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Sunday, December 31, 2006

 

Brass Crescent Awards Tarnished by Award Recipient

Which blog written by a non-Muslim is most respectful of Muslims and seeks genuine dialogue with Muslims?

In this category a Zionist blog, On the Face, won a Brass Crescent Award, sponsored by alt.muslim. The Brass Crescent Awards purport to honor "the best of the Muslim web."

According to the Brass Crescent website blogs are nominated by readers, a panel of judges narrows the nominees to five, and then voting commences. One might excuse this selection if the winner was determined solely by readers since bloggers are notorious for seeking votes in contests of this sort, but please note that the nominees were narrowed down to five by a panel of judges.

It's evident from reading On the Face that it's unabashedly Zionist. Included on its blogroll is this bigoted illegal settler from the US who calls for the destruction of entire Palestinian neighborhoods:

Starting today. Right this very minute... for every rocket that falls, a Palestinian city in Gaza should be firebombed. Burned to the ground. No warning... no mercy.

On BBC's Have Your Say a Lebanese blogger Rania El-Masri, in an exchange with the On the Face blogger wrote:

To live in peace, it has to start with recognizing the rights of the other. It has to start by at least recognizing the asymmetry of the war; in your email, you make it seems as if there has been equal death and destruction on both sides -- which, as you know, is completely not the case. The vast majority of Israelis killed have been soldiers killed on the battlefield; the vast majority of Lebanese killed have been families in their homes.

The awardee's response most assuredly must have been overlooked by the judges:

When the Israeli Air Force bombed Dahiyeh and various Hezbollah villages during the first two days of the conflict, many Lebanese Christian and Sunni bloggers were quite happy. Some of them told me so directly. They did not even consider Dahiyeh to be a part of Beirut, but rather an ugly, frightening place they were forced to pass on their way to and from the airport. They wanted to get rid of Hezbollah and they hoped that Israel would do the job for them.

It's typical of this blogger to speak on behalf of Arabs and Palestinians and to never miss a photo opportunity with "her" Arabs, and this may be the reason the judges were taken in by her.

And, you might consider asking Professor Rania El-Masri to sit on your panel of judges next year. She offers a reasoned and factual counter to Ms. Goldman's Zionist spin. In part:

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for clarifying the image of peace in your eyes. I had wished it would have been otherwise. Your email reminds me of the logic used by segregationists in the southern states of the US.

I spoke to you of occupation, and you responded by ignoring occupation completely. I spoke to you of discriminatory policies against Palestinian-Israelis, and you responded by referring to the courts available to them.

I spoke to you of the need to include justice when talking of peace, and you responded by attempting to justify the destruction of residential homes and the killing of families in Lebanon.

Reading your email, after having initially read an email from you in which you spoke of your desire for peace, left me feeling quite sad.

Regarding Palestinians with Israeli citizenships, I am glad you agree that there is discrimination against them in Israel. However, Lisa, it is not merely 'social discrimination' as you refer to it, but institutionalized discrimination against them because they are not Jewish. Look at the way that Palestinian-Israelis were treated in this latest war. Look at the numerous institutionalized forms of discriminations, including The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law. While Israeli citizens are granted the right to family reunification with their foreign spouse, this law denies this same right to Israeli citizens married to Palestinian residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (Source: Adalah, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), and B'tselem).

Israel has practiced systematic and institutionalized discrimination against its Palestinian citizens in most areas - land possession and allocation, education, language, economics, and political participation. There are more than 20 laws that discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel (according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel).

The most important immigration laws, The Law of Return (1950) and The Citizenship Law (1952), allow Jews to freely immigrate to Israel and gain citizenship, but excludes Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1947 and 1967. Furthermore, since its inception in 1948, Israel has maintained a discriminatory policy of land expropriation, adversely affecting Palestinian land and housing rights within Israel. In 1965, the National Planning and Building Law retroactively re-zoned lands on which many Palestinian villages sat as "non-residential."As a result, despite the existence of these villages prior to the establishment of Israel, they were afforded - and continue to possess - no official status. These "unrecognized" Palestinian villages receive no government services, and residents are denied the ability to build homes and other public buildings. The authorities use a combination of house demolitions, land confiscation, denial of basic services, and restrictions on infrastructure development to dislodge residents from these villages.

Again, these are the policies within Israel. The levels of institutionalized discrimination against Palestinian-Israelis are three-fold: direct discimination against non-Jews within the law itself; indirect discrimination through "neutral" laws and criteria which apply principally to Palestinian-Israelis; and institutional discrimination through a legal framework that facilitates a systematic pattern of privileges. Again, the similarity with the US during the powerful segregationist is quite strong.

Just as we opposed it in the US, we should oppose it in Israel, and work towards a system where one's religion is a private matter, and one's legal and natural rights are equal, regardless of one's religious affiliation.(For more information, refer to the excellent series by Guardian writer Chris McGreal entitled 'Worlds Apart')

And, yes, Lisa, I agree with you: Palestinians in Lebanon are treated outrageously, and there is no justification to it at all. Period. I am against the way that Palestinians are treated in Lebanon. Simply because they are mistreated in Lebanon, does not justify their mistreatment elsewhere. We need to stand against all acts of discrimination - period.

Let me remind you again: I spoke to you of the road to peace quite clearly when I stated: End the Occupation of Palestinian Lands. It is critical when we speak of peace that we speak of the roots of the conflict, and one undeniable problem is the continual, 39 year old illegal, Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands. Do you support peace activists around the world and the UNSCR 242 in calling for the immediate, unconditional end to this occupation? (and let us not forget the continual occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights and the Lebanese Cheba'a Farms.)

