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Allah selamatkan Selangor dengan ‘Ijhtihad’ dan ‘Iltizam’ 2 Adun PAS, kata AJK Pusat

August 16, 2014

OLEH AMIN ISKANDAR, PENGARANG BERITA (TMI)

Published: 15 August 2014

Tindakan dua Adun PAS menyokong calon menteri besar baharu Selangor Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail adalah pertolongan Allah, kata AJK PAS Pusat Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider.

Tindakan dua Adun PAS menyokong calon menteri besar baharu Selangor Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail adalah pertolongan Allah, kata AJK PAS Pusat Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider. -
 
Allah selamatkan Selangor dengan 2 Adun PAS, kata AJK Pusat

Ahli Jawatankuasa (AJK) PAS Pusat Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad menganggap tindakan dua Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) PAS menyokong Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail sebagai menteri besar baharu bagi menggantikan Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim sebagai pertolongan Allah untuk menyelamatkan Selangor dan Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Bekas ahli Parlimen Kuala Selangor itu berkata, Adun Hulu Klang Saari Sungib dan Adun Morib Hasnul Baharuddin terpaksa membuat “ijtihad” (keputusan) peribadi untuk menyelamatkan PR walaupun PAS hanya akan membuat keputusan rasmi mengenai isu tersebut dalam mesyuarat 17 Ogos ini.

“Dua Adun PAS ini membuka pintu untuk peralihan kuasa ketika Selangor mengalami kebuntuan dalam krisis menteri besar dan Khalid kini sudah tidak mempunyai sokongan majoriti dalam Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN),” katanya kepada The Malaysian Insider di Kuala Lumpur hari ini,

“Tindakan kedua-dua Adun PAS ini saya anggap sebagai pertolongan Allah untuk menyelamatkan Pakatan Rakyat dan kerajaan negeri Selangor,” katanya.

Semalam Adun Hulu Klang dan Adun Morib bersama-sama 28 lagi Adun PKR dan DAP menyatakan secara terbuka mereka hilang kepercayaan terhadap Khalid dan mahu Dr Wan Azizah yang merupakan Adun Kajang menjadi menteri besar Selangor yang baharu.

Khalid yang kini merupakan Adun Bebas selepas dipecat PKR, hanya mempunyai sokongan 13 Adun daripada PAS dan 12 Adun Umno, menjadikannya hanya 26 Adun.

Dzulkefly sebelum ini pernah berkata, PR sedang dalam proses memusnahkan diri sendiri dan hanya bantuan Allah (divine intervention) dapat menyelamatkannya.

“Dengan adanya 30 Adun menyokong Dr Wan Azizah, tidak perlulah Sultan Selangor membubarkan DUN dan menteri besar baharu sudah boleh dilantik.

“Khalid kini sudah tidak mempunyai sokongan majoriti Adun Selangor dan beliau perlulah berundur secara terhormat,” katanya.

Dzulkefly berkata, PAS sedar dengan kemarahan penyokong PR dan orang ramai kerana masih belum membuat keputusan ketika krisis besar melanda dan berkemungkinan akan menyebabkan berakhirnya kerjasama dengan PKR dan DAP sejak 6 tahun lalu.

“Tindakan 4 exco PAS itu terus bersama Khalid semata-mata untuk mempertahankan kerajaan negeri Selangor, dari dicerobohi dan dirampas Umno dari pintu belakang. Ini juga satu sumbangan PAS” katanya.

Semalam Setiausaha PAS Selangor Mohd Khairuddin Othman meminta kedua-dua Adun Hulu Klang dan Adun Morib memberikan penjelasan dalam masa 24 jam.

Khairuddin berkata, sekiranya kedua-dua Adun berkenaan enggan berbuat demikian, mereka bakal berdepan dengan tindakan disiplin.

“PAS Selangor memandang serius tindakan 2 Adun PAS ini yang mengambil pendirian dan bersikap bersendiri tanpa menurut tatacara serta arahan yang ditetapkan parti.

“Saya nasihat kedua-dua Adun ini menarik balik tindakan (menyokong Dr Wan Azizah) atau PAS Selangor akan mulakan tindakan disiplin termasuk melihat kepada kandungan bai’ah (janji) yang dilafazkan sewaktu mereka menjadi calon (Adun),” katanya dalam satu kenyataan semalam.

Walaupun Dr Wan Azizah sudah membuktikan beliau mempunyai sokongan majoriti 30 daripada 56  Adun Selangor, Khalid tetap mengatakan beliau kekal sebagai menteri besar dan hanya proses undi tidak percaya di DUN Selangor dapat menyingkirkannya. – 15 Ogos, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/allah-selamatkan-selangor-dengan-2-adun-pas-kata-ajk-pusat#sthash.MgCtCSIM.dpuf

A Brilliant Must Read….The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring

August 14, 2014

BY Khaled Abou El Fadl (Religion and Ethics)

After the military coup in Egypt, I braced for the slaughter in Palestine. Sadly, one’s worst possible fears materialized with nightmarish predictability.

It is not a coincidence that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – the two countries who pressured the White House not to trust the elec

ted government in Egypt, and who were blatant and even rather insolent in their support of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s coup – are the same countries that assured Israel of their covert support if Israel would take out Hamas. But it is not this fact alone that is so telling.

After the coup in Egypt, there was an unprecedented media campaign by the state-controlled media outlets against Hamas. For the first time in Egyptian history, it seemed that the Egyptian official discourse about political Islam and Hamas was scripted, not just by Fox News and its likes, but by Netanyahu and Likud politicians. Hamas was being accused of killing Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai and of every other imaginable vice. The unimaginable happened, and the Egyptian government invited and hosted well-known Islamophobes in Cairo where they spewed their typical venom against a poor captive Egyptian audience.

Soon after the coup, the Sisi government started to repeat an Israeli narrative, which is factually indefensible – that Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, Hamas was influenced by the thought of particular orientations of the Muslim Brotherhood, but the two movements have very distinct pedagogies, objectives and methodologies.

Nevertheless, Sisi’s government, in the same way it declared that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization, has declared Hamas to be a terrorist and banned organization, and closed down its offices in Egypt, confiscated its equipment, and arrested and tortured many Palestinians associated with the organization in Egypt. Sisi also embarked on an unprecedented systematic program of finding and destroying Gaza’s tunnels connecting it to Sinai, and locked down the border with Gaza to an extent unparalleled since the blockade of Gaza.

Shortly after the coup in Egypt, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked upon so-called shuttle diplomacy urging European capitals to accept the Egyptian coup with the classic argument that floods Israeli media and academic discourses: democracy cannot work in Arab countries! This also happens to be an argument fervently advocated by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. At the time, many analysts contended that the banning of Hamas in Egypt and the fanatic closure of the border was a form of returning the favour to Netanyahu. However, this argument ignores the fact that, aside from any favours owed, Sisi had his own real material interests in isolating and ultimately breaking Hamas. This interest happens to be shared by a number of Arab countries, most notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

I

To make sense of the current crisis and to understand the trajectory of the future, one need only follow the money. Indeed, one need only reflect upon the archetypal cities of the key players involved. On the one hand, we have the city of Dubai, an archetype for indulgence and excess. Dubai has become something akin to a vulgar shrine for the idols born out of the excesses of capitalism. This is a city that bespeaks an entire philosophy – or theology, if you will – which has vested the keys to the heavens in the hands of the richest of the rich, and that often embodies hell on earth for the poorest of the poor who are trafficked as human commodities.

