Category Archives: Islam

Israel’s “Loyal” Druze move into Open Revolt

Israel’s small Druze community, long seen as “loyal” to the state, is on a collision course with the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu over a new law guaranteeing superior citizenship rights for Jews, according to analysts.

Israel has traditionally cited the Druze, a secretive religious sect whose men serve in the Israeli army, as proof that non-Jews can prosper inside a self-declared Jewish state.

However, recent days have seen an unprecedented outpouring of anger from large segments of the Druze community over a nation-state law passed last month by the Israeli parliament.

The new legislation has been widely criticised for making explicit the privileged status of the Jewish majority while omitting any reference to “democracy” or “equality”.

One Druze scholar, Rabah Halabi, said his community’s response had been like a mini-“intifada” – the word Palestinians used for two lengthy uprisings against the occupation.

“Much of the Druze community are in a state of shock,” he told Middle East Eye. “They thought that by proving their loyalty, they would be treated as equals. But now they are being forced to re-evaluate, to accept that this view was mistaken.”

Halabi, who has written a book on Druze identity, added: “Their illusions are being shattered. It looks like a process of awakening has begun that will leave both sides bruised.”

Protesters call for equality

The new law, which has a constitutional-like status, has angered the fifth of Israel’s population that are not Jewish, mostly descended from Palestinians who survived a campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1948. This Palestinian minority eventually received citizenship.

But unlike the Muslim and Christian communities, the 120,000-strong Druze sect in Israel has long been showcased as “loyal” and plays a key role in the army, especially in combat duties in the occupied territories.

Druze leaders have angrily pointed to the disproportionate sacrifices made by their community, including more than 420 Druze killed while in uniform.

The Druze also enjoy outsized influence in Israeli politics. Although comprising about 1.5 percent of Israel’s population, they have five legislators in the 120-member parliament, four of them in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

Unusually, the figurehead of the protests has been a retired and much-decorated Druze general, Amal Asad.

He led the speakers at a rally in Tel Aviv earlier this month, attended by some 60,000 Druze and Israeli Jewish sympathisers, including many former senior security officials.

The protesters demanded that the new Basic Law – one of a body that serves as Israel’s equivalent of a constitution – be annulled or amended to confer equal rights on all citizens.

Another key Druze figure, spiritual leader Sheikh Muwafaq Tarif, told the crowds: “Despite our unreserved loyalty, Israel doesn’t see us as equals.”

Crowds chanted “Equality! Equality!” and banners bore the slogan: “If we are brothers, we must be equals.”

Netanyahu blindsided

Druze legislators and Palestinian leadership organisations in Israel have separately petitioned the Israeli supreme court to overturn the legislation. The court is not expected to hear the cases until early next year.

Adalah, a legal rights group for the Palestinian minority, has described the law as having “apartheid characteristics” and noted that there is “no [other] constitution in the world that does not include the right to equality for all its citizens and residents”.

The Druze protests appear to have blindsided Netanyahu and his cabinet, even though the law was under consideration for nearly a decade.

Nonetheless, he has stood his ground. According to analysts, the law is the centrepiece of his efforts to win elections, expected in the coming months, as he tries to face down intensifying corruption investigations.

In a sign of his hardline approach, Netanyahu walked out of a meeting held shortly before the rally when Druze leaders – including Asad, Tarif and several mayors – refused to accept a compromise that would have offered special benefits to the Druze while keeping the law unchanged.

Wahib Habish, mayor of the Druze town of Yarka in the Galilee, who attended the meeting, told the Israeli media afterwards: “We can’t be bought off with benefits and rhetoric on closing gaps.”

Amal Jamal, a politics professor at Tel Aviv University and a Druze resident of Habish’s town, said Netanyahu’s strategy was to stoke “internal divisions” in Druze society.

“He has no intention of backing down,” he told MEE. “He hopes to dismiss the protests by saying: ‘If the Druze can’t agree among themselves, how is it possible for us to find a solution?’”

Secretive religious sect

The Druze are a secretive religious sect that broke away from Islam some 1,000 years ago. For protection, they chose to live in a mountainous region of the Middle East that is today split between Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Scholars have noted that, as a survival strategy, the Druze traditionally preferred to ally with whoever was in power.

Some Druze communities in the Galilee supported Zionist forces during the 1948 war that founded Israel on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. A few years later, the Druze leadership in Israel signed a pact with the state, agreeing that the community’s men would be conscripted for three years into the army.

In return, Israel recognised the Druze as a “national” group, rather than as a religion, separating them from the rest of the Palestinian minority.

Complicating the picture, a much smaller Druze population fell under Israeli rule in 1967 when Israel occupied the Golan Heights, part of Syria. The 25,000 Druze in the Golan have mostly stayed loyal to Syria and refused Israeli citizenship. They are not drafted.

‘Brainwashed’ at school

Jamal said sections of Israeli Druze society were increasingly wondering whether they had paid a “double price” for their agreement to conscription.

“Not only were the Druze discriminated against like other Arab citizens, but they sacrificed their lives on the battlefield too,” he noted. “Look at it this way, the Druze are not just second-class citizens, they are second-class Arabs.”

As part of the agreement, Israel introduced a separate school system for the Druze in the 1970s, which has encouraged them to view their military service as a “covenant of blood” with the Jewish people.

Dalia Halabi, herself Druze and the executive director of Dirasat, a policy research centre in Nazareth, said the Druze education system was among the worst in Israel for matriculation rates. Instead, Israel had used the schools to “brainwash” Druze children.

“The Druze are taught to fear other Arabs, not only their neighbours in the Galilee but in the wider region,” she said. “They are encouraged to believe that they would be vulnerable and alone without the protection of the Israeli army.”

Refusal movement growing

Israel has long trumpeted the Druze’s military service as proof that it is possible for non-Jewish minorities to integrate.

Druze analysts consulted by MEE, however, noted that for many years there had been an intensifying split within the Druze community on the issue of military service that the new Basic law had brought to a head.

A refusal movement among young Druze men has become more prominent over the past decade, as have complaints that successive Israeli governments failed to make good on promises to give the Druze equal rights.

Druze communities are generally as overcrowded and poorly resourced as other Palestinian communities in Israel, noted Dalia Halabi: “Some 70 percent of Druze lands were confiscated by the state, despite our communities’ ‘loyalty’. They did not get a better deal than other Palestinian communities.”

Rabah Halabi, who teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, pointed out that the loss of their farmland left many Druze men dependent on Israel’s extensive security economy.

More than a quarter are recruited after army service as security guards, prison wardens or border policemen, the latter a paramilitary force operating inside Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, he said.

“For a substantial section of Druze youth, army service is the only way to ensure a career. It is primarily an economic issue for them.”

Army officers resign

The new Basic Law has inflamed these existing tensions by enshrining privileges for Jewish citizens in a range of key areas, including immigration rights, access to land, and in housing and budgets. It also downgrades Arabic, stripping it of its status as an official language.

In an unprecedented move for a Druze leader, Asad, the general leading the protests, warned on social media that the Basic Law risked laying the foundations for “apartheid”. He called the measure “evil and racist”.

The groundswell of anger was apparent too at a recent awards ceremony attended by Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence service and one of the architects of the law. He needed protection as Druze protesters publicly confronted him, denouncing him as a “traitor” and “Nazi”.

Several Druze army officers have resigned and others have threatened to stop serving, sparking fears of mass insubordination.

Druze leaders have so far refused to cooperate with a special ministerial committee set up by Netanyahu to advance a solution for the Druze, as well as a tiny Circassian community and sections of the Bedouin that also serve.

It seems likely to propose extra benefits on an individual basis for Palestinian citizens who serve in the army.

Jamal, of Tel Aviv University, said: “There are many Druze who have invested in this so-called ‘historical bond’ and do not want to lose their special status.

“But at the same time they can’t accept the deal Netanyahu is offering of perks for army service. They don’t want to look like they have been bought off with money, to seem like mercenaries.”

‘We’re not going anywhere

Unless one side backs down, the Druze community now looks set for a major clash with the government for the first time in the country’s history.

A recent poll indicated that 58 percent of Israeli Jews support the law, though a similar number expressed sympathy for Druze concerns.

Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister, has already warned of “an earthquake” on the political right if the courts dare to annul the law.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has appeared in no mood for compromise. After his meeting with Druze leaders broke up in acrimony, his officials implied that General Asad and his supporters were disloyal.

Channel 2 TV quoted a source close to Netanyahu stating, apparently in reference to Asad and his followers: “Whoever doesn’t like it [the Basic Law], there’s a large Druze community in Syria, and they’re invited to found the state of Druzistan there.”

Dalia Halabi observed: “Netanyahu is fanning the flames because he assumes the Druze will agree to whatever he says. He thinks we now have no option but to be loyal.”

But Mano Abu Salha, aged 58 from Yarka, and among those who attended the mass demonstration in Tel Aviv, told MEE that Netanyahu would be proved wrong.

He said: “We didn’t come from Syria. We are living on our historic lands and we’re not going anywhere. We are the native population. Netanyahu better realise that we are staying put and will fight for our rights.”

The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible

“In my four years as High Commissioner, I have heard many preposterous claims. That claim is almost in its own category of absurdity. Have you no shame, sir, have you no shame? We are not fools.”

These were some of the remarks made by outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in his final briefing to the Human Rights Council on July 4. He was responding to a Burmese official’s claim that his country is not targeting Rohingya in a genocidal campaign but is defending the rights of all of its citizen.

The Burmese government is now at par with the Israeli government, both practicing ethnic-cleansing and murder while insisting that they are fighting terrorism.

In both Tel Aviv and Yangon, the two governments are cracking down on journalists who dare expose their phony democracies and ‘wars on terror’.

On June 18, the Israeli government endorsed a bill that seeks to criminalize filming of Israeli soldiers “for the sake of shaming them.” The language of the bill was purposely broad as it simply attempts to prevent the documenting of the violent practices of the Israeli army against Palestinians.

It should come as no surprise that Israel is one of the main suppliers of weapons to Burma.

Israel’s pseudo-democracy is also, in many ways, similar to Burma’s. In Israel, Jews are the privileged group; democracy and human rights applies to them and not to Palestinians.

In Burma, the Buddhist majority receives special treatment in comparison with the country’s minorities, especially the Rohingya who, for years, have been victim to a massive government-led campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee from their homes in the Northern Rakhine State in Burma last year alone. They have been exiled mostly to Bangladesh. Many of the refugees are forced into deplorable existence in prison-like, extremely crowded refugee camps in the no man’s land between Burma and Bangladesh.

Even before the last exodus, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were already living in exile, as the Burmese army’s ethnic cleansing of its ill-fated minorities has been in the making for years.

