Palestinians respond to the smearing of the White Helmets and troubling discourse on Syria.

Palestinians wrote and signed a petition titled “On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria”

Writers didn’t name the work they are criticizing nor the old allies they are blaming, but it is a clear answer to Max Blumenthal latest articles and the heated exchanges on social media before and after the articles.

Max Blumenthal, journalist and author wrote two posts on the Syria Campaign and the White Helmets, smearing the open and transparent fact that they receive foreign aid.

Max Blumenthal notoriously covered the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in 2014, but it seems that oppression, to him, is not universal. By smearing the White Helmets, he is helping Russian and Assadist conspiratorial propaganda that the White Helmets are but an occidental scheme that has close ties to Al Qaeda.

Max Blumenthal even brought the spotlight to Omran, the sadly famous 5 years old boy. Omran was filmed and photographed as he was saved from a destroyed building bombed by government forces. His numb face, the way he removed dust and blood from his face attracted the too short international media attention on Aleppo. But Omran made the mistake to be photographed by a man who took selfies with Jihadists. Max Blumenthal didn’t criticize the relentless Assadist bombing on Aleppo, nor the fact that a 5 years old kid was found in rubble.

The journalist didn’t think to interview Syrian people on the ground in Aleppo.

Blumenthal and many other journalists and activists allied with the Palestinian cause shared the shameful articles, it is as if they cannot see they are helping the Assadist discourse.

These people believe that Syrians cannot feel the need to topple a regime that has been oppressing them for dozens of years. They play with the dangerous orientalist racist discourse that Arabs will be always tools in the hands of occidental imperialist forces and that they cannot be the masters of their own destiny. Ironically, they never denounce Russian imperialism.

The bombing of schools and hospitals is openly carried by government forces, and any dignified journalist must at least condemn it. They should consider Aleppo in a similar way to Gaza “wars”, where hospitals, schools and civilians were bombed relentlessly for weeks by the Zionist regime.

Both Assadist and Zionist regimes should be openly condemned and fought.

Max Blumenthal: should Syrians stop the White Helmets because they are receiving foreign aid? Should they be ashamed of being helped by these courageous first responders?

Here’s the petition in full.

We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated geopolitical frameworks.

We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria.

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled, imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution. The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against them.

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid is not unique to Syria; it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid, it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first place.

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror” language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror” framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we once respected.

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles to do the same.

 

On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria.

Palestinians wrote and signed a petition: “On The Allies We’re Not Proud Of: A Palestinian Response to Troubling Discourse on Syria”

We, the undersigned Palestinians, write to affirm our commitment to the amplification of Syrian voices as they endure slaughter and displacement at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. We are motivated by our deep belief that oppression, in all of its manifestations, should be the primary concern of anyone committed to our collective liberation. Our vision of liberation includes the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, regardless of whether or not their struggles fit neatly into outdated geopolitical frameworks.

We are concerned by some of the discourse that has emerged from progressive circles with regards to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In particular, we are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria.

The Syrian revolution was in fact a natural response to 40 years of authoritarian rule. The Assad regime, with the support of its foreign financial and military backers, is attempting to preserve its power at the expense of the millions of Syrians whom the regime has exiled, imprisoned, and massacred. We believe that minimizing this context in any discussion of Syria dismisses the value of Syrian self-determination and undermines the legitimacy of their uprising.

We also believe that an important consequence of all foreign interventions, including those purportedly done on behalf of the uprising, has been the setback of the original demands of revolution. The revolution is a victim, not a product, of these interventions. It is imperative for any analysis of Syria to recognize this fundamental premise. We cannot erase the agency of Syrians struggling for liberation, no matter how many players are actively working against them.

Though we maintain that the phenomenon of foreign aid demands thorough critique, we are concerned by the ways in which foreign aid has been weaponized to cast suspicion on Syrian humanitarian efforts. Foreign aid is not unique to Syria; it is prevalent in Palestine as well. We reject the notion that just because an organization is receiving foreign aid, it must follow then that that organization is partaking in some shadowy Western-backed conspiracy. Such nonsense has the effect of both undermining humanitarian efforts while simultaneously whitewashing the very crimes against humanity that necessitated the aid in the first place.