As telling is the archetypal city of Mecca. Saudi Arabia has turned Mecca into a luxury religious resort for the rich, in which the ethic of abstinence and self-abnegation are thoroughly defied and negated. The Kaaba no longer towers as the central landmine of the city, but instead a luxury Hilton hotel stands hovering over the haram as if the wealthy investors of Saudi Arabia are the gatekeepers of redemption and grace. Asceticism and chaste abdication of power, or even the creation of a purified eremitic space where the ego of the rich and powerful are not indulged, are all ideals that no longer exist in Mecca. Mecca has become a city where history, tradition, culture, or even virtuous norms such as abstinence are all sacrificed in favour of a stark pragmatism, functionalism and the catering to the pleasures of profit. Put differently, the Saudi government has transformed the holy cities of Mecca and Medina into extremely lucrative investment opportunities for the select elite that is powerful enough to own a share in these enterprises.

Now, we come to Cairo, which has become an archetype for insolent, vulgar and even cruel corruption. Egypt was, and remains, a haven for some of the most lucrative corruption schemes anywhere in the Middle East, if not the world. What we can call the black-economy ties between the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the elite of Egypt are numerous and extensive. There are billions of dollars invested in this black economic sector resulting from numerous corrupt practices, including the purchase of state-owned companies, real estate properties and minerals for a fraction of their market value, as well as unlawful toxic waste dumping among other things.

Importantly, the Egyptian military is a major stakeholder in this parasitical black economy. For instance, since 1979 the Egyptian military has received over 40 billion dollars in military aid from the United States, but only less than 30% of this money has actually been used for any legitimate institutional purpose. The rest of the money has been pocketed through embezzlements, bribes and misappropriations. The Egyptian military has become a massive corporate entity that exploits the cheap labour provided by impoverished and disempowered draftees from rural areas in order to operate an enormous profit-making enterprise including resorts, cinemas, gas stations as well as most other financial sectors in the country.

So, for instance, recently the Egyptian government solicited bids for a major development project in the Suez Canal worth billions of dollars. Over forty bids from domestic and foreign companies were received, but not surprisingly, the contract was awarded mostly to the Egyptian military, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The tragic irony is that a very similar project was proposed at the time of Muhammad Morsi’s presidency, but was derailed when the Egyptian military objected to it on national security grounds. It has now become clear that the military derailed the project only to grant it mostly to itself and to Saudi investors after the coup.

Moreover, Egyptian military officers make a grotesque amount of profits from Israeli tourism passing through the port of Taba, which incidentally will not admit Palestinians, but will give Israelis a free pass without even having to apply for a visa. It suffices to say that during the current war on Gaza, the only airline in the world that has not suspended its weekly flights to Ben Gurion airport is Air Sinai, a state owned corporate entity whose profits go directly to the top brass in the Egyptian military.

II

How is all of this related to the massacres taking place in Gaza right now? Actually, in every way! In 2003, the American neo-cons invaded Iraq with an ambitious messianic vision of imposing what they imagined would be a new world order. As far as the Middle East was concerned, this order meant that there would be final evisceration of the already comatose corpse of Arab nationalism and pan-Arabism.

But the new order did not just want to ensure that pan-Arabism would end once and for all; more importantly, with nothing short of the zeal of true fanatics, the Bush clique dreamt of re-engineering and reinventing Islam along lines that would clearly entrench what was to them the indisputable moral superiority of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In essence, for the Bush team this meant that Arabs, who for the neo-cons are indistinguishable from Muslims, must understand and accept that they have been defeated and, more importantly, that resistance is futile.

Whether one agrees or even comprehends their logic is immaterial. What is important is that they wholeheartedly believed, as many still do, that the Judeo-Christian civilization has been in conflict with the Islamic civilization, and that the source of the West’s troubles is that Muslims have not come to terms with the triumph of the West and their own defeat. The Bush administration’s outlook mirrored the Israeli outlook that it has soundly defeated the Arabs on the battlefield and that all that remains is that Arabs abandon the idea of resistance and accept whatever the victor dictates upon the vanquished.

A critical component of this dogmatic outlook is the tendency to see international law and the United Nations as an unnecessary concession by the triumphant West to whoever stands in its way. In other words, if international law and the international order deny the West its perceived entitlements, then it should simply be reinvented or ignored.

The Bush administration was amazingly dogmatic and so steeped in its own delusions that it failed to make the most basic distinctions, or even attempt to understand the complex matrix of the Middle East, let alone the Muslim world. But one clear outcome of its highly dogmatic understanding of history and social reality was not just the deprecation of normative humanitarian standards, but also the eruption of anti-Muslim religious bigotry and of prejudice against a racialized image of what a Muslim is supposed to look like.

This bigotry and racism was not invented by the Bush administration, but the irresponsible rhetoric about a confrontation with a constructed imaginary archetype of the jihadist Muslim, political Islam, or the defiant and militant Muslim removed the barriers of shame that had imposed a modicum of civility on acting openly upon this prejudice. What every person with any sense of ethical conscientiousness must understand is that the numerous human rights violations and war crimes that were committed in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that are taking place right now in Gaza, would not be possible without the cover provided by the epidemic of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism and bigotry.

The dichotomous logic of the Bush administration, dictating that “if you are not with us then you are against us,” forced a division in the Middle East between two clear orientations. The first could be described as countries and movements adhering to ideologies of resistance to the so-called new order in the region. This included Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, and to a lesser extent Libya, Sudan and Algeria. The second orientation, what the United States referred to as the “moderate” countries, adhered to a policy of appeasement or acquiescence. This group included Egypt, Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Whether or not they had actual political relations with Israel, the basic geo-political outlook of these governments was to manoeuvre in the shadow of Western, and especially American, hegemony, and not to confront either the United States or its perceived proxy in the region, Israel. But the unfortunate reality is that a side effect of the policies of these governments was to further solidify the Israeli racist belief that Arabs/Muslims only understand the language of violence and force.

After 11 September 2001, conservative circles in Israel and the United States became increasingly convinced that the most important causes of agitation in the region were the Palestinian problem and radicalizing ideologies such as Islamism or Arab nationalism. But a combination of the rise of right wing forces simultaneously in Israel and the United States in the twenty-first century anchored the conviction that the Arab psychology needs to be reconditioned into accepting the idea of the futility of resistance.

Especially after the invasion of Iraq, accompanying the rise of the religious bigotry of Islamophobia was the explosion of the racist attitude that Arabs can only be reconditioned through the use of force. Put simply, it was important to hammer Arabs into waking up to the reality of the new world – a unipolar world in which the only viable option is to abandon all ideological aspirations, precisely as the Russians did. In more rarefied terms, Arabs had to be forced into realizing the unavoidability and inexorability of political realism and pragmatism, which in this situation meant becoming integrated in the globalized economy, and abandoning any ideological pretensions. Effectively, what the new world order theorists were asserting is that there are triumphant ideologies that are entitled to reap the spoils of victory, and vanquished ideologies that must accept the reality of their own futility.

By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, in the post-Bush era, it seemed that the age of ideologies was over. Both pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism were dead, and only real ideological (philosophical) orientations remaining were a form of parasitical vulgar capitalism, which in essence, legitimated a hedonistic survivalism centred around the rich getting richer and the poor – well – they should feel lucky that they get the privilege of being kept alive.

For all its inspirational promises, it quickly became clear that the Obama administration was unwilling to undo the trajectory set in motion during the Bush years. In the course of the declared war on terror, the elites of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to the PLO, had acclimated themselves to the lucrative perks afforded by the new global economy in a unipolar world. Borrowing a page from the time honoured practices of colonialism, the ruling elites of these countries carved out a role acting as proxies for the interests of the West, and by extension Israel.

