Ramadan Prep

May Allah (swt) reward the sister who forwarded this…

Ramadan Prep lectures/classes (in Dubai):

1) Kalemah (www.kalemah.org) – They have some lectures uploaded and will have one more about Ramadan this week. Check out last year’s lectures too.

2) Sister Neda – She has a lecture about preparing for Ramadan as well as a tafseer course in Ramadan, may Allah make it easy for her. I’ve heard that she’s pretty good, masha-Allah. Her lecture is this Friday morning from 9-11am, insha-Allah, in Markaz Al Huda in Qusais. For more details, check this out: 

3) Sister Eman Obaid – we have gems like Sister Eman in Dubai and half the sisters are still heedless😦 Sisters, please attend her lectures while you are still here and while she is still here. I have only been able to attend one lecture of hers so far😦 yet I still remember it. She’s THAT good. If you don’t believe me, just attend and see for yourself. May Allah reward this sister for all that she does. Here are the details of her lecture:

4) Sciences of the Quran workshop; Friday Aug 14, 2:30 – 8:30 pm (brothers and sisters invited).  Al Manar Quran Study Center (Jumeirah).

5) “Squeezing the most out of the best”
Ramadan Preparation Workshop FOR SISTERS; Jumeirah Islamic Learning Centre Um Suquiem 1 Villa # 819
Tel: 04 3949461/050 7483834 E: infojilc@yahoo. com

12TH WEDNESDAY 2009             7:30p.m. – 9:30p.m.
15TH SATURDAY 2009                 3:00p.m. – 6:00p.m.
16TH SUNDAY 2009                     7:30p.m. – 9:30p.m.

May Allah (swt) help us make the best out of Ramadan.

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Durban and Bil’in conferences

I didn’t follow the Durban conference closely but still couldn’t miss all the propaganda around it.  Reading through my emails this weekend, below are links to and excerpts from a few interesting pieces on the conference:

Seumas Milne – The Guardian: What credibility is there in Geneva’s all-white walkout?

What do the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy and Israel have in common? They are all either European or European-settler states. And they all decided to boycott this week’s UN conference against racism in Geneva even before Monday’s incendiary speech by the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which triggered a further white-flight walkout by representatives of another 23 European states.

Navi Pillay, The High Commissioner of Human Rights – final press release:

It was very difficult. I had to face a widespread, and highly organized campaign of disinformation. Many people, including Ministers with whom I spoke, told me that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which as you know was agreed by 189 states at the original World Conference Against Racism in 2001 was anti-Semitic, and it was clear that either they had not bothered to read what it actually said, or they were putting a cast on it that was, to say the least, decidely exaggerated.

Muzzlewatch has excellent coverage of the conference (day by day) here - very interesting stuff (don’t miss out the commentary on Darfur ‘activists’ )

Also from this weekend’s email reading, commentary on the Bil’in International Conference:

From speech by Iyad Bornat of the Friends of Freedom and Justice  (translated by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh)

To all the world we say that the Palestinian Arab people are still suffering a grave injustice and massacre at the hands of brutal occupation in the shadow of dreadful international silence and sometimes with full support [of the West] to injustice. Yet, we continue to cling to our land as done for centuries despite the killing, the demolition, the siege, the starvation, the expulsion, the land and water confiscation. My people are suffering and its time to end the injustice. History will not forgive those who are partners in crime. The future will see new smiles on the faces of our children, a future of peace and love between people. Those children in my country today do not know the sea and are forbidden to even wonder into nature into their fields where the guns of the occupiers target them.

Nobel Laureate Accuses Israel of Ethnic Cleansing
“I believe the Israeli government is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians here in east Jerusalem,” said Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize for her efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland.

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10 terms to think about before using with Muslims

I thought Chris Seiple’s article in the Christian Monitor was fresh and straight to the point, and comes from years of intercultural experience rather than theory or theology.  Excerpts below:

1. “The Clash of Civilizations.” Invariably, this kind of discussion ends up with us as the good guy and them as the bad guy. There is no clash of civilizations, only a clash between those who are for civilization, and those who are against it. Civilization has many characteristics but two are foundational: 1) It has no place for those who encourage, invite, and/or commit the murder of innocent civilians; and 2) It is defined by institutions that protect and promote both the minority and the transparent rule of law.

2. “Secular.” The Muslim ear tends to hear “godless” with the pronunciation of this word. And a godless society is simply inconceivable to the vast majority of Muslims worldwide. Pluralism – which encourages those with (and those without) a God-based worldview to have a welcomed and equal place in the public square – is a much better word.

