Friday, February 29, 2008

Fascism, Nazism, Tribalism? Schlusseloid Justice

On February 27, 2008 Schlussel wrote in “How to Fight Terror…”

“If I ran Israel, here's what my policy would be: We kill ten of your men for every Israeli you murder. We kill an additional ten for every parent you murder.
That's the only way these animals know you mean business.”

No comment.
This woman was described by the Wall Street Journal as an up and coming conservative commentator.

Schlussel and the Hate Sewer

Funny- but some people don’t get it.
In my experience, if someone is bigoted against one minority group, the odds are that he/she is bigoted against other groups as well. Therefore, fighting all hate targeting human beings for who they are, not their actions, is the best strategy.
Debbie Schlussel does not seem to get this lesson. On February 28, 2008, she writes in “Why I dislike Pat Condell: Stop sending me ignorant, anti-Israel Englishman’s anti-Islam videos": she writes:
"Many readers over the last couple of years have been sending me videos of Englishman Pat Condell. Please stop. I have never posted Mr. Condell's work on Islam, which you'd think I agree with. I do. But here's why I won't glorify the work of Condell by posting it to my readers: Pat Condell is no more than a more affable version of Christopher Hitchens. Like Hitchens, he hates all religions and sees them as morally equivalent to Islam. He's said exactly that. And, more important, Condell is anti-Israel, virulently so. He's among the many anti-Semites who claim they "love the Jews" but want Jews out of Israel. Americans fall in love with anyone with an English accent, no matter how backward his information is, and Pat Condell is Exhibit A of that. His sophistries about Jews, Israel, and Jerusalem are telling in their ignorance."

By promoting hate of Arabs and Muslims she is helping feed the sewer of hate. The hate of Jews is part of the sewer of hate she feeds.

Schlusseloid Check- On Dearborn and Siblani

Hate Watch: Debbie Schlussel Update

I will be writing regularly in response to Debbie Schlussel’s blog. Many in the community think she is a vile hater of Muslims. Unfortunately, some good members of our community, reacting emotionally, sent her improper e-mails, even arguably hateful emails or threats. The reason for the anger she generates is that she spreads misinformation about Arabs and Muslims and this misinformation is taken by some who are not knowledgeable as fact.
Debbie Schlussel has benefit of the first amendment, just like anyone else. I don’t think there is an “abuse” of the first amendment. All speech deserves protection, including her hate speech, and the answer for such speech is more speech. Her lies/misrepresentations, I call them Schlusseloids, and I will be responding to them by facts and reasonable argument.
So here we go:
On February 28, 2008 she wrote in “Wimpitude? FBI Hints Around, but PC-Gags Itself on Hezbo Cells in US” She writes:
Schlusseloid: We all know there are Hezbollah terrorist cells in America. Or you should know if you don't. I can even tell you the restaurants in Dearbornistan where they meet and organize. And I can tell you the names of some of the terrorist groups' agents here in America
Fact: Dearborn has a large number of individuals that admire the fact that Hizbullah helped evict the Israelis from South Lebanon. In fact, many of them had no way of visiting their villages had it not for Israel being forced out after a long guerrilla war. It’s true that the Hizbullah is accused by the US government of committing terrorist attacks. However, the overwhelming majority of those who admire Hizbullah's achievement, if not all of them, are patriotic Americans who love the US, their home. Regardless, this admiration of the achievement of removing the Israelis is perfectly legal- not a crime in any way shape or form.
Schlusseloid:….After the report came out, there immediately erupted the predictable, on-cue histrionics and conniptions of prominent Detroit Muslims like Osama Siblani--publisher of the Arab American News and one of Hezbollah's top American operatives. Then, the Michigan State Police apologized and recanted its factual report.

Fact: Mr. Siblani is the publisher of an Arab American paper and a community activist for many years. There is zero evidence that he is “associated” with Hizbullah, let alone his being a "top operative." This wild accusation is meant to frustrate his incessant quest to defend the constitutional rights of Arab and Muslim Americans. Those who know him, and I do, know better than that- and know that he is a patriotic honorable American. If he admires the group for standing up to Israel and evicting Israel out of Lebanon, that’s his right. And if he does, it does not make him associated with the group, let alone being a “top operative.” Just like Schlussel’s admiration of Vladimir Jabotinsky does not make her a terrorist in the legal sense.

