Every year during the festival of Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal — a goat, sheep, cow, or camel — to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael), after Allah (God) told him to do so. Then before he could do it, Allah gave him a lamb to sacrifice instead. Commemorating this test of trust in Allah on Eid al-Adha is known as Udhiya or Qurbani, the Arabic word for sacrifice.
A Muslim should donate at least one-third of the meat from the Qurbani animal to poor or vulnerable people. The remainder of the meat is split into one-third for the family that offers the Qurbani, and one-third for their own neighbors. The ethical lesson of Qurbani is to feed the hungry.
The spiritual lesson of Qurbani is to become closer to God, (Qurbani comes from the word ‘Qurb’ meaning ‘closeness’) by sharing a meal even though God is never hungry because: “Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you. Thus, have We subjected them (the animals) to you that you may glorify Allah for that which He has guided you; and give good tidings to the doers of good”. Qur’an 22:37)
For thousands of years, self-aware intelligent minds realize that gifts and offerings should be able to influence spirits (intelligent minds do not like to admit to impotence) and so regular offerings of food and slaughtered mammals were offered by a group/clan/tribe, to keep the natural and the super-national forces friendly. Even polytheists knew this and made ritual offerings of food in community observances.
Western anthropologists, influenced by Christian thinking, refer to these offerings as sacrifices. The Qur’an term Qurbani and the Torah term Korban, are both more insightful. In Hebrew the verb l’karayv means to draw near or come close; similar to the French words rapprochement or réconcilie, or the English words reconciliation, convergence, or reunion. This is exactly the same meaning as Qurbani, which Qurbani comes from the word ‘Qurb’ meaning ‘closeness.’
A korban is a way to re-connect, re-engage or re-unite the human realm to the spiritual realm. When food and drink are offered to another it is not a sacrifice. Food and liquid offerings are an invitation to a closer relationship. Especially during ceremonial occasions food and drink are served to bring people together, including those who have been estranged from one another because of transgressions that have occurred.
Thus offerings to God can help people who feel estranged from God return to a closer (karayv) relationship. Offerings help people reunite or reconcile with God. The food offered to God is usually eaten wholly or in part by those who contribute it or by the priests who offer it. The Biblical God doesn’t really want grain or meat offerings (Psalm 40:7). Humans offer them, especially when they feel estranged from the Divine, in order to draw closer (karayv) to the Divine.
Although the word Qurbani/Korban is usually translated as sacrifice, it is better to think of it as an offering of our ‘self’ i.e. a self-offering. As Allah says in the Qur’an: “It is neither their flesh nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (22:37)
What role does God (the One God of revealed religions) play in all this? According to Genesis 4:26 humans only began to call upon the name of the Lord in the days of Enosh or Adam. That could mean that prior to Enosh/Adam prehistoric religions evolved naturally. Only with the rise of scriptural revelations did the One God enter into human consciousness.
Or it could mean that human consciousness had finally risen to the level of being able to receive Divine communication from the One God. It took over 3,000 years for monotheism to spread worldwide even with scriptural revelations; so it is not surprising that it took over 100-150,000 years to get Homo Sapiens ready to receive revelations.
Spirituality among Homo Sapiens has been evolving for at least 100-150,000 years. Religion is as deeply, if not more deeply rooted, in the Homo Sapiens brain as art or music. Recent studies, especially those on adult twins who were raised apart, suggest genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person’s general religiousness.
The idea that reason, socialism, or modern science would replace spiritual and religious thinking has turned out to be a wish-fulfillment fantasy of some people, many of whom bear a grudge against religion and spirituality. Religious rituals and ideas are ubiquitous among Homo Sapiens and continue to evolve as the creative intelligent minds of Homo Sapiens encounter changes in their environment. This will most likely continue as long as Homo Sapiens have creative intelligent minds.
I have deep roots in America. Some of my father’s forbears migrated to the Virginia Colony in 1609, and on my mother’s side are ancestors who fought with Washington and Lincoln and a great grandfather who was a Pony Express rider. Until I was sixteen, I myself had had an upbringing generally regarded as typically American, Midwestern, middle class and Protestant. I grew up in Bay City, Michigan, belonged to the Episcopal Church, went to Sunday School and sang in the church choir.
At sixteen however, I discovered the Qur’an. These words (of the first chapter), simple, and direct, so impressed me that I immediately set out to memorize them. Indeed they drew me into Islam, an example perhaps of Prophet Muhammad’s assertion that everyone is born a Muslim and made a Jew or a Christian by his parents.
From that time forward I charted my life on the direction of Mecca …
Before I had embarked on the Pilgrimage, its rituals seemed to me just so many curious exercises. But as I participated in the event of the Pilgrimage, the meaning of these rites unfolded, my understanding of Islam was deepened and I learned more fully what it meant to be a Muslim. Indeed, this is why God had commanded Muhammad to issue the call for the pilgrimage: ‘That they (the pilgrims) may witness things that are of benefit to them…’ (The Qur’an, 22:28)
(For example, towards the end of the Hajj when the time of making the Sacrifice came), I began to feel uneasy. Since I have not completely outgrown the tender-heartedness I had known as a child, I had balked at the idea of the Sacrifice long before being confronted with it and now the time had come to do it. What was I to do? As a girl I had cared for lost dogs or stray cats, adopting any fledgling that had fallen its nest, splinting a bird’s broken leg with matchstick and feeding injured butterflies on sugar syrup. But a companion had been adamant. ‘You must do the Sacrifice’.
Back at our building in Mina I turned to the Qur’an. I found that the Sacrifice has many meaning: it commemorates Abraham’s offering of his son’s life and God’s rejection of this sacrifice in exchange for Abraham’s submission to God’s will; it marks the end of idolatry among Arabs; it is an offering of thanksgiving to the God of Creation Who has been so benevolent to mankind; and it teaches the well-to-do to share their blessings to ‘eat thereof (the Sacrifice) and feed the beggar and the suppliant’. (Qur’an 22:36)
As I pondered what I had read, a great weight was lifted from my conscience. I suddenly saw that the Sacrifice upholds the sacredness of life, that it, in fact, constitutes a pledge by the pilgrim that he will slay for sustenance only. And where I had felt reluctance before, I know felt eagerness to fulfill all the requirements of my pilgrimage.
As printed in “Islam the natural way” by Abdul Wahid Hamid
The UK Home Secretary who wants to send asylum-seekers to a country with a record of human rights abuses has approved the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Is anybody surprised?
The decision flies against fears that Assange will be mistreated by US authorities who – it is alleged – planned to either kidnap or assassinate him while he was in UK custody.
The United States has been foiled in its attempts to prosecute Assange for around 12 years after he published reports on Wikileaks that alleged war crimes and corruption by that country.
The US government wants to prosecute Assange for 18 alleged crimes – 17 of them under a 1917 terrorism act – because his reports allegedly caused risk to the lives of American military personnel.
No evidence has been brought forward to substantiate the claim. US prosecutors have admitted that they do not have any.
Those said to be responsible for the alleged war crimes and corruptions have not faced any form of justice and were allowed to walk free, despite the allegations and the evidence supporting them.
The US has been foiled in its attempts to bring Assange to trial for 12 years – firstly because the journalist, fearing his own life would be under threat if he was brought into US custody, fled to the UK’s Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum, which he received until 2019, when he was arrested for breaking UK bail by British police.
He has stayed in Belmarsh Prison since then – long after his jail term for the bail offence was over – because the US had applied to extradite him and he has a history of absconding.
This has led him to suffer mental ill-health, according to his supporters.
It led a court to deny the US extradition request in January 2021, on the grounds that his mental health would suffer much more if he were subjected to the US penal system, which is far more hostile that that in the UK.
Meanwhile, it is understood that US secret service operatives planned to either kidnap or assassinate Assange, while he was in UK custody.
Former CIA director and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, confronted with the allegation, said the 30 sources who spoke to Yahoo News reporters “should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency” – which seems to be an admission that the claims were accurate.
S intelligence agents plotted to poison Assange. They bugged the Ecuadorian embassy in London so they could listen to meetings with his solicitors, followed Assange’s family and associates, targeted his then six-months-old baby to steal his DNA, and burgled the office of his lawyer.
Given this information, one would expect a UK court to dismiss any extradition request at once, on the basis that Assange’s life is in clear danger.
Unfortunately, the UK has a one-sided extradition treaty with the US – signed during Tony Blair’s period in office – that makes no provisions for such circumstances. Indeed, the UK must take US assurances that a suspect will not be ill-treated at face value, with no evidence requirement, and US claims cannot even be cross-examined in court.
So it should be unsurprising that the Home Office has said the courts found that extradition would not be “incompatible with his human rights” and that while in the US “he will be treated appropriately”; the law binds them into saying that.
Once extradited to the States, it seems Assange will face a kangaroo court, rather than receiving any actual justice.
The law under which he is charged does not allow a public interest defence, meaning he cannot argue that he was holding the US government to account by publishing details of its alleged war crimes.
And as Assange is not a US citizen, it seems he would not enjoy constitutional free-speech rights.
Protest: you can tell the strength of public feeling in support of Julian Assange from this image – but the law is the law, even if it is a bad one.
Furthermore, the US authorities have arranged for his case to be heard in Alexandria, Virginia – home of the US intelligence services, where people cannot be excluded from a jury because they work for the US government – prompting fears that Assange will be judged by people with a vested interest in supporting their employer.
He could go to prison for 175 years, according to colleagues at Wikileaks – although the US government says the term is more likely to be between four and six years. Who do you believe?
Assange has 14 days to appeal the decision and Wikileaks has said that it will.
The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher can now appeal her decision to the High Court, as well as the points of law he lost when the magistrate’s court initially blocked the extradition.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday signed an extradition order to send Julian Assange to stand trial in America.
WikiLeaks called it a “dark day for press freedom” and said “the decision will be appealed.”
Legal Road Ahead
The extradition order landed on Patel’s desk after the U.K. Supreme Court refused to hear Assange’s appeal against a High Court victory for the United States.
The U.S. had appealed a magistrate court’s decision in January last year not to extradite Assange because it would be oppressive to do so based on Assange’s health and the dire conditions of U.S. solitary confinement. The High Court decided in favor of the U.S. based solely on Washington’s conditional diplomatic “assurances” that it would treat Assange humanely.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied that the case was a political offense in violation of the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty; that it violated the U.S. first amendment and threatened press freedom; and that Assange’s rights to due process were violated when it was revealed that the C.I.A. had spied on privileged conversations with his lawyers and she ignored testimony that the C.I.A. had discussed kidnapping or poisoning Assange.
“The judges will have all the other elements, the important elements, that were discussed by the magistrate’s court but disregarded by the High Court [in October] because it was not the appeal point,” Hrafnsson said. The U.S. appeal was only about Assange’s health and U.S. prison conditions and Washington won because it convinced the judges of the credibility of its conditional assurances to treat Assange humanely.
Since Baraitser’s Jan. 4, 2021 decision, other facts have emerged that could form part of the cross appeal. The C.I.A. plot against Assange was further corroborated by U.S. officials in a Yahoo! Newsreport. A key U.S. witness on computer charges against Assange recanted his testimony. And Assange’s health has further deteriorated when he suffered a mini-stroke last October.
The Assange persecution is the greatest threat to Western press freedoms in years. It is also a shining monument to the fraud of American and British self-depictions.