Despite a recent burst of media attention, however, Western governments, which are eagerly welcoming Burma’s former junta government to the ‘democratic world’ are yet to carry out any meaningful action, or even a threat of action to slow down the genocide.

In a recent report, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) relayed the harrowing death toll of Rohingya during the first month of the army’s violent campaign last year. In the period between August 25 and September 24, at least 9,000 Rohingya were killed, including 730 children under the age of five, MSF reported.

When two brave Reuters journalists attempted to uncover the extent of the army’s crimes, they were arrested. On July 9, they were charged with the violation of a colonial-era law known as the ‘Official Secret Act’, and now face the possibility of spending 14 years behind bars.

Wa Lone, 32 and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, are heroic young journalists, for they knew what fate awaited them should the government uncover their investigation of a massacre committed in the village of Inn Din on September 2.

On that day, 10 Rohingya men were executed in cold blood. Two were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers and the remaining eight were shot by the army. Their mass grave was dug in advance, where their frail bodies were dumped near their village, after homes in the village were set ablaze.

That story, although horrific, is quite typical in Rakhine State, where whole families were shot by soldiers or hacked to death by mobs. The two brave journalists were documenting this single episode with a thorough investigation based on government papers, interviews with Buddhist villagers and security personal. Their reporting was meant to provide indisputable evidence of government-mob synchronization in killing Rohingya and covering up their crimes.

Despite the arrest of their colleagues, the Reuters staff in Burma and Bangladesh still managed to produce an exhaustive investigative report that details how the army’s 33rd and 99th light infantry divisions were used as a “tip of the spear” in the savage government campaign to ethnically-cleanse the nearly 700,000 Rohingya last year.

The report also discusses the culture of impunity that is now rampant in that country.

“Are you going to eat Bengali meat?” a Facebook friend asks a soldier, Kyi Nyan Lynn, who was getting ready to join the onslaught in Rakhine.

The ‘Bengali meat’ refers to the killing of Rohingya, who are also often referred to by the derogatory term ‘kalar.’

“Crush the kalar, buddy,’ urged another friend.

“Will do,’ Kyi Nyan Lynn casually responds.

The soldier made sure to keep his friends abreast on the bloody development on the ground.

“If they’re Bengali, they’ll be killed,” he posted a comment on August 11.

Although the government remains very guarded regarding its slaughter of Rohingya, Buddhist activists on social media have no qualms in sharing their racist views, violent images and details of the mass murder.

However, the Massacre of Inn Din, thanks to the work of the two journalists, forced the government to ‘investigate’. It shared the results of its alleged investigation on Facebook on January 10.

Although the government acknowledged that the 10 Rohingya men were executed by the army and a Buddhist mob, it largely placed the blame on the murdered men.

In a jumbled-up statement, the government’s ‘Truth Team,” wrote:

It was found that local ethnics had grievance against those 10 Bengali terrorists involved in the terror attacks against Bengali villagers, who arrested and killed U Maung Ni without reason, and they threatened and bullied the local ethnics. So the ethnics killed 10 arrested Bengali terrorists as they were keen to kill the arrestees with taking revenge.

Burma’s killing campaigns are now impossible to hide, and no clumsy government attempts at cover-up will conceal the facts. The real tragedy is that the rest of the world looks on as if nothing is the matter.

How long do the Rohingya have to endure before something is done to alleviate their suffering?

Saudi Wahabbism Serves Western Imperialism

When the Saudi Crown Prince gave an interview to the Washington Post, declaring that it was actually the West that encouraged his country to spread Wahhabism to all corners of the world, there was a long silence in almost all the mass media outlets in the West, but also in countries such as Egypt and Indonesia.

Those who read the statement expected a determined rebuke from Riyadh. It did not come. The sky did not fall. Lightning did not strike the Prince or the Post.

Clearly, not all that the Crown Prince declared appeared on the pages of the Washington Post, but what actually did, would be enough to bring down entire regimes in such places like Indonesia, Malaysia or Brunei. Or at least it would be enough under ‘normal circumstances’. That is, if the population there was not already hopelessly and thoroughly indoctrinated and programed, and if the rulers in those countries did not subscribe to, or tolerate, the most aggressive, chauvinistic and ritualistic (as opposed to the intellectual or spiritual) form of the religion.

Reading between the lines, the Saudi Prince suggested that it was actually the West which, while fighting an ‘ideological war’ against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, handpicked Islam and its ultra-orthodox and radical wing – Wahhabism – as an ally in destroying almost all the progressive, anti-imperialist and egalitarian aspirations in the countries with a Muslim majority.

As reported by RT on 28 March 2018:

The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Washington Post.

Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union…

The interview with the crown prince was initially held ‘off the record’. However, the Saudi embassy later agreed to let the Washington Post publish specific portions of the meeting.

Since the beginning of the spread of Wahhabism, one country after another had been falling; ruined by ignorance, fanatical zeal and fear, which have been preventing the people of countries such as post-1965 Indonesia or the post-Western-invasion Iraq, to move back (to the era before Western intervention) and at the same time forward, towards something that used to be so natural to their culture in not such a distant past – towards socialism or at least tolerant secularism.

*****

In reality, Wahhabism does not have much to do with Islam. Or more precisely, it intercepts and derails the natural development of Islam, of its strife for an egalitarian arrangement of the world, and for socialism.

The Brits were behind the birth of the movement; the Brits and one of the most radical, fundamentalist and regressive preachers of all times – Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

The essence of the Wahabi/British alliance and dogma was and still is, extremely simple: “Religious leaders would force the people into terrible, irrational fear and consequent submission. No criticism of the religion is allowed; no questioning of its essence and particularly of the conservative and archaic interpretation of the Book. Once conditioned this way, people stopped questioning and criticizing first the feudalist, and later capitalist oppression; they also accepted without blinking the plunder of their natural resources by local and foreign masters. All attempts to build a socialist and egalitarian society got deterred, brutally, ‘in the name of Islam’ and ‘in the name of God’”.

Of course, as a result, the Western imperialists and the local servile ‘elites’ are laughing all the way to the bank, at the expense of those impoverished and duped millions in the countries that are controlled by the Wahhabi and Western dogmas.

Only a few in the devastated, colonized countries actually realize that Wahhabism does not serve God or the people; it is helping Western interests and greed.

Precisely this is what is right now happening in Indonesia, but also in several other countries that have been conquered by the West, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Were Syria to fall, this historically secular and socially-oriented nation would be forced into the same horrid direction. People there are well aware of this, as they are educated. They also see what has happened to Libya and Iraq and they definitely do not want to end up like them. It is the Wahhabi terrorist fighters that both the West and its lackeys like Saudi Arabia unleashed against the Syrian state and its people.

*****

Despite its hypocritical secular rhetoric, manufactured mainly for local consumption but not for the colonies, the West is glorifying or at least refusing to openly criticize its own brutal and ‘anti-people’ offspring – a concept which has already consumed and ruined both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. In fact, it is trying to convince the world that these two countries are ‘normal’, and in the case of Indonesia, both ‘democratic’ and ‘tolerant’. At the same time, it has consistently been antagonizing almost all the secular or relatively secular nations with substantial Muslim majorities, such as Syria (until now), but also Afghanistan, Iran (prior to the coup of 1953), Iraq and Libya before they were thoroughly and brutally smashed.

Aghanistan-US-air-force-Bagrani-base

It is because the state, in which the KSA, Indonesia and the present-day Afghanistan can be found, is the direct result of both Western interventions and indoctrination. The injected Wahhabi dogma is giving this Western ‘project’ a Muslim flavor, while justifying trillions of dollars on ‘defense spending’ for the so-called ‘War on Terror’ (a concept resembling an Asian fishing pond where fish are brought in and then fished out for a fee).

Obedience, even submissiveness – is where, for many reasons, the West wants its ‘client’ states and neo-colonies to be. The KSA is an important trophy because of its oil, and strategic position in the region. Saudi rulers are often going out of their way to please their masters in London and Washington, implementing the most aggressive pro-Western foreign policy. Afghanistan is ‘valued’ for its geographical location, which could potentially allow the West to intimidate and even eventually invade both Iran and Pakistan, while inserting extremist Muslim movements into China, Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics. Between 1 and 3 million Indonesian people ‘had to be’ massacred in 1965-66, in order to bring to power a corrupt turbo-capitalist clique which could guarantee that the initially bottomless (although now rapidly thinning) natural resources could flow, uninterrupted and often untaxed, into places such as North America, Europe, Japan and Australia.

Frankly, there is absolutely nothing ‘normal’ about countries such as Indonesia and the KSA. In fact, it would take decades, but most likely entire generations, in order to return them to at least some sort of nominal ‘normalcy’. Even if the process were to begin soon, the West hopes that by the time it ends, almost all of the natural resources of these countries would be gone.

But the process is not yet even beginning. The main reason for the intellectual stagnation and lack of resistance is obvious: people in countries such as Indonesia and KSA are conditioned so they are not able to see the brutal reality that surrounds them. They are indoctrinated and ‘pacified’. They have been told that socialism equals atheism and that atheism is evil, illegal and ‘sinful’.

Hence, Islam was modified by the Western and Saudi demagogues, and has been ‘sent to a battle’, against progress and a just, egalitarian arrangement of the world.

Poster of radical FPI in Jakarta

This version of religion is unapologetically defending Western imperialism, savage capitalism as well as the intellectual and creative collapse of the countries into which it was injected, including Indonesia. There, in turn, the West tolerates the thorough corruption, grotesque lack of social services, and even genocides and holocausts committed first against the Indonesians themselves, then against the people of East Timor, and to this day against the defenseless Papuan men, women and children. And it is not only a ‘tolerance’ – the West participates directly in these massacres and extermination campaigns, as it also takes part in spreading the vilest forms of Wahabi terrorism and dogmas to all corners of the world. All this, while tens of millions of the followers of Wahhabism are filling the mosques daily, performing mechanical rituals without any deeper thought or soul searching.

Wahhabism works – it works for the mining companies and banks with their headquarters in London and New York. It also works extremely well for the rulers and the local ‘elites’ inside the ‘client’ states.

*****

Ziauddin Sardar, a leading Muslim scholar from Pakistan, who is based in London, has no doubts that ‘Muslim fundamentalism’ is, to a great extent, the result of the Western imperialism and colonialism.