Walid Jumblatt: Their Attacks Only Make You Greater

Of all politicians in Lebanon, no one gets the Syro-Iranian axis and their collaborators more riled up than Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt. That by itself is a victory for the outgunned and out spent courageous leader.
Even here in Dearborn, an Arab -American newspaper, sadly infected by the unfortunate realities in the Arab world ( an Arab- American newspaper whose Arabic section has a few voices that echo the Syro-Iranian axis and occasionally spread sectarian venom- playing on and reinforcing a ghetto mentality), consistently opened its Arabic -section pages to attacks on Mr. Jumblatt in the most vile and vicious manner. I am disappointed with Mr. Siblani for allowing this to happen.
But these attacks- given Jumblatt's stands- What an honor for Mr. Jumblatt!
Jumblatt- that witty man with the pithy juicy statements that should adorn Lebanese Hallmark cards.
No one says it as it is, in memorable language that has the punching weight of a Mohammad Ali, than Walid Jumblatt.
He spoke out early about Iranian hegemonic designs . He warned. Few listened. For that, an avalanche of sectarian hate waited for him.
He remained loyal to his slain friend and political ally- the late statesman Rafic Hariri. He eulogized him in most moving and poetic speeches that should become classic Arabic rhetorical texts.
On one of my trips to the Middle East about two years ago I sat next to a pro-Syro-Iranian axis man. He was a hair stylist. Politics came up and he said it’s Walid Jumblatt and no one else that is the threat to the Syro-Iranian axis. His rhetorical volleys scare the heck out of the Syro-Iranians and mock them in their inflated sense of self, day in and day out.
They accuse him of so much. And with every accusation he becomes a bigger man.
He remains a true inspiration by his courage and his principles.
May God protect him.

The Ship and the General: USS Cole and Aoun

Michele Aoun, Hizbullah’s fig leaf in Lebanon, is not concerned.
He is going to be the last person to hide in a hole in the ground from the USS Cole or from USS Nassau.
This claim is typical Aoun.
Yeah- given his “decorated” history of standing up to military assault, this is so real.
I recall seeing this man on Lebanese Broadcasting Station (LBC) screaming that he, in his declared war on Syria, is going to be the last person to leave Lebanon. After the Syrians attacked, it was a matter of minutes that he ran to the French embassy. Despite all that and after years of exile he returns to Lebanon and is able to gather orange supporters!
He left his men on the ground with no idea that their general has changed his mind about being the last person out. Many were left to be summarily shot and buried in unmarked graves.
And- oddly for an Arab man, he left his wife and daughters to fend for themselves. Only the intervention of the late Elie Hobeikeh, saved them from a sure humiliation and abuse by the invading Syrian soldiers.
One thing though remains a mystery- why are Aoun and his group not classified yet as supporters of terror by the US government. My understanding of the law is that under our current anti- terrorism laws, he and his orange group are perfect candidates for anti terror measures.
But I guess it’s a timing issue. Hope this timing arrives soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Iran and the US: Waiting to Handshake?

