, Sylhet: History and Heritage, Dhaka, 1999, p. 130-34

[45] Richard Eaton, The Rise of Islam and The Bengal Frontier, London, 1996, pp.173-77

[46] Jayanta Bhushan Bhattacharya, op. cit., pp. 32-34

[47] Problem of immigration in the Brahmaputra valley- a crisis there of, published in the journal of North East India Council for Social Science Research, Shillong, October 2006, pp. 22-23

[48] Ibid., pp.23-24

Sanjib Barua, op. cit., 53-55

Threads of tradition

‘Sanctuary’ exhibits the brilliant variety of clothing from the Muslim world
By Sebastian Smee
Globe Staff / January 2, 2009

PROVIDENCE – White, because it signifies modesty, humility, and piety, is what Muslim pilgrims wear to Mecca. White has nothing to hide. “The best of your clothes are white,” said the Prophet Mohammed (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam).

SARTORIAL SANCTUARY: Clothing and Tradition in the Eastern Islamic World At: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, through April 26. 401-454-6500, www.risdmuseum.org

But if this suggests to you that a show about clothing traditions across the Islamic world might be a sterile and colorless affair, think again. For over the centuries, Muslims have also embraced a counter-tradition that accommodates various amounts of pomp and ostentation. “When God bestows benefaction upon one of his servants,” says the best-known expression of this tradition, “He wishes the physical sign of that benefaction to be visible on him.”

In a small but eloquent display at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, “Sartorial Sanctuary: Clothing and Tradition in the Eastern Islamic World” examines both the restraint and the sumptuousness of customary Islamic dress.

The exhibition, organized by assistant curator of textiles and costumes Kate Irvin, begins and ends with two stereotypical items of clothing. The first, which kicks off the half of the exhibition devoted to men’s clothing, is a red-and-white checked headcloth, of the kind lately associated with the slur “towelhead.”

Worn all over the Arabian peninsula, it’s a style of headwear that predates Islam: The red and white pattern is an abstraction of Mesopotamian motifs for fishing nets and wheat, while the “agal,” or rope, used to keep the cloth in place evolved from camel hobbles used by the Bedouins. It may be ubiquitous now, but it only replaced the turban as the dominant form of Arab headdress in the mid-19th century, and for reasons more to do with national identity than religion.

Ending the section devoted to women, meanwhile, is a full-length dress overlaid by a face-covering veil that extends to the waist. It was bought in Afghanistan shortly before the Taliban came to power. Designed to cover as much of the body and face as possible, it is typical of the outfits many Westerners perceive as grossly repressive to women.

How strange, then, that the outfit is in a shade of purple that would put a Roman cardinal to shame, and that the dress is pleated in a way that Issey Miyake might admire.

It turns out that these two garments were bought in 1977 at the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel by Dr. John N. Loomis, who donated them to the RISD Museum. Loomis estimates that 90 to 95 percent of the women he saw in Kabul that year were heavily veiled and that, of these, most wore black, brown, and beige. However, about a quarter of them wore bright colors such as this, and many of the garments were fancily pleated.

The contentious veil, it turns out, was originally an item of dress imported from India or Persia, and was long associated with the prerogatives of the urban upper class (veils require more fabric, and more fabric means more expense). Ever since, veils have been alternately enforced on religious grounds or freely chosen. What this outfit makes possible to see is why a woman might choose it.

What I love about Islamic design, in clothes as in textiles, is the combination of sumptuousness and restraint. The best of it seems to hold the two opposing impulses in perfect equilibrium, so that even as we feel seduced by extravagant materials or rhapsodic ornamentation, we feel conscious of a withholding impulse, or a concern for harmony that suggests a kind of spiritual restraint.

One marvels to learn, for instance, that even as great industries producing some of the world’s finest, most luxurious textiles developed in the Muslim world in the centuries after Mohammed’s death, curbs continued to be imposed by custom: Silk, for instance, in some cultures, could be worn and displayed but should not touch the skin.

Likewise, it is fascinating to learn that it could take months to collect enough camel hair for the expensive man’s cloak, or “bisht,” on display here. And yet, apart from its subtle gold trim, the garment is plainest brown and completely devoid of fuss.

One ravishing display case contains three cloaks from far-apart cultures, each connected by the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road. One is Syrian, another is from Morocco, and the third is from India. All are in modest shades of white or cream but decorated with arabesques, palmettes, and other vegetable patterns, mostly in glittering gold brocade. The effect is of a continuous beauty, at once uncentralized and infinite, that possesses a spiritual dimension for anyone willing to see it.

Several items here are simply among the most beautiful items of clothing I have seen. (Interestingly, most of them – but not all – were designed to be worn by men.) One is a 19th-century man’s robe from Kashmir. The fabric is brown goat hair, but it is embroidered with an evenly distributed field of flowers of astonishing variety and resplendent color.

Another is a recent version of one of Uzbekistan’s most famous and distinctive products, the “chapan,” a quilted man’s robe made from fabric that is tie-dyed before weaving (the technique is called “ikat”), creating blurry, bleeding-edged patterns. The robe here was made in 2000 by Yulnara Atanaazarova. It is dominated by two hues: an ethereal purple and a flaxen yellow, complementaries that are lent luster by localized outbreaks of turquoise, red, and hot pink.

Muslims have a saying: “Lilah al-baqi,” or “what remains belongs to God.” Visible beauty, in other words, has the right to be extolled, but only to the extent that it reveals its own fragility, its transience. The only permanent reality, or “baqa,” is invisible.

This belief, so fundamental to Islamic aesthetics, helps to explain why many Muslim expressions of beauty have an ephemeral quality. They feel playful or weightless, as if relieved of gravity, in all its senses. They often find their most beautiful expression in forms that are similarly ephemeral – in carpets and silks that can be folded up and put away, or in clothes, which may be worn one day and tossed in a chest the next.

That said, if I owned the 19th-century Egyptian woman’s robe, or “yelek,” on display here I would do my utmost to keep it on permanent display. This long, slim outfit bearing evidence of Ottoman influence (the Ottomans conquered Egypt in 1517) is embroidered with red, blue, and gold silk flowers arranged in taut, vertical columns and looks, to me, unbelievably suave.

What I love about Islamic design, in clothes as in textiles, is the combination of sumptuousness and restraint. The best of it seems to hold the two opposing impulses in perfect equilibrium, so that even as we feel seduced by extravagant materials or rhapsodic ornamentation, we feel conscious of a withholding impulse, or a concern for harmony that suggests a kind of spiritual restraint.
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SARTORIAL SANCTUARY: Clothing and Tradition in the Eastern Islamic World At: Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, through April 26. 401-454-6500, www.risdmuseum.org

One marvels to learn, for instance, that even as great industries producing some of the world’s finest, most luxurious textiles developed in the Muslim world in the centuries after Mohammed’s death, curbs continued to be imposed by custom: Silk, for instance, in some cultures, could be worn and displayed but should not touch the skin.

Likewise, it is fascinating to learn that it could take months to collect enough camel hair for the expensive man’s cloak, or “bisht,” on display here. And yet, apart from its subtle gold trim, the garment is plainest brown and completely devoid of fuss.

One ravishing display case contains three cloaks from far-apart cultures, each connected by the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road. One is Syrian, another is from Morocco, and the third is from India. All are in modest shades of white or cream but decorated with arabesques, palmettes, and other vegetable patterns, mostly in glittering gold brocade. The effect is of a continuous beauty, at once uncentralized and infinite, that possesses a spiritual dimension for anyone willing to see it.