The eleven-year persecution of Julian Assangewas extended and escalated on Friday morning.The British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the U.S.’s extradition request to send Julian Assange to Virginia to stand trial on eighteen felony charges under the 1917 Espionage Act and other statutes in connection with the 2010 publication by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents showing widespread corruption, deceit, and war crimes by American and British authorities along with their close dictatorial allies in the Middle East.
This decision is unsurprising — it has been obvious for years that the U.S. and UK are determined to destroy Assange as punishment for his journalism exposing their crimes — yet it nonetheless further highlights the utter sham of American and British sermons about freedom, democracy and a free press. Those performative self-glorifying spectacles are constantly deployed to justify these two countries’ interference in and attacks on other nations, and to allow their citizens to feel a sense of superiority about the nature of their governments. After all, if the U.S. and UK stand for freedom and against tyranny, who could possibly oppose their wars and interventions in the name of advancing such lofty goals and noble values?
Having reported on the Assange case for years, on countless occasions I’ve laid out the detailed background that led Assange and the U.S. to this point. There is thus no need to recount all of that again; those interested can read the granular trajectory of this persecution here or here. Suffice to say, Assange — without having been convicted of any crime other than bail jumping, for which he long ago served out his fifty-week sentence — has been in effective imprisonment for more than a decade.
In 2012, Ecuador granted Assange legal asylum from political persecution. It did so after the Swedish government refused to pledge that it would not exploit the WikiLeaks founder’s travel to Sweden to answer sex assault accusations as a pretext to turn him over to the U.S. Fearing what of course ended up happening — that the U.S. was determined to do everything possible to drag Assange back to U.S. soil despite his not being a U.S. citizen and never having spent more than a few days on U.S. soil, and intending to pressure their long-time-submissive Swedish allies to turn him over once he was on Swedish soil — the government of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa concluded Assange’s core civic rights were being denied and thus gave him refuge in the tiny Ecuadorian Embassy in London: the classic reason political asylum exists.
When Trump officials led by CIA Director Mike Pompeo bullied Correa’s meek successor, ex-President Lenin Moreno, to withdraw that asylum in 2019, the London Police entered the embassy, arrested Assange, and put him in the high-security Belmarsh prison (which the BBC in 2004 dubbed “the British Guantanamo”), where he has remained ever since.
After the lowest-level British court in early 2021 rejected the U.S. extradition request on the ground that Assange’s physical and mental health could not endure the U.S. prison system, Assange has lost every subsequent appeal. Last year, he was permitted to marry his long-time girlfriend, the British human rights lawyer Stella Morris Assange, who is also the mother of their two young children. An extremely unusual unanimity among press freedom and civil liberties groups was formed in early 2021 to urge the Biden administration to cease its prosecution of Assange, but Biden officials — despite spending the Trump years masquerading as press freedom advocates — ignored them (an interview conducted last week with Stella Assange by my husband, the Brazilian Congressman David Miranda, on Brazil’s Press Freedom Day, regarding the latest developments and toll this has taken on the Assange family, can be seen here).
But putting oneself in Assange’s position, it is easy to see why he is so eager to avoid extradition to the U.S. for as long as possible. The Espionage Act of 1917 is a nasty and repressive piece of legislation. It was designed by Woodrow Wilson and his band of authoritarian progressives to criminalize dissent against Wilson’s decision to involve the U.S. in World War I. It was used primarily to imprison anti-war leftists such as Eugene Debs, as well as anti-war religious leaders such as Joseph Franklin Rutherford for the crime of publishing a book condemning Wilson’s foreign policy.
One of the most insidious despotic innovations of the Obama administration was to repurpose and revitalize the Wilson-era Espionage Act as an all-purpose weapon to punish whistleblowers who denounced Obama’s policies. The Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all previous administrations combined — in fact, three times as many as all prior presidents combined. One whistleblower charged by Obama officials under that law is NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in 2013 revealed mass domestic spying of precisely the kind that Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (now of CNN) falsely denied conducting when testifying to the Senate, which led to legislative curbs enacted by the U.S. Congress, and which courts have ruled unconstitutional and illegal.
What makes this law so insidious is that, by design, it is almost impossible for the government to lose. As I detailed in a Washington Post op-ed when the indictment was first revealed — arguing why it poses the greatest threat to press freedoms in the West in years — this 1917 law is written as a “strict liability” statute, meaning that the defendant is not only guilty as soon as there is proof that they disclosed classified information without authorization, but they are also barred from raising a “justification” defense — meaning they cannot argue to the jury of their peers that it was not only permissible but morally necessary to disclose that information because of the serious wrongdoing and criminality it revealed on the part of the nation’s most powerful political officials. That 1917 law, in other words, is written to offer only show trials but not fair trials. No person in their right mind would willingly submit to prosecution and life imprisonment in the harshest American penitentiaries under an indictment brought under this fundamentally corrupted law.
Whatever else one might think of Assange, there is simply no question that he is one of the most consequential, pioneering, and accomplished journalists of his time. One could easily make the case that he occupies the top spot by himself. And that, of course, is precisely why he is in prison: because, just like free speech, “free press” guarantees in the U.S. and UK exist only on a piece of parchment and in theory. Citizens are free to do “journalism” as long as it does not disturb or anger or impede real power centers. Employees of The Washington Post and CNN are “free” to say what they want as long as what they are saying is approved and directed by the CIA or the content of their “reporting” advances the interests of the Pentagon’s sprawling war machine.
Real journalists often face threats of prosecution, imprisonment or even murder, and sometimes even mean tweets. Much of the American corporate media class has ignored Assange’s persecution or even cheered it precisely because he shames them, serving as a vivid mirror to show them what real journalism is and how they are completely bereft of it. And the American and British governments have successfully exploited the petty jealousies and insecurities of their failed, vapid and pointless media servants to get away with imposing the single greatest threat to press freedom in the West without much protest at all.
Free speech and press freedoms do not exist in reality in the U.S. or the UK. They are merely rhetorical instruments to propagandize their domestic population and justify and ennoble the various wars and other forms of subversion they constantly wage in other countries in the name of upholding values they themselves do not support. The Julian Assange persecution is a great personal tragedy, a political travesty and a grave danger to basic civic freedoms. But it is also a bright and enduring monument to the fraud and deceit that lies at the heart of these two governments’ depictions of who and what they are.
Because we in the West are the strongest tribe on the planet, we are also the most deluded, the most propagandized, and the most dangerous!
Westerners should forget about liberating Ukraine, writes Jonathan Cook. First we need to liberate our own minds so we can acknowledge our threatening presence in the world.
Nothing should better qualify me to write about world affairs at the moment – and Western meddling in Ukraine – than the fact that I have intimately followed the twists and turns of Israeli politics for two decades.
We will turn to the wider picture in a moment. But before that, let us consider developments in Israel, as its “historic”, year-old government – which included for the very first time a party representing a section of Israel’s minority of Palestinian citizens – teeters on the brink of collapse.
A Palestinian boy and Israeli soldier in front of the Israeli West Bank Barrier, August 2004. (Justin McIntosh, Wikipedia)
Crisis struck, as everyone knew it would sooner or later, because the Israeli parliament had to vote on a major issue relating to the occupation: renewing a temporary law that for decades has regularly extended Israel’s legal system outside its territory, applying it to Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.
That law lies at the heart of an Israeli political system that the world’s leading human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad, now belatedly admit has always constituted apartheid. The law ensures that Jewish settlers living in the West Bank in violation of international law receive rights different from, and far superior to, those of the Palestinians that are ruled over by Israel’s occupying military authorities.
Palestinian water tanks destroyed by settlers in Hebron, 2009. (ISM Palestine, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)
The law enshrines the principle of Jim Crow-style inequality, creating two different systems of law in the West Bank: one for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians. But it does more. Those superior rights, and their enforcement by Israel’s army, have for decades allowed Jewish settlers to rampage against Palestinian rural communities with absolute impunity and steal their land – to the point that Palestinians are now confined to tiny, choked slivers of their own homeland.
In international law, that process is called “forcible transfer,” or what we would think of as ethnic cleansing. It’s a major reason that the settlements are a war crime – a fact that the International Criminal Court in the Hague is finding it very hard to ignore. Israel’s leading politicians and generals would all be tried for war crimes if we lived in a fair, and sane, world.
So what happened when this law came before the parliament for a vote on its renewal? The “historic” government, supposedly a rainbow coalition of leftwing and rightwing Jewish parties joined by a religiously conservative Palestinian party, split on entirely predictable ethnic lines.
Members of the Palestinian party either voted against the law or absented themselves from the vote. All the Jewish parties in the government voted for it. The law failed – and the government is now in trouble – because the rightwing Likud Party of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Palestinian parties in voting against the law, in the hope of bringing the government down, even though his legislators are completely committed to the apartheid system it upholds.
What is most significant about the vote is that it has revealed something far uglier about Israel’s Jewish tribalism than most Westerners appreciate. It shows that all of Israel’s Jewish parties – even the “nice ones” that are termed leftwing or liberal – are in essence racist.
Most Westerners understand Zionism to be split into two broad camps: the right, including the far-right, and the liberal-left camp.
Today this so-called liberal-left camp is tiny and represented by the Israeli Labour and Meretz parties. Israel’s Labour Party is considered so respectable that Britain’s Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, publicly celebrated the recent restoration of ties after the Israeli party severed connections during the term of Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.
But note this. Not only have the Labour and Meretz parties been sitting for a year in a government led by Naftali Bennett, whose party represents the illegal settlements, they have just voted for the very apartheid law that ensures the settlers get superior rights over Palestinians, including the right to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land.
In the case of the Israeli Labour Party, that is hardly surprising. Labour founded the first settlements and, apart from a brief period in the late 1990s when it paid lip service to a peace process, always backed to the hilt the apartheid system that enabled the settlements to expand. None of that ever troubled Britain’s Labour Party, apart from when it was led by Corbyn, a genuinely dedicated anti-racist.
But by contrast to Labour, Meretz is an avowedly anti-occupation party. That was the very reason it was founded in the early 1990s. Opposition to the occupation and the settlements is supposedly hardwired into its DNA. So how did it vote for the very apartheid law underpinning the settlements?
The naïve, or mischievous, will tell you Meretz had no choice because the alternative was Bennett’s government losing the vote – which in fact happened anyway – and reviving the chances of Netanyahu returning to power. Meretz’s hands were supposedly tied.
This argument – of pragmatic necessity – is one we often hear when groups professing to believe one thing act in ways that damage the very thing they say they hold dear.
Meretz faction at an international human rights march, Tel Aviv, Dec. 7, 2012. (Oren Rozen, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
But Israeli commentator Gideon Levy makes a very telling point that applies far beyond this particular Israeli case.
He notes that Meretz would never have been seen to vote for the apartheid law – whatever the consequences – if the issue had been about transgressing the rights of Israel’s LGBTQ community rather than transgressing Palestinian rights. Meretz, whose leader is gay, has LGBTQ rights at the top of its agenda.
Levy writes: “Two justice systems in the same territory, one for straight people and another for gay people? Is there any circumstance in which this would happen? A single political constellation that could bring it about?”
The same could be said of Labour, even if we believe, as Starmer apparently does, that it is a leftwing party. Its leader, Merav Michaeli, is an ardent feminist.
Would Labour, Levy writes, “ever raise its hand for apartheid laws against [Israeli] women in the West Bank? Two separate legal systems, one for men and another for women? Never. Absolutely not.”