On Febrauary 27, 2008, the Christian Science Monitor published an opinion column by Iason Athanasiadis’s entitled “Waiting for a US-Iran handshake. (http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0227/p09s02-coop.html)
The column, based on interviews with the Iranian foreign ministry officials, has Iranian officials boasting that their policy of pragmatism have made them succeed in exerting their influence in the Arab world and the US should be ready to acknowledge that.
The news of Iran’s success in regional dominance is greatly exaggerated. The column relies on the words of the Iranian foreign policy elite to draw an overly rosy and inaccurate picture of the status of Iran in the Muslim Middle East. This triumphalism is easily checked by the reality in the Arab world. In attempting to project its influence, Iranian policy has created tensions and conflicts almost every wherein the Arab world in Bahrain, Palestine, Kuwait and Lebanon, among other countries in the Middle East.
The Iranians claim they are popular in Cairo and in Riyadh. Far from it. To sense what the people in Cairo and Riyadh think it is more useful to visit the Arabic internet sites than to hear Iranian diplomats crow. A visit to the popular news sites, such as Elaph and Al Arabiyya, shows that Iran’s policies have unleashed a lot of anger and hate. In addition to the overwhelmingly negative coverage of Iran’s policies by the columnists, going through the readers’ comments, one encounters a small group of Arabs on the defensive regarding Iran facing an overwhelming majority of commentors attacking Iran, and, in many times, unfortunately, Shiism as well.
Far from gaining popularity in Riyadh and Cairo, Iran has awakened the sectarian genie and by its reckless destabilizing policies incited ancient sectarian animosities that had been largely dormant for many years.
It has not escaped the Sunni majority in the Arab world that some of Iran’s allies in Iraq have committed sectarian atrocities against their co-religioinsts in Iraq and that the new Shiite- dominated Baghdad government giddily marginalized the Sunnis. Also, Iran’s friends and allies who held leadership positions in the Interior Ministry were involved in the kidnapping and torture of Sunni s merely on the basis of their sectarian identity. Moreover, the Shiite- dominated government in Baghdad is perceived to having intentionally marginalized the Sunnis in Iraq, resisting world pressure to form a truly representative government of Iraq’s people.
Arabs and Muslim know that it is the US, not Iran, that pressured this Shiite-run Baghdad government for the meaningful inclusion of the Sunni Iraqis in the process, Also, it is the US, not Iran, that addressed Sunni fears for their safety by setting up the Awakening groups to protect Sunnis from Shiite sectarian death squads as well as from al- Qaeda.
The news of Iran’s triumph are greatly exaggerated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Koran and the Cartoon Controversy

There has been much written about Islam and its relationship to democracy and its values. The Danish cartoons controversy is the latest in a string of perceived conflicts between Islam and the tolerance of expression. The other day I received a number of emails urging me to boycott Danish products and educating me on how to identify Danish products.
I will not boycott Danish prodcts. I also don't hate Denmark or its people for the offense of a few.
One has to wonder if all this anger, sometimes hate, over the Danish cartoons in justified. Of all the problems in the Arab and Muslim world, outsiders insulting the religion is, arguably, not in the top 100 concerns. Take for example illiteracy and economic development. The Muslim and Arab world have scary levels of illiteracy (too high) and economic development (too low). One only wishes these concerns get the attention they deserve.
A key question is: Is the anger, boycotts, and violence justified? What does the Koran state on this?

A basic legal principle is that when a controversy arises, one should first consult the relevant text. Here the relevant Muslim legal text is the Koran. My reading of the Koran makes me believe that the Koran supports tolerance for speech that is offensive, does not urge or mandate its censorship/ punishment, and does not urge the hate of those who utter offensive words.
On the face of it, my argument seems radical and nonsensical. This is understandable given that Islam seems to be clashing with the freedom of expression. The hallmark of this clash is the fatwa issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie for insulting the Prophet and the Islam. Lately, the re-emergence of the Danish cartoons controversy also reinforced the almost universal belief that Islam and freedom of speech are incompatible. The Organization of Islamic Countries’ effort to rewrite international human rights standards to limit the freedom of expression as to holy subjects only reinforces this belief. I believe it is culture and politics behind the outrage and the limiting speech efforts.
Granted, words are not “just words” in Islam. A person gets into the faith and outside the faith by words , and not by acts. While to become a Christian one has to be baptized, in Islam a simple declaration of “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad his Prophet” ushers one into the faith. Also, a verbal renunciation of the faith takes one out. There is no need for a clerical action to get in or get out.
In the Koran, there are a few words that are singled out and stand out for their offense. In Surah Maryam verses 88-90: “They say: (Allah) Most Gracious Has begotten a son! Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! As if the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin. That they should invoke a son for (Allah) most gracious.” Despite the strong language here, there is no injunction to ban these words, punish those who utter them or even hate them. The Koran does not even say that God hates the people who utter these words either. Most significantly, neither the Prophet Muhammad nor the subsequent rulers banned this speech.
The Koran sets a high standard for the tolerance of offense. Shouldn’t we Muslims follow its example?