Several items here are simply among the most beautiful items of clothing I have seen. (Interestingly, most of them – but not all – were designed to be worn by men.) One is a 19th-century man’s robe from Kashmir. The fabric is brown goat hair, but it is embroidered with an evenly distributed field of flowers of astonishing variety and resplendent color.

Another is a recent version of one of Uzbekistan’s most famous and distinctive products, the “chapan,” a quilted man’s robe made from fabric that is tie-dyed before weaving (the technique is called “ikat”), creating blurry, bleeding-edged patterns. The robe here was made in 2000 by Yulnara Atanaazarova. It is dominated by two hues: an ethereal purple and a flaxen yellow, complementaries that are lent luster by localized outbreaks of turquoise, red, and hot pink.

Muslims have a saying: “Lilah al-baqi,” or “what remains belongs to God.” Visible beauty, in other words, has the right to be extolled, but only to the extent that it reveals its own fragility, its transience. The only permanent reality, or “baqa,” is invisible.

This belief, so fundamental to Islamic aesthetics, helps to explain why many Muslim expressions of beauty have an ephemeral quality. They feel playful or weightless, as if relieved of gravity, in all its senses. They often find their most beautiful expression in forms that are similarly ephemeral – in carpets and silks that can be folded up and put away, or in clothes, which may be worn one day and tossed in a chest the next.

That said, if I owned the 19th-century Egyptian woman’s robe, or “yelek,” on display here I would do my utmost to keep it on permanent display. This long, slim outfit bearing evidence of Ottoman influence (the Ottomans conquered Egypt in 1517) is embroidered with red, blue, and gold silk flowers arranged in taut, vertical columns and looks, to me, unbelievably suave.

Sebastian Smee can be reached at ssmee@globe.com
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

Roots of evil

Dr Syed Javed Hussain

Israel has struck Gaza again. This time more than 275 peoples including innocent men, women, and children have been killed. Around 600 people have been injured, a majority of them being in serious condition. Six months old ceasefire between Hamas and Israel , that ended last week, has resulted in the mass murder of innocent Gazans. Israeli propaganda machinery is already working overtime to justify its barbaric act. Israel is very responsive to holocaust which is embedded deep into the psyche of its leaders; hence no amount of human casualties can shake their toughened sensitivities: they remain the wronged party. The myth created around holocaust, which finally benefited Zionists enabling them to create a country in the heart of the lands of Islam, has hardened Israeli leadership to the extent of being diabolical.

In the last six months when there was ceasefire, Israel did not allow any inflow of things that were essential to maintain life and social fabric of society. There were no fuel supplies, essential foodstuff, medicines and surgical tools for hospitals etc. Further, cash starved Gazan administration was not able to repair civil amenities which were destroyed by Israel in its earlier attacks before the ceasefire. Israel never respected the ceasefire agreement and avidly continued with the blockade of Gaza and its policy of collective punishment. All the time while blaming Hamas for the firing of rockets from Gaza, Israel forgets that they are a nation under siege/occupation and under the human right charter of the UN they have the right to fight for their independence. They have become violent now and are firing rockets, even though one may not agree with their tactics, because they have exhausted all political means to end Israeli occupation.

A couple of days ago, Hamas hinted at renewing the ceasefire, however, it did no get any response from Israel . In fact, Israel does not want to deal with an Islamist party. In cahoots with most disgraced American president in its history, George W. Bush, Zionist leaders want to neutralize any Islamist movement/identity on Israeli borders. Earlier they tried to neutralize Hezbollah and failed, since then they have been trying to neutralize Hamas in Gaza. Secular Al-Fatah under Abbass has the same objective. Mutual incrimination of the secular and Islamist elements in Palestine have encouraged Israel to attack Gaza so blatantly, disrespecting all human rights considerations.

Commenting upon Israeli attack and innocent loss of life, Mr. Abbass, has further blamed Hamas for the tragedy as its own policies had brought this on Gazans. It is nothing short of sprinkling salt on fresh wounds. Mr. Abbass expects Hamas to compromise and handover its hard earned leadership role to the most corrupt, ineffective and proven dishonest Al-Fatah, whose overbearing secular posturing have tempted the West as the only viable partner for peace in the Middle East. However, to think that political bickering between two political parties, having the same objective – ending of the occupation, can linger on and do so much damage to internal peace and stability, thereby, providing an excuse to Israel to continue with the occupation as well as do damage to the life, property and peace of the subdued people.

The West as well as intelligentsia within the lands of Islam needs to maintain distinction between Islamists and Extremists, between Freedom fighters and terrorists. They must also be alive to the fact that terrorism is also a tool that is employed by aggressive governments to keep people under control –the State Terrorism. The obvious examples of Islamists as political force defending their rights and serving their people on popular basis are Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine . There are other Islamist political parties in the lands of Islam that are vying for political powers in Muslim societies. However, Islamic societies in general have not favoured them, as these Islamist parties have, at times, failed to distance themselves form Extremists. This is the only cause of their failure. Otherwise Islam in its pristine glory has the most liberal outlook of society. In the Quran God says, “There is no compulsion in Religion.” 3:256 What does it mean? It means everyone is free to spend the life whatever way one wishes to live, only while doing so he should no be a nuisance to others. Islam does not intervene in the personal life of a nonbeliever. Islam does not force itself on other; it only offers its blessings as a service to humanity.

Since September 11, 2001 , the US has done great disservice to humanity by eliminating the distinction between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. The war on terror under George W. Bush, has been the most inhuman, unscrupulous and unprincipled war in human history. It is high time we maintained that distinction if we still have some humanity lift in us. Freedom fighters can’t be equated with terrorists. One fights for independence and glorifies the greatest human value-liberation- with sacred vows and known intentions. The other is a thief who hijacks an ideology and promotes his own personal agenda to glorify himself committing gross human right violations. In this context we need to have different readings of the liberation movements in Kashmir and Palestine . States suppressing them are the roots of evil, not those who are fighting for their birth right.

—The writer is a noted columnist and analyst presently teaching at a foreign university.

Gaza attacks: UN calls for halt to fighting as death toll passes 270 in fresh Israeli air strikes

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate end to all violence in Gaza after fresh Israeli air strikes against Palestinian targets have brought the death toll to more than 270 people.

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate end to all violence in Gaza after fresh Israeli air strikes against Palestinian targets have brought the death toll to more than 270 people.

Palestinian officials said that 271 Palestinians had been killed in 24 hours of Israeli attacks Photo: Reuters

The air strikes are in response to rocket and mortar attacks fire by Palestinian militants against Israel.

After four hours of talks discussions, the council released a statement saying: “The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate halt to all violence.

“The members called on the parties to stop immediately all military activities.”

The statement also called on all parties to address “the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza.”

It urged them to take necessary measures, including the opening of border crossings, to ensure Gaza’s people were supplied with food, fuel and medical treatment.

Palestinian officials said that 271 Palestinians had been killed in 24 hours of Israeli attacks in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Since the operation began, one Israeli had been killed by Palestinian rocket fire.

The Security Council meeting was convened at the request of Libya, the only Arab country on the council.

At least 200 Palestinians were killed earlier on Saturday after Israel launched the heaviest air strikes ever seen in the Gaza Strip, hitting scores of targets linked to the militant Islamist movement, Hamas.

The human toll ranks among the highest for a single day in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This day of bloodshed ended any hope of immediate progress in the peace process.

While Israel had been warning for days of action against Gaza’s militants, the scale and intensity of the attack, code-named Operation Cast Lead, was unexpected.