Ziauddin Sardar and Andre Vltchek discussing Islam at Mr. Sardar’s club in London

In a conversation which we had several years ago, he explained:

Trust between Islam and the West has indeed been broken… We need to realize that colonialism did much more than simply damage Muslim nations and cultures. It played a major part in the suppression and eventual disappearance of knowledge and learning, thought and creativity, from Muslim cultures. The colonial encounter began by appropriating the knowledge and learning of Islam, which became the basis of the ‘European Renaissance’ and ‘the Enlightenment’ and ended by eradicating this knowledge and learning from both from Muslim societies and from history itself. It did that both by physical elimination – destroying and closing down institutions of learning, banning certain types of indigenous knowledge, killing off local thinkers and scholars – and by rewriting history as the history of western civilization into which all minor histories of other civilization are subsumed.

As a consequence, Muslim cultures were de-linked from their own history with many serious consequences. For example, the colonial suppression of Islamic science led to the displacement of scientific culture from Muslim society. It did this by introducing new systems of administration, law, education and economy all of which were designed to impart dependence, compliance and subservience to the colonial powers. The decline of Islamic science and learning is one aspect of the general economic and political decay and deterioration of Muslim societies. Islam has thus been transformed from a dynamic culture and a holistic way of life to mere rhetoric. Islamic education has become a cul-de-sac, a one-way ticket to marginality. It also led to the conceptual reduction of Muslim civilization. By which I mean concepts that shaped and gave direction to Muslim societies became divorced from the actual daily lives of Muslims – leading to the kind of intellectual impasse that we find in Muslim societies today.  Western neo-colonialism perpetuates that system.

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In Indonesia, after the Western-sponsored military coup of 1965, which destroyed the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and brought to power an extreme pro-market and pro-Western regime, things are deteriorating with a frightening predictability, consistency and speed.

While the fascist dictator Suharto, a Western implant after 1965, was said to be ‘suspicious of Islam’, he actually used all major religions on his archipelago with great precision and fatal impact. During his pro-market despotism, all left-wing movements and ‘-isms’ were banned, and so were most of the progressive forms of arts and thought. The Chinese language was made illegal. Atheism was also banned. Indonesia rapidly became one of the most religious countries on Earth.

At least one million people, including members of the PKI, were brutally massacred in one of the most monstrous genocides of the 20th century.

The fascist dictatorship of General Suharto often played the Islamic card for its political ends. As described by John Pilger in his book, The New Rulers of The World:

In the pogroms of 1965-66, Suharto’s generals often used Islamicist groups to attack communists and anybody who got in the way. A pattern emerged; whenever the army wanted to assert its political authority, it would use Islamicists in acts of violence and sabotage, so that sectarianism could be blamed and justify the inevitable ‘crackdown’ – by the army…

‘A fine example’ of cooperation between the murderous right-wing dictatorship and radical Islam.

After Suharto stepped down, the trend towards a grotesque and fundamentalist interpretation of the monotheist religions continued. Saudi Arabia and the Western-favored and sponsored Wahhabism has been playing an increasingly significant role. And so has Christianity, often preached by radical right-wing former exiles from Communist China and their offspring; mainly in the city of Surabaya but also elsewhere.

From a secular and progressive nation under the leadership of President Sukarno, Indonesia has gradually descended into an increasingly radically backward-looking and bigoted Wahhabi-style/Christian Pentecostal state.

President_Abdurrahman_Wahid_Gus_Dur

After being forced to resign as the President of Indonesia during what many considered a constitutional coup, a progressive Muslim cleric and undoubtedly a closet socialist, Abdurrahman Wahid (known in Indonesia by his nickname Gus Dur), shared with me his thoughts, on the record:

These days, most of Indonesian people do not care or think about God. They only follow rituals. If God would descend and tell them that their interpretation of Islam is wrong, they’d continue following this form of Islam and ignore the God.

‘Gus Dur’ also clearly saw through all the tricks of the military and pro-Western elites. He told me, among other things, that the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta was organized by the Indonesian security forces, and later blamed on the Islamists, who were actually only executing the orders given to them by their political bosses from the pro-Western military regime, which until now is being disguised as a, ‘multi-party democracy’.

In Indonesia, an extreme and unquestioning obedience to the religions has led to a blind acceptance of a fascist capitalist system, and of Western imperialism and its propaganda. Creativity and intellectual pluralism have been thoroughly liquidated.

The 4th most populous nation on the planet, Indonesia, has presently no scientists, architects, philosophers or artists of any international standing. Its economy is fueled exclusively by the unbridled plunder of the natural resources of the vast, and in the past, pristine parts of the country, such as Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan), as well as on the brutally-occupied Western part of Papua. The scale of the environmental destruction is monumental; something that I am presently trying to capture in two documentary films and a book.

Awareness of the state of things, even among the victims, is minimal or out rightly nonexistent.

In a country that has been robbed of its riches; identity, culture and future, religions now play the most important role. There is simply nothing else left for the majority. Nihilism, cynicism, corruption and thuggery are ruling unopposed. In the cities with no theatres, galleries, art cinemas, but also no public transportation or even sidewalks, in the monstrous urban centers abandoned to the ‘markets’ with hardly any greenery or public parks, religions are readily filling the emptiness. Being themselves regressive, pro-market oriented and greedy, the results are easily predictable.

In the city of Surabaya, during the capturing of footage for my documentary film produced for a South American television network TeleSur (Surabaya – Eaten Alive by Capitalism), I stumbled over an enormous Protestant Christian gathering at a mall, where thousands of people were in an absolute trance, yelling and lifting their eyes towards the ceiling. A female preacher was shouting into a microphone:

God loves the rich, and that is why they are rich! God hates the poor, and that’s why they are poor!

Von Hayek, Friedmann, Rockefeller, Wahab and Lloyd George combined could hardly define their ‘ideals’ in more precise way.

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What exactly did the Saudi Prince say, during his memorable and ground-breaking interview with The Washington Post? And why is it so relevant to places like Indonesia?

In essence, he said that the West asked the Saudis to make the ‘client’ states more and more religious, by building madrassahs and mosques. He also added:

I believe Islam is sensible, Islam is simple, and people are trying to hijack it.

People? The Saudi themselves? Clerics in such places like Indonesia? The Western rulers?

In Teheran, Iran, while discussing the problem with numerous religious leaders, I was told, repeatedly:

The West managed to create a totally new and strange religion, and then it injected it into various countries. It calls it Islam, but we can’t recognize it… It is not Islam, not Islam at all.

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In May 2018, in Indonesia, members of outlawed terrorist groups rioted in jail, took hostages, then brutally murdered prison guards. After the rebellion was crushed, several explosions shook East Java. Churches and police stations went up in flames. people died.

Destroyed Aleppo

The killers used their family members, even children, to perpetrate the attacks. The men in charge were actually inspired by the Indonesian fighters who were implanted into Syria – the terrorists and murderers who were apprehended and deported by Damascus back to their large and confused country.

Many Indonesian terrorists who fought in Syria are now on their home turf, igniting and ‘inspiring’ their fellow citizens. The same situation as in the past – the Indonesian jihadi cadres who fought against the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan later returned and killed hundreds and thousands in Poso, Ambon and other parts of Indonesia.

Indonesian extremists are becoming world-famous, fighting the battles of the West as legionnaires, in Afghanistan, Syria, Philippines and elsewhere.

Their influence at home is also growing. It is now impossible to even mention any social or god forbid, socialist reforms in public. Meetings are broken up, participants beaten, and even people’s representatives (MP’s) intimidated, accused of being “communists”, in a country where Communism is still banned by the regime.

The progressive and extremely popular Jakarta governor, Ahok, first lost elections and was then put on trial and thrown into jail for “insulting Islam”, clearly fabricated charges. His main sin – cleaning Jakarta’s polluted rivers, constructing a public transportation network, and improving the lives of ordinary people. That was clearly ‘un-Islamic’, at least from the point of view of Wahhabism and the Western global regime.

Radical Indonesian Islam is now feared. It goes unchallenged. It is gaining ground, as almost no one would dare to openly criticize it. It will soon overwhelm and suppress the entire society.

And in the West ‘political correctness’ is used. It is lately simply ‘impolite’ to criticize Indonesian or even the Saudi form of ‘Islam’, out of ‘respect’ for the people and their ‘culture’. In reality, it is not the Saudi or Indonesian people who get ‘protected’ – it is the West and its imperialist policies; policies and manipulations that are used against both the people and the essence of Muslim religion.

*****

While the Wahhabi/Western dogma is getting stronger and stronger, what is left of the Indonesian forests is burning. The country is literally being plundered by the Western multi-national companies and by its local corrupt elites.

Extremist attacks against Indonesian churches

Religions, the Indonesian fascist regime and Western imperialism are marching forward, hand in hand. But forward – where? Most likely towards the total collapse of the Indonesian state. Towards the misery that will come soon, when everything is logged out and mined out.

It is the same as when Wahhabism used to march hand in hand with the British imperialists and plunderers. Except that the Saudis found their huge oil fields, plenty of oil to sustain themselves (or at least their elites and the middle class, as the poor still live in misery there) and their bizarre, British-inspired and sponsored interpretation of Islam.

Indonesia and other countries that have fallen victims to this dogma are not and will not be so ‘lucky’.

It is lovely that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke publicly and clarified the situation. But who will listen?

For the Indonesian people, his statements came too late. They did not open many eyes, caused no uprising, no revolution. To understand what he said would require at least some basic knowledge of both the local, and world history, and at least some ability to think logically. All this is lacking, desperately, in the countries that have found themselves squashed by the destructive imperialist embrace.

The former President of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid, was correct: “If God would come and say… people would not follow God…”

Indonesia will continue following Mr. Wahab, and the capitalist dogma and the Western imperialists who ‘arranged it all’. They will do it for years to come, feeling righteous, blasting old North American tunes in order to fill the silence, in order not to think and not to question what is happening around them. There will be no doubts. There will be no change, no awakening and no revolution.

Until the last tree falls, until the last river and stream gets poisoned, until there is nothing left for the people. Until there is total, absolute submission: until everything is burned down, black and grey. Maybe then, few tiny, humble roots of awakening and resistance would begin to grow.

• First published by New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

The Israeli Government Role in Promoting Islamophobia Internationally

Much of the study of Islamophobia is directed at the social and political causes and manifestations, including religious and political dimensions and racist characteristics.  However, Islamophobia is also used as a strategic tool or weapon; i.e., in pursuit of national agenda.

Many of us are familiar with Islamophobic movements within the Buddhist majority in Myanmar (against the Rohingya minority), and within Hindu nationalist parties in India. It is important to note, however, that it is characteristic of these movements that they direct their Islamophobia against particular groups of Muslims within their own societies, and are less concerned with creating an international movement against Islam.

This is what makes the case of Israel unique.  Although Israel, like Myanmar and India, seeks to marginalize and ultimately eliminate a specific population of Muslims – in this case the mostly Muslim Palestinians – part of its strategy for doing so includes encouraging and fostering Islamophobia internationally.  Thus, for example, Israel has successfully pursued strong military and diplomatic ties with the governments of Myanmar and India, and especially the Islamophobic movements within those countries.