3. “Assimilation.” This word suggests that the minority Muslim groups in North America and Europe need to look like the majority, Christian culture. Integration, on the other hand, suggests that all views, majority and minority, deserve equal respect as long as each is willing to be civil with one another amid the public square of a shared society.

4. “Reformation.” Muslims know quite well, and have an opinion about, the battle taking place within Islam and what it means to be an orthodox and devout Muslim. They don’t need to be insulted by suggesting they follow the Christian example of Martin Luther. Instead, ask how Muslims understand ijtihad, or reinterpretation, within their faith traditions and cultural communities.

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Tennis courts battles

Considering this happened so close to home, I’ve been wanting to blog about it but never got the chance…I think this article for MIFTAH sums it up well though, excerpts below:

Dubai is now taking the brunt of hostility and criticism for its decision to bar entry to an Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, who formerly served in the Israeli army. She was travelling to compete in the Barclays Dubai Championships next week.

The tournament’s organizers explained that their decision was based on security concerns, saying that Peer’s presence would antagonize local tennis fans who had only a few weeks ago watched horrific events unfold during Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. The organizers said that they simply could not guarantee Peer’s safety on the tennis court. Ironically, the Israel Football Association took a similar decision during its military offensive in Gaza when it barred any football matches from being held in Palestinian communities inside Israel, citing concerns for the ‘safety’ of its Israeli players. While Dubai’s decision is officially based on security concerns, many agree that it is also influenced by politics, an indirect condemnation of Israel for its indiscriminate killing in Gaza.

Despite the circumstances, newspapers, tennis players, and organizers expressed outrage at Dubai’s decision. The Wall Street Journal, one of the sponsors of the event, immediately withdrew its funding when it heard about Peer’s visa rejection. The Tennis Channel protested the decision by announcing its refusal to televise the event as previously planned. A U.S. tour company, IsramWorld, also canceled its tours to Dubai because of the visa incident, calling Dubai’s decision “an odious act of political bigotry.” In addition, famous tennis players such as Amelie Mauresmo, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams criticized the decision, saying it was “not acceptable”, and that “sports should be above politics”. As Ken Solomon, the chairman and chief executive of the Tennis Channel, said, “Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent… If Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision.”

These are all noble sentiments indeed, but do they actually work both ways? Do they apply to Palestinian athletes as well as Israeli ones? Anybody who has taken even the briefest of looks at the state of sports in Palestine will answer with a quick and decisive ‘No’. Instead, what we have here is just another example of double standards – one standard for Israelis, but another standard completely for Palestinians. Did any of these newspapers, athletes, and sport channel executives say anything when Israel bombed the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association, built partially with funds from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA)? The facility, which housed the men and women’s football teams, now lies in ruins. What about when Israeli air strikes destroyed sports clubs and youth organization headquarters? What about when three top Palestinian football players in the prime of their careers were killed in their homes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead?

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Waltz with Bashir – don’t clap just yet

I haven’t watched the movie (don’t it played in Dubai…not even in the DFF) so can’t give an opinion on it, but Gideon Levy’s piece makes a lot of sense (first real criticism I’ve read of the movie).  Excerpts below:

…However, it must also be noted that the film is infuriating, disturbing, outrageous and deceptive. It deserves an Oscar for the illustrations and animation – but a badge of shame for its message. It was not by accident that when he won the Golden Globe, Folman didn’t even mention the war in Gaza, which was raging as he accepted the prestigious award. The images coming out of Gaza that day looked remarkably like those in Folman’s film. But he was silent. So before we sing Folman’s praises, which will of course be praise for us all, we would do well to remember that this is not an antiwar film, nor even a critical work about Israel as militarist and occupier. It is an act of fraud and deceit, intended to allow us to pat ourselves on the back, to tell us and the world how lovely we are. Hollywood will be enraptured, Europe will cheer and the Israeli Foreign Ministry will send the movie and its makers around the world to show off the country’s good side. But the truth is that it is propaganda. Stylish, sophisticated, gifted and tasteful – but propaganda. A new ambassador of culture will now join Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, and he too will be considered fabulously enlightened – so different from the bloodthirsty soldiers at the checkpoints, the pilots who bomb residential neighborhoods, the artillerymen who shell women and children, and the combat engineers who rip up streets. Here, instead, is the opposite picture. Animated, too. Of enlightened, beautiful Israel, anguished and self-righteous, dancing a waltz, with and without Bashir. Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz. The waltz rests on two ideological foundations. One is the “we shot and we cried” syndrome: Oh, how we wept, yet our hands did not spill this blood. Add to this a pinch of Holocaust memories, without which there is no proper Israeli self-preoccupation. And a dash of victimization – another absolutely essential ingredient in public discourse here – and voila! You have the deceptive portrait of Israel 2008, in words and pictures.