In this context, Egypt fully cooperated with the illegal blockade of Gaza initiated by Israel in 2007, although blockading an occupied territory and conspiring to transform it into a massive concentration camp is clearly unethical and unlawful under international law. In a most illustrative example, in 2009 the Egyptian military intelligence tortured to death Yousef Abu Zuhri, the brother of Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson, because Egyptian intelligence believed that he might know the hiding place of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas.

III

What of the elephant in the room – political Islam? Political Islam is something of a red herring because it is a label for a vastly varied and diverse phenomenon. Political Islam ranges from single-issue movements that struggled for greater rights in China or equal rights in Myanmar or Vietnam; to movements seeking some kind of autonomous rule as in the Philippines or Kashmir; to more militant struggles for self-determination such as in Chechnya; and outright psychotic violence as in al-Qa’eda. But even more confusingly, countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt, that regularly utilize religion as an integral part of protecting the legitimacy of the ruling elite, or sectarian countries such as Lebanon that distribute power shares in running the country according to a number of sectarian religious groups, are all manifesting politicized forms of religion. The role that al-Azhar played in supporting the coup in Egypt is as much a manifestation of political Islam as the Muslim Brotherhood forming a political party to compete in the political process.

But as vague and endlessly malleable the expression, political Islam, at least as first used by academics, referred to a very broad and ill-defined notion that activist groups could organize around a civilizational sense of belonging based in Islamic history, and work with existing political processes to incorporate Islamic normative principles as motivational directives in the political making process. Unlike in the 1970s and 1980s, when social scientists used the expression “Islamic fundamentalists” or simply “Islamic groups,” “political Islam” was not necessarily restricted to the dogmatic cause of establishing an Islamic state ruled by a divine code of law. Political Islam movements were not necessarily committed to militancy or terror tactics in pursuit of their causes. Rather, they ranged widely from puritanical movements that saw themselves as God’s exclusive agents in enforcing a presumed Divine Will, to more moderated and sophisticated nuances that dealt with Islam as a civilizational identity or as a normative ethical frame of reference.

But why is Saudi Arabia so hostile to political Islam movements such as Hamas, Hizbullah, or the Muslim Brotherhood? The reason is that, although Saudi Arabia was built upon an alliance between Al Saud and the fanatic Wahhabi sect, in the past twenty years the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia has tended to be increasingly Westernized and secular. Wahhabism is often treated as if this theology is good enough for the laity and the common people, but it in no way cramps the style of the elites of Riyadh.

In my visits to Saudi Arabia, I saw this first hand in the way that the ruling elite lives their private lives. When prompted, they would often reply that Wahhabism, or the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia, is important to protect common people from the dangers of speculative ideas and corrupt influences, but business and politics should be left in the hands of the cultured aristocracy. But more importantly, Wahhabism is an extremely useful theology for the power elite. Wahhabism focuses its entire attention on correct performance of ritualistic practices, the snuffing out of heresy and social innovations, and the preservation of a strictly patriarchal society. All matters involving foreign politics, constitutionalism, or national security are branded as al-siyasa al-shar’iyya (public policy or administrative and executive considerations) and left to the sole discretion of the ruler.

To put it simply, in Wahhabi thought, it is far more important for a Muslim man to correctly grow his beard, or for a Muslim woman to don the veil than to have any kind of opinion about the invasions of Iraq, Gaza, or the fate of Jerusalem. It is not an exaggeration to say that the United States realized, just like Britain before it – and even the Al Saud clan had discovered much earlier – that this kind of Islam is invaluable as a conservative legitimating agent for imperialist and neo-colonial interests in the Muslim world.

One need only recall that Wahhabi Saudi jurists issued a fatwa that it was a grave sin to join demonstrations seeking the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, but it was not a sin to overthrow the elected President Morsi. It speaks volumes that during the height of the slaughter in Gaza, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh and the influential Saudi cleric Saleh al-Luhaidan issued fatwas declaring demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza are haram (religiously forbidden). Both clerics advised Muslims to pray for the people of Gaza instead.

IV

As a direct result of this new world system of thought, Israel launched military campaigns against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, the purpose of which was to force the occupied territories to abandon the project of an independent Palestinian state.

Throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century, Israel expanded its illegal settlements in the West Bank and divided the Palestinians territories into ghettoized sections carved up by isolating walls. The election of Hamas into power in 2006 was extremely frustrating because it represented the stubborn persistence of ideological orientations that refused to accept the paradigm of the new world order. Using a number of different excuses, Israel enforced a deadly total land, sea and air blockade against Gaza in 2007, and bombed and pummelled Gaza again, from the air, land and sea in 2006, 2007, 2008-09, 2012 and 2014.

Most critically, the Arab Spring, which started in 2010, could have turned everything on its head. For the first time in a long time, the masses were insisting on reclaiming their own rights to self-determination and creating modern institutions where governments would become accountable to its people instead of the opposite. Most importantly, the asserting of their own autonomy and directing the fate of their countries would have meant an end to traditional dynamics between Arab elites and their former colonizers. If power truly moved into the hands of the people, then institutionalizing systems of accountability, transparency, fair process and integrity in conducting the financial and political affairs of the country would necessarily have meant the end of the proxy system of servitude.

Nothing has served the interests of the former colonizing powers in the Middle East as much as the military governments who, if not supported by a solid civic society and economic institutions, became political proxies doing what they are told. Militaries in the Third World have a very long tradition of dealing in giving orders and receiving orders. They will act as an executive interest for any party able to provide them with their material needs and privileges, and in turn, any segment of society that relies on the military for its safety, security, or livelihood is expected to be in the service of the military.

The other group that has been no less servile to the interests of their ex-colonizers are tribal rulers, who were turned by virtue of their loyal services to European colonialism into kings and princesses, dealing with their countries as if fiefdoms granted by their colonial lords for services well-rendered.

The Arab Spring was so pivotal because it promised to write a new history for the region – a history in which Israel would no longer be the only regional democracy, and the area would bustle with practices that, like exposure to the air and light, would eventually dry up corruption and kill it off. It was also important because it offered a real opportunity to challenge all of the Islamophobic and racist rhetoric that flooded every corner of the world, and to demonstrate that the real ideological issues that concern contemporary Muslims are the challenges of democracy, economic justice, fair opportunity and dignity to the individual. In fact, it promised to overcome the destructive divide between religiously motivated Palestinians and more secularly oriented branches, such as the PLO.

Moreover, the Arab Spring even promised to affect a reconciliation between Arabs and Turks who had been at opposite ends since World War I. The animosity between Arabs and Turks was achieved at the instigation and active participation of British colonialism, and has had a devastating impact upon the fate of the whole region and the Muslim world. Instead of the political Islam of al-Azhar and the Saudi muftis, which is pedantic, apologetic, intellectually oppressive and demeaning, the political Islam project could have become closer to what some have called a system of secularity (as opposed to secularism) modelled after the Turkish experience.

For all of these reasons, the Arab Spring had to fail, and unfortunately, in a region so penetrated and infiltrated as the Middle East, it was not difficult to find proxy agents willing to do someone’s bidding. This is the nature of the game of nations, but how and why the Arab Spring was so effectively aborted is a history that needs to be carefully studied and analyzed. For now, one can sum up this tragic story as follows.