For the first time, Israel has attacked not just militants ordering or taking part in operations but members of the security forces and any buildings connected with them.

Every known police station, arms store and headquarters building in Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since June 2007, was attacked, regardless of whether they were occupied. A passing out ceremony for new police officers was struck, killing around 40 cadets.

Nightmarish scenes were played out through as mangled bodies arrived at hospitals to be collected by grief-stricken relatives. Israeli sources said that 50 targets were struck by 60 jet fighters in the first raid, beginning at around 11.40am. A second wave then attacked militants attempting to retaliate by launching rockets at Israel.

After nightfall, still more air attacks were reported in the south of the Gaza, this time against a metal foundry. But militants fired at least 40 rockets at Israel, including one that hit a house in the town of Netivot, killing one man.

Witnesses said men were killed in the east of Gaza City while they were preparing to fire rockets towards Israel.

Two other Palestinians were wounded in the attack, while another man wounded in an earlier Israeli air strike died of his injuries, according to a medical source.

Locals said that Israeli helicopters also fired missiles late Saturday on four metals factories in the city. Israel says such factories are used to build or store rockets for firing on the Jewish state.

A new Israeli army toll late Saturday said that more than 70 rockets or mortar shells were fired against Israel in response to Saturday’s massive air strikes, killing one and injuring four people.

A Hamas spokesman warned that the militant group would “unleash hell” in response to the strikes.

Meanwhile, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, warned that air attacks would continue until the threat of militants firing rockets into Israel had been dealt with once and for all. “The operation will go on and be intensified as long as necessary,” said Mr Barak. “The battle will be long and difficult, but the time has come to act and to fight.”

Other Israeli officials made clear the operation was not over and gave warning of continuous attacks.

Nine Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since it withdrew all settlers and soldiers from the territory in September 2005.

Over the same period, at least 1,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in Gaza, according to figures compiled by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.

Israel’s decision to act came after a six-month truce with Hamas, which ran out on Dec 19.

With a general election due in February, Israel’s leadership did not want to give any appearance of appeasing Hamas. When the rocket fire against Israeli towns resumed, they went for the military option.

A ground invasion was ruled out because of fears of Israeli casualties. The national security cabinet ordered an unprecedented air assault.

Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian national authority, who is based not in Gaza but in the West Bank, condemned the assault as “criminal” and called for the international community to intervene.

Gordon Brown expressed “deep concern”, calling on Hamas to stop rocket attacks and Israel to “meet its humanitarian obligations” and “do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties”.

The Prime Minister added: “There is a pre-eminent need for renewal of a comprehensive settlement for the Israel-Palestine dispute in 2009.” Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, called for an immediate ceasefire and urged “everybody to exert maximum restraint”.

Egypt condemned the Israeli raids and opened its border with Gaza to allow casualties to be treated inside its hospitals.

A White House spokesman appeared to place greater blame on Hamas. “Hamas’s continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop,” said Gordon Johndroe. But he added that Israel should “avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza.”

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said he was “deeply alarmed” by Israel’s air attack and appealed “for an immediate halt to all violence”.

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, pointed to the constant rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza at civilian targets.

“Israeli citizens have been under the threat of daily attack from Gaza for years. Only this week – hundreds of missiles and mortars shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities including the firing of 80 missiles on a single day,” she said.

“Until now, we have shown restraint. But today there is no other option than a military operation. We need to protect our citizens from attack through a military response against the terror infrastructure in Gaza. This is the translation of our basic right to self defence.”

Miss Livni asked for the support of Israel’s allies for an operation she defended as necessary to safeguard civilians against the threat of rocket attacks carried out by Hamas operatives.

“Israel expects the support and understanding of the international community, as it confronts terror, and advances the interest of all those who wish the forces of peace and coexistence to determine the agenda of this region,” she said.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it evacuated all its settlers and dismantled their homes. The government believes this was an essential gesture of goodwill and a demonstration of its commitment to the two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel has accused Hamas of squandering its opportunity by allowing rocket attacks to take place from Gaza, especially after its capture of the territory last year.

Thousands of Israelis have fled areas near to Gaza.

Jewish Power: The "0.002%" World Problem

Jewish Power: The “0.002%” World Problem

by Mohamed Khodr

“We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the world – no longer a Government of free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men.”

– Woodrow Wilson [U.S. President during World War I]


“The Jewish treatment of the Arabs in 1947 was as morally indefensible as the slaughter by the Nazis of 6 million Jews.”

– Arnold Toynbee, historian, speaking to a Jewish audience in Canada

“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’m amazed. I just can’t believe it because I KNOW HOW GOOD WE ARE.”

– United States President George Bush

“The tragedy is not the brutality of evil but the silence of good people.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

In his famous book, 1984, George Orwell wrote that three slogans dominate society: “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.”—— welcome to “Western Civilization”.

Israel’s founding–the last colonial power on earth–is a testament to the historical transformation of the passive persecuted Jew to the most powerful political nation on earth. A nation that silences and intimidates the world and all criticism through the stick of American power, its own military and intelligence might, Jewish money, media manipulation, movies, and above all its own myths and lies. No nation has successfully withstood international laws and condemnation and told the world to go to hell. Factually and admittedly by the Zionists themselves—there would be no Israel without Jewish “proxy power” in colonial Europe and in today’s cowardly pandering of the U.S. Government, not the naive, uninformed, and good hearted American people goaded and led by a culture of “mass media lies” into paying and dying for Israel.

In secular Israel and the west, you can curse God, Jesus, all Prophets, your parents, religious leaders, politicians; but you not dare even mildly criticize anything “Jewish” or “Israel” lest you be branded for life as an “Anti-Semite”, or even still “murdered” in “self-defense”. Most of the world is ignorant of the Rabbinic teaching in the Babylonian Talmud deliberately mis-translated into English or purposefully unavailable. Yet scholars such as Dr. Israel Shahak, an Israeli, in his book “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” offers the following quotes from the Babylonian Talmud: (Also See: http://www.hoffman-info.com/talmudtruth.html)

“Every Jew has the obligation to see that Christian churches are burned down and wiped out. The faithful must be insulted and the clergy killed. (Schulchan Aruch, Jore dea, 146, 14)

“If a heathen (gentile) hits a Jew, the gentile must be killed”. (Sanhedrin 58b)

“A Jewish man is obligated to say the following prayer every day: Thank you God for not making me a gentile, a woman or a slave.” (Menahoth 43b-44a)

“Jews may use lies (“subterfuges”) to circumvent a Gentile.” (Baba Kamma 113a)

“Non-Jewish Children are Sub-Human”. (Yebamoth 98a)

Thus on cue, like “Pavlovian Dogs” conditioned by money, campaign financing, and intimidation, western governments and western “independent” media barked loudly against the comments by the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed made at the Tenth Session of the Organization of Islamic Conference. Although he severely criticized violence and suicide bombing, and called for peaceful intellectual, political, and economic means to prevent western hegemony upon Muslim nations; it was only the following statement that received international attention:

“..today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them….Jews “invented” communism…..” O.I.C. 10/16/03

(The leaders of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution were mostly Jews. Communist Russia exterminated over 100 Million Christians and Muslims See Winston Churchill’s Article on this topic:
http://www.fpp.co.uk/bookchapters/WSC/WSCwrote1920.html)

As expected and demanded by the “Jewish Power” in America, the State Department’s reaction to this statement was: ”We view them with the contempt and derision they deserve.”