Levy’s point is that even for the so-called Zionist left, Palestinians are inherently inferior by virtue of the fact that they are Palestinian. The Palestinian gay community and Palestinian women are just as affected by the Israel’s apartheid law favoring Jewish settlers as Palestinian men are. So in voting for it, Meretz and Labour showed that they do not care about the rights of Palestinian women or members of the Palestinian LGBTQ community. Their support for women and the gay community is dependent on the ethnicity of those belonging to these groups.
(Can Pac Swire, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)
It should not need highlighting how close such a distinction on racial grounds is to the views espoused by the traditional supporters of Jim Crow in the U.S. or apartheid’s supporters in South Africa.
So what makes Meretz and Labour legislators capable of not just utter hypocrisy but such flagrant racism? The answer is Zionism.
Zionism is a form of ideological tribalism that prioritizes Jewish privilege in the legal, military and political realms. However leftwing you consider yourself, if you subscribe to Zionism you regard your ethnic tribalism as supremely important – and for that reason alone, you are racist.
You may not be conscious of your racism, you may not wish to be racist, but by default you are. Ultimately, when push comes to shove, when you perceive your own Jewish tribalism to be under threat from another tribalism, you will revert to type. Your racism will come to fore, just as surely as Meretz’s just did.
But of course, there is nothing exceptional about most Israeli Jews or Israel’s Zionist supporters abroad, whether Jewish or not. Tribalism is endemic to the way most of us view the world, and rapidly comes to the surface whenever we perceive our tribe to be in danger.
Most of us can quickly become extreme tribalists. When tribalism relates to more trivial matters, such as supporting a sports team, it mostly manifests in less dangerous forms, such as boorish or aggressive behavior. But if it relates to an ethnic or national group, it encourages a host of more dangerous behaviors: jingoism, racism, discrimination, segregation and warmongering.
As sensitive as Meretz is to its own tribal identities, whether the Jewish one or a solidarity with the LGBTQ community, its sensitivity to the tribal concerns of others can quickly dissolve when that other identity is presented as threatening. Which is why Meretz, in prioritizing its Jewish identity, lacks any meaningful solidarity with Palestinians or even the Palestinian LGBTQ community.
Instead, Meretz’s opposition to the occupation and the settlements often appears more rooted in the sentiment that they are bad for Israel and its relations with the West than that they are a crime against Palestinians.
This inconsistency means we can easily be fooled about who our real allies are. Just because we share a commitment to one thing, such as ending the occupation, it doesn’t necessarily mean we do so for the same reasons – or we attach the same importance to our commitment.
It is easy, for example, for less experienced Palestinian solidarity activists to assume when they hear Meretz politicians that the party will help advance the Palestinian cause. But failing to understand Meretz’s tribal priorities is a recipe for constant disappointment – and futile activism on behalf of Palestinians.
The Oslo “peace” process remained credible in the West for so long only because Westerners misunderstood how it fitted with the tribal priorities of Israelis. Most were ready to back peace in the abstract so long as it did not entail any practical loss of their tribal privileges.
Yitzhak Rabin, the West’s Israeli partner in the Oslo process, showed what such tribalism entailed in the wake of a gun rampage by a settler, Baruch Goldstein, in 1994 that killed and wounded more than 100 Palestinians at worship in the Palestinian city of Hebron.
Dec. 10, 1994: From left; PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize following the Oslo Accords. (Israeli government, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
Rather than using the murder spree as the justification to implement his commitment to remove the small colonies of extreme settlers from Hebron, Rabin put Hebron’s Palestinians under curfew for many months. Those restrictions have never been fully lifted for many of Hebron’s Palestinians and have allowed Jewish settlers to expand their colonies ever since.
Hierarchy of tribalisms
There is a further point that needs underscoring, and that the Israel-Palestine case illustrates well. Not all tribalisms are equal, or equally dangerous. Palestinians are quite capable of being tribal too. Just look at the self-righteous posturing of some Hamas leaders, for example.
But whatever delusions Zionists subscribe to, Palestinian tribalism is clearly far less dangerous to Israel than Jewish tribalism is to Palestinians.
Israel, the state representing Jewish tribalists, has the support of all Western governments and major media outlets, as well as most Arab governments, and at the very least the complicity of global institutions. Israel has an army, navy and air force, all of which can rely on the latest, most powerful weaponry, itself heavily subsidized by the U.S. Israel also enjoys special trading status with the West, which has made its economy one of the strongest on the planet.
The idea that Israeli Jews have a greater reason to fear the Palestinians (or in a further delusion, the Arab world) than Palestinians have to fear Israel is easily refuted. Simply consider how many Israeli Jews would wish to exchange places with a Palestinian – whether in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem or from the minority living inside Israel.
The lesson is that there is a hierarchy of tribalisms, and that a tribalism is more dangerous if it enjoys more power. Empowered tribalisms have the ability to cause much greater harm than disempowered tribalisms. Not all tribalisms are equally destructive.
But there is a more significant point. An empowered tribalism necessarily provokes, accentuates and deepens a disempowered tribalism. Zionists often claim that Palestinians are a made-up or imaginary people because they did not identify as Palestinians until after the state of Israel was created. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously suggested the Palestinians were an invented people.
This was, of course, self-serving nonsense. But it has a kernel of truth that makes it sound plausible. Palestinian identity clarified and intensified as a result of the threat posed by Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe, claiming the Palestinian homeland as their own.
Solidarity with Palestine protester in Tunis, May 15, 2021. (Brahim Guedich, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)
As the saying goes, you don’t always fully appreciate what you have until you face losing it. Palestinians had to sharpen their national identity, and their national ambitions, faced with the threat that someone else was claiming what they had always assumed belonged to them.
So how does all this help us understand our own tribalism in the West?
Not least, whatever the anxieties being encouraged in the West over the supposed threat posed by Russia and China, the reality is that the West’s tribalism – sometimes termed “Western civilization,” or “the rules-based order,” or “the democratic world,” or, even more ludicrously, “the international community” – is by far the most powerful of all tribalisms on the planet. And so also the most dangerous.
Israel’s tribal power, for example, derives almost exclusively from the West’s tribal power. It is an adjunct, an extension, of Western tribal power.
But we need to be a little more specific in our thinking. You and I subscribe to Western tribalism – either consciously or less so, depending on whether we see ourselves as on the right or the left of the political spectrum – because it has been cultivated in us over a lifetime through parenting, schools and the corporate media.
U.S. Army soldiers near a defaced mural of Saddam Hussein at the Baghdad Central Detention Facility, formerly Abu Ghraib Prison, Oct. 27, 2003. (U.S. National Archives)
We think West is best. None of us would want to be Russian or Chinese, any more than Israeli Jews would choose to be Palestinian. We implicitly understand that we have privileges over other tribes. And because we are tribal, we assume those privileges are justified in some way. They either derive from our own inherent superiority (a view often associated with the far right) or from a superior culture or traditions (a view usually embracing the moderate right, liberals and parts of the left).
Again, this echoes Zionist views. Israeli Jews on the right tend to believe that they have inherently superior qualities to Palestinians and Arabs, who are seen as primitive, backward or barbarian-terrorists. Overlapping with these assumptions, religious-Zionist Jews tend to imagine that they are superior because they have the one true God on their side.
By contrast, most secular Jews on the left, like the liberals of Meretz, believe that their superiority derives from some vague conception of Western “culture” or civilization that has fostered in them a greater ability to show tolerance and compassion, and act rationally, than do most Palestinians.
Meretz would like to extend that culture to Palestinians to help them benefit from the same civilizing influences. But until that can happen, they, like the Zionist right, view Palestinians primarily as a threat.
Seen in simple terms, Meretz believes they cannot easily empower the Palestinian LGBTQ community, much as they would like to, without also empowering Hamas. And they do not wish to do that because an empowered Hamas, they fear, would not only threaten the Palestinian LGBTQ community but the Israeli one too.
So liberating Palestinians from decades of Israeli military occupation and ethnic cleansing will just have to wait for a more opportune moment – however long that may take, and however many Palestinians must suffer in the meantime.
The parallels with our own, Western worldview should not be hard to perceive.
We understand that our tribalism, our prioritizing of our own privileges in the West, entails suffering for others. But either we assume we are more deserving than other tribes, or we assume others – to become deserving – must first be brought up to our level through education and other civilizing influences. They will just have to suffer in the meantime.
When we read about the “white man’s burden” worldview in history books, we understand – with the benefit of distance from those times – how ugly Western colonialism was. When it is suggested that we might still harbor this kind of tribalism, we get irritated or, more likely, indignant. “Racist – me? Ridiculous!”
Further, our blindness to our own super-empowered Western tribalism makes us oblivious too to the effect our tribalism has on less empowered tribalisms. We imagine ourselves under constant threat from any other tribal group that asserts its own tribalism in the face of our more empowered tribalism.
Some of those threats can be more ideological and amorphous, particularly in recent years: like the supposed “clash of civilisations” against the Islamist extremism of al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
President Vladimir Putin announcing Russia’s military operation against Ukraine on Feb. 24.
But our preferred enemies have a face, and all too readily can be presented as an improbable stand-in for our template of the bogeyman: Adolf Hitler.
Those new Hitlers pop up one after another, like a whack-a-mole game we can never quite win.
Iraq’s Saddam Hussein – supposedly ready to fire the WMD he didn’t actually have in our direction in less than 45 minutes.
The mad ayatollahs of Iran and their politician-puppets – seeking to build a nuclear bomb to destroy our forward outpost of Israel before presumably turning their warheads on Europe and the U.S.
And then there is the biggest, baddest monster of them all: Vladimir Putin. The mastermind threatening our way of life, our values, or civilization with his mind games, disinformation and control of social media through an army of bots.
Feb. 5, 2003: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at the U.N. Security Council presenting false claims about Iraq’s WMD. (U.N. Photo/Mark Garten)
Because we are as blind to our own tribalism as Meretz is to its racism towards Palestinians, we cannot understand why anyone else might fear us more than we fear them. Our “superior” civilization has cultivated in us a solipsism, a narcissism, that refuses to acknowledge our threatening presence in the world.
The Russians could never be responding to a threat – real or imagined – that we might pose by expanding our military presence right up to Russia’s borders.
The Russians could never see our NATO military alliance as primarily aggressive rather than defensive, as we claim, even though somewhere in a small, dark mental recess where things that make us uncomfortable are shoved we know that Western armies have launched a series of direct wars of aggression against countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and via proxies in Syria, Yemen, Iran and Venezuela.
June 24, 2019: President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, before signing further sanctions on Iran. (White House, D. Myles Cullen)
The Russians could never genuinely fear neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine – groups that until recently Western media worried were growing in power – even after those neo-Nazis were integrated into the Ukrainian military and led what amounts to a civil war against ethnic Russian communities in the country’s east.
In our view, when Putin spoke of the need to de-Nazify Ukraine, he was not amplifying Russians’ justifiable fears of Nazism on their doorstep, given their history, or the threat those groups genuinely pose to ethnic Russian communities nearby. No, he was simply proving that he and the likely majority of Russians who think as he does are insane.
More than that, his hyperbole gave us permission to bring our covert arming of these neo-Nazis groups out into the light. Now we embrace these neo-Nazis, as we do the rest of Ukraine, and send them advanced weaponry – many billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry.
People in Warsaw listening to U.S. President Joe Biden’s remarks on the war in Ukraine, March 26. (White House, Adam Schultz)
And while we do this, we self-righteously berate Putin for being a madman and for his disinformation. He is demented or a liar for viewing us as a existential threat to Russia, while we are entirely justified in viewing him as an existential threat to Western civilization.
And so we keep feeding the chimerical devil we fear. And however often our fears are exposed as self-rationalizing, we never learn.