It is clear, therefore, that Islamophobia within Israel is not only a matter of organized bigotry and social hatred, which one finds in other societies, but also of instrumentalizing or weaponizing Islamophobia as a strategic tool to legitimize and justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the territories under Israel’s control, as well as to support Israeli aggression towards other mostly Muslim countries in the region. Promoting and fostering Islamophobia internationally helps to increase and solidify international support for the Zionist genocidal project.  It is therefore treated as an important tool of Israeli and Zionist international influence.

My attention was first brought to this fact in casual but unusual circumstances. In early 1993 my family and I were on vacation at a Club Med in France where there were also Israeli intelligence officers and their families.  I got into a discussion with one in particular, who said that with the fall of the Soviet Union, Islam would replace communism as the new enemy.  It sounded a bit far-fetched, but in retrospect he knew what he was talking about, and more important, he was in a position to help make it happen, which of course it did.

The groundwork was laid much earlier.  As Deepa Kumar at Rutgers University reports, the effort to tie Islam to terrorism started at a Zionist funded neoconservative conference on international terrorism in 1979. Then, after a second such conference in 1984, “both US neocons and Zionists worked together to convince Western policy makers that ‘Islamic terrorism’ would replace communism as the West’s next great threat. By tying Islam to terrorism, neocons would gain political cover for their imperialistic ambitions in the Middle East, and Zionists would benefit from garnering Western sympathies for their struggle against Palestinian ‘terrorism.’”

Since then, researchers like Sarah Marusek, David Miller and others have cataloged international Zionist networks that sponsor Islamophobic propaganda and policies.  The work of Pamela Geller and the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative is one of the well-known examples.  Geller’s anti-Islam billboards and bus advertisements are familiar to many, as well her so-called “Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas in 2015, resulting in the police killing of two armed men.

Geller is hardly alone, however.  According to the Center for American Progress, the US has six major organizations that manipulate Islamophobia in order to further US support for Israel. These are the Center for Security Policy, the Society of Americans for National Existence, the Middle East Forum, Jihad Watch, Stop Islamization of America, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism.  Sarah Marusek includes even more groups in her paper entitled “The Transatlantic Network: Funding Islamophobia and Israeli Settlements”, published in the anthology, What is Islamophobia?

These organizations constitute a network, as Marusek says, but the complete network is much wider and more diverse than the assets concerned with promoting Islamophobia.  They are known as the sayanim, the Hebrew word for helpers or assistants, and are composed of Zionists who have achieved important and useful positions in societies from which they can exercise powerful initiatives, especially when they operate in concert. Thus, for example, friendly journalists can work with lobbyists and others to quickly and massively spread influence, information, analysis and disinformation that are useful to Israel.

Such initiatives require coordination, intelligence, strategic planning, covert action, technical assistance, and other expertise.  For many years, the sayanim were coordinated by the Mossad. However, following a 2010 report from the influential Reut Institute (a prestigious strategic think tank in Israel), organizational changes were made that moved such responsibility to the Ministry of International Relations, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs – better known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.  The report also notes that there are as many as 4000 sayanim in each of the major centers of power and influence, such as London and New York. A concentration of sayanim in important sectors of society that inform the public, such as film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media permits them to help shape public opinion.

In line with Reut Institute recommendations, the Strategic Affairs Ministry has grown in size and secrecy over the last decade.  Reut projected that Israel’s main strategic threat would no longer be to its military security but rather to its image and influence in other countries, especially the US and Europe.  According to this view, BDS was to be regarded as a serious threat, as well as the human rights NGOs, Palestine solidarity groups and the critical alternative press.  The Ministry of Strategic Affairs was therefore selected to coordinate a major new effort to combat this perceived threat.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has informally been called the Hasbara Ministry, using the Hebrew word for explanation or propaganda. It certainly is that, but also much more.  The reorganization of the Strategic Affairs Ministry can be compared in scope to that of the Homeland Security Department.  A lot of security and intelligence functions were transferred from or shared with Mossad.  The Ministry became responsible for propaganda, influence and manipulation in other countries.  Coordination of the sayanim became part of its purview, as did thousands of students who were paid or received scholarships in return for haunting social media and the comments sections of websites.  The purpose was to dominate the media, insofar as possible, in countries vital to Israel’s plans and intentions, and to sway public opinion toward outcomes determined by Israel’s strategic goals.

Many readers are familiar with the “Brand Israel” campaign. Its function, suggested by the Reut Institute, is to mold Israel’s image in the media of the US and other countries.  Its tactics are PR on steroids, such as, for example, slipping subliminal questions into the Jeopardy quiz program and idyllic holy land vacations into Wheel of Fortune, but permeating nearly everything we see, hear and read in film, entertainment, journalism, education and social media for the purpose of molding public opinion.  With enough effort of this kind, we will presumably think of Israel as Disneyland.

Another example is Facebook and the personal collaboration between Mark Zuckerberg and Benjamin Netanyahu. After a meeting with Netanyahu, Zuckerberg hired a former employee at the Israeli embassy in Washington to be in charge of censoring so-called “fake news” on Facebook.  Only Facebook has the actual figures of who gets censored, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that a lot more anti-Zionists than Zionists are affected.  Similarly, Islamophobic postings and Tweets seem to be at least somewhat resistant to censorship compared to ones that are labeled anti-Semitic (which are often merely critical of Israel).

But it’s not just about making Israel look like the good guys. Demonizing and dehumanizing Muslims also helps to justify Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians, as well as its belligerent policies toward its mainly Muslim neighboring countries. A successful program of Islamophobia helps to support Israel’s pogroms of Palestinians in Gaza, its settlements in and economic strangulation of the West Bank, its invasions of Lebanon, its attacks against Syria, and its promotion of US wars against Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.  Making the US military a proxy for Israel greatly multiplies Israel’s capability, which is why Israel and its US lobby are working hard to create a new international war against Iran.

In order to provide the Strategic Affairs Ministry with all possible means of making such operations possible and successful, it has been assigned some important intelligence functions, including black ops and psy-ops capabilities, which used to be the exclusive purview of the Mossad.  This gives the ministry greater capability to engage in digging up or inventing dirt about people it wants to harm or discredit, especially in the BDS movement and other pro-Palestinian groups.

The hand of the Strategic Affairs Ministry is not always obvious, and it takes care to shun the light.  But occasionally its actions become known, as with the Aljazeera exposé of Israeli operative Shai Masot, working from the Israeli embassy in London and coordinating the actions of British citizens working with Israel. He coached them on how to demonize and “take down” members of parliament, including the Foreign Office Minister, Alan Duncan, who was considered insufficiently supportive of the effort to suppress BDS.

Al Jazeera has produced a similar exposé on the workings of Israel and its US lobby, but the release has been indefinitely delayed, which may be an indication of Israel’s power and influence and the effectiveness of the operations coordinated by the Strategic Affairs Ministry.  Nevertheless, a glimpse of such operations can be seen in the 2004 espionage indictments against AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.  The indictments were ultimately dropped, partly because sensitive information would have to be revealed in order to successfully prosecute the cases (or perhaps that was just the excuse used to cover the fact that Tel Aviv gets to decide who gets prosecuted, not Washington).

France can be considered an extreme case.  People have been arrested there for wearing a Free Palestine T-shirt.  PayPal and several large banks in France recently closed the accounts of all organizations that support BDS, which has been ruled anti-Semitic.  Anti-Semitism is broadly defined, as you can see, and it is illegal in France.  You can be fined or jailed for practicing it.

But not for Islamophobia.  Islamophobia is free speech but anti-Semitism is racism. In fact, the French equivalent of AIPAC, known as CRIF, has publically declared that “Islamophobia is not a form of racism.  We have long drawn attention to the danger of conflating Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.  To do so would impede all criticism of Islam, such that the fundamental rights of [other] religions could not be respected. The CRIF will therefore block all resolutions against Islamophobia”.

The writings of Jacob Cohen are instructive in this regard. He has published a remarkable and very comprehensive exposé on the promotion of Islamophobia in France, including the actions of Israeli operatives and French Zionist organizations.  But there’s a catch.  In order to publish it in France without being arrested or sued, he has to disguise it as very thinly veiled fiction, in this case O.P.A. Kabbalistique sur les Nouveaux Indigènes. It is available only in French, but even in that language you have to know the persons and groups to which he refers with pseudonyms, and few outsiders know the French scene well enough to recognize more than a handful of them.

So what can we conclude from all this information about the involvement of Israel and the Zionist movement in sponsoring Islamophobia?  The point is that some sources of Islamophobia are not attitudes or social structures. We have to face the fact that there is a very potent, resourceful, well organized and well funded international movement that sees Islamophobia as a strategic tool in pursuit of its national interest. For this reason, it is largely impervious to education or negotiation or legal considerations.

In fact, Israel is also pursuing an apparently contradictory effort to encourage interfaith cooperation between Jews, Muslims and Christians, but with the same goal in mind.  That goal is to blunt criticism of Israel, whether by getting people to hate Muslims and thereby endorse Israel’s belligerence and ethnic cleansing, or by pressuring Muslims not to criticize Israel out of concern for potentially offending their Jewish brothers and sisters.  Since the two strategies are aimed at different populations, I suppose that they might be able to work simultaneously.  This is often how PR campaigns work.

The point is that in all the efforts at fostering tolerance and understanding we are faced with an adversary that is working quite diligently in the opposite direction for reasons that have nothing to do with how they view Islam as a religion or Muslims.  This is therefore a different type of challenge in trying to overcome Islamophobia.

• This article is a revised version of a paper read at the 9th Annual Islamophobia Conference in Berkeley, California, April 29, 2018.

Prospects for Metis Civilization

Transition from the Indian Act to Aboriginal self-government

The debate about the Indian Act and how to reconcile the elected councils and the traditionals over the past 40 years has been shaped by the sweeping intent of the White Paper of 1969, issued as Pierre Trudeau began his career as prime minister. It set out a liberal, multicultural challenge, an attempt to supersede the Indian Act by eliminating any special status for natives altogether. This galvanized the natives towards a defence of their special status, above and prior to the colonial settlers. It is a nice historical touch that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made native issues a priority, perhaps putting in place a new dispensation that has been germinating ever since.

BC Nisga’a New Year’s Celebration

Some landmarks in the movement to replace the 1876 Indian Act include:

(a) In 1973, the federal government commenced talks with the Yukon Native Brotherhood (later the Council for Yukon First Nations). In 1995, the Umbrella Final Agreement and the Final and Self-Government Agreements for four Yukon First Nations became law.