Costa Rica Recognizes Palestine

Thank you Costa Rica.

Thank you for moving your embassy from occupied Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Costa Rica is neither a Muslim nor an Arab country.
Thank you for recognizing the state of Palestine- hoping to push along the peace process.
But mostly- thank for highlighting the fact that international relations cannot, as the Islamists believe and promote, be explained on the basis of religion.
Costa Rica is officially a Roman Catholic country. 92 % of the population is Christian.

There is no war against Islam that began since the Crusades, as Islamist propaganda has it. There are national interests that determine foreign policy.
It would be nice if peace loving individuals drop a thank you note to the Costa Rican embassy in their country.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Christian Science Monitor Letter- October 17, 2007

Skepticism about the Muslim Brotherhood's program
In response to Mohamed Elmenshawy's Oct. 12 Opinion piece, "The Muslim Brotherhood shows its true colors": I strongly agree with Mr. Elmenshawy.
The Muslim Brotherhood's current political program will give Egypt an authoritarian, illiberal, failed political system that does not allow for dissent or strong minority protection and inclusion.
It is partly correct to call violent Islamists "Islamofascists," because radical Islamism has many of the features of long-discredited authoritarian and repressive regimes of years past – left-wing, as well as right-wing repressive regimes.
Sadly, if the Brotherhood were in power, it would also have a monopoly on violence to impose an illiberal and outdated value system on the populace.
More important, the Brotherhood would not even deliver good government. Its ideology does not have well-developed operational principles of checks and balances.
What the Brotherhood promises Egypt is not only illiberal government, but bad government, as well.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hariri Tribunal and American Support

The US ambassador to the UN said today that the charges for the Hariri murder would be announced this year and the trial of the accused would be next year.
The US is the main world power behind the international tribunal set to bring his killers to justice. For this moral stand for justice in Lebanon, the Lebanese people and Lebanese Americans are forever indebted to the American people.
Mr. Hariri, a friend of the United States, and a great man who rose from a modest family to become a billionaire, a statesman and an international prominent figure, believed in the modern values of education and entrepreneurship and the importance of building Lebanon as a modern state. He spent billions of his own personal wealth to educate thousands of Lebanese citizens of all religious affiliations. Many of those studied in the US, something that these students could never afford on their own. Indeed, he himself was born into a family of modest means, and could not have afforded an American education.
His assassination is deemed an earthquake that shook Lebanon to its foundation resulting in worldwide condemnation of this crime and a call for bringing the killers to justice. Intent on ending Western influence and values in Lebanon, the killers continued to assassinate leading Lebanese intellectuals and politicians who stood for a free and democratic Lebanon.
These killings did not only terrorize the political and cultural elite, many of whom had to go into hiding. Along with these political assassinations came the terrorizing of the Lebanese people. Each assassination was accompanied by tragic loss of life of Lebanese citizens who were on their way conducting their daily life activities. The goal of the terrorists was to scare the population into submission to fear.
But the Lebanese decided to continue living their lives, driving to work, taking their children to school, buying groceries and going out for leisure activities as well. Terror could strike at anytime and anywhere. Despite all that the Lebanese have refused to stay home and decided to embrace life. The Lebanese expatriates, despite the political terror, continued to visit Lebanon. A record number of Lebanese, many of them Lebanese Americans, travelled to Lebanon last December to spend Eid el Adha and Christmas with their families and friends.
In all this what has been a source of most pain and anguish to the Lebanese people, in Lebanon and outside Lebanon, is the fact that the killers seemed to be act with impunity and kept striking. The last attack occurred on January 15 targeting a US embassy car. This attack killed three Lebanese citizens, injured an American bystander, a local embassy employee, and wrecked the explosion area.
The Lebanese hope that these terroristic attacks will be coming to an end. The investigation of the assassination of Mr. Hariri and the subsequent terrorist attacks reveals that they are all connected. The tribunal promises to bring justice not only to the political victims of the crimes but the many innocent civilians who lost their lives.
The American people should be proud of being a force for justice for the Lebanese people by their support of the international tribunal. The Lebanese people and Lebanese Americans thank America for standing with them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Muslims in the West- The third way?