Saddam Hussein posed an earlier existential threat. His non-existent WMDs were going to be placed in his non-existent long-range missiles to destroy us. So we had every right to destroy Iraq first, preemptively. But when those WMDs turned out not to exist, whose fault was it? Not ours, of course. It was Saddam Hussein’s. He didn’t tell us he did not have WMDs. How could we have known? In our view, Iraq ended up being destroyed because Saddam was a strongman who believed his own propaganda, a primitive Arab hoisted by his own petard.
If we paused for a moment and stood outside our own tribalism, we might realize how dangerously narcissistic – quite how mad – we sound. Saddam Hussein did not tell us he had no WMDs, that he had secretly destroyed them many years earlier, because he feared us and our uncontrollable urge to dominate the globe. He feared that, if we knew he lacked those weapons, we might have more of an incentive to attack him and Iraq, either directly or through proxies. It was we who trapped him in his own lie.
And then there is Iran. Our endless fury with the mad ayatollahs – our economic sanctions, our and Israel’s executions of Iran’s scientists, our constant chatter of invasion – are intended to stop Tehran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon that might finally level the Middle East’s playing field with Israel, whom we helped to develop a large nuclear arsenal decades ago.
Iran must be stopped so it cannot destroy Israel and then us. Our fears of the Iranian nuclear threat are paramount. We must strike, directly or through proxies, against its allies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Gaza. Our entire Middle East policy must be fashioned around the effort to prevent Iran from ever gaining the bomb.
In our madness, we cannot imagine the fears of Iranians, their realistic sense that we pose a much graver threat to them than they could ever pose to us. In the circumstances, to Iranians, a nuclear weapon might surely look like a very wise insurance policy – a deterrence – against our boundless self-righteousness.
Because we are the strongest tribe on the planet, we are also the most deluded, the most propagandized, as well as the most dangerous. We create the reality we think we oppose. We spawn the devils we fear. We force our rivals into the role of bogeyman that makes us feel good about ourselves.
In Israel, Meretz imagines it opposes the occupation. And yet it keeps conspiring in actions – supposedly to aid Israel’s security, like the apartheid law – that justifiably make Palestinians fear for their existence and believe they have no Jewish allies in Israel. Backed into a corner, Palestinians resist, either in an organized fashion, as during their intifada uprisings, or through ineffectual “lone-wolf” attacks by individuals.
But the Zionist tribalism of Meretz – as liberal, humane and caring as they are – means they can perceive only their own existential anxieties; they cannot see themselves as a threat to others or grasp the fears that they and other Zionists provoke in Palestinians. So the Palestinians must be dismissed as religious maniacs, or primitive, or barbarian-terrorists.
This kind of tribalism produces a vicious cycle – for us, as for Israel. Our behaviors based on the assumption of superiority – our greed and aggression – mean we inevitably deepen the tribalisms of others and provoke their resistance. Which in turn rationalizes our assumption that we must act even more tribally, even more greedily, even more aggressively.
We each have more than one tribal identity, of course. We are not only British, French, American, Brazilian. We are Black, Asian, Hispanic, white. We are straight, gay, trans, or something even more complex. We are conservative, liberal, left. We may support a team, or have a faith.
These tribal identities can conflict and interact in complex ways. As Meretz shows, one identity may come to the fore, and recede into the background, depending on circumstances and the perception of threat.
But perhaps most important of all, some tribalisms can be harnessed and manipulated by other, narrower, more covert tribal identities. Remember, not all tribalisms are equal.
Western elites – our politicians, corporate leaders, billionaires – have their own narrow tribalism. They prioritize their own tribe and its interests: making money and retaining power on the world stage. But given how ugly, selfish and destructive this tribe would look were it to stand before us nakedly pursuing power for its own benefit, it promotes its tribal interests in the name of the wider tribe and its “cultural” values.
This elite tribe wages its endless wars for resource control, it oppresses others, it imposes austerity, it wrecks the planet, all in the name of Western civilization.
When we cheerlead the West’s wars; when we reluctantly concede that other societies must be smashed; when we accept that poverty and food banks are an unfortunate byproduct of supposed economic realities, as is the toxifying of the planet, we conspire in advancing not our own tribal interests but someone else’s.
When we send tens of billions of dollars of weapons to Ukraine, we imagine we are being selfless, helping those in trouble, stopping an evil madman, upholding international law, listening to Ukrainians. But our understanding of why events are unfolding as they are in Ukraine, more so than how they are unfolding, has been imposed on us, just as it has on ordinary Ukrainians and ordinary Russians.
We believe we can end the war through more muscle. We assume we can terrorize Russia into withdrawal. Or even more dangerously, we fantasize that we can defeat a nuclear-armed Russia and remove its “madman” president. We cannot imagine that we are only stoking the very fears that drove Russia to invade Ukraine in the first place, the very fears that brought a strongman like Putin to power and sustain him there. We make the situation worse in assuming we are making it better.
So why do we do it?
Because our thoughts are not our own. We are dancing to a tune composed by others whose motives and interests we barely comprehend.
An endless war is not in our interests, nor in those of Ukrainians or Russians. But it might just be in the interests of Western elites that need to “weaken the enemy” to expand their dominance; that need pretexts to hoover up our money for wars that profit them alone; that need to create enemies to shore up the tribalism of Western publics so that we do not start to see things from the point of view of others or wonder whether our own tribalism really serves our interests or those of an elite.
The truth is we are being constantly manipulated, duped, propagandized to advance “values” that are not inherent in our “superior” culture but manufactured for us by the elites’ public-relations arm, the corporate media. We are made into willing co-conspirators in behavior that actually harms us, others, and the planet.
In Ukraine, our very compassion to help is being weaponized in ways that will kill Ukrainians and destroy their communities, just as Meretz’s caring liberalism has spent decades rationalizing the oppression of Palestinians in the name of ending it.
We cannot liberate Ukraine or Russia. But what we can do may, in the long term, prove far more significant: We can start liberating our minds.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021. He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair(2008)
“We are now at the doors of the Jenin refugee camp,” Ali al-Samoudi, an Al Jazeera news channel producer, said as he began a live stream on Facebook early on May 11, during an Israeli military operation in the camp. Sounds of gunshots rang out in the distance. “Heavy clashes,” could be heard, Samoudi said in the video, which was recorded shortly after 6 a.m.
Less than 30 minutes later, the scene was quiet enough that Samoudi, along with three other journalists, felt safe inching toward a column of Israeli military vehicles that was involved in one of the early morning raids. Among the group was Palestinian American journalistShireen Abu Akleh, a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera who had covered countless similar operations in a career spanning decades, colleagues said.
“We were very sure there were no armed Palestinians, and no exchange of fire or clashes with the Israelis,” said Samoudi. Then, the journalists headed up the street, toward the Israeli convoy. “It was totally calm, there was no gunfire at all.” Suddenly, there was a barrage of bullets. One struck Samoudi. Another hit and ultimately killed Abu Akleh, as their colleagues scrambled for cover.
The shots seemed to come from the military vehicles, Samoudi recalled.
Israel’s military has not released any evidence showing the presence of a gunman. The available video and audio evidence disputes IDF claims there was an exchange of fire in the minutes before Abu Akleh was killed and supports the accounts of multiple eyewitnesses interviewed by The Post, who said there was no firefight at the time.
The audio analyses of the gunfire that likely killed Abu Akleh point to one person shooting from an estimated distance that nearly matches the span between the journalists and the IDF convoy. Based on video The Post filmed in Jenin, Abu Akleh and other journalists identified as press would likely have been visible from the IDF convoy’s position, which was roughly 182 meters (597 feet) away. At least one soldier in the convoy was using a telescopic scope, the IDF said later in a news release. A live stream on TikTok filmed seven minutes before the shooting shows a relatively calm scene with people milling about. Distant single gunshots are heard on occasion but there are no signs of a firefight.
The IDF, in written responses to questions and a summary of The Post’s findings,said it “will continue to responsibly investigate the incident, in order to get to the truth of this tragic event. The bullet is vital to reaching a conclusion as to the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh, and it is an important source for reaching an evidence-based conclusion. The Palestinians continue to refuse the IDF’s offer to conduct a joint forensic examination of the bullet, with American representation.”
The statement, quoting Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the IDF chief of the general staff, repeated Israel’s previous contention that it was investigating whether the bullet was fired by the IDF or a Palestinian gunman. “There is one thing that can be determined with certainty: no IDF soldier deliberately fired at a journalist. We investigated this. That is the conclusion and there is no other,” he said.
The IDF did not say how it arrived at the conclusion that its soldiers did not know journalists were present, or that they were not deliberately targeted. An IDF spokesman directed Post reporters toward statements made by an Israeli military official, Col. Arik Moel, in a television interview, in which he says there was a “better chance” Abu Akleh was killed by Palestinian fire than by “one of the five bullets” shot by an Israeli soldier who had been present that day. No evidence was provided for the assertion.
The IDF did not respond to a question about what, if anything, Israeli footage of the incident — from drones or body cameras — may show.
Shortly after 6 a.m. Abu Akleh sent an email to the Al Jazeera assignment desk saying “occupation forces are breaking into Jenin’s camp and besieging a house in Jabriyat neighborhood,” referring to two operations being conducted by the IDF. She wrote that she would update the network on the situation once she reached the camp. By the time she arrived around 6:15 a.m., other journalists, including Shatha Hanaysheh and Samoudi, had gathered at a roundabout at the entrance of the camp.
“The main road was pseudo living a normal life, there were vehicles driving by with people going to work, there was normal foot traffic,” Hanaysheh recalled.
Saleem Awaad, a 27-year-old resident of Jenin, started a live stream on TikTok at roughly 6:24 a.m. In the video, which was obtained by The Post, someone tells Awaad that IDF forces are positionedjust to the southwest. At the same time, the journalists can be seen standing aroundwearing helmets and protective vests labeled “PRESS.”
“I’m going to film them [the Israeli soldiers],” Awaad is heard saying, as he rushes past the journalists.
As he approaches an intersection, three rounds of gunfire are heard in the distance. Roughly two minutes later, he points the camera south revealing Israeli military vehicles about 182 meters (597 feet) away, according to The Post’s analysis of the footage. “There’s the Israeli army,” he says. The vehicles are in the same location and formation as those seen in body-camera footage of the raid later released by the IDF.
Over the next three minutes, the video records distant single gunshots from time to time, but the scene is relatively calm and the gaggle of people gathered at the corner seem relaxed, joking and milling about. At about 6:31 a.m., the journalists start to walk toward the military vehicles. “We decided to move through that street slowly to get closer toward the army to cover the news,” Samoudi later told The Post.
In the video, less than 30 seconds after the journalists walked toward the military, six gunshots erupt. People who were recording the scene scatter.
A different video obtained by The Post shows Samoudi moving hurriedly, but carefully, toward a silver car stopped at the intersection. Just as he reaches the road, a second burst of seven gunshots comes. The group again scrambles away from the corner. Someone calls out, “Who was hit?” Hanaysheh yells for an ambulance, because Abu Akleh had been shot, she told The Post.
Three more shots ring out. Then someone shouts,“Shireen! Medic, medic! Stay where you are, don’t move, don’t move.” The camera pans to show Hanaysheh crouched behind a tree near Abu Akleh, who is on the ground,facing down.