Other Yukon First Nations subsequently signed final agreements, bringing most of the Yukon’s First Nations into a radically different relationship with the government of Canada. Reserves were replaced by settlement lands. First Nations governments operating under settlement agreements, with much wider scope than those regulated by the Indian Act, had to design and implement financial management regimes, and continue negotiations with federal and territorial authorities on financial/tax arrangements and transfers of programs and services. In the Yukon First Nations Land Claims Settlement Act (1994), the legislation noted, “When a final agreement is given effect, the Indian Act ceases to apply in respect of any reserve identified in the agreement as settlement land.”

(b)  The creation of Nunavut in 1999, an Inuit-controlled jurisdiction with the same range of powers as the other two territories, has raised even further the bar on Aboriginal governance.

(c) An agreement with the Nisga’a and the governments of Canada and British Columbia was reached in 2000, eventually leading to a British Columbia referendum on treaty process in the province. The Nisga’a approach to self-government is markedly different from that laid out in the Yukon, where each of the 14 First Nations has a First Nations government operating under the Umbrella Final Agreement. The old Indian Act administration has been removed, and replaced with the Lisims Government. Wilp Si’ayuukhl is the principle law-making authority for the Nisga’a, established along traditional lines, with a Council of Elders, made up of Hereditary Chiefs (Simgigat), Hereditary Matriarchs (Sigidimhaanak) and other key Nisga’a elders providing crucial cultural leadership. Local matters are administered by the Village Governments established for the four main Nisga’a communities. In addition, the Nisga’a made permanent provision for Nisga’a living off the settlement lands, establishing Urban Locals in Terrace, Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

The Nisga’a moved quickly to convert their settlement into an active and productive Nisga’a-led government, defining the contours of fisheries regulation, creating and amending electoral procedures, and otherwise handling the business of government and administration for the Nisga’a First Nation. As Kevin McKay, Nisga’a Lisims Government Chairperson commented, “The Indian Act was in our lives for approximately 131 years. Compare that to the history of the Nisga’a Nation: our oral stories tell us that we’ve been here since the beginning of time. The Indian Act was here for 131 years and it did a lot of damage. The demand of our people, especially our hereditary chiefs, matriarchs and respected elders, was that we achieve recognition of the land question in a just and honourable way. The agreement, by removing the authority of the Indian Act (save for the role it plays in defining whether an individual is an Indian under the terms of the Act), represented a major shift away from the long-standing system of external control.”

(d) Since the passage of the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act in 1984, nine Cree communities are not subject to the Indian Act or the band system. Instead they are represented by the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), which signed an agreement in 2012 with the province of Quebec that would abolish the municipalities in the region and merge them with the Cree Regional Authority in a new regional government called the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory.

Many of these Aboriginal governments have reconstituted themselves along traditional lines, re-establishing the control of clans, recognizing the authority of elders and hereditary leaders, and/or permitting the exercise of Aboriginal customary law. As of 2016, twenty-two comprehensive self-government agreements had been signed by the federal government. Of those, eighteen were part of a comprehensive land claim agreement or modern treaty.

Land is now controlled locally, under the terms of the settlement agreements. There has been a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of the First Nations tax exemption. The current push to finalize modern treaties in British Columbia and treaty negotiations in the Maritimes will, over time, result in even more status Indian communities agreeing to come out from under the Indian Act.

Ontario lags behind. In January 2014, the Nipissing First Nation adopted what is believed to be the first constitution for a First Nation in Ontario. It is supposed to replace the Indian Act as the supreme law which regulates the governance of the First Nation, but has not been tested in court.

The government of Canada has finally begun to address Canada as a Metis civilization, moving in other ways beyond the Indian Act, working with Métis communities and urban Aboriginal populations, groups ignored under the Indian Act. “Put simply, the Indian Act no longer dominates Aboriginal-government relations and no longer provides a singular focus for the management of status Indian affairs.”

An important nongovernmental organization helping to facilitate the transition is the Centre for First Nations Governance, a non-profit organization that supports First Nations as they develop effective self-governance after the demise of the Indian Act. It was founded as the National Centre for First Nations Governance in 2005 with federal government support, but was defunded in 2012 by the Harper government and reconstituted as a self-financing consultancy group.

Dual authority

The writing is on the wall for the Six Nations elected council and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The century-old legitimacy of the elected council vies with the millennia-old legitimacy of the confederacy. Government policy to support one side against the other undermines the search for an acceptable compromise. Understandably, there is no strong movement to overthrow the elected council, which carries out the important work of maintaining day-to-day life on the reserve. The unfunded Haudenosaunee Confederacy has the prestige of tradition on its side (David Suzuki paid a visit to them in 2014), but is in no position to usurp the elected council.

The HCCC and the SNEBC have parallel structures to govern and promote develop, the SNEBC holding government funding and legitimacy as their trump card. The HCCC authorized the Haudenosaunee Development Institute to set up a corporation, the NewCo, to negotiate contracts with external economic corporations, as part of the next phase of development for the Haudenosaunee. The Joint Stewardship Board (JSB) is an agreement between the HCCC and the City of Hamilton for shared responsibilities and environmental guardianship of the Red Hill Valley. The HCCC worked to restore the Burtch Lands after its use and abandonment by the official government, but the Ontario government is determined to put the lands in its own control under the corporation it set up with SNEBC participation.

The SNEBC works directly with the official Canadian government on housing, education, infrastructure. They hosted the North American Indigenous Games, Champion of Champions Pow Wow and the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in 2016-7. Both are present at international fora such as UNDRIP. The dual authority weakens the overall authority of the natives in dealing with the Canadian government, but things still get done.

Prospects for Metis civilization

Number one priority for both SNEBC Chief Ava Hill and the HCCC is recovering some of the land stolen over the past two and a half centuries. Number two is recovering some of the revenue which all of the Haldiman Treaty lands are producing for Canada every day. Number three is using these resources to build, or rather rebuild, native life. Outreach to the broader society is also a priority. Natives traditionally have been generous and trusting, which accounts for how easily they were conned into giving everything away to a European money- and private property-oriented society.

The SNEB have a tourism program, offering participation in traditional ceremonies, art and sports events, canoeing by moonlight. An innovative example of this outreach is the program of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN), which brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth together to learn about the history, people and ecology of the Credit River. Indigenous elders and leaders lead workshops run by the environmental group Ecosource. Carolyn King, who led a workshop about the history of the MNCFN, told the Toronto Star it’s important to give youth “a more intimate look at, and relationship with, the First Nations community, a first step to creating and building relationships. The Indigenous youth who participated were a very important contribution.” Joseph Pitawanakwat, from Manitoulin Island, a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation, and founder of Creator’s Garden, ran the workshop about the significance of plants along the Credit River.

This initiative is a hint of how a real Metis civilization can come about. It relies on a deconstruction of the ‘colonial syndrome’ as outlined in Part I, a renewal of human-based civilizational thinking that arose at the same time as the native civilizations were being destroyed: the radical rejection of imperialism and racism proclaimed for the first time in 1917 in Russia. Communism became imperialism’s mortal enemy, much more worrisome at the time than the defeated native resistance. Not surprisingly, communists were hounded and vilified much as natives were through the 20th century, even as they fought for fundamental human rights.

But it was not only communism that was anti-imperialist and anti-racist. Islam promoted this from the 7th century onwards, and Muslims suffered the same travails as did Canada’s native peoples in the 19th–20th centuries. Now that communism has been defeated, it is possible–necessary–to go back to the drawing board to fashion a new Canadian identity, incorporating the anti-racism of the communists, Islam and the native traditions as embodied in the Great Law of Peace. We are beginning this very haltingly, though pipelines, resource exploitation and dams still have the upper hand, and our cousin Israel continues to remind us of our past and present sins towards natives, both Canadian and Palestinian.

Already one third of Canadian native peoples are Metis; i.e., intermarrying and assimilating naturally to the dominant colonial, immigrant culture. The new popularity of all things native, the rediscovery of culture, languages, ethos, is encouraged by new immigrants, especially Muslim, as Aalia Khan, the leader of the nature walk through Mississauga’s Creditview Wetland underlines.

Islam is now the second largest religion in Canada. There is much in common between Islam and native cultures. Perennialism is a perspective in modern spirituality which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth from which all doctrine has grown. The Swiss Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998) was first attracted to Hinduism before converting to Islam in Algeria in 1932. He lived with and wrote about the Plains Indians in the US, emphasizing the commonalities between native religions and Islam.

Canada’s special place in world culture will come, not through its colonial past, which created a rich but exploitive ‘civilization’, but through its multiculturalism, tempered by the precious heritage of our native peoples. The Great Law of Peace is the foundation of renewal, and is very much in line with Islamic teachings on governance and relations with nature. Muslim Canadians can find common ground with Canada’s native peoples; for Torontonians, that means working with the Six Nations as the people whose land became Toronto.

Read Part 1 here; Part 2 here

New Atheists and Islam

Remember our public intellectuals from times past, who fearlessly challenged the social mores and public zeitgeist of their times?

Henry David Thoreau comes to mind, who famously opposed the Mexican-American War with a night in jail, as does Voltaire’s sharp critique of Enlightenment optimism. Well, now these public minds are far and few between.

Instead, in the past few decades, the ‘intellectuals’ among us have borne witness to the new atheists, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins among them. With strut and stammer, they paint themselves as defiant, brave critics of religion and spirituality. And, indeed, they do critique all religions and new age creeds to varying degrees. However, their most scathing excoriations are reserved for Islam.

For example, Hitchens writes: “Islamic belief is…an extreme position to begin with,” in an article about defying the purported “fear” of offending Muslims.

According to Shermer, Islam is “dangerous,” citing a Global Terrorism database study, which found that “since 9/11, most terrorists are Islamic extremists [in the U.S.].” In this same article, he attributes the ‘danger’ posed by Islam to its supposedly never experiencing an Enlightenment as Jews and Christians have in the West.

Sam Harris, with his often-irrelevant analogies, insists that the problem isn’t religious fundamentalism but Islam itself, which is “not a religion of peace”.

Meanwhile, Richard Dawkins has claimed that Muslims would be happier without Islam, for then there would be no terrorism, hostility to science, homophobia, etc., etc.

These stalwart atheists claim that they’re simply advocating for a break of political correctness in denouncing Islam. However, riding the rising crest of racist Islamophobia in the West, they’re simply verifying the public’s ill-informed malice towards Muslims. Instead of offering social criticism against Westerners’ misguided beliefs about Muslims and against Islam, they offer their ‘intelligent’ and supposedly ‘moderate’ perspectives that uphold widely-held, specious stereotypes.

The new atheists’ anti-Islam arguments, masked in pseudo-philosophical dressing, are vapid, flimsy and impotent.