Furthermore, we object to the casual adoption of “war on terror” language. Enemies of liberation have historically used this rhetoric to target humanitarians, organizers, and community members. From Muhammad Salah to the Midwest 23 to the Holy Land Five, our community is all too familiar with the very real consequence of employing a “war on terror” framework. Therefore, we reject a discourse that perpetuates these old tactics and peddles harmful and unwarranted suspicion against Syrians.

Along these lines, it is our position that any discussion of Syria that neglects the central role of Bashar Al-Assad and his regime in the destruction of Syria directly contradicts the principles of solidarity by which we abide. We have reflected on our own tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle, and we fear that some members of our community may have prioritized the celebrity status of these individuals over the respect and support we owe to those Syrians affected most directly by the war, as well as those living in the diaspora whose voices have been dismissed as they have watched their homeland be destroyed.

We will no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis. Despite reaching out to some of these individuals, they have shown an unwillingness to reflect on the impact of their analysis. We regret that we have no choice left but to cease working with these activists whom we once respected.

We would like to encourage others who are guided by similar principles to do the same.

Shimon Peres died the wrong way.

Beirut, Lebanon.

I do not want to spend too much energy and time writing on the dead former Israeli president and twice prime minister, Shimon Peres. He doesn’t deserve too much effort.

Peres has lived too long; for most of his 93 years old life, he worked against Palestinian right to freedom and life. He directly participated in the Nakbah, in 1947 he joined the Haganah, the terrorist Zionist organization that became the IDF, Israel’s army.

During the Nakbah, the Palestinian catastrophe, he was responsible for personnel and arms purchases. Basically, he bought the weapons that killed thousands of Palestinians. He is directly responsible of the 700,000 Palestinians who exiled to neighboring countries. Today, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees are out of their own country, because of Shimon Peres and his terrorist friends, including mastermind Ben Gurion.

Camp of Sabra / Chatia, Beirut.
© Hassan Chamoun

Peres held many ministerial positions, and from early on, he was involved in Israel defense policies, he helped buying substantial weapons from France in the 50’s as Director-General of the Ministry of Defense. From 1959 to 1965, he was deputy defense minister. In 1974, he became Minister of Defense. He developed Israel nuclear capabilities.

In the 90’s, he directly participated in  the so called peace deal, the Oslo Accords, between Israel and Palestine. The Accords didn’t properly address the Palestinian right of return, it just postponed the issue.

As Prime Minister, Peres started the “Operation Grapes of Wrath”, an intense war against Lebanon which culminated with the Qana Massacre, where 106 Lebanese civilians died when they were sheltering in an UN compound. He later addressed the massacre: “Everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way, I am at peace”. The war intentionally bombed Shia villages in South Lebanon. According to the official Air Force website [in Hebrew], the “operation” was described as “Massive bombing of the Ahia villages in South Lebanon in order to cause a flow of civilians north, toward Beirut, thus applying pressure on Syria and Lebanon to restrain Hezbollah”.

All his life, Shimon Peres lived as a war criminal, he didn’t deserve to die in a hospital, just as Ariel Sharon.

He should have rotten and died in a prison, just like every war criminal.

Palestinian, Lebanese and all people that were oppressed by him celebrate his death, including myself.

Good riddance.

Author: Hassan Chamoun. 

Israel and USA are still best friends (despite it all)

Israel will receive the long expected 10 year pact military aid offered by the US.

The US administration military aid  Israel is an all-time record, Israel will at least receive $38 billions over the next 10 years. Israel will get at least $3.8 billion a year, up from $3.1 billion it is currently receiving under the current deal that expires in 2018.

Israel has made so-called concessions. Netanyahu initially sought $4.5 billion a year and Israel agreed not to seek and lobby the American congress for further missile defense funds during the 10 years pack. The latter “concession” is likely to be flexible, according to Reuters, as Israel could lobby the US during wars or other major crisis. In other words, when Israel is relentlessly bombing the besieged Gaza strip or Lebanon, Israel can receive a boost from the US, besides the record annual military aid.

The 10 years deal helps immensely Israel. The country will continue to receive a subsequent military aid regardless of the next US president and his or her policy on Israel.