The Economist (February 16th 2008) weekly had an interesting piece on the issue of Sharia and civil law in the UK. The controversy was started when Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that the adoption of certain elements of the Islamic law or Sharia in Britain is “unavoidable” if ‘social cohesion is to be fostered.’
Such a pronouncement, as expected, generated a firestorm. There has already been much written about the “Islamization” of Europe and so-called Euroabia. The individuals and groups with anti Muslim and anti- Arab agenda, many of them on this side of the Atlantic, issuing Jeremiahs to “old Europe,” jumped on this pronouncement to reveal what’s in their hearts and minds, unholy thoughts, about Arabs and Muslims.
The Muslims are not the only faith group that has a religious law. Take for example Judaism. Judaism, like Islam, has elaborate personal status laws. These laws regulate marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance. Of course, in every Western country there is civil law that regulates these affairs of all the citizens in the country across the religious spectrum. In other parts of the world, such as Lebanon, the state cedes its power to the religious communities to run their own personal status matters.
I have represented a number of Muslim clients where issues of Sharia rules arose and had to be dealt with in an, often reluctant, civil court. And unfortunately, a number of Muslim Michiganians hold religious marriages without having a civil marriage. This causes a lot of problems especially since Michigan, with a few notable exceptions, does not recognize common law marriages.
I have done research on how Muslim issues have been dealt with in American civil courts and found that, just like with the cases I handled, in most cases, the Court bent backwards to avoid dealing directly with the religious issues and found an indirect way to handle the matters litigated.
One of the issues that arise is enforcing a custody order issued by a religious court overseas. If you look into how courts have dealt with custody orders issued by religious courts overseas, you find only a handful of cases. One of them is Malak v. Malak, where the court faced a situation where one parent was challenging in an American court the custody order of a religious court. In Malak the father had two custody orders, one entered by the Islamic court in Abu Dhabi and one entered by the Islamic court in Beirut. The trial court declined enforcement of the child custody orders entered by both Islamic courts on the grounds of lack of “due process” and not having the best interests of the child as the standard in determining custody. The appeals court reversed the trial court’s finding. The Malak court noted that the Sharia court in Beirut took into consideration the best interests of the child in its custody determination. The Malak case is an example of how Sharia law arises in civil courts even if it is not formally dealt with in the fashion of adoption of its elements into civil law.

Going back to Britain, the outrage over the suggestion of adoption of elements of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is not surprising. The Economist suggested that a better way to deal with the issue of Sharia and the Muslim community is the pluralist competition where different religions “compete in the marketplace of ideas” to shape public policy. This pluralist solution does not work for unpopular minorities who are not well organized or well endowed with resources to compete in this marketplace. There is a third approach, other than incorporating elements of Sharia law into civil law or the competition for shaping laws. The third approach that accommodates the Muslim minority, and other minority communities as well, is to encourage premarital agreements were individuals can freely incorporate elements of other laws into their legal relationships. In the event of a divorce, premarital agreement would be part of the decision making process and unless the agreed upon goes against strong public policy, there is no reason why the Court should not allow free and consenting adults to determine how they want to live their personal lives.
Published in the Forum and Link, February 21, 2008.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