Many western politicians, academics, journalists, religious leaders, and lay people have said much the same thing: Bush is fighting Israel’s enemies, especially since Bush’s declaration of war on the “Axis of Evil” that is continually expanding, and his lies and faith based invasion of Iraq. A simple internet search will find thousands of articles and remarks stating that America is, as always, paying and dying for Israel.

YET, on the same day, the U.S. Government (Donald Rumsfeld) was DEFENDING the truest, most racist, blasphemous, and “Anti-Semitic” remarks by a high ranking American Genera as “freedom of speech”: Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, the newly promoted Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. To Quote this man who attacked Allah (swt), the one God of all Creation, and Islam:
“President George W Bush was chosen by God to lead the global fight against Satan. The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.”

Speaking of Allah (swt): “I knew my God was bigger than his (the God of the Muslim Somali Warlord). I knew that my God was a real god and his was an idol.” He spoke of seeing a strange dark mark in the skies of the Muslim city of Mogadishu, Somalia, saying: “the principalities of darkness. . . a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy”. “”Our religion came from Judaism and therefore [Islamic] radicals will hate us forever…..”Our enemy is a spiritual enemy because we are a nation of believers. . . His name is Satan.” (Telegraph News: by David Rannie, October 17, 2003)

This dual hypocrisy and double standard was formulated by the Zionists to establish Israel and is carried on in America and Europe by “Jewish Power”. The message to the Muslim world, in fact, to the entire world is:

YOU CAN CURSE GOD: Israel’s Yahweh, the Christian God/Jesus, the Muslim’s Allah (swt)—BUT DO NOT EVEN THINK OF CURSING ISRAEL FOR ITS BRUTAL DAILY MURDER OF Palestinian civilians, its 55 year of Palestinian occupation, house demolitions, “extra-judicial” assassinations, racist wall, uprooting of olive trees and burning farms, it’s Jews only laws and roads, its “go to hell’ message to the United Nations, it’s total control of Congress that rubber stamps billions of dollars, ignores Israel’s spying and murder of American citizens (Rachel Corrie), and the every ready “Resolutions” against Israel’s Arab enemies, even criticizing American Presidents ready to DIE for Israel while evading fighting for their own nation.

On July 30,2002: (thestar.com)
President Clinton, speaking at a Toronto Jewish Fund Raiser:
“Clinton drew applause for his own commitment to Israel when he stated that should the Iraqis ever cross over the Israeli border for aggression, “I would personally get in a ditch, grab a rifle, and fight and die.”

‘The phrase “Jewish Power” comes most recently from the title of a book by J. J. Goldberg (1996: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co, Inc.), although it’s been used for centuries.

The front jacket of the book “Jewish Power” states:

“..a frank look at Jewish power and influence in America today…a rare insider’s portrait of the people, the institutions, the money, and the ideas that make up Jewish political influence in the U.S., from the Anti-Defamation League to the United Jewish Appeal, to the New York Times, to the…Jewish caucus in the House of Representatives…He details the absolutely vital role Jews play in Democratic party politics and fund raising. He describes the inner workings of the feared pro-Israel lobby….and its surprising role in shaping American foreign policy. He tackles……Jewish media influence.”

Another recent book called a–Handbook on U.S. Jewish Power–is “Jews in American Politics” by L. Sandy Maisel and Ira N. Forman. (Rowman & Littlefield).

Other excellent book documenting “Jewish Power” and its absolute hold on US Foreign Policy are:

“They Dare To Speak Out” by former Republican Representative Paul Findley and “The Passionate Attachment” by former Under Secretary of State George Ball, “One Nation Under Israel” by Andrew Hurley, and “Fifty Years of Israel”, by Donald Neff.

I would highly recommend you visit the site for the best magazine on the Arab-Israeli conflict, actually the only such magazine run by former U.S. Diplomats, called the “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs” (www.wrmea.com) for much literature, articles, and books on this subject.

IS Dr. Mahathir the only courageous leader to have spoken the “truth” regarding Israel’s choke hold on our government and its Foreign Policy in the Middle East? NO!!!!!

“I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy [in the Middle East] not approved by the Jews. Former Secretary of State George] Marshall and former Defense Secretary James Forrestral learned that…. terrific control the Jews have over the news media and the barrage the Jews have built up on congressmen …. I am very much concerned over the fact that the Jewish influence here is completely dominating the scene and making it almost impossible to get congress to do anything they don’t approve of. The Israeli embassy is practically dictating to the congress through influential Jewish people in the country”

– Secretary. of State John Foster Dulles in Feb. 1957 quoted on p.99 of “Fallen Pillars” by Donald Neff

“I know I was elected by the votes of American Jews. I owe them my victory. Tell me, is there something I ought to do?”

– U.S. President John F. Kennedy speaking privately to Ben-Gurion (p.90 A & L Cockburn 1991).

“The little Knesset”

– Secretary of State James Baker describing Pro-Israel Congressmen, quoted in the Web Page of the Zionist Organization of America, which, in turn, quotes the Los Angeles Times (March 7, 1992)

“I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance”

– U.S. President Harry Truman writing in his memoirs about the Zionist pressure to support the illegal partition of Palestine by force in 1947.

“I’ve never seen a president –I don’t care who he is– stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles your mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what’s going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn’t writing anything down. If the American people understood what grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don’t have any idea what goes on.”

– Admiral Thomas Moorer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (See Washington Report 12/1999, p.124 quoting from
Andrew Hurley’s book, “One Nation Under Israel”)

“The Israeli Prime Minister has a lot more influence over the foreign policy of the United States in the Middle East than he has in his own country.”

– Former Congressman Paul Findley, in his book “They Dare to Speak Out”, p. 92.

“The Israelis control the policy in the congress and the senate …somewhere around 80 percent of the senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel — of anything Israel wants.”

– Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator William Fullbright, 10/07/1973 on CBS’ “Face the Nation”

“We have exhausted our requests. President Clinton has answered all our needs. There has been no American president in history like President Clinton, in his support of Israel and the Jewish people.”

– Shimon Peres (From Washington Report, July 1996, pg. 17)

“President Clinton behaves like an obedient child of Israel and does not know how to say `No.'”

– Nahum Barnea, Israeli writer (From Washington Report, July 1996, pg. 17)

“The Capitol Hill is an Israeli occupied territory”. — Patrick Buchanan (St. Louis Dispatch, 10/20/1990).

To believe Israel’s propaganda is to believe by necessity that the entire world, the United Nations, all international conventions, treaties, organizations, and laws are purposefully “Anti-Semitic”. To criticize Israel, a nation, is to criticize Judaism itself and Jews as a group. Jews and Israel demand to be loved, respected, even feared, regardless of their ruthless history in “ethnically cleansing” Palestine. But in all fairness one must never generalize about “Jews” for some of the most courageous, ardent, vocal voices against Zionism and Israel’s brutality are Jews themselves—in fact, much more so than the entire cowardly 57 Muslim governments who are just as oppressive to their own peoples as Israel is to Palestinians.

Just what is a “SEMITE”?

The word “Semite” arose from the name Shem, son of Noah (PBUH), the patriarch of people who spoke the “Semitic” languages. Semitism refers to languages such as Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Ethiopian, Assyrian, Babylonian etc. and not religion or ethnicity. Given the fact that the overwhelming majority of Jews today came from Europe’s Ashkenazi Jews who themselves arose from the “KHAZARS” of the Caucuses and not the original Israelites, the Jews of today are neither true descendents of the Israelites nor do the majority speak Hebrew, hence “Anti-Semitism” applies to the Arabs and not to the Jews.