 

The aid shows and proves that last year “tense” relationship between Obama and Netanyahu wasn’t enough to shake up and undermine Israel and US special relationship. Netanyahu visited the congress in March 2015 and expressed his strong opposition to the Iran deal in a speech praised with 26 standing ovations from congressmen and women. The speech was boycotted by dozens of Democrats. Netanyahu visited the congress after a Republican invitation that bypassed the White House authority. Obama refused to meet Netanyahu.

The US and Israel are still best friends despite last year cold confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu. The catchphrase “Follow the money” has never been more meaningful.

Obama legacy won’t be the disastrous Nobel Peace Prize he received for “ending” the occupation of Iraq, nor the Iran deal. His “legacy” will be directly felt by millions of people in the Middle-East, from (at least) 2018 to 2028, when Israel and American bombs will be dropped on their heads.

 

 

Ten years ago, I admired Hezbollah.

Ten years ago, in what is known today as the “July War”, Israel had for declared objective the destruction of Hezbollah in Lebanon, but what it did instead was destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure, bombing urban areas, tearing off children’s arms and legs. It was obviously a war against Lebanon itself.

I had just arrived to Lebanon, the country of my origins, after living abroad for 13 years. I was in Nabatieh, in South Lebanon, with my brothers, cousins, aunt and grandmother. My parents had gone to Beirut a day earlier to search for a house. We were moving back to Lebanon.

I remember very well the sound of artillery fire far from Nabatieh on the first morning. I also remember a warplane bombing a structure. I remember how we had to run away to the basement the nights of heavy bombings and how we eventually moved to the basement. We all lived in a spacious living room, we were refugees in our own house. I remember the stress of being away from my parents. I remember the phone call from Hassan Nasrallah, the night when Hezbollah famously bombed the Israeli military ship. I remember the carnage, the blood I saw on TV, the burning cars (or what was left of them) the destroyed bridges, the food getting scarcer, my aunt getting thinner, my grandmother reciting prayers, the electricity disappearing for 7 days. I remember how we feared going to the toilets and being “far” from the living room.

As hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, I still have nightmares of Israeli warplanes obliterating my country. I had one not so long ago. For a long period of time after the war, my heart used to pound much harder in my chest after hearing a loud sound.

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Hezbollah soldiers paraded in Southern Lebanon in 2002. Credit James Hill for The New York Times.

Eventually, after 12 days in Nabatieh, we fled to Khaldah, a small town just south of Beirut. There, we used to feel every vibration from the bombings in Dahieh, the southern suburb of the capital that was most heavily bombed by Israel.

I also remember the nights when Hezbollah sent heavy missiles into Israel, their sounds resonating in the valley. To me, an answer against Israel is justified, natural, and I will continue to support any resistance against Israel in the future.

After the war, I learned by heart many of Hezbollah’s propaganda songs. I cheerfully went to concerts of the team behind many of those songs.

But my admiration and respect of Hezbollah eventually died down, partly because of their very questionable and violent politics and policies inside the country. But the biggest reason was and remains its involvement in Syria.

How can Hezbollah stand with Bashar al Assad’s regime in Syria, when the SAA, the Syrian Army, acts so similarly to the IDF, the Israeli army? Both the Syrian and Israeli regimes have bombed civilian areas relentlessly, with smart bombs or, notoriously with Assad, barrel bombs. How can I stand with Hezbollah in Syria and continue to admire them, when they are helping Assad remain in power, and make millions of civilians endure what Israel made myself and my family endure.

Israel made me a refugee in my own country, as well as outside of it. Assad has done the same to Syrians.

How can I respect Hezbollah when it stands by a regime that is torturing and killing thousands of detainees? How is that anti-imperialist? The Assad regime gladly took part in the CIA’s torture program in the months and years after 9/11. The Assad regime gladly invited Iran into Syria. The Assad regime gladly welcomed Russian imperialism with open arms. How is that anti-Zionist? Israel targeted Gaza’s Al Quds hospital several times throughout the years. Assad destroyed Aleppo’s Al Quds hospital in April of 2016. They say they are involved in Syria to defend Palestine, but how does it help?