In his discussion with Sam Harris, the Young Turks’ Cent Uygur has accurately pointed out that Sam Harris (among other new atheists) all come from a Judeo-Christian background where extreme criticism of Islam, over and above other religions, comes natural to them.

Uygur goes on to highlight that in religious-related terrorism, such as Catholics in Northern Ireland, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and Muslims in Palestine, the question is primary political, and religion is merely a contributing factor. Similarly, Uygur suggests that global violence perpetrated by Muslims is principally geopolitical in nature, with Islam as only another part of the mix.

Concerning terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11, statistics show that white men pose a greater threat than Muslims. If new atheists argue on a global scale, it is true that Islamic terrorism has been the most prevalent form of terrorism since 2001.

Many of these terrorist attacks are against other Muslims, some are directed towards U.S forces in Muslim countries and others towards Sufi and Shia sects, who are considered heretical by the more extreme Sunni fundamentalists. Some motivations can indeed be attributed to radical visions of Islam that harken back to a mythical and idealized time in Muslim history. However, the social context in which most global Islamic terrorism derives are societies in disarray, under military occupation or adversely affected by Western intervention.

And if we were to compare the violent deaths caused by U.S. military adventures, that United States feels free to undertake as unelected world leader, with Islamic terrorism – what would we find?

Since 9/11, the U.S. interventions into Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have directly resulted in 370,000 deaths and indirectly in 870,000 deaths, totaling 1.24 million deaths and 10.1 million displaced persons. Meanwhile, from 2001-2016 (the last year with data), there have been 241,808 terrorism-related deaths resulting throughout the world. A significant number have come from non-Muslim countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and the Ukraine. Estimating that a majority of 60% were caused by Islamic extremists (as ‘majority’ was suggested in this article) would put the total Islamic terrorism deaths at 101,559 from 2001-2016. U.S. state violence eclipses Islamic terrorism deaths at 1.24 million to 101,559.

It’s certainly telling that new atheists do not critique Americans’ religious-like worship of their military that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of unnatural, violent deaths in the post-9/11 era. More importantly, they offer little criticism of U.S. foreign policy that directs the military towards such action.

When states are shattered into anarchic specters of themselves and day-to-day security is lost, there is inevitable ‘blowback’. Islamic extremist blowback has led to roughly 8 percent of the global deaths in comparison with those caused by U.S. intervention and counter-terror policies.

New atheists can demonize Islam all they want, illuminating it as the most ‘dangerous’ of religions. But perhaps they should think twice as to whether they’re acting as intellectual mouthpieces for irrational government policy and public dislike of Muslims or breaking new ground with their ‘politically incorrect’ critiques. Perhaps they should realize there’s a stark difference between political correctness and being racist, anti-Islam advocates. And, too, their ‘courage’ should be called into question: this isn’t the age of Galileo, where atheists’ lives are endangered in the West. On the contrary, they have increased their celebrity status following spouting their anti-Muslim perspectives on CNN or Fox News. Their views are celebrated because they offer false verification of the rabble’s anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia.

And to Mr. Shermer: Islam did have an ‘Enlightenment’ period. It was called the Abbasid caliphate. During this time, ethnic groups in the caliphate were treated equally, Hellenistic philosophy and medical literature were translated into Arabic, and “Muslims made more scientific discoveries during this period than in any of the whole previously recorded history (p. 54-56).

Please step out of the rabble’s world schema and stop trumpeting mainstream backwardness, as though it were a fortitudinous virtue. Step into the bones of Nietzsche, Thoreau and Voltaire, who had the intellect and intrepidity to sharply criticize their own societies.

Why be a mouthpiece for fallacious, myopic beliefs that stigmatize a vast swath of everyday people, when your putative aim is to counter these same sort of notions in your much-vaunted criticism of religion?

When Daesh is Defeated: Who Will Fill the Intellectual Vacuum in the Arab World?

Back in the Middle East for a few months, I find myself astounded by the absence of the strong voices of Arab intellectuals.

The region that has given rise to the likes of Michel Aflaq, George Habash, Rached al-Ghannouchi, Edward Said and numerous others has marginalized its intellectuals.

Arab visionaries have either been coopted by the exuberant funds allocated to sectarian propaganda, been silenced by fear of retribution, or are simply unable to articulate a collective vision that transcends their sects, religions or whatever political tribe they belong to.

This void created by the absence of Arab intellectuals (reduced to talking heads with few original ideas, and engaged in useless TV ‘debates’) has been filled by extremist voices tirelessly advocating a genocidal future for everyone.

It is no secret that Arabs and Muslims are by far the greatest victims of extremism.

Strange as this may sound, religious scholars seem more united in countering the voices that hijacked religion to promote their dark political agendas.

Yet despite repeated initiatives, cries of Muslim scholars who represent majority of Muslims worldwide have garnered little media attention.

For example, in June 2016, nearly 100,000 Muslim clerics in Bangladesh signed a religious decree (Fatwa) condemning the militant group, Daesh.

Such Fatwas are quite common, and many thousands of Arab Muslim scholars have done the same.

Although hardly popular among Muslims in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the rest of the world, somehow Daesh came to define Islam and all Muslims in the eyes of the West.

The debate in Western media and among academics remains futile, yet pervasive – while the Islamophobes are eager to reduce Islam to Daesh, others insist on conspiracy theories regarding the origins of the group.

Much time is wasted in this demoralizing discussion.

The roots of extremism cannot be found in a religion that is credited with uplifting Europe from its Dark Ages to an era of rational philosophy and the ascendency of science.

Thanks to Muslim scientists during the Islamic Golden Age, Alchemy, mathematics, philosophy, physics and even agricultural methods were passed from the Arabs – Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Persian scholars – to medieval Europe beginning as early as the 12th Century and lasting for hundreds of years.

The developed Arab Muslim city states in Al-Andalus, Spain, was a major gate through which Muslim knowledge gushed into western Europe, affecting a continent then sustained by endless wars and superstitions.

Fortunes had indeed turned with the fall of Granada in 1492. Massacres of Arabs and Jews in Spain ensued, extending for hundreds of years. It was then that many Jews sought a safe haven in the Arab world, continuing a period of relatively peaceful co-existence that remained in place until the mid-20th Century.

While times had changed, the essence of Islam as a religion remained intact.

In the hands of scholars and intellectuals, Islam influenced much of the world. In the hands of Daesh ‘scholars’, Islam has become exploited, offering bloody fatwas and humiliating and enslaving women.

Islam has certainly not changed, but the ‘intellectual’ has.

Most of the answers we continue to seek about Daesh often yields little meaning simply because the questions are situated in American-Western priorities.

We insist on discussing Daesh as a question of Western security, and refuse to contextualize the emergence of Daesh in US-Western interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

It seems that extremists (whether Daesh, al-Qaeda or others) are almost always linked to Western military ‘areas of operations’ in the Middle East. Extremism thrives in places in which strong central powers are lacking or have no political legitimacy and popular support, leaving the door wide-open for foreign interventionists.

Yemen had no strong central power for many years, neither did Somalia, nor recently, Libya and Mali. It was no surprise that these places are dual victims of extremists and interventionists.

Foreign interventionists often cite ‘fighting extremism’ to further justify their meddling in other countries’ affairs, thus empowering extremists, who use interventions to acquire more recruits, funds and self-validation.

It is a vicious cycle that has occupied the Middle East since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

That relationship – between foreign interventions, ensued chaos, and extremism – is often missing in Western media discourses.

But here in the Arab world the challenge is somewhat different.

In recent years, the ‘marketplace of ideas’ has shrunk to the point that what remains is an alternative marketplace in which the ‘intellectual’ is bought and sold for a negotiable price.

It is quite common that an editor of a newspaper can use his publication to serve as a mouthpiece for a Middle Eastern party, before he changes his loyalty to other competing parties.

It all depends on who pays more.

Many once-promising intellectuals are now victims too, acting as mere mouthpieces.

There were times in which Arab intellectuals fought to articulate a unique narrative – a combination of nationalist, socialist and Islamic ideologies that had tremendous impact on the Arab individual and collective.

Even if the offshoots were sometimes populist movements centered around an individual, or a ruling party, the Arab intellectual movement that emerged during the anti-colonial and post-colonial struggles remained relevant, vibrant and massively consequential.

The setback following the upheaval of the 2011 revolts, uprisings and civil wars, has led to massive polarization. Many Arab intellectuals fled to the West, were imprisoned or opted to remain silent.

Pseudo-intellectuals, however, were readily co-opted, selling their allegiances to the highest bidder.

This intellectual vacuum allowed the likes of Daesh, al-Qaeda and others to fill the space with their agendas.

True, their agendas are dark and horrific, yet they are rational outcomes at a time when Arab societies subsist in despair, when foreign interventions are afoot, and when no homegrown intellectual movement is available to offer Arab nations a road map towards a future free from tyranny and foreign occupation.

Even when Daesh is defeated on the ground, its ideology will not disappear; it will simply mutate, for Daesh is itself a mutation of various other extremist ideologies.

Neither the Westernized Arab intellectual, nor the co-opted local one is capable of filling the empty space at the moment, leaving room for more chaos that can only by filled by opportunistic extremism.

This is not a discussion that can be instigated by Western universities or state-sponsored Arab media for these platforms will impose a self-serving narrative doomed to prejudice the outcomes.

It is fundamentally an Arab discussion that must be generated by free Arab thinkers – Muslim and Christians alike. It is the birth of that movement that will begin to imagine an alternative future for the region.

Seemingly wishful thinking? I think not. Without such intellectual renaissance, the Arabs will remain hostage to two choices: to remain lackeys to Western powers or hostage to self-serving regimes.

And both options are not options at all.

The War on Islam: Irrational U.S. Behavior or Calculated Zionist Plan?

Is the belligerent U.S. enmity toward Islam an expression of the Jewish Zionist control of the United States? The second question is equally as pertinent as the title’s question. Recalling the Crusades, is it not legitimate to question whether we are witnessing a replay of Pope Urban II and over two centuries of pillaging European wars on the people of the Eastern Mediterranean under the pretext of liberating the “holy land” from Muslims? Is the analogy of a replay true or false?

To debate this issue, the hating of Islam could never be separated from the political and ideological conditions that allow it to happen. This means rational factors rooted in the politics of U.S. imperialism are orchestrating the anti-Islam campaign and using it as a tool of war against the Arabs. Proving this point, with the exception of Afghanistan, no other predominantly Muslim country has become a theater for U.S. wars except the Arab states.