New York Times: “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”- Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 28, 1994

“We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.”
Chairman Heilbrun of Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, mayor of Tel Aviv, Oct. 1983

Dr. Mahathir spoke of “Jews ruling by proxy”, referring to the enormous influence of Jews upon America’s foreign policy. Only a fool, naive, uninformed, bribed politician, or a journalist of the American mass media would ever deny this FACT of American politics. Many in Israel itself would agree with this statement, including Sharon himself.

“Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” – Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.

HAARETZ: “People & Politics/U.S. Bosses, West Bank Factions, EU Mediators” by Akiva Eldar, Oct. 14, 2003 “On the other hand, the president’s (Bush) political advisors are afraid that if their boss doesn’t find a way to remain on the fence, and tries to twist Sharon’s arm, the prime minister won’t hesitate to show the American voter who’s the real boss in Washington. ”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “Nations see Jews as Key to Winning Favor with U.S”; By Michael J. Jordan – September 13, 2000

Even a sizable portion of Americans believe JEWS have too much power.

San Francisco Chronicle: “Survey: 34% of Americans say Jews have too much influence..” January 27, 2003

“A nationwide survey showed that nearly a third of all U.S. citizens fear a Jewish president may have divided loyalties when dealing with Israel, the report said.

The survey, conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco, also found that nearly one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 believe that Jewish control of the media distorts the news. Only 16 percent of older Americans held the same view.

The poll also found that that 34 percent of Americans agree that “Jews have too much influence on Wall Street,” and 37 percent believe that the Jews were responsible for killing Jesus Christ.
(Original article is at http://sf.indymedia.org/news/2003/01/1566578.php)

Let’s review a small part of the American and Israeli media that speak to such influence upon the United States and on the Bush Administration: If there is one thing the illegal and fraudulent war on Iraq proves, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this war was “Made in Israel” through its Proxy “Jewish” Neo-Conservatives. Already these unpatriotic American Jews who’ve never fought in any American war are stomping their feet to go after Syria, Iran, Palestinians, and any “enemy” of Israel. Their war is in actuality a war of “terrorism” upon Islam and Muslim nations who stand in the way of “Greater Israel.”

Jerusalem Post: “Bush Will Support Israel Unconditionally”, By Janine Zacharia, August 2, 2000 (during Bush’s Presidential Campaign)

“As president, George W. Bush would support Israel even if it decides not to take risks for peace, former president Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State (George Schultz) told a Jewish audience gathered here for the Republican National Convention”.

(Only Jews have the shameless audacity to demand the Appointment of Jews to Bush’s Cabinet)

Washington Post: “No Jews in This Cabinet”, By Richard Cohen, Tuesday, January 16, 2001;

Jerusalem Post: “Out of the Mix”, By Matthew E. Berger; January 18, 2001
“Does it matter that US President-elect George W. Bush appointed no Jews to his cabinet?”

Washington Times: “Pro-Israeli Lobbyists Leery of Bush Team”, By Ben Barber; January 22, 2001

“Pro-Israeli lobbying groups in Washington are quietly fretting that the new Bush administration, with strong links to the Middle East oil industry, will be less supportive of Israel than the outgoing Clinton team. Morton Klein, head of the conservative Zionist Organization of America, put it in even stronger terms. “We do have concern that some of the names being mentioned for top posts of [President] Bush’s Mideast team are names from the past which reflect the same old tired thinking that appeasing [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat and the Arabs will bring peace.”

(Bush, as expected, immediately responded to the Jewish Lobby by appointing 2 Top Jews, Grossman and Hass, in addition to others like Wolfowitz, Perle, Libby, Feith, Abrams, Wurmser)

Jerusalem Post: “Bush Appoints MidEast Advisers”; By Janine Zacharia; February 7 2001

“The White House has announced two key State Department appointments that deal with Middle East affairs.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday that President George W. Bush would appoint Marc Grossman, a former ambassador to Turkey and career diplomat as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, to the No. 3 position at the State Department, and Richard Haass as Director of Policy Planning.”

(First, you get Jews Appointed to Top Policy Positions, THEN, you go after formulating Policies in Israel’s Interest: After Afghanistan’s invasion, Iraq)

Jerusalem Post: “Next Stop, Baghdad?”; October 14, 2001 (same headline repeated a month later)Jerusalem Post: “Next Stop, Baghdad?”, November 15, 2001

Washington Post: “…And Now to Iraq” by Richard Cohen; November 30, 2001(Israel’s demand reaches U.S.)

HARRETZ: “Has Oslo Run its Course?”; January 17, 2001

“A Washington think tank offers a strategy to President-elect George Bush…The Washington Institute for Near East Policy says the administration should “assess whether Israelis and Palestinians… would prefer a peace built on as much separation/disengagement as is practical.”.The group advise President Bush himself to “reserve his intensive involvement” in the Middle East peace process “for decisive moments,”

(The Institute mentioned above was created in 1985 by the Pro-Israel Lobby, A.I.P.A.C., led by Martin Indyk. Bush followed their advice and disengaged from the MidEast for a long time while Sharon was shedding Palestinian blood)

New York Times: “A MidEast Policy for Mr. Bush” by Thomas L. Friedman; January 19, 2001

“A lot of people have been wondering how George W. Bush will handle the Arab-Israeli peace process. That’s easy. He now has a great opportunity to do nothing.”

(Bush desperately wanted to avoid antagonizing the Jewish Lobby like his father which led to his father’s re-election defeat as much as the poor economy did). He succeeded.

Jerusalem Post: “Their Kind of Guy” By Janine Zacharia; January 24, 2002

“When George W. Bush took office one year ago, the American-Jewish community was apprehensive about its relationship with the White House. Janine Zacharia explains why 12 months later, Jewish support for the president has risen dramatically.”

(Thus Bush, aware of “Jewish Power” that can make or break campaigns and careers decided to ADOPT Sharon’s Agenda in the Middle East, especially with the Palestinians)

Washington Post: “Bush Gives Israel Wide Latitude in Offensive”; By Alan Sipress; April 2, 2002

Jerusalem Post: “Powell: Israel Can Decide When to Proceed”; June 28, 2001
“Only Israel may decide when the region is quiet enough to proceed with implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said this morning.”

Jerusalem Post: “Powell: Israel’s Use of U.S. Arms Not Illegal”; By Janine Zacharia September 9, 2001 “Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a letter sent last month to Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), said Israel’s use of American-made weapons in targeted killings of Palestinian militants does not constitute a violation of American law.”

As for the American Congress, their passion is to OUT-JEW each other for Money and Media Popularity:

Jerusalem Post: “Legislators Call for Anti-Palestinian Authority Measures” (A.P: March 15, 2002)

“More than 230 members of Congress wrote to US President George W. Bush yesterday, asking him to classify Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s security force and two other groups linked to the PA as terrorist organizations.”

HAARETZ: “Background/Shock and Assad – Israel’s Wish List”: By Bradley Burston, April 15, 2003

“As President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took on Syria in an oratorical shock and awe campaign this week, Israel gave signs of what it would like to see Washington do to bring Damascus to heel, and what the Jewish state could gain from the effort…Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz also set out a long list of demands he said the administration would be asked to press on Syria. Mofaz told the Ma’ariv daily: “We have a long list of issues that we are thinking of demanding of the Syrians, and it is proper that this be done by the Americans.”