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BDS – thoughts and opinions

As educators of conscience, we have been unable to stand by and watch in silence Israel’s indiscriminate assault on the Gaza Strip and its educational institutions.

Accordingly, in response to the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and by more than 500 Israeli citizens to foreign embassies in Tel Aviv, we call for:

(1) Refraining from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions that do not vocally oppose Israeli state policies against Palestine;

(2) Advocating a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at the national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;

(3) Promoting divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions;

(4) Working toward the condemnation of Israeli policies by pressing for resolutions to be adopted by academic, professional and cultural associations and organizations;

(5) Supporting Palestinian academic and cultural institutions directly without requiring them to partner with Israeli counterparts as an explicit or implicit condition for such support.

The above is part of the press release for the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which you all must have heard of by now.

The global BDS movement against the Apartheid State of Israel has been growing stronger by the day, and of course the war crimes committed in Gaza have only added to activists’ determination to make it work.  The US campaign is the latest addition to this global campaign and the other big news from the US is the decision by Hampshire College to divest from companies which support the Israeli millitary.  And don’t be fooled by the administration’s comments trying to distance itself from any political implications, read SJP’s response here.

Even amongst the sincere pro-Palestinian activists/intellectual community, there has been an ongoing discussion on the success and merit of the BDS movement from a moral and strategic stand point. Does BDS cause more harm than good? Is is justifiable? Is it the best way to raise awareness of the conflict? Does it promote peace and understanding?…etc  Of course, the recent developments in the US have generated even more questions and opinions.

Jewish Peace News (great source of news and analysis – definately worth subscribing to!) recently hosted an excellent discussion on the topic, providing room for activists to voice their opinions, across the spectrum.  Plenty of food for thought and interesting arguments to consider from both points of views.  Excerpts from particularly interesting opinions below, followed by my own:

Until now, as a believer in boundary-crossings, I would not have endorsed a cultural and academic boycott. But Israel’s continuing, annihilative assaults in Gaza, and the one-sided rationalizations for them have driven me to re-examine my thoughts about cultural exchanges. Israel’s blockading of information, compassionate aid, international witness and free cultural and scholarly expression has become extreme and morally stone-blind. Israeli Arab parties have been banned from the elections, Israeli Jewish dissidents arrested, Israeli youth imprisoned for conscientious refusal of military service. Academic institutions are surely only relative sites of power. But they are, in their funding and governance, implicated with state economic and military power. And US media, institutions and official policy have gone along with all this.

To boycott a repressive military state should not mean backing away from individuals struggling against the policies of that state. So, in continued solidarity with the Palestinian people’s long resistance, and also with those Israeli activists, teachers, students, artists, writers, intellectuals, journalists, refuseniks, feminists and others who oppose the means and ends of the Occupation, I have signed my name to this call.

–Adrienne Rich

Such an academic boycott will do little to advance the cause of political change it seeks. It will inflame public opinion against its proponents and will foreclose the kind of intellectual exchange needed now. It will also paradoxically bar the very forms of internal Israeli intellectual dissent it should be promoting. Moreover, it sanctimoniously over-emphasizes the historical role of intellectuals in struggles for political freedom.

— Lincoln Shlensky (JPN editor)

 Lincoln Shlensky contends that the boycott campaign in the UK has been a failure. While it is clearly true that there is not, as yet, a national boycott the campaign for the boycott has focussed the attention of many people in the UK, academics and others, on the relationship between Israeli universities and the state and the armed and security forces. This has produced growing resonance, and this has accelerated markedly since the start of the latest Israeli assault on Gaza. While it is also true that thishas mobilised opposition, this is because they saw the boycott call as a real threat to be mobilised against and not safely ignored like many of our previous campaigns.

The efforts of the [British] boycott campaign have severely embarrassed the EU in its attempts to widen ever further trade and research links with Israel. Now the Green and Socialist groups at the European Parliament have come out against further extension to Israeli privileges and stalled the latest proposals.