Here’s how one Aleppo doctor described Assad’s attack on Al Quds hospital:

“The people who are in Aleppo now are people who decided to stay here. We used to look at people in Gaza and wonder how they live their lives normally – but now we know.”

They know because Assad acts like Israel, even exceeding it in its relentless brutality.

How can Hezbollah stand with the regime responsible for the worst refugees crisis since WW2? How can Hezbollah stand with Assad when he created a Nakba against his own people, just as Zionists created a Nakba against Palestinians?

It’s very simple. I do not differentiate between the suffering and the oppression of the Lebanese at the hands of Israel and the suffering and the oppression of Syrians at the hand of Bachar el Assad and his military apparatus, including Hezbollah.

How does Hezbollah defend Palestine by fighting in Aleppo? Hezbollah has been coldly and cynically pragmatic, allying itself with the most murderous regime of modern times, to continue receiving weapons from Iran. I ‘get’ that, but how does that make it more acceptable? How does Hezbollah stand with Palestinians when hundreds of thousands of them were besieged in Yarmouk, the Palestinian camp near Damascus. And no, Palestinian factions allying with Assad doesn’t it mean Palestinians stand with Assad – the latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) put Palestinian support of the FSA at 40%, with 18% in favor of Assad – or that their oppression there is acceptable. Why should I condemn Netanyahu wars and massacres on Gaza, but not Assad’s war on and massacres of Syrian themselves?

Dave-Simonds-12-February--002
David Simonds.

Today, there is absolutely no justification in standing with the Syrian regime, no righteousness, nothing. Assad is just a mass-murdering dictator who would gladly choosing ruling over a destroyed and lifeless Syria, a Syria in which his supporters tag the walls of besieged areas with “Assad or we burn the country” and “kneel or starve”.

I used to respect and admire Hezbollah because it wanted to fight on the side of the oppressed. Today, it is fighting side-by-side with the oppressors.

Author: Hassan Chamoun.

Joey Ayoub helped with editing and suggestions.

Why should everyone join the Anti-Racist protest today?

Today, July 18th 2016, in Lebanon, Beirut, an anti-racist march will begin at 6:30PM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Achrafieh and will end at the Ministry of Interior in Sanayeh.

 

Why should everyone join the Anti-Racist protest today?

Refugees and migrants face racism in Lebanon. They are the scapegoat of our problems that are present since before the Syrian civil war.

Electricity? The Syrians.
Water? The Syrians.
Garbage? The Syrians.
Security? The Syrians of course.

Syrians and Palestinians and many other nationalities fled war and death, just to face state racism in Lebanon. Migrants face an open-air prison with the Kafala system, where the employer effectively “own” the employee.

Join this protest if you don’t believe that every town and neighborhood should have a watch against “strangers”. Join this protest if you believe that the nationality of a terrorist doesn’t determine how the totality of a population should be treated. Do some people really believe that a curfew will ameliorate Lebanon security? Do some people really believe that terrorist groups will run away to their homes at 8pm and that will stop their attacks against Lebanon?

I hate to speak in this manner, but in 9/11, four planes were hijacked, two planes infamously crushed against the twin towers in New York, one plane against the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, it was brought down after the resistance of passengers. The hijacker and pilot of the fourth plane was a Lebanese national: Ziad Jarrah. Does it matter? Not really, but bigots and racists need to ask themselves: would you be pleased to have all the Lebanese in USA under a curfew, because it happened that a Lebanese was lunatic enough to join AL Qaeda? Would you find it just? Fair? If the answer is yes, then you have other serious issues of self-blame.

That I need to use this fact as an example is problematic in itself, what if all of them were Saudis? Would you accept the bigotry? What if Steve Jobs wasn’t partly Syrian? Who would have Banksy drawn on the walls of the Jungle, the infamous refugee camp in France?

Can’t we see that racism, bigotry, and stupid bigoted generalizations have led us to a civil war in the past? Today it is the Syrian, tomorrow, it might be (or it is already) the Palestinian, the Sunni, the Christian, the Shia, the Druze, the Jew, the Maronite, the homosexual, the black, the Arab, the handicapped ..
The other.

The other is only the other if we want to make it so.

Today, it is important to join to show the refugees and migrants, that some people in Lebanon will stand by them, and help them to lead by themselves the struggle against state racism and racism in our streets.