A group of men attempt to reach the two journalists by crossing the street for nearly a minute, as a fourth burst of at least nine gunshots erupts in rapid fire. One man, who is already across the street, climbs over a crushed wall to reach Abu Akleh and Hanaysheh. As the man grabs Abu Akleh’s arm, in what appears to be an attempt to move her, another shot goes off. He runs back against the wall and crouches down. He ushers Hanaysheh away from the scene, back over the crumbled wall before helping to carry Abu Akleh’s body from behind the tree into the back seat of a car.
The Post has decided to publish the 8-minute video recorded by Awaadit in its entirety below.
At The Post’s request, Steven Beck,an audio forensic expert who consulted for the FBI for more than a decade, conducted an analysis on the gunfire heard in the two separate videos. Beck found the first two bursts of gunfire, 13 shots in total, were shot from between 175-195 meters (574-640 feet) away from the cameras that recorded the scene — almost exactly the distance between the journalists and the Israeli military vehicles.
The sound wave produced by the gunshots for both bursts of gunfire was remarkably consistent, suggesting a single person “pulling the trigger of a rifle that fires supersonic bullets almost as fast as they can,” Beck said, referring to bullets moving faster than the speed of sound.There are two slight deviations from the pattern of fire, Beck explained, but the deviations — involving two rounds — are likely causedby someone re-aiming. Everything else about the audio signature of the shots is consistent, he added.
Palestinian authorities, who are in possession of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh, said it was a 5.56x45mm round. Beck said he used a number of different weapons that fire that caliber of round in his analysis, but there is little significant difference between them in determining the distance between Abu Akleh and the shooters.
There are two subsequent bursts of gunfire after the one believed to have killed Abu Akleh, but their origin was harder to determine, experts said.
The bursts, of at least 12 shots in total, point to a shooter in a different location from the first two bursts, Beck said, estimating they may have been fired from roughly 10-30 meters (32-99 feet) away from the journalists. The shooter was firing in the general direction of the journalists, but could have been shooting at something else because the bullets pass further away from the group than the first two bursts.
“The gunshot signatures, the echo signatures, and the timing of these bursts were very different from the burst that likely killed the journalist, indicating a firing location that was different and much closer,” Beck told The Post in an email. “Without knowledge of the type of round, a more accurate estimate of the shooter distance is not possible.”
A second analysis, conducted by aphysics-based computer model built by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, similarly found the first two bursts of gunfire were fired 233 meters +/- 46 meters (765 feet +/- 150 feet)from the camera — roughly aligning with Beck’s analysis and the position of the Israeli military vehicles. The model did not determine if the first two bursts were fired by one or two shooters — only that the distance between the gunman and the camera stayed consistent.Similar to Beck, researchers also used a number of different weapons in their analysis that could have fired a 5.56x45mm or similar round.
The Carnegie Mellon researchers said the third and fourth bursts indicate a second shooter, but they could not determine this person’s distance from the journalists because of the videos’ poor audio quality.
An investigationby the Palestinian Authority concluded that Abu Akleh was hit by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. The Palestinian attorney general, Akram Al-Khateeb, said at a press briefing last month that she was shot “directly and deliberately,” a conclusion he said was based in part on the fact that Abu Akleh and Samoudi were shot in the upper part of their bodies, and gunfire, he said, continued after they were shot.
Khateeb said a decision had been made not to hand over the bullet to the Israelis — or even to disseminate an image of the round — “to deprive them of a new lie, a new narrative,” he said, adding that the Palestinians were capable of conducting a thorough investigation on their own.
The IDF says its investigation is ongoing, but said it had already concluded that there was no criminal conduct in Abu Akleh’s killing.
Shifting explanations from the IDF about the source of gunfire that killed Abu Akleh emerged from the beginning. IDF spokesperson Ran Kochav first acknowledged the incident in a tweet at 7:45 a.m., “The possibility that journalists were injured, possibly by Palestinian gunfire, is being investigated.” Later in the morning, he told Army Radio that it was “likely” that a Palestinian gunman was responsible. The Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted an edited version of a video filmed hours earlier with the caption, “Palestinian terrorists, firing indiscriminately, are likely to have hit Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla.”
The original video shared by the Israeli Foreign Ministry was recorded sometime before 6:41 a.m., the earliest instance The Post found the video shared on social media. A Palestinian fighter fires two shots down a stairwell, before turning to move down the street. Open-source investigators, including B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, were quick to identify the location where this video was recorded, noting the geography alone — including high walls and no sightline to Abu Akleh’s position — makes it impossible that these shots are the same as those that struck the journalist.
The Israeli government walked back its initial statement on the incident that Abu Akleh was “likely” killed by a Palestinian gunman. An Israeli government news release said they are investigating two possibilities. In one scenario, Abu Akleh was struck by a stray bullet while Palestinian gunmen shot at Israeli military vehicles from a number of different directions.
Available visuals The Post reviewed of armed Palestinian men in Jenin show they were not between Abu Akleh and the IDF, nor did they have a line of sight to the journalistsat the time of the shooting.The timestamp on one photo, labeled No. 6, shows it was taken 14 minutes beforeAbu Akleh was shot and was recorded far away. Two videos showing Palestinian gunman,in the same area asNo. 7,were captured more than 10 minutes after Abu Akleh was shot. The Post could not confirm the exact time of the video labeled No. 7.Gunshots heard in one video to the south of the convoy, labeled No. 5, do not match those heard when Abu Akleh is shot, indicating the video was most likely recorded at a different time, however, The Post could also not confirm the exact time.
Another possibility presented by Israeli authorities suggests Abu Akleh was hit with a bullet from a soldier firing at a Palestinian gunman who was positioned somewhere in the approximately 200 meters (656 feet) between the journalist and the military vehicles. According to The Post’s analysis of available footage, the IDF convoy stretched roughly 182 meters to 243 meters (597 feet to 797 feet) away from the group of journalists including Abu Akleh. The IDF declined to comment on whether the convoy The Post identified was the same one under investigation.
The IDF said in a statement that the gunman fired “multiple barrages” toward the convoy, before the IDF soldier returned fire. The Post’s analysis, however, found no evidence of a firefight in the moments before Abu Akleh was killed.
Additional videos of the convoy were filmed from about halfway between the location of Abu Akleh and themilitary vehicles. The Post was not able to identify who recorded these videos or determine precisely when they were recorded.
“I went to cover the news,” Samoudi said. “The news and the story, whatever it is, is not more precious than my life. So when I take precautions, I take them for the sake of my life.”
Those precautions, he said, included ensuring that there was no one around him that could have left the journalists caught in a gunfight — either militants, or even youth throwing stones at the Israelis. Samoudi, who was released from the hospital but is still recovering from a bullet wound to his shoulder,called on the IDF to release any footage it had filmed during the raid.
“We went to cover news,” he said. “Not to die.”
About this story
Editing by Elyse Samuels, Kareem Fahim and Reem Akkad. Video editing by Sarah Cahlan. Graphics editing by Atthar Mirza. Copy editing by Jamie Zega. Design editing by Junne Alcantara. Design and development by Irfan Uraizee.
Osama Hasan in Jenin, Shira Rubin in Tel Aviv, Ellen Francis in London, Sarah Dadouch and Nader Durghamin Beirut, and Sufian Taha in the West Bank contributed to this report.
An open letter to the Prime Minister by his first cousin once removed!
When I held you on my lap, an ungainly baby boy, the notion that you would become Prime Minister one day would have made me laugh out loud. You were called Alexander then. Charlotte, your mum, was my first cousin.
Our families were not close and I moved to America. But when on a visit to my sister in London some 35 years later, she told me that the bombastic fellow appearing on Have I Got News For You was Charlotte’s son, I still had to laugh.
Now any news of you makes me feel like crying.
My side of the family found your work as a journalist and general buffoonery embarrassing and watched your rise as Mayor of London and as a Conservative MP with wariness and disbelief. How could people take you seriously? But even then none of us would have predicted that you would get behind the Brexit campaign.
When the EU Referendum was announced, your lies were fact-checked many times to your face – but you blithely continued telling them, just as you have done on so many other issues since.
I want you to know that, in the weeks after the Brexit vote, my sisters’ mixed-race grandchildren, who were born and brought up in east London, had their first ever experiences of being told to “go back to your own country”. Now I am not blaming you for that, Boris – I recognise that, like your soul brother Donald Trump, you did not cause the racism, although you purposely took advantage of it. But that is not why I am writing to you.
Your response to the recent vote of no confidence – as it has been every time people object to your personal behaviour, policies and administration – is ‘let’s move on’. Really? Move on and ignore your law-breaking? Move on to how much more abuse and corruption?
Your Government is making it clear that you want to repeal parts of the Human Rights Act. It claims that it prevents the UK from deporting refugees and protecting soldiers from prosecution.
When your mother died last September, I wondered what she thought of your intention to destroy one of her father’s lifetime achievements. I’ll never know the answer to that question. But I know your grandfather would be appalled.
He was the barrister, Sir James Fawcett, who dedicated his life to human rights – as a member of the European Commission for Human Rights for 20 years and its president for half that time. From that body, which became the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Parliament adopted the Human Rights Act in 1998.
In the US, I watched with dismay as international treaties resulting from endless, painstaking diplomatic work were undone by our former President’s stroke of the pen: the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Paris Climate accords, withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council. It’s with the same alarm that I witnessed your cavalier approach to the Good Friday Agreement, as you navigated the country towards leaving the EU.
I knew my Uncle James as a mild-mannered, gracious and erudite man. After a wartime stint in the Royal British Navy, he became a member of the UK’s delegation to the United Nations where he assisted in the writing of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his work for the European Commission of Human Rights, he appeared at the European Court of Justice at The Hague for the UK several times. I was not surprised when the Queen awarded him a knighthood for his work.
As a child, I was fully aware of the seriousness with which my parents – and your grandparents’ – generation approached the need for inter-country agreements and cooperation, to work towards their hope that ‘never again’ became a reality. Having just lived through war and the rise of fascism, the horrors of genocide and the Blitz, the disruption of lives and economies, their hearts and hopes were rooted in the necessity of this work of national and international cooperation.
Yes, we have had a lot of ‘again’ – smaller wars and genocides – a fact that has engendered cynicism towards the project of creating universal agreements and treaties, rather than the recognition that this work must be continually improved upon and strengthened. It is a cynicism you have done much to encourage.
The large bureaucracies required to advance and carry out such agreements make an easy target for hostility and nationalist rabble-rousing. Like Trump, you have indulged your instinct for whipping up resentment and fear to further your own political goals.
Uncle James’ work and his sense of purpose was far too great to allow for cynicism. Our families shared common values and concerns and I appreciated his kindness. When he hosted my wedding reception, he drove across London in rush-hour traffic with champagne and apologised profusely when he arrived late. I also admired your mother Charlotte’s artistry, charm and bravery and I am sorry for your loss.
This is what I don’t understand: how can you consider policies that limit human rights abroad and increase hardship for immigrants given your own diverse family heritage?
One of your great-grandfathers was the controversial Turk, Ali Kemal; and the other – my own grandfather – was a Russian Jew who found a welcome in England and taught classics at Oxford.
You seem to enjoy attacking time-honoured government norms; like a child swearing to shock people. You don’t even pretend to be honest, don’t even try to hide the corruption. You seem to harbour a careless, nihilistic pleasure in blowing up the hard-won gains of the past, with the intention of making the rich richer by whittling away everyone else’s rights.
In an open letter last October, more than 800 top-level lawyers and judges called on you to cease your attacks on the justice system and the rule of law. Your response has been to egg on your Government to find more ways to weaken the justice system’s ability to monitor the executive.