 The UK example has stirred boycott action in many European countries and in the US and Canada. Even more importantly when I visited the West Bank and Gaza at the end of last year civil society groups unanimously demanded that we step up BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, activities and in particular praised BRICUP for its pressure on Israeli Universities. Their plea was to end Israel’s sense of impunity and they saw the ending of normal relations with Israeli Universities as the leading weapon in this.

–Mike Cushman (member of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine)

My humble opinion: it’s obvious for anyone reading this blog the stance the author takes on BDS.  I believe it is not only morally justified, but also strategically necessary. Besides the fact that Palestinians activisits, academics, intellectuals, and peace organizations have come together and issued a call for this boycott, to which the rest of the sane world can only respond with respect and solidarity, there is one other key issue in my mind.  For those who criticize the cultural/academic/consumer boycott and divestment campaign for targeting Israeli academics, businessmen, and the Israeli society in general, I say that it is precisely that which is needed.  It is time the Israeli society realized that whether they like it or not, by not speaking out against the occupation they are taking part in it.  By voting for politicians who wage wars against civilian populations, by sending their kids to be part of the occupier’s army (sorry, defense force!), by continuing their lives as if the Palestinian neighbours didn’t even exist or didn’t deserve to exist, they have brought this on to themselves.  It is about time the Israeli society takes responsibility for the decades of oppression in which it has been directly involved.  It is time for the world community to hold the Israeli society, and its government, responsible.

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Tears in Gaza…Tears for Gaza…

After 3 days in transit and around 10 hours on the Rafah border, Reem S. and her 7 colleagues from the US National Lawyers Guild finally set foot in devastated Gaza.  Reem describes what she is witnessing on this blog, excerpts from a very emotional post below:

I have not shed one tear since entering Gaza.  I cannot explain this lack of emotionalism except for an anesthesia injected through complete shock. It is not so much the shock of the overwhelming devastation, but the shock of Israel’s cruelty and disrespect for humanity.  It is the shock that an Israeli soldier could execute three daughters and paralyze the fourth in their father’s presence while two other Israeli soldiers watch and eat chocolates and chips.  It is the shock that Israel can bomb UNRWA warehouses full of medicines, infant milk, and school supplies and then deny Palestinians access to thousands of tons of humanitarian aid at their borders at a time when Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.  It is the shock of seeing the nurse at Al Shifa Hospital unwrap the bandages from twelve-year old Omar whose body has third degree burns from an exploded kerosene container used to provide warmth and fire since Omar has no electricity in his household.  It is the shock of seeing four men drink tea on chairs riddled with bullet holes on top of the rubble that used to be their home three weeks prior.  It is the shock of noticing last minute as a fire ignites from a clump of hidden white phosphorus and nearly burns the pants of my Palestinian tour guide as we unassumingly take pictures in an olive tree garden.  It is the shock of realizing that life in Gaza is not a right, but a privilege, which can be and has been so often taken away at the whim of an Israeli bullet, missile, mortar, or shell.  It is the shock that life and death have become one and the same in Gaza.  For even for those who may have survived Israel’s recent offensive unscathed, their spirits have been decimated by the realization that they are trapped with no where to run and isolated from the rest of the world by Israel’s continued blockade which literally prevents the rebuilding of their shattered lives.

Yet I am not the only one who has been numbed by shock.  This sense of shock resonates deeply in Gaza as people talk of loved ones who have been brutally executed as dispassionately as if they were press personnel reporting a story for the evening news.

Since writing that paragraph above, I have cried once.  Listening to Mohammad Kassab Khalil Shurrab, 64, describe how his two sons were killed in broken English, I felt that my heart was being wrenched from my chest.  Even though I usually conduct my interviews in Arabic and translate into English for the other delegation members, Mohammad wanted to speak in English.  He wanted to be understood by all and he wanted his story to be told in first person.  Having been demonized and dehumanized his entire life, Mohammad wanted to give flesh and soul to his now-deceased sons.  He wanted us to see them for what they really were - humans, indispensable humans.

If you’re having trouble tearing, continue here… 

Reem’s post echoed the words of my aunt in Gaza whom we spoke to yesterday.  Even those who survived the war ‘untouched’ will never know ‘normal’ life again.  They have simply lived through too much, too much for any sane human to bear.

Then again, no one said attaining jannah was easy.  All the people of Gaza have to do is be patient and bear as much as they can the calamity they are facing.  But, what about the rest of us?  Tears will not be enough…

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