Saudi Arabia aggressively intervened in Yemen and Bahrain, turning these revolutions into sectarianized conflicts. Hizbullah made a disastrous decision to back up the Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad, and this turned the conflict into something of a civil war. Saudi Arabia, with the assistance of others, launched ISIS to undermine the influence of Iran in Iraq, and of course, the UAE and Saudi Arabia helped the Egyptian army overthrow the elected government of Morsi. With every passing week, it became ever more clear that this was but a craftily orchestrated abortive effort carried out by the proxy states in the region to neutralize and frustrate all of the nervous energy, aspirational excitement and ideological fervour that the Arab Spring had generated.

It reached the point of obscenity when Egypt and its allies tried to destabilize the revolutionary governments of Libya and Tunisia. Thus far, Sisi has failed to entice the Tunisian military to overthrow the elected government of Tunisia, but did succeed in instigating a bloody war between a retired general named Khalifa Haftar, and the revolutionary forces of Libya. Sisi armed and aided Haftar, conspiring with him to overthrow the Islamists in Libya. Very recently Haftar’s forces were routed in battle, which compelled the Egyptian government to threaten direct military action in Libya, and urged the West to intervene to preempt what it described as the dangerous situation in Libya.

V

So why was another assault on Gaza inevitable after the coup in Egypt? For the same reason that the Egyptian army massacred thousands of protestors in Rab’a al-Adawiyya mosque, and sentenced hundreds to death in sham trials. It is also the same reason that Egyptian courts banned the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas as terrorist organizations, and imprisoned most of the symbols of the 25 January 2011 revolution. It is also the same reason that the Egyptian media has become as a mere replica of Fox News repeating the same hateful verbiage about all forms of political Islamic activism, but is silent about the oppressiveness of Wahhabism or the obscenities committed in Mecca and Medina. Moreover, it is also the same reason that the Arab response to this latest round of atrocities in Gaza was nearly silent if not complicit.

After the return of what is in effect the Mubarak regime in Egypt, Israel knew that the momentum had been fully regained by the anti-ideological, tri-alliance in the Arab world – namely, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But this time, there are many indicators that Israel embarked upon this round of slaughter with the knowledge and acquiescence of these countries.

Israel wants Gaza ruled by a compliant Palestinian authority that rules over the occupied territories in a fashion that is consistent with Israel’s strategic goals. In other words, Israel wants an authority that keeps the Palestinians in check and that promotes a weak and non-intrusive form of Palestinian nationalism – an authority that will do nothing but protest meekly as Israel builds settlements and demolishes homes in the occupied territories.

It is very telling that the shortest and least destructive rampage against Gaza was that of 2012, and this is for the simple reason that Israel realized very quickly that prolonging the conflict could further ignite nationalistic and religious ideologies at a time that the Egyptian revolution had not yet been defeated. In contrast, the 2014 assault has been the most destructive and demoralizing because Egypt locked the border with Gaza, allowed very little humanitarian aid to enter, and refused to permit even the critically injured Palestinians to be treated in Egyptian hospitals. The inhumanity and brutality of Egypt’s policies at the Rafah crossing in this conflict has been unprecedented and without parallel.

Ostensibly, this latest conflict started when three Israeli teenagers were murdered in what we now know was an incident having nothing to do with Hamas. But at the time, the Israeli forces went on a rampage through the West Bank arresting hundreds, demolishing houses and killing a number of Palestinians. This was followed by the abduction and grisly burning to death of sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and the beating and injuring of Tariq Abu Khdeir, his American cousin. Although these events hardly constituted sufficient cause for ordering the bombing of Gaza, I believed Netanyahu was waiting for an opportunity – any opportunity. So Gaza was bombed, and the rockets were fired at Israel or its settlements in retaliation.

The destruction heaped upon the people of Gaza was not only disproportionate or excessive, but obscene. Israel destroyed over a hundred mosques, forty thousand homes, over a hundred factories (including milk factories), over a hundred schools, universities, hospitals, electricity stations and the entire infrastructure of Gaza. It was a scorched earth, mowing the land, unrestrained warfare of biblical proportions. Even the UN schools sheltering refugees were bombed numerous times. The Israeli media is abuzz with genocidal language vis-a-vis the Gazans if they do not agree to disarm (for instance, the genocidal plot proposed by Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party) and are already talking about the plans for the next go around in Gaza!

Israel has violated every international law in the books. Israel engaged in collective punitive measures and targeted civilians, especially children. It has violated the rule of proportionality and discrimination, blockaded occupied territory, and then denied an occupied people the right to self-determination and the right to self-defence.

But this is precisely the point. Seen from the paradigm of the Bush administration’s principle of the victor’s rights, Israel would simply wave away all this international law as unfair, irrelevant and non-applicable. Why? The answer is provided by the Israeli media, which often cites the atomic bombs dropped on Japan and the carpet-bombing of Berlin as illustrative examples. As the argument goes, Japan and Germany would not come to their senses and realize that they have been vanquished once and for all, until the allies used such overwhelming power against them that they would come to terms with their own defeat. Add to this Netanyahu’s racist thesis of “telegenically dead Palestinians” and you have the makings for a perfect storm.

This reminds us once again that there are arguments that no ethical person should ever dare to entertain. Moral people should never objectify and dehumanize the other to the point that the sight of children hurt and crying no longer affects them. Decent people should recall that the logic of considering an entire people guilty because they live in a particular place or under this or that ruler or government, compromises the humanity of that entire people. Terrorists who target Americans or Israelis use the same precise reasoning – those people chose the criminal Netanyahu or Sharon or Bush and, therefore, no one is innocent.

Moreover, in my view, the most dehumanizing, objectifying and racist argument of all is trying to justify the killing of children by arguing that the other side uses their own people as human shields. The remarkable thing is that this same argument has been used by every colonial power when it slaughtered natives; it was used by every oppressive government when it butchered the families of dissenters (it was used by Egypt in the Rab’a al-Adawiyya massacre, for instance); and it was used in every act of savagery and butchery because it is impossible to verify and the weak party can never refute it. In the end, it boils down to a racist attitude effectively saying: Those people are not like us! We love and protect our children and they sacrifice their children because they are inhumane, crazy, and cowardly.

Israel wants to destroy Hamas because Israel wants to continue controlling the fate of Palestinians, neutralizing their nationalism and ideological foundations, and breaking their will to resist. Israel’s Arab allies want the destruction of Hamas because they want to end all systems of thought that contribute to ideological aspirations or empowerment, which might destabilize their power base. Of course, Gaza is not Hamas, and Hamas is not Gaza. But, because the Arab governments have learned nothing from the revolutions of 2011, it is only a matter of time before agitating ideologies will come back, but I fear that they will come back more angry, distrustful and hateful.

VI

I will close this article – and in truth, my act of bearing witness – by borrowing a phrase from John Mearsheimer: “the tragedy of great power.” The reality is that Israel, which has the fourth strongest army in the world and has a full arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, is a great power. As critical as the Holocaust was and still is in the rise of the entire edifice of human rights norms, Israel suffers the psychology of great power.

The real tragedy of great power is that it is fundamentally at odds with ethical conscientiousness and judgment. Don’t get me wrong, “great power” will consider normative values, will engage in moral discourses and will reflect upon ethics, but it is invariably and persistently self-indulgent and self-serving. Great power will idolize itself, and demand obedience from whoever falls within its sphere. It will reflect on ethics, but ultimately will always reach the conclusion that whatever it does or decides is indeed ethical, and that all who are less powerful must sublimate and praise its virtues. And the highest form of sublimation is obedience. The tragedy of Israel’s great power is that it has lost the ability to be restrained or proportionate. In other words, it has lost the self-critical insight and restraint needed for reasonableness.