Protest against rape and rape culture in Beirut, Lebanon.

The 12th July 2016, a group gathered in front of the justice palace in Beirut to protest rape and rape culture in Lebanon. The protest was triggered by a rape case in the northern town Tripoli, Sunday, 3 boys alledegly raped a 16 years-old girl, the 3 suspects, are Khaled M. Houssam D. and Najib D.

Protest holding a sign: “Rape and marry for free!” The sign makes reference to the article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, allowing rapists to marry their victims, thus nullifying the rapist conviction.

Although a gynecologist confirmed that the girl in question was indeed raped, the coroner denied she was, he reports he found no marks on her body suggesting she has been raped. The girl, identified as Ibtisam M, reported to Al Jadeed TV that she has been raped by three boys over the course of three months, she was afraid to report her case to the police because she was blackmailed with pictures. The Daily Star reports:

“He took me to the apartment where he told me I’d be meeting his relatives, however I arrived and found no one there. He pulled out a knife and threatened to kill me if I didn’t sleep with him, and he said I had to sleep with his friends too,” she said, referring to one of the boys.

Lebanon rape apologism is institutional and “lawful”, the legal system will not prosecute a rapist and will cancel his conviction if the rapist marries his victim. [article 522 of the Lebanese Criminal code]. Article 503 and 504 also adds oppression to the victims of rape and do not consider marital rape (rape within a marriage) as rape.

 

NewsroomNomad, a blog that report and comment Lebanese news, adds that “Combating rape and sexual assault goes beyond just criminalizing and prosecuting it. It needs a societal change and an understanding of the attitudes that empower misogynistic traits and laws in the country. A society that can emphasize with a television series, [Fatmagül, a Turkish series about a woman blamed for her rape] but show little to no sympathy to a real victim is a society that is disengaged. 

“If women who are sexually harassed generally provoke harassment by the way they look, dress, and behave, why do kids get sexually harassed too?”

 

 

 

 

 

This year, enjoy the Baalbek festival with a curfew against Syrian refugees.

Yesterday, Monday 11th of July 2016, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the governor of the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, Bashir Khodor, will enforce a new strengthened curfew for Syrians in the district, from 6PM to 6AM, instead of 8PM to 6AM. The governor said the curfew was to be strengthened during the Baalbek Festival, an annual and renowned festival held in the town. Few hours later, the governor denied it and said that the curfew will remain as it is. No official statement or paper show the reversal of the decision.

Racism in Lebanon isn’t a new story. For decades the Lebanese state institutional racism has limited and restricted the rights of Palestinian refugees, and it is now scapegoating the totality of Syrian refugees in Lebanon for so-called security. The curfew imposed on Syrians in Lebanon isn’t new, dozens of municipalities, as Aley, enforced it since 2013. But it is the first time that an entire muhafaza, or governorate, imposes a curfew.

The curfew was imposed after many suicide attacks targeted the small town of Qaa, which is close to the Syrian border. The police found out that the bombers of Syrian nationalities all came from Syria.

The restriction on movement is inhumane and unjustified, and it is reminiscent on the Zionist regime restriction on the movement of Palestinians. Artists who are performing this year in the festival must boycott the festival until an official statement from the governor lifts the tightening of the curfew.

Sign the following petition by clicking here.

Petition in full.

On Monday, July 11th, 2016, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the Baalbek-Hermel governorate will impose a curfew for Syrian refugees from 6 PM to 6 AM during the upcoming annual Baalbek International Festival, which takes place from Friday, July 22, 2016 until August, 28, 2016.

While Governor Bashir Khoder verbally denied extending the existing refugee curfew, no official statements have been passed by the Baalbek-Hermel governorate indicating that the NNA reported false news.

Many areas in East Lebanon have already imposed tight curfews on Syrian refugees, and more have been imposed after the recent attacks in the village of Al-Qaa, where 7 suicide attacks took place in late June, murdering 5 and wounding 28 others. While Governor Khoder and the Baalbek-Hermel governorate may consider the massacre in Al Qaa and recent threats around the country to be reference points, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces confirmed that the attackers were not refugees or among them; in fact, they came through the Lebanese-Syrian border.