There is something literally sinister about the Hating Islam Phenomenon and all this deafening noise seeking to perpetuate America’s destruction of the Arab nations under the guise of war on “islamic terror”.1 Who created this criminal type of war and why? Who turned it into a catchphrase to the point that when uttered alone, the word “terrorism” means violence by Muslims and Muslims only? Far more important, it is time to acknowledge a straight fact. There is no “war on terror”. Also, there is no war between the United States and its erstwhile and current mercenaries (“islamic militants”). Unassailable evidence can confirm that the United States has been, by proxy and directly, financing, arming, and training these mercenaries to serve its plans in the Arab World.

Today, wars are everywhere in the Arab World. We have American wars, Russian wars2, French wars, British wars, and we have Saudi wars against other Arab states. But these are not wars in the classical sense. What we have here is the systematic destruction of the Arab nations mainly at the hands of the United States, as well as by means of organized criminals whom the U.S. and the West cynically call “muslim terrorists”.

In the incessant anti-Arab and anti-Muslim campaigns, the West has produced mountains of “evidence” to support its “war on islamic terror”, and claims on the perfidy of Arabs and Islam could fill entire stadiums. Biased essays, faked documentaries, outlandish books, and stereotyped films on the “evils” of Islam have inundated all corners of the earth. To what end did the United States and the West unleash all this anti-Islam pandemonium knowing it is only a religion?

Wait! But when we cross-reference the war on the Arabs to the long-term objectives of American, European, and Israeli imperialisms, we begin to see the emergence of a relation between the war on Islam and the war on the Arabs.

So how should we describe the U.S. war on Islam? Is it a product of irrational thinking? Is it a result of rational political processes? Do these processes find justification in objectives of hegemonic U.S. imperialism and Zionism?

Earlier I stated, “Rational factors rooted in the politics of U.S. imperialism are orchestrating the anti-Islam campaign”. Axiomatically this validates the premise that irrationality does not apply in this type of war. For one, it is not typical of advanced imperialist states whose open culture and stable political systems developed over a long period. As for the United States, it is universally known that its domestic politics, foreign policy, and state decisions are a product of deliberation. Meaning, decisions are not happenstance. To be sure, they are a rational consequence of agendas. Conclusion: U.S. decision‑making is articulate, lucid, rational, and consistently supported by game theories and managerial sciences (Robert McNamara’s data model of the US war on Vietnam is just one example).

Accordingly, the worldwide crimes of the United States are products of deliberate and sanctioned policies. Examples of such policies abound in American history. Take Andrew Jackson, for example; his visceral hatred of the Original Peoples was a state policy that resulted in their mass extermination. However, the expected outcome of his hate was rooted in the design to empty the land of its natural inhabitants thus to expand the emerging American continental empire. So too was the forced relocation of the Cherokee tribes from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and other southern states. In the same vein, McKinley’s colonization of the Philippines (a spoil of the Spanish-American war) was not in response to a dream where God whispered in his ears to colonize that nation. To be sure, McKinley was executing a definite expansionist colonialist plan.

There should be no assumptions on how the U.S. government runs the business of the imperialist state. It is true that the White House appears to exercise control over vital processes leading to decisions—especially in foreign policy. However, the reality is quite different. The complex structure of the American power is such that neither the White House nor the Congress are independent from the gargantuan and capillary institutions, agencies, financial centers, civilian-military connections, think tanks, and advisory boards, etc. that, de facto, direct the American state. Within this context, when interventionist policies are made by the few in the top tier of power, the one thing that follows is a string of justifications.

In a system thusly conceived, the hating of Islam paradigm is a rehash of previously tested rationalizations to elicit acceptance. Repeatedly, when the drive for intervention is underway (e.g., the invasions of Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq), the phase that comes after is already set to begin. In the current phase of U.S. hyper-imperialism, it is impossible to conceal the aim of the Hate Islam policy. Taking notice of U.S. announcements and active interventions, this cannot be but the complete fracturing of all the Arab States to control their strategic and geopolitical assets, as well as to crown Israel as the master of the region.

To see the Hate Islam Policy in its Zionist dimension, we need to look at a number of things. First off, it is relevant to mention that the anti-Islam American mindset predates the installation of Israel. This seems to suggest that Zionists has nothing to do with what is going on. In reality, the connubial ties between Western ideological attitudes and ideological Zionism have become so interwoven that we have to read them carefully and in multiple contexts. In addition, attributing the American hostility to the aftermath of 9/11 is not a credible suggestion because U.S. policy, since Harry Truman, is essentially based on antagonizing the Arabs and on supporting Israel in all matters. Such support is neither coincidental nor contingent upon circumstances. Meaning, it is unconditional because those who decide on giving it—American Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists—are in control of how the U.S. government must act in relation to the settler Zionist state.

Second, does the charge that the U.S. anti-Islam war is a Zionist initiative hold any truth? Based on empirical observation of American politics and the distribution of power inside the system, the answer is intuitively yes. It is YES because of the fact that American Jewish Zionists are the primary advocates for a militarily strong Israel, as well as for the use of U.S. military power against the opponents of the Zionist state.

Discussion

First, one hundred years after Arthur James Balfour donated Palestine to the Zionist movement as if it were the property of his mother, the Arabs are still rejecting the Jewish Zionist colonization of Palestine. Second, the Palestinians are still resisting, until this very day, the Zionist occupation of their lands. Arguably, this firm rejection has a consequence. It entailed that in order for American Jewish Zionists (epicenter of U.S. power structures) to perpetuate the existence of Israel, the Arabs must be turned into the declared enemies of the United States.  Enmity to Islam, therefore, is an ideological expedient to fight the adversaries of the Zionist state. As such, it is the means to destabilize, overpower, and destroy the Arab nations in the name of Zionism and the fortunes of American imperialism.

The following citations do not cite Islam by name. But the connection is evident. When American Jewish Zionists call for the destructions of the Arab states that oppose Israel, the unstated proposal to fight Islam is implicit because Islam is the soft belly of the Arabs due to its historical, cultural, and emotional values.

The first citation is “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” by known anti-Arab Jewish Zionists including Richard Perle, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and others. It is noteworthy that this group had prepared this study for Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996. In the report, this group of Jewish Zionist ideologues and conspirators called for the destruction of Iraq and Syria by toppling their regimes. Both objectives have been achieved through United States. The report was published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. This observation is of capital importance. The Institute chaired by another Jewish Zionist, Anthony Cordesman, presents itself as an advisor to the United States in matters of military strategies. So when Cordesman and associates published the report, the implication is unmistakable: Israel’s strategic thinking on destroying the Arab system of nations opposing Israel is being carried out in the United States by American Jewish Zionists.

The second is “The Project For The New American Century,” a manifesto conceived mostly by American Jewish Zionists in 1997. The PROJECT had for a focus not only the general idea of imposing U.S. imperialist power on the world, but also the specific targeting of Iraq, Iran, and other states opposing Israel. It is, therefore, axiomatic to conclude that the actual target of the PROJECT is the Arab states—knowing that submitting the world to U.S. dictatorial bent is not that easy to achieve. For the record, key figures of the PNAC held prominent positions in the George W. Bush regime. The PNAC achieved its first success when Wolfowitz, Cheney, Feith, Libby, and Bush propelled the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Again, has the Hate Islam institution become a manifest Zionist enterprise? And, where do we fit this institution in the anti-Islam mentality attitudes of the United States? The argument that established mentality attitudes could play a significant role in the anti-Islam campaign is credible. Still, credibility is insufficient to prove that such campaign could actually morph into fighting wars just because hate is driving it.

Does the anti-Islam project have any affinity with the purpose of the Crusades, which is conquest? The answer is yes—although methods may differ. That is, the marauding nature of the West has not changed a bit for the past nine centuries. When Donald Trump exhorts “Take their oil”, in reference to the Iraqi oil, he simply confirmed that U.S. imperialist piracy is not driven by religion but by America’s original concept of banditry, thievery, and lust for expropriating other’s wealth and lands.

Consequent to this argument, is there any parallel between the Crusades of the 11th-13th centuries and the crusade of today? Does this reflect anti-Islam attitudes as developed historically? Otherwise, how would we define them?

As reminder, the Crusades happened originally because of the Seljuk Turks’ territorial expansion into Europe. Pointedly, though, the Pope and marauding European warlords and kings did not conduct their wars in response to the Seljuk as distinct people in expansionist mode. Instead, they used religion as a cry of battle and characterized their invasion of the Greater Syria region as struggle between “good” Christianity and “infidel” Islam.

Analogies aside, as we should not use distant historical events to substantiate events in the present, we should attempt to capture the meaning of the same in relation to what unscrupulous ideologues of empire and clash of civilizations tyrants are trying to accomplish with their criminal wars. Having stated that, the Hating Islam phenomenon cannot be explained by pointing to terroristic acts by some Muslims. If such an approach is valid, then it is very easy to point to American and European acts of military terror everywhere in the world, and indict the religion of those who ordered them.

After the manufactured attack against the World Trade Center in 1993 (attributed to Muslim Fundamentalist), something odd happened. The Zionist administration of Bill Clinton opened the gates for war against Arabs, Muslims, and Islam. An early indication of this war was the steady appearance of the phrase “war on terror”. After the suspicious event of 9/11, U.S. wars and interventions against the Arab nations (starting with Eisenhower sending the marines to Lebanon in response to the Iraqi Revolution of 1958; Reagan sending the marines to Lebanon in 1982; Reagan’s attack on Libya in 1986; and George H. W. Bush’s war on Iraq in 1991 acquired an added configuration: The war on Islam. Explanation: While the rational foundation of the wars against the Arab states are all rooted in the U.S. and Israeli imperialist designs, the war on Islam, as a cultural war meant to destabilize the Arab psyche were intentionally couched with what seems irrational behavior like urinating on the Quran or calling the Muslim prophet Mohammad, pedophile and terrorist. It is my argument that such apparent irrationality was consciously conceived and systematically implemented. Consequently, U.S. political and ideological decision-making and imperialism is a product of rational deliberation and clear objectives.

The march to hating Islam was long. From the time when Truman succumbed to the Zionist pressure to install Israel in Palestine until present, the veiled anti-Islam mentality gradually coalesced with the world objectives of the Jewish Zionist establishment. With their gigantic propaganda machine, hating Islam and Muslims has become a joyful fixation. To know more about the spasmodic infatuation with hating Islam, visit the Islamophobia Network website. It provides a list of internet websites mastered by Jewish Zionist specializing in denigrating Arabs, Islam, and Muslims).

Does the United States have valid reasons to declare an ideological war on Islam? The answer is a resolute NO. Ideological wars, per se, are of no consequence if no fighting wars follow because this type of wars is normally fought with words, opinions, and propaganda—example: the U.S.-Soviet cold war. In the case of the United States vs. Islam, however, it is important to mention that the hyper-imperialist superpower declared active wars only on pre-selected Arab states. The pretext, as they say, is to eradicate “islamic terror”—of course, other pretexts centered on invented threats to the U.S. exist as well. This implies that the United States wants to convey the impression that Islam is not the target but its theological references to “violence” are. This further implies that the United States has politically decided to attribute “islamists attacks” in the West to those expressions of the Islamic Quranic culture.

