Tuesday, January 30, 2007

3 "Ex-Terrorists"; UM Cops Suppress Free Speech Again (Part 1)

I heard the three two "ex-terrorists" and one former "militant fighter in a civil war" speak last night at the University of Michigan in a fairly packed Rackham auditorium. Let me first say that if the speakers' personal stories were in any significant part true then they deserve our sympathy, understanding, and compassion. They told stories of witnessing and being part of horrific things as children and young men--things that no person should ever being subject to. I wish them true healing--a healing that will allow them to stop projecting the hate they claim they experienced/internalized onto so much of the Muslim and Arab world, a healing that will allow them to stop serving the hateful cause of Christian and Jewish Zionism. If they did the things they said they did in the past then I'm glad they stopped.

The event started with the president of the UM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom [sic] haranguing the folks in yellow shirts who showed up to protest the event. He claimed that yellow was chosen because it is the color of the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah. This met with a mild round of applause from YAF supporters and some protesters. I seriously doubt that the Hizbullah association played any part whatsoever in the choice of colors. Having drunk the poisonous kool-aid of the American media, most the students would have been too embarrassed, scandalized, or afraid to intentionally show any solidarity with the Lebanese people or Hizbullah, the group that expelled the Israelis from southern Lebanon in 2000 and effectively defeated them on the battlefield last year despite the huge advantage in weaponry enjoyed by the Israelis. Tip to progressive students: You can stand in solidarity with people resisting oppression even if you don't like or agree with their methods, it just takes courage. Just before the Pledge of Allegiance was said a heckler challenged the crowd to express loyalty to the Constitution instead of a flag.

The first speaker was Kamal Saleem, who straightaway demonstrated his deep commitment to the democratic process by stating of America: "If we don't like her, then we should leave her." Which drew the cheers of the YAFers and the taunt of a heckler "If we don't like her, we should change her." Saleem responded by stating "The airport is not far from here." Saleem's delivery was quite stilted considering he was supposedly telling his life story, a point not lost on the heckler who shouted, apparently accurately, that Saleem was "reading from a script."

Next up was ex-"ex-terrorist", now former "militant fighter in a civil war," Zachariah Anani, who claims to have killed 223 people. He says he is from a prominent Beirut family of Muslim imams and was in training to become an imam himself. Yet, it was not until after his conversion to Christianity by a Baptist missionary (Pat Robertson or one of his followers? They were active in Lebanon) that he first read the Quran!

Anani mentioned the repression of the Saudi regime several times but never called for any diplomatic sanctions or cut off of US military sales and assistance--something this blogger would support--to the kingdom named after the royal family. No mention, either, that the Saudi regime enjoys close, albeit confidential, ties with Israel (see also here) and close ties with the Bush administration.

As I recall, it was during Anani's time that about one-fifth to one-fourth of the crowd walked out in protest to the applause of many of the YAFers. Much of his talk consisted of selectively quoting the Quran in order to demonstrate what an evil and violent religion Islam is. Having read, in English translation, much of the Quran myself, there is no doubt in my mind that there are Quranic texts that can be easily interpreted to justify violence. However, the same could be said of the Bible.

Here's a sample:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' " (I Samuel 15:2-3)
This divine directive to genocide is part of the 613 commandments or mitzvot identified by Maimonides (Rambam) in his Sefer Hamitzvot although a different portion of the Bible is usually cited. Liberal Jews and obfuscators maintain this commandment is no longer in effect because there are no more Amalekites but as Naim Ateek points out in Justice and Only Justice--citing rabbis Moshe Segal, Israel Hess, and Meir Kahane--there is no shortage of Jews who believe the genocide directive applies today to Palestinians, Arabs, and others (see also the discussion by Elliott Horowitz in his introduction to Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence).

Violent eschatology is a staple of Christian Zionist teaching. Pat Robertson, for example, quotes Zechariah 14:2-4:
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle.