State Department outreach

07 September 2005
Muslims Integrating and Finding Acceptance in American Society
Ihsan Alkhatib discusses U.S., European Muslims in September 7 Internet chat
By Tim ReceveurWashington File Staff Writer
Washington – Ihsan Alkhatib, a Michigan lawyer who is deeply involved in civil rights issues, believes that the U.S. government’s policy of tolerance and acceptance is largely responsible for the successful integration of Arab Americans and Muslims into American society.
These groups are successful economically, with above-average education and income levels -- even though half were born outside the United States, Alkhatib said during an Internet chat September 7.
Alkhatib, who is president of the Detroit chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), pointed out that “anti-discrimination is U.S. government policy. The government actively encourages inclusion. While there is discrimination, it is not widespread and systemic. Discrimination goes against the civic religion of this country.”
The greater Detroit area has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, led by Lebanese, he said. There are also many Iraqis and Yemenis. Other cities with the large concentrations of Arab Americans include Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
Alkhatib sees a large contrast between the economic status of Muslims in the United States and Europe.
“In Europe the picture is bleak,” he said. “A significant proportion of European Arabs are Muslims, and they are worse off economically and educationally than the rest of society.”
He said acceptance of Muslims into the larger society is the key to helping to improving their social condition in Europe.
“Europe has to understand that once you open the door for guest workers, human beings come. Acceptance and integration come hand in hand,” Alkhatib said.
“As long as Muslims in Europe are thought of as guests and European countries think of themselves as not immigration countries, there are going to be problems,” he added.
In the United States, he said, there are laws that bar discrimination, “and the emphasis [is] on diversity. Discrimination in employment is very costly for employers in the U.S.”
The scarf/hijab debate is a good example of the differences in American and European integration of Muslims, Alkhatib said.
“Nashala Hearn an 11-year-old sixth-grade student at Ben Franklin Science Academy in Oklahoma was suspended twice for wearing the scarf/hijab. She did what all Americans do when wronged: she sued. The Justice Department joined the suit and accused the Muskogee School District of violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This is stark contrast to French policy,” he said.
According to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, there is to be no prohibition on the exercise of religion, and “wearing the scarf is an exercise of religion,” he said.

Asked how Muslims can maintain their identity as Muslims in a country so big and changing as the United States, Alkhatib said, “The rule is acceptance of the other. Obeying the law is the benchmark for acceptance. If the Amish and the Lubavitch Jews can thrive in the U.S., Muslims should have no problem.”
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Alkhatib said, “There were a number of acts of bigotry, but far more acts of kindness shown by non-Arab non-Muslim Americans to Muslim and Arab Americans.”
“There were numerous incidents of discrimination against women who wear clothes that identify them as Muslim. A number suffered rude stares and insults. However, that was not the response of 99 percent of the population. Tolerance and acceptance is the policy of the country and is widely accepted as the American way,” he said.
After September 11 “the government sent clear messages that Muslim Americans are Americans and are not to be mistreated. President Bush visited a mosque in the Washington area and said those who want to mistreat Muslim Americans do not represent America.”
Alkhatib added that while every society has some intolerant individuals, “the U.S. public looks down on bigotry, and even bigoted individuals do not wish to be identified as intolerant.”
Detroit was a magnet for many Muslim immigrants because of the employment opportunities in the automobile industry, according to Alkhatib. He said that many Southern Lebanese immigrants who escaped the war in Lebanon also ended up in the Detroit area.
He concluded by saying, “We are at home in the U.S.”
Alkhatib also serves as director of legal services for a nonprofit organization, Life for Relief and Development (see Web site). Currently, Life is helping provide aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In conjunction with a number of Muslim organizations, Life and its coalition partners pledged $10 million in relief. (See related article.)
ADC is also encouraging donations to relief organizations for the hurricane victims. Details are available on the ADC Web site.
More Web chats are upcoming including:
• Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, on the spread of freedom (September 21)
• Gary Weaver, American University, on immigrant identity and integration into a multi-cultural society (September 28).
If you want to ask a question or make a comment, please register at iipchat@state.gov. If you already have participated in one of our previous discussions, there is no need to register again. Just use the same user name and password. You may identify yourself by the user name of your choice. We look forward to getting your views and questions.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Treasury action on Syria