You write: "When the Israeli Air Force bombed Dahiyeh and various Hezbollah villages in southern Lebanon during the first two days of the conflict, many Lebanese Christian and Sunni bloggers were quite happy. Some of them told me so directly. They did not even consider Dahiyeh to be part of Beirut, but rather an ugly, frightening place they were forced to pass on their way to and from the airport." I read these lines several times in an attempt to understand what you were trying to say. Are you excusing the bombing of the residential areas in the southern district of Beirut and in the besieged south of Lebanon because some in Lebanon view them as "ugly" and "frightening"? Would it then be acceptable to stand with racist members of the KKK in the US who find African-American neighborhoods to be "ugly" and "frightening" and thus to support the destruction of those neighborhoods?

This is the logic used by racists throughout history, and it is a logic that Jews themselves should be quite sensitive to and not so readily accept.

Simply because a minority in Lebanon have their hearts filled with racism and classism that they seek to excuse the deaths of others, does not in anyway excuse their killing. I have been to the Dahiyeh during the war.

Entire neighborhoods have been turned to rubble. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. It makes no difference if some Lebanese bloggers are "happy" about that destruction. If a racist is happy, does that excuse the crime? Is this the peace you envision, Lisa? Is this the olive branch that you were extending in your earlier email? To kill one community in Lebanon? You then write about the targeting of civilians by Hezbollah. Let's look at the numbers, Lisa, and not at our own emotions to best answer this question.

How many Israelis were killed in this war, and how many of them were soldiers? How many Lebanese were killed in the war, and how many of them were civilians? The vast majority of the Israelis killed were soldiers, yet the vast majority of the Lebanese killed were civilians (and 30% of the Lebanese killed were children). So, please, look at the numbers, look at the facts on the ground before you throw your accusations. It is as clear as the destroyed homes in Lebanon that it was Israel that succeeded in deliberately and massively targeting civilians, including refugee convoys, ambulances, hospitals, farmers, ... Please, Lisa, read the article, 'Morality is not on our side' by Israeli professor Ze'ev Maoz, published in the Ha'aretz (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/742257.html)

Lisa, you have a knack for claiming "undisputed facts" when, in fact, the statements you claim are false. You write, "The undisputed fact is that Hezbollah has attacked Israelis on many occasions since the withdrawal of 2000." Once again, I refer you to published articles. Read this piece by George Monbiot in The Guardian, "Israel responded to an unprovoked attack by Hizbullah, right? Wrong."

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1839280,00.html)

"Since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, there have been hundreds of violations of the "blue line" between the two countries. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) reports that Israeli aircraft crossed the line "on an almost daily basis" between 2001 and 2003, and "persistently" until 2006. These incursions "caused great concern to the civilian population, particularly low-altitude flights that break the sound barrier over populated areas.

"On some occasions, Hizbullah tried to shoot them down with anti-aircraft guns. In October 2000, the Israel Defence Forces shot at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the border, killing three and wounding 20. In response, Hizbullah crossed the line and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers."

And then there is this article in the Christian Science Monitor (Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon, http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p09s02-coop.html).

"Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern. In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?"

You write: "And what in the world does Hezbollah, a Shi'a organization, have to do with the Palestinians, who are Sunni and Christian? I fail to see the connection."

The connection has nothing to with religious/sectarian affiliation, and everything to do with context. I was speaking to you of the road to peace, and the need, the urgent, undeniable need, for there to be an implementation of justice if we ever want to achieve peace. We cannot speak of justice without speaking of the 39-year military occupation of Palestinian lands.

Furthermore, Hezbollah is not a Shi'a organization; Hezbollah is a Lebanese organization whose membership consists primarily of Shi'a. There is a difference. Hezbollah is a national liberation movement that was born as a direct result of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 (passed in 1978, from an earlier Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon), Israel continued to occupy significant portions of Lebanon until May 2000, when it was forced out of the majority of Lebanese lands by the national liberation movement of Hezbollah.

But, truly, your fantastic statement was left to the end when you write:"But the undeniable fact is that Hezbollah has chosen Israel as its enemy for absolutely no reason." Do you truly believe that, Lisa, or are you now engaging in political propaganda? No reason? Need I remind you of the 1978 Israeli invasion and occupation, the 1982 Israeli invasion and occupation, the 1993 massive bombardment of Lebanon by Israel, the 1996 massive bombardment of Lebanon by Israel, the Israeli occupation of significant parts of Lebanon from 1978 until May 2000? (The Lebanese Cheba'a Farms is still occupied by Israel.) Come on, Lisa, try to at least be realistic in your accusations. The fighters in Hezbollah are the children of previous Israeli massacres committed against Lebanese.

Lisa, despite your words, and despite the massacres, I still believe in the possibility of real peace between us. A real peace - not a surrender, not one side conquering the other, but a real peace embedded with justice. I believe in the vision outlined in the article

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2006-08/12podur.cfm

(N. and the Memory Wall), when the refugee camps will be emptied, the walls torn down, the laws look upon all individuals as equal regardless of religious affiliation, when greed is overcome by ease, and when the fighter jets and the bombs are all recycled into something productive.

Rania Masri

Comments:
excellent post and outstanding rebuttal that was made to Lisa Goldstein's comment.

Thank you for showing us this part of the reality of Israel, the people who claim to be friends, but are really attached to a vision of Israel that reflects the reality they left behind in North America. Why not just make a theme park instead?
 
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