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
Robertson is dead set against the US' Middle East "Road Map" and interprets Zechariah literally, claiming: "Now, that prophecy in Zechariah has not yet totally been fulfilled, but this is a precursor of it because the United Nations represents all of the nations of the earth and they have now come against Jerusalem." He looks forward to and works for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Apparently, so does "ex-terrorist" number three, Walid Shoebat who is quoted by Arutz Sheva, the Israeli news service:
As an afterthought, but said with a sense of great urgency, the former terrorist turned lover of Zion implored the Nation of Israel, "Please take back the holy Temple Mount."
As a Palestinian "ex-terrorist", former Muslim, and a current Christian Zionist, Shoebat must know that his call is nothing less than a call to apocalyptic holy war to many Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

I'll have more to say about Shoebat's talk, suppression of free speech, press coverage, etc. in the next day or two, so check back then.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Protest 1/30: Walid Shoebat--From "Terrorist" to Terrorist Supporter

The pseudonymous Walid Shoebat and friends are coming to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor on Tuesday, January 30, 2007. They will be in the Rackham Auditorium courtesy of Young Americans for Freedom. If their stories are to be believed they have gone from being terrorists to supporting Israeli state terrorism.

Shoebat's name isn't the only thing that rings false. Shoebat and his companions bill themselves as "THE 3 EX-TERRORISTS." One of them, Zachariah Anani, claims to have killed 223 people. Shoebat was refused entry into Canada last month and Anani may be facing criminal charges in Canada where he now lives. Inquiring minds (but not at the Detroit News) would like to know how Shoebat, Anani, and the third Zionist musketeer--Kamal Saleem--travel so freely to and within the United States even as they claim to have committed numerous terrorist acts.

By contrast, although the US government never filed criminal charges against him, former Ann Arborite Rabih Haddad was accused of "raising funds for terrorist acts," jailed for 19 months, and eventually deported. Then there's the case of Ibrahim Parlak, a West Michigan restaurateur who has lived in the US for 15 years without incident. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to have Parlak deported on terrorism and related charges--charges Parlak denies. So, maybe some intrepid reporter at the Michigan Daily, Ann Arbor News, or Detroit Free Press will ask the three ex-terrorists AND the Department of Homeland Security about this obvious disparity of treatment.

It would be nice if they also asked Shoebat and his buddies about their links to Pat Robertson. I tried to ask Shoebat's gal pal Brigitte Gabriel about her ties to Robertson last month but the question screeners rejected that question. Like Gabriel, Shoebat is an ardent Christian Zionist and, apparently, well-paid for his services to Israel and Jewish supremacy in Palestine. The two made a film together called "From Hate to Love - Two Arabs' Journeys." My own theory is that the Robertson connection is taboo because it would hurt the standing and finances of Gabriel and et al. with the Jewish Zionist community. You see, the Apocalyptic eschatology and reactionary theology of most Christian Zionists is disturbing to more than a few Jews--Zionist or not.

I had thought about encouraging Muslims, Arabs, and their friends and allies to give the three "ex-terrorists" a proper welcome but the last time I did something like that it sent Brigitte Gabriel and the lemmings of the right-wing blogosphere into a frenzy of paranoia and hate. We wouldn't want that to happen again. So, I just refer you to the protest call below that I received from Shimaa Abdelfadeel.

See also:

Take a stance with numerous progressive groups on campus this Tuesday, January 30th as we WALK OUT of the Young Americans for Freedom event titled: "The Three Ex-terrorists" at Rackham Auditorium at 7pm. Wear YELLOW and be SEEN. Seats are extremely limited - get there at 6!

YAF's discriminatory views will not be tolerated on this campus. YAF has continuously advocated for intolerance towards numerous organizations on campus. This event specifically advocates for racism and intolerance towards the Arab and Muslim communities. Join hundreds of students as we Walk Out of the event and reconvene to speak out against YAF and the discriminatory views they stand for. The event starts at 7 and we will be walking out shortly after the speakers begin.

  • YAF sponsored and put on the infamous "Catch an illegal immigrant Day" here at the University where they asked students to walk around campus searching for "an illegal immigrant".
  • According to the City Pulse, "YAF is likely to get 'hate group' status by the Southern Poverty Law Center and members held protest signs that read 'Straight Power!' and ' End Faggotry!' at a Lansing City Council meeting where a civil rights ordinances to protects Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender people." http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=683&Itemid=99999999
  • MSU's YAF leader on MCRI: "Pretty sad that all these groups exist to advocate different groups of people based on their ethnicity or skin color… Personally I would like to see all these groups go away."

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