This is a form of collective punishment and a racist policy to implement on people who are fleeing from such atrocities. We believe that these values do not reflect Baalbek International Festival and their performers.

Therefore, we call on the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate to release an official statement denying the curfews, or to reverse them.

We also call on the this year’s performers to cancel their performances unless these policies are lifted. This year’s performers are the following:

Caracalla Dance Theater – Saturday, July 23

Jean Michel Jarre – Saturday, July 30

Mika – Thursday, August 4

Bob James Quartet – Friday, August 12

Abeer Nehme – Friday, August 19

Lisa Simone – Sunday, August 21

Shereen Abdel Wahab – Friday, August 26

Jose Van Dam Meets Carlos Gardel – Sunday, August 28

We also call on ticket-holders and potential ticket-holders to stand on the side of human rights, justice, and dignity, and boycott Baalbek International Festival 2016 unless these unfair curfews stop taking place.

 

 

UN is a failure, here’s why.

UN is a failure in the way it was built and in the way it is dealing with conflicts.

UN Security assembly, the permanent five, a “vetocracy”.

When I was a child, school taught me that five members of the security council were permanent. They are sitting there because they have “won” World War Two. If one member-state of the security council disagreed, it had veto power. It means that the permanent member can stop the adoption of any “substantive” draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft. School (and life itself) also taught me that it is not very democratic to have one voice against all the others.

The five permanent members of the security council constitutes just another set for adversity between, but not exclusively, France, the UK, the USA on one side, and China and Russia on the other.

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The Security Council meet at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City, 2005. Jim Watson-AFP/Getty Images

 

A recent example was the vetoing from China and Russia against a draft resolution that condemned the state of Syria. (05/22/2014). Russia is fully and militarily supporting the Syrian government since September 2015.

World war two has not ended a very long time ago, but in a few dozens of years, when the politics and power dynamics will be completely altered, the position of five permanent members will be understandably and inevitably challenged. In 2055, 110 years after the end of WW2, how much “the winners” of WW2 will still matter to new generations? How logical will it sound? And more practically, how many countries will want to have their own place among “the permanents”?

The permanent members existence is a denial of democracy.

UN patches up conflicts, doesn’t really stop them or prevent them. 

UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, is the example I can relate to. UNIFIL deployed in Lebanon in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon which Israel had invaded 5 days prior. Its goals are to restore “international peace and security” and help the government of Lebanon restore its effective authority in the area.
UNIFIL is still active, it has witnessed many Israeli invasions, and worse, their compound has been directly bombed by the “Israeli Defense Forces” in the sad massacre of Qana in 1996.
On April 18 1996, the IDF bombed a UN compound where civilians had taken refuge amid heavy fighting between IDF and Hezbollah, during the Israeli Operation “Grapes of Wrath”. A UN investigation found that it was unlikely that Israeli shelling was a procedural or a technical error; an Israeli drone was spying on the compound before the shelling. More than 800 people were taking refuge in the compound, 106 civilians died in 17 minutes of constant shelling. Two thirds of the shells were equipped with proximity fuses, meaning that the weapon explode above the ground, to kill more.

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French peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) take part in a military parade to mark Bastille Day in the French UNIFIL base in Tiri village, southern Lebanon,14 July 2010. (Photo: REUTERS – Ali Hashisho)

Israel was never really punished, despite a decision from the General Assembly stating that Israel should be the one paying for the $1.7 million needed to repair the compound. They voted every year until 2003 with the same pattern, one-third for, one-third abstaining and two voices against belonging to Israel and USA.

UN General Assembly vote.

If you ever wondered why we see so many resolutions but no real actions, its explanation is simple.

The UN General Assembly is democratic, where one state equals one vote. They could pass resolutions with a simple majority or with two-thirds from the member’s states present and voting. Two thirds are required when they are dealing with “important questions”, i.e. the matters that deal with international peace and security and UN internal matters. But resolutions are generally non-binding, meaning they have no real legal power and consequences. A resolution is really just a piece of paper. The real power lies within the Security Council, where “vetocracy” and political adversity reigns.

Questionable morality and impartiality. 

UN wish of impartiality is understandable, but it usually ends in a moral and political fiasco. Impartiality is often an obstacle against action.