I believe that the first principle of ethics is to pursue goodness and resist evil, but the second principle is to speak the truth of goodness and the shame of evil to great power. It is due time that we recognize that the critical premise of all moral acts is reasonableness, and that when great power acts unreasonably, great evil unfolds. Whatever the religion, nationality, ethnicity or race of this great power, the human suffering is always the same.

Khaled Abou El Fadl is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law and Chair of the Islamic Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA. He is the author of many books on Islam and Islamic law, including The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists and The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books. His magnum opus, Reasoning with God: Reclaiming Shari’ah in the Modern Age, will be published later this year.

MAS dalam program ‘bellyup dan bailout raksasa’ – Satu Pengamatan.

August 14, 2014

Dzulkefly Ahmad (TMI)

Published: 13 August 2014

Akhirnya apa yang diwar-warkan sedikit waktu dulu tentang MAS akan berlaku. Satu proses pemiliknegaraan atau ‘Renationalisation’ sebelum dilakukan penstrukturan semula dalam satu tindakan penyelamatan atau “Bailout” yang raksasa.

Pemilik utamanya Khazanah Nasional Berhad yang memegang 69% sahamnya, tekad membuat tawaran awam di Bursa Saham bagi membeli selebihnya saham MAS iaitu 31% itu pada harga 27 sen sesaham berjumlah RM1.4 bilion. Harga pasaran kini, dengan nilai aset semasa, dikatakan dalam anggaran 25 sen sesaham.

Dengan itu Khazanah bersedia membawa MAS keluar Bursa dan kembali sebagai entiti yang dimiliknegerakan kembali.

Tawaran ini dianggap baik bagi pelabur jangka pendek yang sempat membeli sahamnya selepas tragedi MH370 pada harga 15 sen. Bagi ‘stakeholders’ atau pelabur ‘jangka panjang’ mereka mengalami kerugian besar pastinya.

Harga saham MAS pernah mencecah RM8 sesaham sebelum penswastaan 20 tahun lalu. Gurauannya, anda perlu 7 saham MAS untuk membayar secawan nescafe tarik.

Setelah diswastakan MAS (nyahsenarai), Khazanah berdepan dengan tuntutan kos operasi yang tinggi untuk terus mengurus operasi harian MAS. Khazanah pastinya perlu menyuntik dana baru untuk meneruskan khidmat MAS sebelum langkah ‘penstrukturan’ dapat dijayakan.

Seperkara yang tidak dapat dielakkan selepas ini adalah tentang kos pinjaman. MAS tidak akan dapat meminjam dengan penarafan Triple -A Khazanah semacam dulu. Akhirnya kos pinjaman ini akan dipindahkan kepada pelanggan pastinya sekaligus mengurangkan daya saing MAS.

Pastinya juga Khazanah memerlukan ‘rakan baru’ bukan saja untuk membayar hutang MAS berjumlah RM10 bilion kepada bank tempatan dan RM2.5 bilion dalam bentuk sukuk kepada Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen (KWAP).

Di samping itu MAS menjalankan tiga kali suntikan dana sama ada daripada ‘stakeholders’ utamanya iaitu Khazanah atau menerbitkan ‘right issue’ sekali gus mengurangkan ‘earning per share’ setiap pemegang saham MAS ini. Sejumlah RM7.25 bilion dijana dalam 7 tahun lalu, dalam pelbagai langkah penjanaan dana ini, terakhir pada Mei tahun lalu (RM3.25 bilion). Sangat parah kedudukan kewangan MAS.

Siapa bakal jadi rakan strategik MAS masih tanda tanya. Tidak mudah mencari rakan yang benar-benar memilikki kekuatan sinergi; keupayaan dana, kepakaran teknikal dan strategi bisnes serta pengalaman dan cakupan pengaruh yang luas dan berkesan. Ini adalah antara faktor kritikal kejayaan bagi program pemulihan MAS yang pernah menggondol pelbagai anugerah dan pingat kecemerlangan pekhidmatan antarabangsa.

Yang pastinya kreditor yang mahu menagih hutang daripada MAS berdepan hakikat mereka akan diminta mengambil “hair-cut” atau diskaun besar yang terpaksa diberikan kreditor kepada MAS. Mereka juga mungkin terpaksa menerima bayaran hutang dalam bentuk pertukaran saham atau ‘debt-equity swap’.

Umum mengetahui kerugian MAS di antara 2011 dan 2013 sebanyak RM5 bilion dan RM443 bilion pada suku pertama 2014 ini dan penganalisis hanya memberikan 6 bulan untuk beroperasi dengan jumlah tunai semasa yang ada. Lebih mudah, mengikut telahan penganalisis, seperti pernah juga saya tuliskan, supaya MAS diizinkan ‘goes belly-up’ atau mudahnya, ‘dibankrapkan’ bagi memulakan satu era baru. Mungkin ia pelik bunyinya, namun langkah tersebut bukanlah aneh dalam dunia korporat.

Sebaliknya adalah lebih mudah dan bersih sebagai satu ‘clean solution’ dan semua ‘kontrak dan komitmen lama’ yang tempang dan berat sebelah akan berakhir. MAS akan bebas daripada menanggung ‘baggages’ atau ‘legasi buruk dan beban lama’.

MAS akan mampu bermula seolah-olah sebagai entiti bisnes baru dan mengorak langkah baru, meneruskan legasi baiknya namun terhindar daripada memikul biawak dalam amalan ‘kronisme dan nepotisme’ yang merosakkan sistem penerbangan negara yang pernah dibanggakan rakyat!

Tragedi MH370 dan terkini MH17 yang berlaku senggang 4 bulan tidak pernah berlaku dalam sejarah avionik moden di dunia. Dampak kewangannya bukan kepalang. Memulih keyakinan dan sentimen pelanggan tentunya memakan tahun.

Sedikit pengamatan penulis, untuk terus survive dan menjadi entiti bisnes yang punya daya saing, MAS perlu mengambil perhitungan dan tindakan menjalankan satu review yang komprehensif dan mendalam bagi menangani aspek polisi, dasar dan strategi perniagaan dan struktur organisasi.

Apa pun sangat penting supaya MAS mesti ‘dibankrapkan’ dahulu sebelum di bawa keluar dari Bursa sebab proses proses ‘regularisasi’nya akan menjadi telus termasuk hal-hal penjual aset, ‘divestures’ dan sebagainya akan menjadi telus. Kalau langkah ‘dinyahkan’ atau ‘delisting’ dahulu maka segala langkah-langkah tidak perlu telus kepada umum.

A. Mengatasi permasalahan pengurusan yang tidak cekap dan berkesan daripada segi ‘Menajamkan Akumen Strategi Bisnes bagi menangani cabaran persaingan sengit perkhidmatan laluan serta kawalan kewangan dan pelaburan-perolehan supaya produktif dan berpulangan tinggi.

B. Menghentikan campur tangan politik yang menyiksa pengurusan. ’Political interference’ yang menganggu kelancaran pengurusan pengambilan, pelantikan dan kenaikan pangkat serta khususnya pemberian kontrak servis dan perbekalan yang ‘berat sebelah’ serta membebankan kewangan dan menguntungkan kroni.

C. Mengimbangi peranan dan tekanan kesatuan sekerja yang ditanggapi terlalu kuat dan tidak membantu pencapaian prestasi dan kecekapan sistem pengurusan. Peranan mereka mesti diolah dan ditala bagi memperkukuhkan MAS dan tidak sebaliknya. – 13 Ogos, 2014.