I understand that your fantasy of a simpler, more sovereign, future for Britain may be appealing against the reality of our ever more complex, interrelated world. But retreating into our national silos, as if the planet and its ecosystems are not one living organism we share, will not keep us safer. Better trade deals based only on economic profit will not mitigate the threats of climate change, nuclear proliferation, authoritarianism, pandemics and many millions of refugees.
But disregarding the rules around human rights will have far more damaging and far-reaching consequences for people all over the world.
The hard work of creating international agreements around rights and responsibilities desperately needs care, cooperation, patience and tenacity – all qualities you seem neither to possess yourself nor to value in others. The dedication to a sense of common purpose and the law exemplified in the life of your grandfather is more needed than ever – and it is far too easy to destroy in moments what it takes years to build.
Anneke Campbell is writing her forthcoming memoir, ‘Righteous Daughter’
Journalists and staff of civil society groups in the UK could be sentenced to life imprisonment for offences committed under the government’s proposed new National Security Bill.
Journalists who receive some funding from foreign governments are at risk of committing offences under a bill that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The risk also applies to individuals working for civil society organisations such as human rights groups.
The sweeping new threat to freedom of expression is contained in the National Security Bill which MPs are due to vote on for the first time today. The Bill is being championed by home secretary Priti Patel.
Although the government has claimed the measure is designed to prevent new types of spying, the bill is much broader, wider even than the much criticised section 1 of the 1911 Official Secrets Act it would replace.
The 1911 Act refers to the obtaining or communication of information “calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy” (emphasis added).
The Freedom of Information (FoI) Campaign and Article 19, the global campaign for free expression, describe the bill as a major extension of thescope of offences in the 1911 Act.
They say: “A civil society organisation engaged in legitimate activities which has some funding for work on environmental, human rights, press freedom, asylum, aid or other issues from a friendly government could commit an offence under the bill.”
The prosecution would need to show only that such organisations had made use of leaked information “which they knew or should have known was restricted to avoid prejudicing the UK’s safety or interests and that its use did prejudice the UK’s safety or interests.”
The organisations add: “The decision on what constituted the UK’s safety or interests would be the government’s and could not be challenged in court. If the government decided that the UK’s energy situation required an immediate expansion of fracking or the building of coal fired or nuclear power plants, the use of leaked information which could undermine that policy could be a criminal offence under the bill.
“The prosecution would only have to show that the information prejudiced the attainment of the government’s policy in the UK’s interests and that the person who used the information received funding from a foreign government.”
On conviction, that person could face life imprisonment.
The FoI Campaign and Article 19 point out that the same would be true if an organisation with overseas government funding to confront the problems of asylum seekers used leaked information to oppose the UK government’s asylum policies.
The government could assert that these were necessary in the UK’s interests.
A journalist working for another government’s state broadcaster – including that of a friendly state – who reports on a leak of protected information which is held to be prejudicial to the UK’s interests, would also commit an offence under the bill if they knew or ought to have known that the broadcast would prejudice the UK’s safety or interests.
The fact that the journalist was paid by the funds of a foreign government department or agency and that the broadcasting organisation itself was financed by such funds would satisfy the foreign power condition.
They would also face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Yet a journalist working for a UK news organisation responsible for an identical report based on the same leak could not commit this offence because the foreign power condition would not apply.
AS PART OF THEIR PROXY WAR THE WEST HAS BEEN DELIBERATELY TRYING TO HEAD OFF MOVES TOWARDS SERIOUS NEGOTIATIONS
As even some of the mainstream media point out, on top of the four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems sent by the US last week, this decision marks a new stage in the war in which the West is prepared to provide the Ukrainian military with the capacity to strike deep in to Russian territory, something they previously carefully avoided.
It underlines the fact that the West is still pushing for nothing less than the complete defeat of Russia while Russian troops continue their offensive.
As part of this policy of proxy war, the West has been deliberately trying to head off moves towards serious negotiations. The leading pro–Western Ukrainian newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda reported recently that Boris Johnson himself appeared in Kyiv early in May almost without warning, urging Zelensky not to negotiate with Putin.
“If you are ready to sign some guarantee agreements with him, we are not,” Johnson said, insisting it was instead the time to “press him.” Johnson later confirmed to French president Emmanuel Macron that he had “urged against any negotiations with Russia on terms that gave credence to the Kremlin’s false narrative for the invasion.”
It is first and foremost the Ukrainians who will suffer from this approach, as the conflict turns into a terrible war of attrition. But the war has global implications and the risks of a frightening military clash between nuclear armed great powers are higher than at any time for half a century.
To understand this situation and to be able to challenge it, we have to see beyond the West’s simplistic story that this is a war between the western values of freedom and democracy and Russian despotism.
Last minute diplomacy might well have averted the war. Many senior former US diplomats and Russia experts urged the US to accept Vladimir Putin’s offer of talks before the invasion took place in January. The advice was rejected. As Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa argues, “The US and UK governments show no efforts or desire to achieve peaceful settlement of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine”.
I was in Turkey to try to further peace talks, as an experienced diplomat with good contacts there, and as a peace activist. I was not there as a journalist and much of what I discussed was with the understanding of confidence. It will be probably be some years before I judge it reasonable and fair to reveal all that I know. But I can give some outline.
Turkey continues to be the centre of diplomatic activity on resolving the Ukraine war. It is therefore particularly revealing, and a sign of Western priorities, that I did not come across a single western journalist there trying to follow and cover the diplomatic process. There are hundreds of Western journalists in Ukraine, effectively embedded with the Ukrainian authorities, producing war porn. There appear to be none seriously covering attempts to make peace.
The new Ukrainian stance, that there will be no peace deal without recovering the Crimea, has ended for now any hopes of an early ceasefire. It appears to be a militarily unachievable objective – I cannot think of any scenario in which Russia de facto loses Crimea, without the serious possibility of worldwide nuclear war.
A long war in Ukraine is of course massively in the interest of the US military industrial complex, whose dripping roasts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have gone rather off the heat. It also forwards the strategic objective of severely damaging the Russian economy, although much of that damage is mutual. Why we live in a world where the goal of nations is to damage the lives of inhabitants of other nations is a question which continues to puzzle me.
Ukraine is objecting to this plan to export its own wheat, because it objects to the removal of the mines, which I should be clear were put down in the sea lanes by Ukraine to prevent amphibious attack on Odessa. There is monumental hypocrisy by the West on this, blaming Russia for preventing the export of the grain while it is actually blocked in by Ukraine’s own mines, which they currently refuse to allow Turkey to remove.
On 19 May this was the headline of a UN press release:
Lack of Grain Exports Driving Global Hunger to Famine Levels, as War in Ukraine Continues, Speakers Warn Security Council
As it states, Ukraine and Russia together account for one third of world grain exports and two thirds of world sunflower oil exports. Many of those who die from this war are likely to do so in developing countries, from hunger. The decision of the EU and US to target Russian and Belarussian agricultural exports for sanctions displays an extraordinary callousness towards the very poorest human beings on the globe, who cannot afford rising food prices.
The experience has made me so cynical that I am left wondering if the interests of the powerful agricultural lobbies in both the EU and USA are influencing policy. High world food prices benefit some powerful interests.
I blame Putin for starting a war that does nothing to redress Russian long term security concerns. But the truth is that politicians in the West are equally keen on this war. Boris Johnson yesterday was blatantly promoting it for his own survival. Anybody who makes any effort to stop the killing – Presidents Macron and Erdogan in particular – are immediately and universally denounced by the “liberal” media.
Yet what is the end result that the liberal warmongers wish to achieve? When we reach the stage that Henry Kissinger is a comparative voice of sanity, the political situation is indeed dire.
Washington (CNN)The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say.
The administration is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week.
Senior Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have pleaded in recent weeks for the US and its allies to provide the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. The US-made weapon systems can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of kilometers — much farther than any of the systems Ukraine already has — which the Ukrainians argue could be a gamechanger in their war against Russia.
Another system Ukraine has asked for is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, a lighter wheeled system capable of firing many of the same types of ammunition as MLRS.
The Biden administration waivered for weeks, however, on whether to send the systems, amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the new weapons to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, officials said.
On Friday, after CNN first reported the news, Russians warned that the United States will “cross a red line” if it supplies the systems to Ukraine.
“The US intends to discuss the issue of supplying Ukraine with these weapons as soon as next week,” Olga Skabeeva, a prominent Russian TV host, said on her high-profile show on the state network Rossiya-1. “At the present moment, the issue is being addressed by the US presidential administration. So now, we are not even talking about tactical weapons anymore, but about the operational-tactical weapons.”
She continued: “The US MLRS can launch shells over 500 kilometers. And if the Americans do this, they will clearly cross a red line, and we will record an attempt to provoke a very harsh response from Russia.”
While Skabeeva does not speak for the Kremlin, her views frequently reflect official thinking.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina responded to CNN’s reporting on Twitter Friday, saying he was frustrated the Biden administration has been “dragging their feet” on giving Ukraine the rocket systems.
On Friday, the Pentagon’s outgoing press secretary John Kirby suggested a final decision on the MLRS hadn’t been reached yet. “Certainly we’re mindful and aware of Ukrainian asks, privately and publicly, for what is known as a multiple launch rocket system. And I won’t get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made yet,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing.
In this File photo from 2020, a US soldier sits at a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) after an artillery live fire event by the US Army Europe’s 41st Field Artillery Brigade in Germany.
The issue of whether to supply the rocket systems was at the top of the agenda at last week’s two meetings at the White House where deputy Cabinet members convened to discuss national security policy, officials said. At the heart of the matter was the same concern the administration has grappled with since the start of the war— whether sending increasingly heavy weaponry to Ukraine will be viewed by Russia as a provocation that could trigger some kind of retaliation against the US.
One major hang-up, the sources said, had been the rocket systems’ extensive range. The MLRS and its lighter-weight version, the HIMARS, can launch as far as 300km, or 186 miles, depending on the type of munition. They are fired from a mobile vehicle at land-based targets, which would allow the Ukrainians to more easily strike targets inside Russia.
Ukraine is already believed to have carried out numerous cross-border strikes inside Russia, which Ukrainian officials neither confirm nor deny. Russian officials have said publicly that any threat to their homeland would constitute a major escalation and have said that western countries are making themselves a legitimate target in the war by continuing to arm the Ukrainians.
Another major concern inside the Biden administration had been whether the US could afford to give away so many high-end weapons drawn from the military’s stockpiles, the sources said.
Asked on Monday whether the US would provide the systems, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demurred. “I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the process of resourcing requirements,” he told reporters.
The administration had similar concerns about providing Ukraine with additional MiG-29 fighter jets, which some worried could allow the Ukrainians to take the fight into Russia. Ultimately, the US decided against backfilling Poland with new jets, which would have allowed the Poles to equip Ukraine with the soviet-era MiGs.
The debate about the MLRS is also similar to one that played out before the US decided to begin sending heavier, long-range Howitzers, to Ukraine last month. Weapons packages focused on anti-tank Javelin and short-range Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as well as small arms and ammunition. At the time, the M777 Howitzers marked a significant increase in range and power over previous systems, but even those top out at around 25 kilometers or 18 miles in range. The MLRS can fire much further still than any of the artillery the US has sent to date.
One workaround could be to provide Ukraine with shorter-range rocket systems, officials said, which is also under consideration. It would not take too long to train the Ukrainians on any of the rocket launcher systems, officials told CNN — likely about two weeks, they said.