In Syria, the UN asks the green light from the Syrian regime to deliver basic humanitarian aid. Despite the regime almost constant refusal to allow the delivery of aid, a UN official said it would be too dangerous to deliver aid without the government consent, reported the Washington Post.
But how can the UN ask for the consent of the party responsible for so many besieged areas in Syria?

In a letter addressed to Stephen O’Brien, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, 112 Syrian civil society activists accused the agency of complicity in government-imposed blockades that violate the laws of war. The activists wrote that international law and that a 2014 UN Security council resolution oblige all warring parties not to disrupt the delivery of humanitarian aid.
In other words, the UN is violating its own resolutions in Syria, and its desire of impartiality is sadly indirectly helping the suffering of the Syrian people.

Security Council Meeting: The situation in the Middle East - Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Security Council.
Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator briefs Security Council on humanitarian situation in Syria. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

UN is also subject to the Syrian regime “inputs” into its documents and reports. In an alarming report from Foreign Policy, the newspaper discovered that the U.N, after consulting with the Syrian government, “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light”. The UN doesn’t deny this.

Linda Tom, an OCHA spokeswoman replied that “it is standard procedure in each country for the UN to consult with the government of the country”. Amanda Pitt added more: “I assume it was done in consultation with a range of partners including the Government, as is normal practice”, she said in an e-mail to Foreign Policy.

More recently, Stephen O’Brien told the security council that the organization will formally ask the Syrian government to approve airdrops of humanitarian aid. The Syrian government has said there is no need for airdrops because no one is starving.
The decision to use airdrops was taken by US, Russia, and other powers. The use of airdrops was to be applied if the Syrian regime refused aid to be delivered by land.

UN is subject to pressure from countries over its decisions.

Earlier this month, U.N put Saudi Arabia in a blacklist of nations and armed groups responsible for killing children. Saudi Arabia didn’t stay very long on the list; UN removed it after pressure from Saudi Arabia itself. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition that is bombing relentlessly Yemen since March 2015. Saudi Arabia and its coalition are responsible of 60 per cent of the 785 children killed in Yemen last year, according to the UN.

UN bowed down to Saudi Arabia after mounting pressure and threats from the Kingdom and its coalition to remove their financing from UNRWA, the UN agency that deal with Palestinian refugees.

“Bullying, threat, pressure”, a diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The source added it was “real blackmail”.

Vote manipulation. 

Saudi Arabia didn’t only remove the blacklisting with pressure, it has its own seat on the UN Human Rights Council because of a phony deal with Britain. In 2013, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia gained a seat in the UNHRC, in an “exchange of support”. It was basically trading votes and money. The Saudi Cables that were released last year in 2015 by Wikileaks revealed an alarming case. UN watch, an NGO based in Geneva, translated the cables.

“The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Another cable uncovered that KSA transferred $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”.

Recently, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch urged UN member-states to suspend Saudi Arabia from the UNHRC over the killings of civilians in Yemen and repression in their own territory.

UN is a failure because of its structure, the security council is a place where bickering powerful nations deal with each other, on the other side, its extreme impartiality pushes the agency to inaction and to asking dictators to allow helping starving civilians. Votes can be bought, it is dependent on funds and will bow down to pressure from unhappy and unsatisfied countries.

The United Nations should be either heavily reformed, or dismantled to let space for the creation of an agency that will at least ensure quick help of civilians in war-torn countries. It should be funded by individuals, not governments.

Orlando LGBTQ club massacre: homophobia is an issue among Muslim communities.

A man called Omar Mateen entered a gay club and massacred 49 people because of their sexual orientation.

Omar Mateen had been investigated by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 and reports said he pledged his allegiance to Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State.
His father said that the act “had nothing to do with religion, and that he got angry when he witnessed a gay couple kiss in front of his family.”
His wife, Sitora Yusifiy, said that Mateen was mentally unstable and would beat her, she claimed that he was bipolar and used steroids. His allegiance to Daesh seems to be baseless, and in 2013, he told his friends he had family connections to al-Qaeda and that he was a member of Hezbollah, the Shia group fighting Daesh in Lebanon and Syria. Obama said that the attack appeared to be “an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been concerned about”. There are no direct links between him and IS.