* Ini adalah pendapat peribadi penulis dan tidak semestinya mewakili pandangan The Malaysian Insider.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/dzulkefly-ahmad/article/mas-dalam-program-bellyup-dan-bailout-raksasa#sthash.qXnonHs9.dpuf

PAS tidak akan bekerjasama dengan Umno Selangor, kata Mat Sabu (….kan dah ku kata, nah TP PAS confirmkan!)..)

August 13, 2014

OLEH Looi Sue-Chern (TMI)

Published: 13 August 2014

PAS tidak akan bekerjasama dengan Umno di Selangor, kata Timbalan Presiden PAS Mohamad Sabu, hari ini. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider.

PAS tidak akan bekerjasama dengan Umno di Selangor, kata Timbalan Presiden PAS Mohamad Sabu, hari ini. Gambar fail The Malaysian Insider.Timbalan Presiden PAS Mohamad Sabu hari ini berkata parti Islam itu tidak akan bekerjasama dengan Umno Di Selangor.

Mohamad atau lebih dikenali dengan nama Mat Sabu berkata, tidak mungkin PAS bekerjasama dengan parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN) itu di Selangor dan pada masa sama menjalinkan kerjasama dengan Pakatan Rakyat (PR) di negeri lain.

“PAS akan kekal bersama PR,” katanya, menghentikan cakap-cakap yang menyatakan parti Islam itu akan berganding bahu dengan Umno dalam menangani krisis menteri besar Selangor yang masih berterusan.

Mat Sabu berkata, PR masih memegang majoriti di Selangor untuk kekal menerajui kerajaan negeri.

Semalam, Menteri Besar Selangor Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim yang baru saja menjadi Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Bebas memecat semua exco DAP dan PKR dalam pentadbirannya.

Khalid hanya mengekalkan empat exco PAS selepas persengketaan dengan bekas partinya PKR, yang berusaha untuk menyingkirkannya daripada kerusi menteri besar.

Mat Sabu berkata, memecat exco adalah hak Khalid.

Katanya, perebutan kuasa dalam politik adalah perkara biasa.

“PAS bersama PR. Tidak akan ada perpecahan. Khalid Adun Bebas.

“Isu di Selangor bukan perkara yang akan menghentikan dunia,” katanya, menambah menjadi perkara biasa jika rakan kongsi mempunyai pendapat yang berbeza.

Mat Sabu berkata, masih banyak butir terperinci yang beliau belum tahu kerana berada di Pulau Pinang sejak semalam.

Beliau menghadiri perbicaraan kes hasutan berhubung kontroversi Bukit Kepong di Mahkamah Sesyen Butterwort pagi ini.

“Seperti anda, saya juga mengetahui perkembangan isu itu daripada laporan berita,” katanya.

Mat Sabu berkata, Lajnah Politik PAS akan mengadakan mesyuarat malam esok dan satu lagi pada 17 Ogos.

Ketika ditanya apa agenda perbincangan, Mat Sabu berkata pelbagai isu akan dibincangkan.

“MH17, Palestine dan beberapa isu lain,” katanya. – 13 Ogos, 2014

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/pas-tidak-akan-bekerjasama-dengan-umno-selangor-kata-mat-sabu#sthash.tVYIWXcg.dpuf

FIMA RESOLUTION ON THE INVASION OF GAZA 2014

August 12, 2014
FIMA Gaza Relief Updates No: 27
11 Aug 2014
The FIMA annual council meeting was held in Arusha, Tanzania from 7-8 August 2014. The following resolution was passed. As part of operationalising our plan of action, a joint summit was held with all our affiliates & global partners. Pictures of members involved to follow. Some were however held up with another FIMA Adduction Working a Group summit!
From 9-10 Aug FIMA joined IMANA in their annual scientific conference. IMANA & 9 others were the founder members of FIMA on 31 Dec 1981 in Orlando, Floridaphoto(11)

photo(12)Israel launched its campaign of collective punishment of Gazans called “Protective Edge” on 8 July 2014 and caused unprecedented mayhem and destruction. The  unrelenting brutal assault by air, sea and land strikes resulted in over 18,800 deaths and 9,600 severe injuries, the majority of whom were innocent women and children. More than 10,000 civilian homes were destroyed displacing 500,000 people seeking shelter in UN schools and families.

In addition, mosques, schools, hospitals and primary health clinics were either severely damaged or destroyed. Ambulances, used to retrieve the injured and wounded or transport between health facilities were also targeted with 36 destroyed beyond repair. The health services were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of casualties already handicapped by critical lack of essential drugs and other consumables.
The civil infrastructure was also severely damaged impairing essential services and supply of clean water, electricity and sanitation precipitating a humanitarian crisis in this besieged strip.
photo(4)
FIMA and its partners responded immediately to this humanitarian crisis by supplying essential drugs, consumables and equipments as well as food, drinking water and other humanitarian aid.
These consisted of  2 convoys of 23 trucks containing essential supplies worth $700,000. Our partners Doctors  World Wide Turkey transferred $250,000 worth of medical and surgical supplies. 4 ambulances were transported via Irez crossings.  5  WHO health  kits (IEHK)  serving the health needs of 50,000 for 3 months  were airlifted by IMANA and awaiting clearance for entry into Gaza. 2 Medical teams of seasoned surgeons were commissioned in the various hospitals in Gaza and assisting in the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the severely wounded casualties.
FIMA unconditionally condemns these violations of all humanitarian laws and calls for a permanent ceasefire and viable resolution to the conflict in the occupied territories of Palestine. FIMA further pledges to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the health services in Gaza with the following interventions:
1.      Coordinating medical missions of specialists assisting the MOH Gaza  with patient care and training
2.      Delivering 20 equipped ambulances for transportation of patients
3.      Supply of essential medicines, medical equipments, surgical consumables and equipments as requested by the MOH Gaza.
4.      Securing the release and transfer of the 5 Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHK)
5.      Convening an international conference of service providers to address the long-term rehabilitation of the population on both humanitarian and medical grounds

photo(7)Chairman in yellow Dr Ashraf forensic psychiatrist FIMA/IMA South Africa. To his right Dr Musa paediatrician FIMA/VPM. Dr Intizar ophthalmologist FIMA/IMA Pakistan. Dr Parvaiz plastic surgeon FIMA/IMANA. Dr Aly endocrinologist FIMA/Islamic Hospital Jordan. Dr Muhamad Hassan AMU. Dr Omar Hospital Director IMA Egypt. Prof Iqbal vascular surgeon Pakistan IMA. Prof Jurnalis Indonesian IMA. Dr Ammar IMA Jordan. Others not in pictures to follow!

Military court rejects CD evidence in air force man’s trial over indelible ink…Well Done!

August 11, 2014

BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA (TMI)

Published: 11 August 2014

Royal Malaysian Air Force officer Major Zaidi Ahmad is being court martialled for making a media statement without the defence ministry's permission, as well as sending two mobile messages which are said to be political in nature. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 11, 2014.

Royal Malaysian Air Force officer Major Zaidi Ahmad is being court martialled for making a media statement without the defence ministry’s permission, as well as sending two mobile messages which are said to be political in nature. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 11, 2014.

The military court hearing the trial of Major Zaidi Ahmad, charged with violating the armed forces’ orders on the use of the indelible ink during the general election, today rejected the prosecution’s application to submit a CD as evidence, saying the authenticity of its contents could be disputed.

The CD purportedly contains a recording of the press conference by Zaidi in front of a surau at the Kepala Batas police headquarters, after the early voting process on May 1, 2013, days before the 13th general election.