Every drawdown from existing inventories involves a review of its potential effect on US military readiness. With the previous drawdowns, the risk has been “relatively low,” said Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Monday. The military is watching “very, very carefully” to make sure the stockpiles don’t drop below levels that create a greater risk, he added.
The concern grows significantly with more capable, more expensive systems of which the US does not have as large a supply, the sources said.
Pentagon officials met with the CEO of Lockheed Martin last week to discuss supply and ramping up production of the MLRS, one source familiar with the meeting told CNN. The meeting was led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante.
The UK is also still deciding whether to send the systems, two officials told CNN, and would like to do so in conjunction with the US.
Frustration has grown on the Ukrainian side with the US’ indecisiveness in recent weeks, because they believe that once the US sends the systems then other countries will quickly follow suit.
As recently as this week, the Pentagon had told Ukraine “we are working on it,” said one irritated Ukrainian official, who added that Ukraine is asking for an update on the decision “every hour.”
“We are in great need of weapons that will make it possible to engage the enemy over a long distance,” Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said Thursday. “And this cannot be delayed, because the price of delay is measured by the lives of people who have protected the world from [Russian fascism].”
When Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was asked Thursday what his country’s most urgent needs are, he responded: “If you really care for Ukraine, weapons, weapons and weapons again.”
“My least favorite phrase is ‘We are working on it’; I hate it. I want to hear either ‘We got it’ or ‘It’s not going to happen,'” he added.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, who was part of a congressional delegation trip to Kyiv earlier this month, told CNN he believes the systems could help Ukraine gain significant momentum against Russia.
“I think it could be a gamechanger, to be honest with you,” Crow said, not only for offensive attacks but also for defense. He explained that Russian conventional artillery, which has a range of about 50km, “would not get close” to Ukrainian urban centers if MLRS systems were positioned there. “So it would take away their siege tactics,” he said of the Russians.
This story has been updated with comments from Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, as well as a Russian TV host on Friday warning the US would cross a red line by sending Ukraine the MLRS, and a tweet from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who criticized the Biden Administration for delaying approval of the weapons
CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr contributed to this report _____ source _____
So you have Christians talking loud about fatherhood, traditional family, sense of purpose, order, direction in life.
While you got Muslims dismissing family, celebrating divorce, talking about the joy of being single and why we need to respect everybody’s views.
Church going Christians quote verses from the Bible upholding a wife’s obedience to her husband, and Muslim woman making obedience either conditional, or multiple choice.
Christians Churches talk about building confidence and self-sufficiency in broken men, while we talk about broke ass niggas and why Black American Muslim men are all potential abusers, swindlers and con artists.
Christians as a matter of normalcy celebrate their pastors who they go to for direction, sit by the thousands studying the Bible week in week out. While Black American Muslims by and large, ridicule brothers who actually study Quran, and there’s families studying Quran in the masjid are nowhere where to be found in Black Muslim America.
Christians tithe 10% of their earnings to the church, while Muslims want to see where their 25 dollars went. A brother who I have known for thirty years use to tell me for years how I’m so on point, but when I ask him, first time in thirty years to donate to my work, he said, he needed to know what I stand for first.
The same people who build Churches, run schools, set up drug rehabilitation centers and build housing for the elderly, come into Islam and get stuck on debating fake, fabricated fables about conditions that don’t even exist.
Black American Muslims are paralyzed. Many of our men are straight cowards. Many brothers are so afraid of people seeing them make mistakes that they’d rather sit and do nothing except bicker like women. All brother will sell wolf tickets online, that would get caught in his throat in person. Where I come from we got a word for that.
All it takes is a fatwa from a dead scholar who lived before this nation was even born, to shut down even the most promising plan or an idea. We never even consider that maybe if we come together and deliberate, think is free men, and consult our own scriptures, that maybe Allah will give us a plan. Instead we try to grab ideas and methods from history, as if we can slap it onto our reality and make it work. We have become a people who think that making a du’aa for someone, somehow is going to fund Islamic work. You can’t say that we don’t have any money because collectively we spend more on Netflix, Paramount Plus, Disney and Hulu than we give to support our own masaajid, schools and fledgling institutions.
Churches, even heathens, and atheists, feed, even advocate for the poor and the homeless, while we do group ridicule of brothers who can’t afford rent by themselves.
People all over this country who are total strangers, share houses so they can save money and survive, and we have brothers openly humiliating a brother who split bills with his own wife! Did I say his own wife? Sit on that for a sec.
We have lost all fight. Our men, have become the most emasculated men in America. Street gangs, motorcycle clubs, drug dealers, Rock and roll bands, and militias all have leaders and chains of command while we navigate our way through a dozen foreign spheres of foreign influence, and debate about sadl and qubt. Even establish alliances on whether you believe Allah exists without a place.
I’ve seen people literally go through 3 and 4 aqeedas, each one was the correct aqeeda until another aqeeda comes along. People will argue about a family accepting Christmas gifts from grandma, while embracing feminism ideology. Go figure that one out.
Veterans support veterans, gay s support gays, pedophiles support pedophiles, nurses support nurses, carpenters, electricians, dog catchers, and tradesmen form unions to support each other and negotiate benefits for their group.
Black American Muslims don’t have a single organization in America, that I know of that advocates specifically on their behalf. None. There is no place you can call and ask about the state of Black Muslim America, or get credible data on where we are headed.
There is no where that I know of in this country where Imams meet with each other in a serious setting, and discuss priorities in our religious communities. Imams, when they do come together, come together on a stage like they’re vaudeville act.
People criticize imams when they themselves have no imam, don’t support an Imam, maybe never even had a conversation with Imam. Because the only position that we can even to refer to accros the board in America is they imaamate, and we come nowhere near to adequately funding it.
Christians make sure their pastors are appreciated for their service. Some are given lavish retirement benefits. While an imam like me and many others, will work as an imam in public view of the community, and retire or is forced to retire, with no pension, no retirement, no good will watch, not even a mouse pad for my computer but plenty of du’aas alhumdu lillaah, and copious amounts of useless praise. Yippee…
People will say ma sha Allah, and blow all of these incredible ironies as normal. But it’s not normal beloveds. It’s not. This cannot be the farthest we can go as a civilization. But then again, this may be pinicle of our Islamic existence. Debating about dowries and percentages of effort a spouse is allowed to give may be as far as we can take this deen.
We try to legislate in areas that Allah Himself, has left up to our discretion. We try to hold people accountable for what we think they’ve imagined in their minds about Allah, when the Lord Himself, does not even hold him into account for his or her imagination. At the same time, we completely ignore virtually every aspect of islamic civilizational law that applies to us in Kitaabillah. (furrood al-kifaayaat) فروض الكفايات And then we brag about our so-called enlightenment. While we wither away into nothing, like the suds on an ocean wave when it comes to shore. This is not normal beloveds. Something is wrong. Something is incredibly wrong here. Well I’m not giving up, and neither should you. You can get mad, call me names, call me arrogant, bodacious, dismissive, weird, a trouble maker, talk about my personality, my grey hair, my lack of fitness, my political incorrectness, or the fact that I got ashy feet, or that I wear dentures. By Allah, Im just getting started. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman ibn Abi Idris Muhammad Ahmad.
Yes I need and take contributions. Cash app to: $abulaith2
So you have Christians talking loud about fatherhood, traditional family, sense of purpose, order, direction in life.
While you got Muslims dismissing family, celebrating divorce, talking about the joy of being single and why we need to respect everybody’s views.
Church going Christians quote verses from the Bible upholding a wife’s obedience to her husband, and Muslim woman making obedience either conditional, or multiple choice.
Christians Churches talk about building confidence and self-sufficiency in broken men, while we talk about broke ass niggas and why Black American Muslim men are all potential abusers, swindlers and con artists.
Christians as a matter of normalcy celebrate their pastors who they go to for direction, sit by the thousands studying the Bible week in week out. While Black American Muslims by and large, ridicule brothers who actually study Quran, and there’s families studying Quran in the masjid are nowhere where to be found…
Israel is desperate to re-establish the ‘deterrence equation’ it lost last May, while the Palestinian resistance intends to do everything necessary to maintain and advance it.
After enduring heavy Israeli provocations during the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinians will be tested again this Sunday with the Flag March – an annual Jewish celebration of the 1967 capture of Palestine’s Old City in East Jerusalem.
Tensions are rife in Jerusalem. This year and next, Ramadan falls on the same month as Jewish religious holidays, each offering a pretext for Israeli extremists to taunt, injure, and kill Palestinians in occupied lands.
So if Sunday’s march doesn’t provoke a conflagration, there is still 2023 to contend with.
Israel can no longer control outcomes
For years, Israel has been surveilling Palestinian movements in an effort to predict the eruption of a new uprising (Intifada), but has been unable to determine when it will take place.
Last March, for example, a report by the Israeli Internal Security Agency (Shin Bet) identified several incidents that could lead to a large-scale confrontation in Palestine – and the likely locations for it. And, indeed, the expected happened.
But what the Shin Bet report did not say was that Israel itself is pushing for this confrontation so that it can choose the time and place in order to try to control the outcome.
The evidence abounds: Israel allows hundreds, even thousands, of extremist settlers a free hand to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to perform Jewish Passover rites at the Muslim site. This year, they were not allowed to conduct animal sacrifices inside courtyard of the Mosque, but that may happen next year.
The Israeli army accompanies and protects Jewish settlers during their attacks on Palestinian cities, towns, and villages of the occupied West Bank. The examples are countless; the difficulty is in predicting the results of the ensuing clashes.
Tel Aviv seeks an escalation of tensions, but without a Palestinian reaction. While Israel presents itself as a secular state, its barely veiled ambition is to Judaize Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the Temple of David over its ruins.
Israel’s strategy is to emulate the Ibrahimi Mosque model in Hebron: to incrementally divide Al-Aqsa by allocating times for Jews to perform religious rites within the courtyards of the mosque – then expand those rights. This is significantly equal to the construction of a Temple.
Palestinians thwarted Israel’s efforts during both this and last year’s Ramadan. Last month, their resistance factions were careful – particularly in the Gaza Strip – not to engage in a bloody confrontation, but allowed Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the 1948 areas to rise up instead.
The Flag March provocation
Israel’s right-wing government and parties know full well that canceling the Flag March – or even diverting its path away from Al-Aqsa – constitutes a submission to the Palestinian resistance factions.
Palestinians are now demanding the marchers be prevented from entering the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and Bab al-Amud. This is a dangerous request for a state like Israel that relies mainly on the principle of deterrence and the excessive use of force to subjugate its opponents.
About a week ago, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Israeli security establishment was preparing for the Flag March with “high alertness for the possibility of escalation,” pointing out that “all the bodies, the Shin Bet, the army and the police, recommended that the march take place as planned.”
In short, the very security establishment that ostensibly seeks to quash opportunities for a Palestinian intifada, are recommending that Jewish marchers traipse through the historically sensitive Bab al-Amud.
The Israeli security establishment has warned that any change in the route “will be interpreted as Israeli weakness,” and has recommended a “fierce response” to any Palestinian action.
Although Israel claims it is ready for further clashes with Gaza, it tried to avoid this outcome during Ramadan. It seems, however, that Tel Aviv’s calculations have changed after a series of developments, which include Hamas Gaza Leader Yahya Sinwar’s threat – in a speech at the end of Ramadan – that the resistance will wage a war to defend its victories in the May 2021 Sayf Al Quds battle over the sanctity of Jerusalem.
The perceived higher threat level has made Israeli police, in several subsequent provocative activities organized by Jewish settlers, reduce their numbers in Al-Aqsa and ban them from raising Israeli flags.