HAARETZ: “Background/ The Iraq Crisis as the War of the Jews”; by Bradley Burston; October 20, 2003

“As the tide of opposition has grown, so has an undercurrent of argument that Jewish influence in America and Israel is a crucial factor pushing Washington into battle…. “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” Congressman Jim Moran (R: Virginia)
(of course was slammed as “anti-semite”)… Moran’s remarks came amid a flood of commentary from analysts of both the American left and right suggesting that Bush administration was taking advice – if not outright orders – from the Sharon government and the Israeli defense establishment on handling Saddam Hussein.”

HAARETZ: “White Man’s Burden”; By Ari Shavit, July 31, 2003

“The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.”

The Observer: David Hirst; September 21, 2003

“With the assault on Iraq, the US was not merely adopting Israel’s long-established methods – of initiative, offence and pre-emption – it was also adopting Israel’s adversaries as its own.”

Orlando Sentinel: “Repetition doesn’t make a lie the truth–this is how I know” by Charley Reese, 5/23/1999

“Arthur Hays Sulzberger, when he was publisher of the New York Times, said publicly, “I dislike the coercive methods of Zionists who in this country have not hesitated to use economic means to silence persons who have different views. I object to the attempts at character assassination of those who do not agree with them.”

I speak more to the point. The Zionists in America are the biggest enemy of freedom of speech and freedom of the press there is. And don’t confuse Zionism with Judaism. Zionism is a secular political movement that would do anything to support the state of Israel. Judaism is a religion. Not all Jews are Zionists.”

Washington Post: “Bush Moves U.S. Closer to Sharon On Mideast Policy”; by Robert G. Kaiser, Feb. 9, 2003

“For the first time, a U.S. administration and a Likud government in Israel are pursuing nearly identical policies…The Likudniks are really in charge now,” said a senior (U.S.) government official, using a Yiddish term for supporters of Sharon’s political party…Members of the group do not hide their friendships and connections, or their loyalty to strong positions in support of Israel and Likud…..Friends of Israel in Congress also lined up with Sharon. In November 2001, 89 out of 100 senators signed a letter to Bush asking the administration not to try to restrain Israel from using “all [its] strength and might… Said a senior official of the first Bush administration who is critical of this one: “Sharon played the president like a violin”…. In recent months Israel has sharply escalated settlement activity in the West Bank. In an interview with The Washington Post, Sharon recently dismissed the quartet as “nothing — don’t take it seriously.”

CounterPunch: “Our Vichy Congress”; by George Sunderland; May 10, 2002 (a pen name)

A Congressional Staffer Details Israel’s Stranglehold on Capitol Hill: “We are All Members of Likud Now.”

“For expressions of sheer groveling subservience to a foreign power, the pronouncements of Laval and Petain pale in comparison to the rhetorical devotion with which certain Congressmen have bathed the Israel of Ariel Sharon….Israel’s strategy of using its influence on the American political system to turn the U.S. national security apparatus into its own personal attack dog–or Golem–has alienated the United States from much of the Third World, has worsened U.S. ties to Europe amid rancorous insinuations of anti-Semitism, and makes the United States a hated bully. And by cutting off all diplomatic lines of retreat–as Sharon did when he publicly made President Bush, the leader of the Free World, look like an impotent fool–Israel paradoxically forces the United States to draw closer to Israel because there is no thinkable alternative for American politicians than continuing to invest political capital in Israel….We have now reached the point where there may be no turning back as nuclear Armageddon beckons from the Middle East. Writing recently in The Washington Post, Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, says “a senior Democratic senator [alas, Patten does not name him] told a visiting European the other day: ‘All of us here are members of Likud now.’
The American Conservative: “Whose War?”; by Patrick Buchanan, March 24, 2003.

“Here was a cabal of intellectuals telling the Commander-in-Chief, nine days after an attack on America, that if he did not follow their war plans, he would be charged with surrendering to terror. … What these neoconservatives seek is to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it.”

New Left Review: “Scurrying Towards Bethlehem”, by historian Perry Anderson, July-August 2001

“Entrenched in business, government, and media, American Zionism has since the sixties acquired a firm grip on the levers of public opinion and official policy toward Israel…. The colonists have in this sense at length acquired something like the metropolitan state-or state within a state-they initially lacked.”

www.antiwar.com: “How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington – and Launched a War”, by Michael Lind, April 10, 2003 (Mr. Lind is the Whitehead Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. (Reprinted from British Magazine: ‘New Statesman”; April 7, 2003)

“America’s allies and enemies alike are baffled. What is going on in the United States? Who is making foreign policy? And what are they trying to achieve? …..Most neoconservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the left, not the right. They are products of the influential Jewish-American sector of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s.

Their admiration for the Israeli Likud party’s tactics, including preventive warfare such as Israel’s 1981 raid on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, is mixed with odd bursts of ideological enthusiasm for “democracy.” They call their revolutionary ideology “Wilsonianism” (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky’s theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism. Genuine American Wilsonians believe in self-determination for people such as the Palestinians.

The neocon defense intellectuals, as well as being in or around the actual Pentagon, are at the center of a metaphorical “pentagon” of the Israel lobby and the religious right, plus conservative think tanks, foundations and media empires.”

FORWARD: “Lewin: Born of Necessity”; By Ami Eden; June 7, 2002 (FORWARD is a Jewish paper) (no condemnation by Bush, Rice, Powell, Cheney, or Rumsfeld on these “hateful, anti-Semtic remarks: ONLY when remarks are directed against the “Chosen People’, the Jews, does the west feel compelled and enraged to condemnation)

“A prominent Washington attorney and Jewish communal leader is calling for the execution of family members of suicide bombers.Nathan Lewin, an oft-mentioned candidate for a federal judgeship”

New York Times: “Annan’s Careless Language”; by George Fletcher, March 21, 2002 (NO one in the U.S. Government condemned this OUTRIGHT LIE by Mr. Fletcher nor did the New York Times, a Jewish owned paper, allow any rebuttal to this shameful lie)

“A redefinition of the Middle East conflict occurred last week when Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations called Israel’s occupation of lands acquired in the 1967 Six Day War “illegal.” A new and provocative label of “illegality” is now out of the chute and running loose, ready to wreak damage.”

The Observer: “Who Will Dare Damn Israel”; by Richard Ingrams, September 16, 2001

Messrs Blair and Bush, with help from on high, are ignoring the truths of the Middle East

“Noticeable was the reluctance throughout the media to contemplate the Israeli factor…Such has been the pressure from the Israeli lobby in this country (U.S.) that many, even normally outspoken journalists, are reluctant even to refer to such matters.”

If anyone does dare, their career, and perhaps life, is in jeopardy:

Jerusalem Post: “French envoy to UK: Israel threatens world peace”, By Douglas Davis, December 2, 2001

“The diplomatic career of French Ambassador to Britain Daniel Bernard was said to be in jeopardy yesterday, after he was quoted as having referred to Israel as “that shitty little country” which threatens world peace.”

Dr. Mahathir, the majority of the world agrees with your assessment on “Jewish Power” but are too intimidated to speak, hence, proving the very point that Jews do have enormous power on America, Europe, and Australia through wealth and control of ownership of the “Media: the most powerful opium upon the masses”

“Jewish Power”, the power of 0.002% of the world population and 1.7% of the American population but whose vast political and economic influence born of Holocaust guilt, money, and media manipulation have turned the most powerful nation on earth, the United States, into their own personal “Terminator” of nations and peoples until the entire world is now cowardly in its silence at Israel’s daily atrocities against the Palestinian population herded into refugee camps whose areas are constantly shrinking. While African Americans and Hispanics constitute about 25% of America’s population they have NOT one single Senator in the Congress, while Jewish Americans, 1.7% of the population have 11 Senators. Such is the power of money and greed. Jews have hijacked America’s foreign policy into an ISRAEL FIRST, AMERICA SECOND policy; damn the poor young American soldiers dying daily in Iraq.