Zaidi’s counsel Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the military court that the CD was only secondary evidence as the original copy had been wiped out, as admitted by an earlier witness, Lt. Col. Muhammad Rosli Yaakob, head of Provost Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)

“Thus, this CD cannot be submitted as evidence,” Hanipa told a six-member panel of the court presided by Col Saadon Hasnan.

The other panel members were Lt Col Zainurin Mohd Dom, Major Khuzairi Mohd Arshad, Major Khairul Nizam Taib, Major S. Nadzeer Salehuddin and Major Noor Azman Ahmad.

Zaidi, 45, an RMAF officer, pleaded not guilty to four counts of violating the Malaysian Armed Forces Council’s orders on the use of the indelible ink last year.

The officer, from the air base in Butterworth, also pleaded not guilty to three other charges, namely for making a media statement without the authorisation of the Defence Ministry and sending two SMSes which were political in nature.

Taking the stand today, Rosli said he was the head of an inquiry board set up to investigate Zaidi for giving a media statement on the indelible ink, without his superiors’ consent.

Rosli admitted that the original copy recorded by two Provost Marshall officers using two cell phones were deleted after the content was transferred into a laptop for safety purposes.

The recording in the laptop was also deleted after it was burned into a CD for the same reason.

Hanipa argued that the evidence was now inadmissible as the court would not know if it was the original recording.

“How are we going to know that the copy we have is the original, since the original has been destroyed? And the witness himself has admitted this?” he asked. – August 11, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/military-court-rejects-cd-evidence-in-army-mans-trial-over-indelible-ink#sthash.XacHxWmM.dpuf

Israel has broken my heart: I’m a rabbi in mourning for a Judaism being murdered by Israel

August 5, 2014

I’ve always been proud of Israel, but the brutal Gaza assault requires Jews worldwide to be honest, not nationalist

 

Israel has broken my heart: I’m a rabbi in mourning for a Judaism being murdered by Israel

A Palestinian boy comforts his father, who medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling in Shejaia, at a hospital in Gaza City, July 30, 2014. (Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

My heart is broken as I witness the suffering of the Palestinian people and the seeming indifference of Israelis. All my life I’ve been a champion of Israel, proud of its many accomplishments in science and technology that have benefited the world, insistent on the continuing need for the Jewish people to have a state that offers protections from anti-Semitism that has reared its head continuously throughout Christian and Islamic societies, willing to send my only child to serve in the Israeli Army (the paratroopers unit-tzanchanim), and enjoying the pleasures of long swaths of time in which I could study in Jerusalem and celebrate Shabbat in a city that weekly closed down the hustle and bustle of the capitalist marketplace for a full 25 hours.

And though as editor of Tikkun I printed articles challenging the official story of how Israel came to be, showing its role in forcibly ejecting tens of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 and allowing Jewish terrorist groups under the leadership of (future Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir) to create justified fears that led hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians to flee for their lives, I always told myself that the dominant humanity of the Jewish people and the compassionate strain within Torah would reassert itself once Israel felt secure.

That belief began to wane in the past eight years when Israel, faced with a Palestinian Authority that promoted nonviolence and sought reconciliation and peace, ignored the Saudi Arabian-led peace initiative that would have granted Israel the recognition that it had long sought, an end to hostilities, and a recognized place in the Middle East, refused to stop its expansion of settlements in the West Bank and imposed an economically crushing blockade on Gaza. Even Hamas, whose hateful charter called for Israel’s destruction, had decided to accept the reality of Israel’s existence, and while unable to embrace its “right” to exist, nevertheless agreed to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority and in that context live within the terms that the PA would negotiate with Israel.

Yet far from embracing this new possibility for peace, the Israeli government used that as its reason to break off the peace negotiations, and then, in an unbelievably cynical move, let the brutal and disgusting kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens (by a rogue element in Hamas that itself was trying to undermine the reconciliation-with-Israel factions of Hamas by creating new fears in Israel) become the pretext for a wild assault on West Bank civilians, arresting hundreds of Hamas sympathizers, and escalating drone attacks on Hamas operatives inside Gaza. When Hamas responded by starting to send its (guaranteed to be ineffective and hence merely symbolic in light of Israel’s Iron Shield) missiles toward civilian targets in Israel, the Netanyahu government used that as its excuse to launch a brutal assault on Gaza.

But it is the brutality of that assault that finally has broken me into tears and heartbreak. While claiming that it is only interested in uprooting tunnels that could be used to attack Israel, the IDF has engaged in the same criminal behavior that the world condemns in other struggles: the intentional targeting of civilians (the same crime that Hamas has been engaged in over the years, which correctly has earned it the label as a terrorist organization). Using the excuse that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields” and placing its war material in civilian apartments, Israel has managed to kill more than 1,000 civilians and wounded thousands.  The stories that have emerged from eyewitness accounts of hundreds of children being killed by Israel’s indiscriminate destructiveness, the shelling of United Nations schools and public hospitals, and finally the destruction of Gaza’s water and electricity, guaranteeing deaths from typhoid and other diseases as well as widespread hunger among the million and a half Gazans most of whom have had nothing to do with Hamas, highlights to the world an Israel that is rivaling some of the most oppressive and brutal regimes in the contemporary world.

In my book “Embracing Israel/Palestine” I have argued that both Israelis and Palestinians are victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. I have a great deal of compassion for both peoples, particularly for my own Jewish people who have gone through traumas that have inevitably distorted future generations. Those traumas don’t exonerate Israel’s behavior or that of Hamas, but they are relevant for those of us seeking a path to social healing and transformation.

Yet that healing is impossible until those who are victims of PTSD are willing to work on overcoming it.

And this is precisely where the American Jewish community and Jews around the world have taken a turn that is disastrous, by turning the Israeli nation state into “the Jewish state” and making Israel into an idol to be worshiped rather than a political entity like any other political entity, with strengths and deep flaws. Despairing of spiritual salvation after God failed to show up and save us from the Holocaust, increasing numbers of Jews have abandoned the religion of compassion and identification with the most oppressed that was championed by our biblical prophets, and instead come to worship power and to rejoice in Israel’s ability to become the most militarily powerful state in the Middle East. If a Jew today goes into any synagogue in the U.S. or around the world and says, “I don’t believe in God or Torah and I don’t follow the commandments,” most will still welcome you in and urge you to become involved. But say, “I don’t support the State of Israel,” and you are likely to be labeled a “self-hating Jew” or anti-Semite, scorned and dismissed. As Aaron said of the Golden Calf in the Desert, “These are your Gods, O Israel.”

The worship of the state makes it necessary for Jews to turn Judaism into an auxiliary of ultra-nationalist blindness. Every act of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people is seen as sanctioned by God. Each Sabbath Jews in synagogues around the world are offered prayers for the well-being of the State of Israel but not for our Arab cousins.  The very suggestion that we should be praying for the Palestinian people’s welfare is seen as heresy and proof of being “self-hating Jews.”

The worship of power is precisely what Judaism came into being to challenge. We were the slaves, the powerless, and though the Torah talks of God using a strong arm to redeem the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, it simultaneously insists, over and over again, that when Jews go into their promised land in Canaan (not Palestine) they must “love the stranger/the Other,” have one law for the stranger and for the native born, and warns “do not oppress the stranger/the Other.” Remember, Torah reminds us, “that you were strangers/the Other in the land of Egypt” and “you know the heart of the stranger.”  Later sources in Judaism even insist that a person without compassion who claims to be Jewish cannot be considered Jewish. A spirit of generosity is so integral to Torah consciousness that when Jews are told to let the land lie fallow once every seven years (the societal-wide Sabbatical Year), they must allow that which grows spontaneously from past plantings be shared with the Other/the stranger.