February 21, 2008HP-834
Rami Makhluf Designated for Benefiting from Syrian Corruption
Washington, DC − The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Rami Makhluf, a powerful Syrian businessman and regime insider whom improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption of Syrian regime officials. This action was taken today pursuant to Executive Order 13460, which targets individuals and entities determined to be responsible for or who have benefited from the public corruption of senior officials of the Syrian regime.
"Rami Makhluf has used intimidation and his close ties to the Asad regime to obtain improper business advantages at the expense of ordinary Syrians," said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "The Asad regime's cronyism and corruption has a corrosive effect, disadvantaging innocent Syrian businessmen and entrenching a regime that pursues oppressive and destabilizing policies, including beyond Syria's borders, in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories."
Syria is well known for its corrupt business environment, which denies the Syrian people economic prosperity and other freedoms. The considerable role the Asad family, their inner circle, and the Syrian security services exert over the economy, coupled with the absence of a free judicial system and the lack of transparency, concentrates wealth in the hands of certain classes and individuals. In turn, these classes and individuals depend upon this corrupt system for their success and fortune. Syrians without these connections are unable to improve their economic standing, and suffer as a result of policies implemented by an unaccountable regime.
President George W. Bush issued E.O. 13460 on February 13, 2008 to take additional measures to address the threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by certain conduct of the Government of Syria.
This new authority builds on E.O. 13338, which was issued by President Bush in May 2004, by targeting activities that entrench and enrich the Syrian regime and its cohorts thereby enabling the regime to continue to engage in threatening behavior, including actions that undermine efforts to stabilize Iraq. Corruption by the regime also reinforces efforts that deny the people of Syria political freedoms and economic prosperity, undercut peace and stability in the region, fund terrorism and violence, and undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon.
Pursuant to E.O. 13460, any assets that Makhluf holds under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in business or transactions with Makhluf.
Identifying Information
Rami MakhlufAKAs: MAKHLOUF, Rami MAKHLOUF, Rami Bin MohammedMAKHLOUF, Rami MohammadDOB: July 10, 1969POB: SyriaPassport Number: Syrian, 98044
Rami Makhluf is a powerful Syrian businessman who amassed his commercial empire by exploiting his relationships with Syrian regime members. Makhluf has manipulated the Syrian judicial system and used Syrian intelligence officials to intimidate his business rivals. He employed these techniques when trying to acquire exclusive licenses to represent foreign companies in Syria and to obtain contract awards.
Makhluf is the maternal cousin of President Bashar al-Asad and through this relationship, Makhluf has become a focal point of Syria's telecommunications, commercial, oil, gas and banking sectors. Despite President Asad's highly publicized anti-corruption campaigns, Makhluf remains one of the primary centers of corruption in Syria.
Makhluf's influence with certain Syrian government officials has led to his being able to control the issuance of certain types of profitable commodities contracts. His close business associations with some Syrian cabinet ministers have enabled him to gain access to lucrative oil exploration and power plant projects. Makhluf's preferential access to Syrian economic sectors has led to complaints about him from members of the Syrian business community.
Makhluf is the brother of Syrian General Intelligence Directorate official Hafiz Makhluf, who was previously designated under E.O. 13441.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hate Watch: on Debbie Schlussel