I hope you reminded President Bush and Condoleeza Rice during your meeting with them at the A.P.E.C. summit when they criticized your remarks that they should be ashamed of their own silence when God himself is criticized by their own General Boykin yet they were SILENT. Obviously Muslim blood is cheap compared to hurt Jewish feelings.

The Muslim world is disunited, weak, cowardly, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military hardware to fight each other and squandering enormous wealth on behalf of corrupt dictators, while keeping their national wealth in western banks. Many of them are directly and indirectly dealing and trading with Israel. Their “Regime Change” should come from within not from Israel, its American Lobby, or the Christian Evangelists who hate Jews, Muslims, and other Christians.

Muslims only need ONE weapon: the Holy Qur’an, yet most can’t even read it. Until we adopt the wisdom, intellect, work ethic, peace, and beauty of our faith and reject ALL who seek violence, terrorism, and military adventurism upon weaker nations—from Bush, Blair, Sharon, Bin Laden, and Saddam Hussein, the world will have no peace and the Children of Abraham will continue to die. Judaism is an exclusivist religion that is using violence to exclude Christians and Muslims from the Holy Land. The world must draw a LINE IN THE SAND and tell Israel: THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND.

Allah Akbar to all who follow the Straight Path.

Following September 11, Robin Theurkauf, a lecturer in international law at Yale University, wrote: “Terrorist impulses ferment in poverty, oppression and ignorance. The elimination of these conditions and the active promotion of a universal respect for human rights must become a priority:

She lost her husband, Tom, in the World Trade Center.

The Leader of the Jewish “Cabals”, Richard Perle, pushing America to PAY AND DIE FOR ISRAEL says:

‘No stages…This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq, then we take a look around and see how things stand. This is entirely the wrong way to go about it … If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” Richard Perle

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by courtesy & © 2003 Mohamed Khodr

Islamic pilgrimage deeply touches two Valley men

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Lawn Griffiths, Tribune

By now, most Muslims who went on this year’s hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, are back home. They’re telling their stories of being swept up in a sea of faithful followers fulfilling some of Islam’s most sacred rituals.

They’re talking about the spiritual ecstasy of circling and recircling the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque, the epicenter of their faith toward which the faithful from around the planet face during five daily prayers.

They are telling of the vast tent cities in Saudi Arabia that temporarily housed pilgrims or of taking part in the “stoning of the devil” at the huge pillars at the new four-tiered Bridge of Jamarat in Mina. This year, pilgrims didn’t have to gather the stones to hurl. They were distributed to them in velvet bags. Pilgrims needed at least 49 pebbles to toss at three pillars during three days. It re-enacts Gabriel’s command to Abraham to pelt the devil, an act that is said to draw one closer to God.

The new leader of Islamic Community Center in Tempe, Imam Amr Elsamny, and Ahmed Osman of Gilbert, who attends prayer services there, were part of 2.4 million pilgrims, although unregistered Muslims may have taken the count much higher. Hajj was Dec. 6-9, though many Muslims extended their stays in the holy region.

Elsamny, who became the spiritual leader at the mosque on Nov. 7, made his third pilgrimage to Mecca. A native of Egypt, he has lived and studied in the U.S. for 10 years and trained in Peoria, Ill., as well as at the largest Islamic university in Saudi Arabia. “The first time I went was with my family – my mother and my wife – but when I got to go by myself (last year and this year), I really got to enjoy it more,” he said. That’s because he could focus more on his own spiritual experience and not be as concerned about the safety of loved ones in the tumult of the masses. Yet his first hajj was “very sweet,” he said.

Hajj has been the planet’s largest demonstration of religious devotion in one place, and, this year, major steps were taken to minimize the loss of life that has occurred because of the concentration of people crowding into the holy places.

“They’ve actually done a lot of work there, and they expanded it,” said Elsamny. “A lot of chaos has been there before, sometimes stampedes, but this year it was really easy. They have a lot of soldiers. Thousands of them organizing everything. In the past, people legally could sleep on the floors, but now they have stopped that.”

Besides greater security, the Saudi Arabian government, which oversees hajj logistics, created one-way foot traffic in the ritual areas. The changes came to avert tragedies like one in 2006 when 363 people were crushed to death in stampedes at Mina.

Osman, 41, who came to the U.S. from his native Somalia 20 years ago, had contemplated going on hajj for the past three years. “I had been delaying it every year,” the engineer said. “It is a call for everyone who can afford it to go there.”

But it was hearing a lecture at the mosque this year that nudged him to make 2008 the year. “The gentleman giving the lecture talked about the hajj and the fruits of hajj, and that triggered me to go. Something inside me told me this was the year,” he said. One of the five pillars of Islam is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if one is physically and financially able. Because of the world economic slump, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press that it had issued 2,000 fewer hajj visas this year.

Financially, Osman said, it was a sacrifice – about $6,000. But he raised the money. Muslims are instructed to come up with the money on their own, yet not go into debt for it. “If friends give you money, that is one thing, but you have to earn that money on your own,” he said. He joined nine people from the Valley headed to hajj, with flights to New York, then to Amman, Jordan, and then Medina, Saudi Arabia. Osman still revels in the instant bonds he developed with fellow pilgrims – people of different nationalities and lifestyles, yet exhibiting strong unity in their religion.

On arrival, men and women traded their clothing for the simple, seamless, traditional white garment, or ihram, whose purpose is to eliminate social and economic status and serve as a living example of equality in the brotherhood of Islam.

Osman said he was especially inspired by the visit to Mount Arafat, (also called the Mountain of Mercy), a hill 12 miles east of Mecca, where pilgrims ask for forgiveness and where they believe God answers prayers. It was there, they say, that their founder Muhammad gave his farewell to followers. “That is also where Allah revealed the Quran to Muhammad,” Osman said. “To go to Arafat is what performing the hajj is all about.”

Osman said he was lucky when he performed the tawaf, or the circling of the Kaaba, seven times counterclockwise. He was able to touch the black, cube-shaped stone that is actually a large empty room, called the House of Allah, a structure Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son, Ishmael.

“It got near the Kaaba and I touched it!” he said. “It is the most awesome feeling. It is really amazing.”

He remembers how tired he was from riding a bus for 13 hours through the night from Medina to Mecca in crawling traffic. At 8 a.m., their bus arrived. “Physically and mentally, we were drained,” he said. “We were sitting cooped up in the bus traveling for 12 hours” but on arrival “no one wanted to rest. We all wanted to go to see the Kaaba. We wanted to see the house that Abraham built for Allah.

Imam Elsamny said he is now sharing his hajj experiences with the 700 who attend Friday prayers at the masjid, or mosque, 131 E. Sixth St., Tempe.

He conveys to them the spirit of unity the pervades the pilgrims. “You go there and you find extremely poor people coming from poor countries and you appreciate what you have,” he said.

Osman said hajj had made him feel more at ease. “I feel a lot more responsibility toward common men, regardless of creed or religion,” he said. “Spiritually, I feel a lot more uplifted and in the presence of a superior being.”

“I feel more about donating and giving to the community, helping out people who are less fortunate than I,” he said.