Internal political collapse
Domestically, Israel is in trouble. The government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in imminent danger of collapse. That possibility appears to increase if he shows inaction or failure in dealing with security issues, whether in the occupied West Bank or in the Gaza Strip.
Bennett’s government is under pressure from parties even further to his right, who represent a large number of Israeli votes that he does not want to lose. And hawkish former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eager to return to the post he occupied for 15 years, is nipping at Bennett’s heels.
Amid the internal political crisis, Israel’s security establishment fears losing much of its deterrent power against Palestinian resistance factions, newly armed with enhanced missile technology, drone capabilities, and unprecedented field coordination. Indeed, the Israelis have come to feel that the factions are controlling the internal scene.
Is war imminent?
There are a number of indicators that a confrontation is more likely to unfold in the next few days than at any time this year.
First, on 9 May, the Israeli army launched its largest ever military exercise, Chariots of Fire, which involves nearly all units of the Israeli army, and simulates the outbreak of war on several fronts with Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.
Second, since the start of the maneuver, increased flights of reconnaissance planes – AWACS and others – have been observed over Gaza. Sources in the resistance factions interpret this as an attempt by the Israeli army to accumulate a new target bank to be used in any upcoming confrontation.
Third, Palestinian factions have raised their alert levels since the start of Israel’s military maneuvers. According to sources in Gaza, there are strict measures on the movements of the senior resistance military leaders and precautionary measures in the movement of monitoring units, as well as the cancellation of training courses.
Fourth, from a wholly Israeli point of view, the army believes it has not taken any action against Gaza since 2008. In its mind, in both 2014 and 2021, it was the resistance that decided to ‘launch a confrontation’ after Israel’s many provocations against Palestinians, including attacks, assassinations, and sieges.
But the Sayf al Quds (Sword of Jerusalem) war in May 2021, was the most dangerous Israel has encountered in recent decades. Small-scale Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem provoked all the occupied territories and unified Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and 1948 Palestinians – depriving the Israeli security establishment of their ability to compartmentalize and control each of these four ‘units.’
For this fifth reason, there is an urgent Israeli need to re-establish the psychology of deterrence and to rearrange the Palestinian scene into a manageable and predictable state.
Sixth, the resistance estimates that Israel may take advantage of current tensions to carry out assassinations of their most influential leaders, especially Yahya Sinwar, Ziad al-Nakhaleh, Muhammad al-Deif and Marwan Issa. These leaders have contributed heavily to the increase in Israel’s threat perception by keeping their ranks battle-ready and by unifying the Gaza, Jerusalem and West Bank arenas of confrontation.
In anticipation of renewed targeted killings, Hamas Political Bureau Leader Ismail Haniyeh issued a warning in an 18 May letter to regional mediating states that any assassination policy adopted by Tel Aviv would lead to a major war. The resistance believes that Israel will use the cover of ongoing military maneuvers to direct a severe blow to their command and control centers in order to contain a harsh Palestinian reaction.
On the seventh point, noting that the Gaza resistance has not escalated its rhetoric – setting a date for firing rockets, for example – Israel decided to proceed with the Flag March, providing that another security assessment is conducted on the night prior.
As a Palestinian security source told The Cradle: “Something unusual should have happened to change the course of the march, because the threats until this moment are low-level.”
Then, in yet another unfolding development, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in his 25 May speech commemorating the liberation of southern Lebanon, announced – on behalf of the entire Axis of Resistance – that the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock “will lead to the detonation of the region.”
In the following hours, the plan for the Israeli Flag March was temporarily halted and attempts were made to reduce the heat. According to Israel Hayom newspaper, directly after Nasrallah’s speech, Israel made contact with Egypt, the United Nations, and Qatar to prevent further escalation.
Palestinian resistance factions, however, are in a state of absolute preparedness. They know not to be placated by deceptive Israeli statements, because they continue to observe active Israeli preparations on the ground. A resistance security source says Tel Aviv is frantic, and that there is an “urgent Israeli strategic interest to undermine the state of mutual deterrence between the resistance and the occupation.” Nothing will move Israel from this obsession to establish perceived strength.
The most clear expression of this was voiced by Yossi Yehoshua in Yedioth Ahronoth when he wrote that “all [Israeli] security chiefs warn that changing the course of the Flag March at the last minute will be interpreted as weakness.”
It’s getting hot in here
It is important to understand that the Israeli army pronounced Gaza “deterred” in May 2021, just before battles broke out across occupied Palestine. The Israeli army believed that Gaza would not react because it feared another Israeli military operation. Israel’s military establishment has, once again, made that same assessment this year.
But this is not necessarily true. The last hours leading up to Sunday’s Flag March may carry a new statement by the Chief of Staff of Al-Qassam Brigades Muhammad al-Deif, in which he renews intent to establish red lines around Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Gaza resistance sources confirmed to The Cradle that although they tried to preserve the ‘deterrence equation’ without entering into a new confrontation during Ramadan, there is a strict decision to prevent Israel from reversing the advantages gained from last May’s Sayf al Quds war. Such a reversal, one source adds, “will mean an acceleration in the Judaization of the Holy City.”
Hours from now, 16,000 Jewish settlers will rally for the Flag March, waving Israel flags in besieged Palestinian areas, to signal their absolute sovereignty over the city, its neighborhoods, and its holy sites.
Until Sunday, many international and regional mediations will take place behind the scenes in an attempt to reach a solution. However, even if the event in Jerusalem passes without escalation, there are no indications that the operations in the Palestinian cities or the clashes in the West Bank will stop.
In the West Bank, the scene is developing quickly. The Jenin Brigade model has been replicated in other cities, such as Nablus and Tulkarm. Entering these cities, with their vast areas and overcrowded, heavily armed camps, will make staying on the brink of confrontation a permanent situation.
This scene, with all its details, suggests that periods of calm have become a thing of the past. Israel is well aware of this. The resistance factions believe that a battle is inevitable – if not now, then very soon, but they will not allow it to be on “the date set by the Israelis.”
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.
Despite warnings of serious repercussions and violence, Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, on Friday, decided not to change the route of the controversial Israeli flag march that will pass through occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.
A statement from Bennett’s office said the Premier spoke over the phone with Public Security Minister, Omer Barlev, Israeli police chief, Kobi Shabtai, and other security officials to finalise preparations for holding the march on Sunday as planned.
Bennett said, like in the past, the march will end in the courtyard of Al-Buraq Wall, or Western Wall, adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, and will not pass through Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The annual flag march, which celebrates Israel’s capture of the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war, is expected to pass through Bab Al-Amud area (Damascus Gate area) and East Jerusalem’s Old City.
The Islamist Hamas group earlier warned Israel that it risks another war if it allows the march through Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognised by the international community.
While the Israeli settlers flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City is rotted to the core with colonial racism, it also reveals an anxiety about belonging that Zionism can never fulfill.
There is no danse macabre quite like the unbearable sequence of murder following murder that is the Zionist entity’s war upon Palestinian life. There are no true caesuras to speak of to this terrifying tune, for the only states resembling anything akin to a cessation are the often embattled moments and sites of grief and anticipatory panic that seem to come almost too late, for as soon as we become conscious of these states, the killing cacophony starts back up again.
If only language existed to capture what is impossible to feel, yet is inflicted all the same; not just a state of perpetual mourning—for this is at least definable, if no less unbearable. No, there is something more: it is also the terrible weight of the discord between perpetual mourning (which includes the certainty of mourning to come) and that, 74 years on, even as the façade continues to crack, there are still liberal bromides that sanction this status quo or, worse yet, blame us for it, asking us to be silent about being slaughtered with total impunity, having our homes destroyed on a whim, to swallow our sweat, our tears and blood in addition to the unbearable burden of a false “peace:” asking us to say that this was fine, to abandon our keys in the dirt or, if we can’t do that, at least die quietly so that a liberal establishment that defines state-sanctioned genocide as an adequate antidote to horrendous oppression can sigh with comfort.
They must reject it, first, because it is absolutely ahistorical. But in its very ahistorical nature, we get a glimpse of how deeply Palestinian dehumanization has been and remains entrenched in US capitalist imperial politics. This is no doubt part of what we might consider the success, if not even the ethical magic of Zionism, which eventually succeeded—never completely, but we might say well enough—in erasing its own settler-colonial aspirations and violence within the radically underdeveloped political consciousness of hegemonic US culture.
Anything one could say about Palestinians and Arabs more broadly, no matter how ridiculous, how laughable, was to be believed. Meanwhile, Zionism was virtually untouchable, so much so that Palestinians and Arabs could be surveilled, fired, erased from public life, even assassinated for their criticisms.
One could object—rightfully, I would say—that many of these officials don’t actually believe what they are saying, that geo-imperial interests actually dictate their moves, and that the reasons they provide are nothing more than an artificial, surface-level defense. And this is exactly the problem. For Palestinians, there has certainly never been any kind of “surface” that could justify what has been inflicted upon us since the very beginning of the Nakba, but at this moment in time, there is also no surface to speak of within mainstream politics, either.
We have seen the Zionist entity inflict every possible permutation of violence on camera, read about it in newspapers, watched it on our computers and cellphones. We have seen the feigned finger-waggings and heard variations on “we are getting very concerned” repeated so often they have punctuated many of our childhoods and early adulthoods. Still, the money flows to ensure that Palestinian blood will soon follow.
But something else is happening, too. What Palestinians live with—not just the spectacular, but the daily forms and conditions of violence under Zionist colonial supremacy are being increasingly transmitted. And as this happens, there is little compunction, little reservation in Zionist brutality.
It is doing quite well, swelling to ever more arrogant proportions and configurations.
As if this all weren’t horrendous enough, this Sunday, May 29th, fascist Zionist settlers will be holding a flag march throughout Palestinian areas of Jerusalem’s Old City. Rotted to the core with colonial racism, this march is intended to celebrate Zionist forces’ seizure of East Jerusalem in 1967. The same event during which droves of fascist settlers could be heard chanting “death to Arabs” in 2021, the flag march is nothing short of racist provocation. Yet Zionist police commissioner Kobi Shabtai insists that the settlers have the right to hold the event.
But in the seeming surety of escalating violence, of brazenly fascist bravado, an anxiety about belonging lurks. And it is this anxiety that helps drive the continuous ruthlessness of Zionist brutality against Palestinians. Because, as Steven Salaita writes, “The settler doesn’t need a “reason” to kill the native. The settler kills because deracinating the native is a precondition of his social identity.”
The Zionist settler—the enfranchised squatter, the fascist role-playing colonization—is at times constructed as the “fringe” of Zionist society, but he is its hollow, beating heart. Suspended in a state of international irresolution and brutal juvenile impatience, the settler wields with every act of violence the history and future of the Zionist state. A colonial state birthed and sustained in Palestinian blood. A state whose “statehood,” whose possibilities for affiliation, are ultimately negative in orientation, negative because they can only exist by and through the negation of the native—the Palestinian.
But the Palestinian has what the settler will never achieve, can never realize: a history. A claim. A narrative.
Threatened by this inherent display of legitimacy, of effortless belonging, the settler lashes out. He mangles and breaks stories until they become about him. He waves a flag whose colors, for all of his screaming and jocularity, never seem to run nearly as deep as red, white, green and black. And, of course, he kills. He kills even as the lives he takes continue to outlive him in posterity and connection.
A state defined by and through negation, through sanctioned racism and supremacy, is a state running on borrowed time. The settlers may march on Sunday. And they may wave their flags.