The Jews are not unique in this. The basic reality is that most of humanity has always heard a voice inside themselves telling them that the best path to security and safety is to love others and show generosity, and a counter voice that tells us that the only path to security is domination and control over others. This struggle between the voice of fear and the voice of love, the voice of domination/power-over and the voice of compassion, empathy and generosity, have played out throughout history and shape contemporary political debates around the world. Because almost every single one of us hears both voices, we are often torn between them, oscillating in our communal policies and our personal behavior between these two worldviews and ways of engaging others. As the competitive and me-first ethos of the capitalist marketplace has grown increasingly powerful and  increasingly reflected in the culture and worldviews of the contemporary era, more and more people bring the worldview of fear, domination and manipulation of others into personal lives, teaching people that the rationality of the marketplace with its injunction to see other human beings primarily in terms of how they can serve our own needs and as instrumental for our own purposes, rather than as being deserving of care and respect just for who they are and not for what they can deliver for us, this ethos has weakened friendships and created the instability in family life that the right has so effectively manipulated (a theme I develop most fully in reporting in my book “The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country From the Religious Right” on my years as a psychotherapist and principal investigator of an NIMH study of stress and the psychodynamics of daily life in Western societies).

No wonder that Jews and Judaism have had these conflicting streams within our religion as well. In the 2,000 years of relative powerlessness when Jews were the oppressed minorities of the Western and Islamic societies, the validation of images of a powerful God who could fight for the oppressed Jews was a powerful psychological boon to offset the potential internalizing of the demonization that we faced from the majority cultures. But now when Jews enjoy military power in Israel and economic and political power in the U.S. and to some extent in many other Western societies, one would have expected that the theme of love and generosity, always a major voice even in a Jewish people that were being brutalized, would now emerge as the dominant theme of the Judaism of the 21st  century.

No wonder, then, that I’m heartbroken to see the Judaism of love and compassion being dismissed as “unrealistic” by so many of my fellow Jews and fellow rabbis. Wasn’t the central message of Torah that the world was ruled by a force that made possible the transformation from “that which is” to “that which can and should be” and wasn’t our task to teach the world that nothing was fixed, that even the mountains could skip like young rams and the seas could flee from before the triumph of justice in the world? Instead of this hopeful message, too many of the rabbis and rabbinical institutions are preaching a Judaism that hopes more in the Israeli army than in the capacity of human beings (including Palestinians), all created in the image of God and hence capable of transformation, to once again become embodiments of love and generosity.  They scoff at the possibility that we at Tikkun and our Network of Spiritual Progressives have been preaching (not only for the Middle East, but for the U.S. as well) that if we act from a loving and generous place, that the icebergs of anger and hate (some of which our behavior helped to create) can melt away and people’s hearts can once again turn toward love and justice for all. In an America that at this very moment has its president calling for sending tens of thousands of children refugees back to the countries they risked their lives to escape, in an America that refused to provide Medicare for All, in an America that serves the interests of its richest 1 percent while largely ignoring the needs of its large working middle class, these ideas may sound naively utopian. But for Judaism, belief in God was precisely a belief that love and justice could and should prevail, and that our task is to embody that message in our communities and promote that message to the world.

It is this love, compassion, justice and peace-oriented Judaism that the State of Israel is murdering. The worshipers of Israel have fallen into a deep cynicism about the possibility of the world that the prophets called for in which nations shall not lift up the sword against each other and they will no longer learn war, and everyone will live in peace. True, that world is not already here, but the Jewish people’s task was to teach people that this world could be brought into being, and that each step we take is either a step toward that world or a step away from it. The Israel worshipers are running away from the world, making it far less possible, and then call their behavior Judaism and Israel “the Jewish state.”

No wonder, then, that I mourn for the Judaism of love and kindness, peace and generosity that Israel worshipers dismiss as utopian fantasy.  To my fellow Jews, I issue the following invitation: use Tisha B’av (the traditional fast-day mourning the destruction of Jewish life in the past, and starting Monday night Aug. 4 till dark Aug. 5) to mourn for the Judaism of love and generosity that is being murdered by Israel and its worshipers around the world, the same kind of idol-worshipers who, pretending to be Jewish but actually assimilated into the world of power, helped destroy our previous two Jewish commonwealths and our temples of the past. We may have to renew our Judaism by creating a Liberatory, Emancipatory, Transformative Love-Oriented Judaism outside the synagogues and traditional institutions, because inside the existing Jewish community the best we can do is repeat what the Jewish exiles in Babylonia said in Psalm 137, “How can we sing the songs of the Transformative Power YHVH in a strange land?” And let us this year turn Yom Kippur into a time of repentance for the sins of our people who have given Israel a blank check and full permission to be brutal in the name of Judaism and the Jewish people (even as we celebrate those Jews with the courage to publicly critique Israel in a loving but stern way).

For our non-Jewish allies, the following plea: Do not let the organized Jewish community intimidate you with charges that any criticism of Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinian people proves that you are anti-Semites. Stop allowing your very justified guilt at the history of oppression your ancestors enacted on Jews to be the reason you fail to speak out vigorously against the current immoral policies of the State of Israel. The way to become real friends of the Jewish people is to side with those Jews who are trying to get Israel back on track toward its highest values, knowing full well that there is no future for a Jewish state surrounded by a billion Muslims except through friendship and cooperation. The temporary alliance of brutal dictatorships in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and various Arab emirates that give Israel support against Hamas will ultimately collapse, but the memory of humiliation at the hands of the State of Israel will not, and Israel’s current policies will endanger Jews both in the Middle East and around the world for many decades after the people of Israel have regained their senses. Real friends don’t let their friends pursue a self-destructive path, so it’s time for you too to speak up and to support those of us in the Jewish world who are champions of peace and justice, and who will not be silent in the face of the destruction of Judaism.

And that gets to my last point. Younger Jews, like many of their non-Jewish peers, are becoming increasingly alienated from Israel and from the Judaism that too many Jews claim to be the foundation of this supposedly Jewish state. They see Israel as what Judaism is in practice, not knowing how very opposite its policies are to the traditional worldviews most Jews have embraced through the years. It is these coming generations of young people whose parents claimed to be Jewish but celebrated the power of the current State of Israel and never bothered to critique it when it was acting immorally, as it is today in Gaza, who will leave Judaism in droves, making it all the more the province of the Israel-worshipers with their persistent denial of the God of love and justice and their embrace of a God of vengeance and hate.  I won’t blame them for that choice, but I wish they knew that there is a different strand of Judaism that has been the major strand for much of Jewish history, and that it needs their active engagement in order to reestablish it as the 21st century continuation of the Jewish tradition. That I have to go to non-Jewish sources to seek to have this message printed is a further testimony to how much there is to mourn over the dying body of the Judaism of love, pleading for Jews who privately feel the way I do to come out of their closets and help us rebuild the Jewish world in which the tikkun (healing and transformation) needed becomes the first agenda item.

Above all else, I grieve for all the unnecessary suffering on this planet, including the Israeli victims of terrorism, the Palestinian victims of Israeli terror and repression, the victims of America’s misguided wars from Vietnam through Afghanistan and Iraq and the apparently endless war on terrorism, the victims of so many other struggles around the world, and the less visible but real victims of a global capitalist order in which according to the U.N. some 8,000-10,000 children under the age of 5 die every day from malnutrition or diseases related to malnutrition.  And yet I affirm that there is still the possibility of a different kind of world, if only enough of us would believe in it and then work together to create it.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, http://www.spiritualprogressives.org and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership in which also brings you a subscription to Tikkun Magazine). RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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