Israel's Terror Rampage

by Elias Akleh

“Driven by a crazy warmongering prejudiced god, who elevates one group of people over the rest of his creation, and who orders his chosen people to perpetrate a bloody genocidal cleansing of his promised land in order to build him a mundane house to live in, Israeli politicians are ready to do anything in order to accomplish their deluded dream of a pure Jewish Greater Israel, from Nile to Euphrates, without any Christian or Muslim Goyims.”


If anybody is still having any doubt that Israel (government and citizens) is a terrorist state par excellence then the latest events during the last two months alone in occupied Palestine should convince him of this fact. For the last two year the Israeli government has been tightening its deadly siege against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army had violated the latest seize-fire agreement with its military raids into and bombardment of the Strip. The latest closure of Gaza, the tightest ever, is starving its 1.5 million Palestinians, depriving them of drinking water, and necessary fuel to keep their daily operations going. The Israeli government is conducting a meditative mass murder operation against Gaza residents while the whole world is silently and complicity watching and the American media is distorting the facts. (Watch the facts in Gaza).

Similar to their government, and adopting its ethnic cleansing policies, Israeli citizens, especially the extreme fundamentalist religious Jews, have been, since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, attacking the Palestinian indigenous landowners, forcefully and collectively occupying Palestinian homes and evicting the owners out, murdering whole family members, burning their fields, poisoning their water wells, shooting their farm animals, totally razing whole Palestinian towns, and building their own colonies on top of their ruins. Encouraged by the American unconditional support and by the UN silence, armed and financed by the fundamentalist extreme religious Shas and Yisrael Beitenu Parliamentary Parties, and brainwashed by extremist Yishuv Rabbis, the Israeli settlers (terrorists) had escalated their terror attacks against Palestinians throughout whole Palestine; in the 1948 occupied Palestine and in the West Bank.

Last October extremist religious Jewish residents of the Palestinian city of Akka (Acre), who were forcefully implanted in the old town in the middle of Palestinian residents and in the suburbs around the city, had perpetrated a wave of attack against their Palestinian neighbors, fired at them with automatic weapons, and set fire to some Palestinian homes. All this was happening under the sight and protection of Israeli police and soldiers, who arrested any Palestinian trying to protect his home. Watch their terror in Akka here.

The most dangerous Israeli terrorists are those religious extremist colonizers (settlers) in and around the West Bank Palestinian city of AL-Khalil (Hebron). Some well-armed 500 – 600 extremists and Yeshiva (religious school) students had forcefully occupied a couple of buildings in the heart of Hebron city where about 200,000 Palestinians live. These terrorists are protected by thousands of heavily armed Israeli soldiers 24 hours a day. To guarantee their freedom of movement large parts of the town are made off-limit to Palestinians. Many other religiously fanatic Israeli terrorist had confiscated large areas of farm land around the city and built their own colony called Kiryat Arba.

The majority of the Israeli colonizers in the Occupied West Bank are followers of the teachings of the religiously extremist Rabbi Abraham Kook, considered the first Rabbi of Israel. He teaches that the Jews should hasten the coming of their awaited for Messiah through acts violence and bloodshed, permissible and encouraged by the Torah, to cleanse the “Promised Land” from all Goyims (non-Jews, Palestinians), destroy their homes of worship (AL-Aqsa Muslim Mosque), and to build the third temple for the Messiah to live in.

These teachings are allegedly based on the Talmud and are taught at the Mirkaz Harav; a Judaic religious college in Jerusalem. According to these teachings the Palestinians have three choices: life long total obedient slavery to Israel, complete transfer out of the country, “lest they remain a thorn in your side”, or the Old Testament-style total annihilation. Similar versions of these fanatic teachings are taught to Israeli youth in their elementary and high schools. Throughout the history of Israel, since the birth of Zionism, Israelis had adopted and followed these teachings.

Israeli colonizers in and around Hebron follow these teachings religiously. They sanctify their Sabbaths through violent attacks against Palestinian residents. Every Friday night and Saturday, these terrorist colonizers, accompanied with their children, fully armed and under the protection of the Israeli soldiers, descend on Palestinian neighborhoods, smash their cars, break their windows and throw Molotov bombs in their houses, break into shops and set them ablaze, shoot at every Palestinian they may encounter, vandalize homes, schools and institutions, steal properties, draw racial and hatred graffiti on walls and doors of homes, churches, and mosques,, vandalize Palestinian cemeteries and draw star of David on graves, and provoke Palestinians with hate slogans such as “Death to Arabs”, and “Mohammad is a pig”.

When Jewish cemeteries and temples are vandalized with graffiti, Jew around the world and the Western World cry anti-Semitism, yet when Israeli Jews draw hate graffiti on Palestinian mosques, churches, and cemeteries no body cry anti-Palestinian, anti-Christian, or anti-Muslim.

Such silence and complicity had encouraged the Israeli terrorist to keep attacking Palestinians. In 1994 the Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein, encouraged by such silence, did not hesitate to sneak behind Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and empty his machine gun in the back of Muslim prayers while kneeling in prayer. Last week hundreds of fanatic Yishuv (religious school) students were called on to occupy a Palestinian home in Hebron to stop the police from evicting some armed Israeli settlers, who forcefully occupied the home claiming its purchase. The Israeli High Court found the deeds a forgery and ordered the house evacuated. In response hundreds of Israeli terrorists descended onto several Palestinian cities such as Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem, smashing cars and beating Palestinians. In Hebron, itself, Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian residents, set their homes on fire, and injured many of them. Few days ago some of these armed settlers attacked Palestinian homes and shot some of them point blank. The shooter was released for only one night and was released next morning. To see the shooting incident and many other settlers’ terrorist attacks click here.

Another similar confrontation between Palestinians and extremist settlers seems to be imminent in the Palestinian city of Umm al-Fahm, home to about 45,000 Palestinians. The Jewish National Front, a far-right group closely associated with the Hebron settlers, has acquired a Supreme Court permission to march through the city. The group’s leader Baruch Marzel stated “We will march through Umm al-Fahm with flags to send everyone a message that the Land of Israel belongs to us”. Many of the marchers will carry their guns issued to them as settlers. Such provocation, scheduled for this Monday December 15th, will spark violent confrontation.

Driven by a crazy warmongering prejudiced god, who elevates one group of people over the rest of his creation, and who orders his chosen people to perpetrate a bloody genocidal cleansing of his promised land in order to build him a mundane house to live in, Israeli politicians are ready to do anything in order to accomplish their deluded dream of a pure Jewish Greater Israel, from Nile to Euphrates, without any Christian or Muslim Goyims.

The behavior of these many Jewish fanatic groups are considered by any official laws and standards of any country in the world as terrorism. For the last sixty years the Palestinians have been faced with organized Jewish terror supported by major political and religious parties in the Israeli parliament. This is a state sponsored terror. It is a government policy that every Israeli leader supports and calls for. Their real intentions and policies become so transparent and apparent during election time, when all of them call for the expulsion of Palestinians. Just listen to what the Israeli Foreign Minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party, Tzipi Livni, addressing a high school students in Tel Aviv and promising that she would “encourage” those they call Israeli Arabs to move out of Israel to the state of Palestine once it is established.

Israel is a terrorist state. Many people recognize it as such. This is apparent in the international solidarity the Palestinians are receiving from all over the world. The international political bodies have yet to acknowledge this fact, and if they don’t one wonder what kind of ethics and morality that drives their sense of justice and freedom they claim they are fighting for.

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by courtesy & © 2008 Elias Akleh