Two peculiar aspects distinguish U.S. wars against the Arab nations. First, all Arab states that the U.S. attacked and destroyed were active opponents of the Zionist state. Second, all U.S. vassals including the terrorist Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia were spared the Israeli-American war. Now, considering the caustic hostility of the United States toward Islam, it is imperative to question whether such hostility is normal to the American system.

Because the hate of a religion is not applicable to the birth of the American state (as evidenced by George Washington’s toleration of religions), adaptation, acculturation, and indoctrination to hate Islam is the answer. I propose, therefore, that the origin of this hate must be the rise to power of Jewish Zionists and their support of the planned Zionist state in Palestine. Dialectically, this hate is related to the cause of Israel. In this context, the United States of the 20th century has developed uninterrupted hostile postures toward Arabs and Muslims that culminated in today’s wars against them.

Furthermore, the rise to power of American Jewish Zionism meant something else. It established Israel as an important player in American politics. With AIPAC and sisters in control of the White House and Congress, Israel has become, by words and deeds, the director of America’s foreign policy. Given the strength of such power assets, unleashing any kind of war against the Arabs under the accusation of “terrorism” is a strategic Israeli quest. An example is Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinian Resistance Movement of Hamas is an extension of “al‑Qaeda” (read “Netanyahu: ISIS, Hamas, al-Qaida all branches of the same poison tree“).

Daniel Pipes, an Arab and Muslim hater, and a fascist ideologue of American Jewish Zionism, epitomized how Zionists spread the war on Arabs by implying that Islam and terrorism are the same.  In his article, “Sorry Mr. President, ISIS Is 100 Percent Islamic“, Pipes says:

In the end … neither U.S. presidents nor Islamist apologists fool people. Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic.

Comment

Copious evidence—factual and political—proves that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are American creations. It also proves the United States and Saudi Arabia have armed and trained both. As for the newest “islamic state”, ironclad evidence proves a number of things. First, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates financed and armed them. Second, Turkey provided logistics, transit, and training. Third, the United States provided the entire strategy, indirect proxy training, and direct military intervention to avoid their defeat. Now, the fact that the United States is behind the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and “islamic state” (or DAESH) proves beyond the sturdiest shadow of doubt that:

  1. America created them to serve its geopolitical plans in Central Asia and the Middle East, and
  2. that al-Qaeda and “islamic states” are American in essence, spirit, and other birth traits, and they are all intent, as are the United States and Israel, on destroying (as has happened so far) the Arab nations that oppose Israel while sparing the Gulf regimes.

Second, the adjective “Islamic” used by Pipes is both deceptive and demagogic. This adjective may be used in reference to attributes such as architecture, arts, philosophy, etc. Since both Taliban and al-Qaeda that Pipes mentioned, and DAESH that I added, owe their existence to U.S. imperialist planning and financing by the Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia, then a number of conclusions follow:

  1. Wahhabism, not Islam, is the core ideology of these groups, and
  2. Wahhabism, which the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are trying to pass as Sunni Islam, is neither Islam nor Sunnism. The Islam of Mohammad, for example, does not call for beheading of people in public squares. Briefly, Wahhabism should never be construed as a rigid “islamic Sharia”. Judged from its edicts and ways of thinking, Wahhabism is an aberrational form of islamized thought. As such, it is alien to the Muslim Doctrine. To prove this, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya, for example, are mostly Sunni, but their Sunnism has absolutely NOTHING to do with so-called “sunnism” of the Saudi Wahhabi state. Consequently,
  3. when Pipes calls the creed of all terrorists groups that the United States founded “Islamic”— with a capitalized first letter—it is a flagrant attempt at confounding names, denominations, and purposes.

To close, Islam, being a cultural superstructure and a universally venerated religion, it is highly improbable that the United States would consider it a real target for one good reason: No one could ever vanquish religious beliefs. Consequently, if Islam is not the target, then what and who is in the bulls eye?

In the next part, I shall wrap-up my particular discussion on Islam, and move to discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s view of Islam, a view that paved the road for the Zionist power in the United States. Afterwards, I will move to address the Zionist presidency of Donald Trump.

Next:

Part 4
Part 5
Part 6: Interview with Francis Boyle
Part 7: Interview with James Petras
Part 8: Interview with Kim Petersen

Read Part One here; Part Two here.

  1. My usage of lowercase in words referring to Islam and Muslims is political. It is my opinion that in the U.S. written media, the capitalization is intentional. When the noun and qualifier are capitalized, the message is that we are dealing with politically accepted qualities. So, when the media writes “Islamic State (DAESH)”, for example, why capitalize the words if this organization is neither Islamic nor a standard political state? Consequently, writing “islamic state” is appropriate.
  2. Russia’s war in Syria must be looked at with a specific lens. In our series on the Imperialist Violence in Syria, Kim Petersen and I discussed Russia’s role in Syria in Part 6 of 7 “Russia in Syria: White Knight, or Imperial Conspirator?

“Decolonizing the Mind”: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam

When Terry Holdbrooks Jr., converted to Islam in 2003, he was inundated with death threats and labeled a ‘race traitor.’

If a religious conversion ever deserves to be admired, Holdbrooks’ conversion does, and not because Islam has ‘won’ yet another convert, but because the new convert was assigned the very rule of subjugating his Muslim prisoners.

Yes, Terry Holdbrooks was a US army employee entrusted with guarding Guantanamo detainees.

The Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo, held for years and tortured without due process and in violation of the most basic tenants of human rights and international law, mostly subsisted on faith.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the freed prisoners in 2013 during a brief stay in Qatar. Torture had partially impaired his mental faculty, yet when he led a group of men in prayer, he recited verses from the Quran in impeccable language and melodic harmony.

The faith of these prisoners had awakened something in Holdbrooks, who has toured the country dressed in traditional Muslim garb, conveying to audiences the ‘truth about Gitmo.’

Of course, this is not about Islam as a religion, but the power of faith to cross fences, prison bars and unite people around ideas that are vastly more complex and meaningful than that of military domination.

Despite its profundity, the story of Holdbrooks’ conversion to the religion of his prisoners only received scant mention in the media and in Arabic media, in particular.

Lindsay Lohan’s interest in Islam, however, has been an obligatory media staple for months.

The actress of The Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and a host of not-so-family-friendly movies is hailed by Arab and Muslim media and numerous social media users as if some kind of a cultural and religion savior.

Lohan’s interest and possible conversion to Islam has branched into all sorts of areas of discussion. Like Holdbrooks, she is also branded as if a ‘race traitor’, and has been, according to her own depiction, ‘racially profiled‘ during a recent trip to the United States.

Conflating between race and religion is quite common in western, especially American, society. Let alone that one cannot change his race however hard he or she tries, Christianity itself was born in the Middle East region. But it seems that cultural appropriation has, at least in the minds of some, foolishly designated certain religions to be western and other religions to be ‘ethnic’, ‘colored’ and ‘foreign.’

While Lohan is still making up her mind about whether to join the Muslim faith or not, she recently announced that she will be launching a new fashion line.

The announcement on Instagram was accompanied by a photo in which the actress was covering her head and part of her face with a crystals-embellished scarf. Many, including some in the media, are deducing that the fashion line is that of the modest, Muslim variety.

Concurrently, a most recent death toll estimate of war-torn Syria has reached a new high (and a new moral low). According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 321,000 people are confirmed dead as a result of the war, while a further 145,000 are still missing.

While outside powers are responsible for many of these deaths, much of the carnage has been meted out by Muslims against their fellow Muslims.

The sense of false pride generated by the probable conversion of a Hollywood actress is, perhaps, an escape from the grand shame of a bloodbath being perpetuated by Muslims against their own brethren.

But it is more complex than this.

The issue is far more telling than that of Lohan’s faith and is a repeat of previous such collective jubilation similar to the sense of euphoria and unmistakable sense of validation wrought by the marriage of Arab-British lawyer, Amal Alamuddin to one Hollywood celebrity, George Clooney.

Although Amal Clooney refused to investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza – likely so as not to create an uncomfortable situation for her husband considering his strong Hollywood ties – Arabs continued to celebrate her as if her marriage to the famous actor is a badge of honor and a validation for a whole culture.

Sadly, the opposite is true. Such hype over inane occurrences is an indication of a greater ailment, the continuing western cultural hegemony over Muslim nations.

The issue is not that of religion. Far from being a vanishing religion, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, the only religion growing faster than the world’s population, and one which is slated to be the largest in the world by 2070.

These are some of the outcomes of a thorough demographic analysis conducted recently by the US-based Pew Research Center.

So, the enthusiasm over Lohan’s possible conversion – like the intrigue created by Angelina Jolie wearing a Muslim headscarf (hijab) during a visit to a refugee camp – should be entirely removed from the religious component of the discussion.

Thousands of such conversions are reported in Africa, South America and Asia annually; numbers that receive little cultural and media attention in Arab and Muslim countries.

Neither is it an issue of celebrity Muslims, per se, for there are many famous black entertainers who are also Muslims, some even devout Muslims. They rarely register on Arab and Muslim media radars as earth-shattering events.

While racism might play a role, it is not the dominant factor.

The possible conversion of a western, Hollywood celebrity, white actress is a whole different story. For these aspects – cultural, status and race – are the most manifest representation of western, cultural hegemony. A conversion of this caliber is celebrated as if a symbolic defeat of the very system that has demonized Arab and Muslim culture for generations.

In other words, the conversion of Lindsay Lohan would be measured against the resentment Muslims hold against western tools of military subjugation, political domination and cultural hegemony.

Yet in the process of conjuring up this false sense of cultural triumph, Muslims, in fact, further feed into their own unfortunate sense of inferiority, one that is rooted in hundreds of years of slavery, colonization, neocolonialism and military occupation intervention.

If Lohan, or anyone else, truly wants to appreciate the Islamic faith, a religion that has appealed to the poor, the slaves and disenfranchised throughout history, and has withstood hundreds of years of colonization and oppression, she ought to study the relationship between faith and resistance in Gaza, between faith and hope among Syrian refugees, and between faith and liberation in Algeria.

Finding a common ground between true Islam and Hollywood is certainly doomed to fail, for they both represent values that stand at the extreme opposites of one another.

As for Muslims who are feeling validated by mere celebrity interest of their religion, they ought to ‘decolonize their minds’, first by refusing to define themselves and relationships to the world through the west and its ever-sinister tools of cultural hegemony.