Many people rushed to write on social media that now Muslims, Arabs, or really, people looking “oriental” will face repercussions from this attack. This is true, but this is erasure of homophobia. It is important to note that this attack will lead to more violence and essentialism, but to quickly speak about one’s own oppression is running away from the subject of homophobia. To say such things as: “In the Middle East, we have everyday a 9/11” brings nothing to the debate. To rush and claim that the attack doesn’t represent Islam is to put the homophobia quickly under a carpet. It’s denying a reality: homophobia and extreme rejection of non-heterosexuals is extreme in the region, the Arab-Muslim world.

This early “but we’re oppressed too” is erasure of homophobia. I am not saying that Muslims should apologise, as many Muslims accept LGBT people, and many Muslims are LGBT themselves. White Americans also don’t have to apologise for the Charleston church massacre, when a white man killed black Americans, because they were black. But we cannot ignore the many posts on social media praising the massacre such as this “caricature” that received over 3000 likes in just two days.

Report this picture by clicking here.

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It is written: “the faggot shouldn’t be killed by bullets but be thrown from the highest place in town”. 3000 people “liked” this post and thought it was a good joke. And of course some commentors criticized the drawer. No community is completely homogenous. I have personally heard half a dozen comments not completely condemning the attack, sometimes people showed content.

The polls done at PEW research in 2013 on homosexuality are still prevalent today. They found that religiosity and opinions have a strong relationships. In other words there is less tolerance for homosexuality in more religious countries.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 11.10.14 AMSome countries are unique such as Brazil or Russia,  Brazil is religious but has a relatively high acceptance of 60%. Russia has a very low score on religiosity but where only 16% think homosexuality should be accepted by society. Russia might have a very low score because of patriarchal nationalism, where the land, the father, the mother, and the traditional family must be sacred. (Study) 

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 12.25.54 AM

 

Omar Mateen was American of Afghan heritage. Here‘s what Fariba Nawa, an American woman of Afghan descent said about homophobia in Afghan American homes.

Most Afghans are almost too tolerant. The homophobes and radicals exist but we refuse to acknowledge them. We look the other way; don’t ask, don’t tell. If Mateen had won an award, we would have claimed him as ours. But now that he’s a mass murderer, he is viewed as an outsider. Disowning him and many others like him allows us to shun the responsibility of confronting our demons.

In many Afghan American homes, homophobia is normal. If a son or daughter is gay, it’s a well-kept secret, one that could ruin the family name if it’s revealed.

Several of my friends are gay but scared to come out — they fear dishonoring their families or being beaten or ostracized by them. One of my high school friends in Fremont was hospitalized after a group of Afghan American men found out he was gay. I never saw my friend again.

Omar Mateen seemed to be gay himself, he visited the club called Pulse several times before the massacre and a had gay app on his phone. A former classmate believed he was gay but didn’t come out. Mateen was a G4S security guard and selfies of him with the NYPD (New York Police Department) shirts appeared online. If Omar Mateen was raised up differently, had another context, felt accepted within his own community, he may have acted differently. If he wasn’t so stuck between patriarchy and community religion pressure and himself. Omar Mateen may have been different. An oppressor, especially those who want to erase what he hates, shouldn’t be talked to, but the context should be understood. LGBT people don’t have to talk to people who want to erase them or to the people who are silent regarding homophobia if they don’t want to.

Muslims of USA and the world don’t need to condemn the attacks, they already did it, they don’t need to claim #notInMyName and feed the imperialist and orientalist essentialism. But they need to discuss homophobia and find a way to beat it down.

And most importantly we need to call this attack an attack on LGBT, the worst attack since WW2. We cannot claim this is an attack on freedom ONLY and downplay the homophobia.

Owen Jones, a gay English journalist said it better on Guardian newspaper.

This isn’t about LGBT people taking ownership of the pain and anguish. […] But this was a deliberate attack on a LGBT venue and LGBT people. […] Omar Mateen could have chosen many clubs, full of people laughing and living, but he chose a LGBT venue. This was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.


Read more here: The Muslim Silence on Gay Rights: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/13/opinion/the-muslim-silence-on-gay-rights.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0