Local attorney verbal terrorist against Islam
By Ihsan Alkhatib -- Special to The Arab American News --
In the history of religion-based terrorism, Dr. Baruch Goldstein holds an infamous spot. A medical doctor and a religious Orthodox Jew, Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, New York. Not satisfied with life in the US, he emigrated to Israel and served in the Israeli army. Despite his medical oath, he refused to treat non-Jews. He refused to treat even his fellow Israeli soldiers who were not Jews. Defending his refusal to treat non-Jews he stated: "I am not willing to treat any non-Jews. I recognize as legitimate only two authorities, Maimonides and Kahane."
Baruch Goldstein is a hero to some in Israel. In 1994, he entered the mosque in Hebron, Palestine and opened fire on unarmed Muslims in prayer. He killed 29 and injured 100. Bystanders beat him to death.
Dr. Goldstein is not alone in having issues with Islam, the religion of peace, the religion of "whoever saves a life has saved all mankind and whoever kills a life has killed all mankind(Al Quran)." There is, for example, local attorney Debbie Schlussel, a self-proclaimed expert on "radical Islam."
Schlussel, for those unfamiliar with her, has a website and a radio show were she comments on political and cultural issues. Her website biography describes her as "a conservative political commentator" with "unique expertise on radical Islam/Islamic terrorism." It continues: "Schlussel, who speaks Hebrew, Arabic, French, and Russian, works closely with several federal law enforcement agencies, consulting for fighting the domestic war on terrorism, and has provided them with much useful information. She has gone undercover, infiltrating many Muslim organizations in the Detroit area (the heart of Islamic America), exposing their radical nature and support for terrorism. Schlussel continues to represent a very valuable Muslim (sic) confidential informant to several federal government agencies, who has been responsible for putting hundreds with terrorism connections behind bars. She also represented several whistleblowers who exposed terrorist operations now under investigation."
Very poor writing aside, Ms Schlussel has taken it upon herself to attack the religion of Islam and the Muslim community. Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is one of her many targets. I am a member of the Muslim community and I sit on the board of the ADC. It is very disturbing that an attorney, an officer of the court, has chosen to verbally terrorize our community and ridicule our faith. And if true, it's alarming that Ms Schlussel works with law enforcement.
Political commentator Patrick Buchanan has been subjected to brutal attacks by Jewish and Zionist organizations. They charge that he is an anti-Semite. Buchanan is a strong critic of Israel and the unlimited support for Israel that the US gives and this is what got him in trouble with "the lobby." But whatever controversial statements Mr. Buchanan has made in writing about Jews or Israel pale in comparison to what Schlussel has said about Islam, Muslims and Arabs. Why is Buchanan called an anti-Semite but Schlussel is considered "an expert on Islam who consults with law enforcement?" In her rantings, Schlussel refers to Islam as the "Religion of Peace." Nothing wrong with that until you notice she derogatorily shortens it to "RoP." ("Religion of Peace Update: Latest Kindness to Women.") In that column, she mentions two incidents of Muslim men engaging in criminal violence against women. She comments on these crimes: "We celebrated the Fourth of July, but the religion of Peace (RoP) never takes a holiday. Here is the latest respect for women exhibited in the Detroit area by the RoP (none of which were condemned by ANY RoP leaders)." Of course, the pronoun "we" does not include Muslims because in Schlussel�s world, Muslims are not Americans. Schlussel apparently does not view the evening news with its litany of crimes convicted by people claiming to be Christians. She doesn't seem to understand that when people commit crimes, it's not because of their religion, but in spite of it.
In "Sex & the Islamic Terrorist," Schlussel also refers to Islam as "the religion of the headchoppers," American soldiers are ambushed in Fallujah and female soldiers sent to search Iraqi female suspects, who were killed. Schlussel charges Islam, the religion of 1.2 billion human beings, with taking the soldiers� lives. ("Give an Inch, Religion of Peace Takes Lives").
In "Terrorists Elected Throughout Muslim World: US Strangely Silent," Ms Schlussel refers to the Muslim Arab world as the "dimwitted, Muslim Arab Middle East." In "Happy Birthday, America," she accuses the citizens of Dearborn of a flagging loyalty and patriotism. "Is it a good thing when in many parts of Dearborn, English is not spoken and people can�t understand it? No wonder loyalty and patriotism are flagging."
In "Dear Abu Moskowitz," she verbally terrorizes Mr. Brian Moskowitz, Immigration and Customs chief in the area, for refusing to use his powers to harass and treat the Dearborn area - or "Little Ramallah" as she calls it - as an occupied territory of subjects, the way Israelis treat the the people of occupied Ramallah in Palestine. She accuses Dearborn's Arab residents of being terrorists. She writes "In the heart of Islamic America, where there are Islamic terror cells galore..."
In referring to Morgan Spurlock�s documentary on Islam she manages to put Islam and shit together by calling the documentary "Supersized Islamist BS." ("Update on Morgan Spurlok�s Supersized Islamist BS"). She accuses Muslims, all Muslims, of being deceivers who want to kill all non- Muslims and implies that the practice of taqqiyah, or hiding one's Muslim identity to save one's life, makes us all liars.
In a remark reminiscent of the late Orthodox Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the terrorist Jewish Defense League, she refers to Arab children as "snakes." ("Angelina Jolie and Oliver Stone�s Terrorist Problem"). She writes that Angelina Jolie said she "loves snakes and understands them. That might explain the snakes she�s hanging out with as a Goodwill Ambassador" for the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). Ms Schlussel was referring to Ms Jolie�s attendance at the Arab Children�s Congress in Amman, Jordan.
In "Sex & the Islamist Terrorist," Ms Schlussel defends the use of torture on Muslim suspects held in the Gulag of our times, Guantanamo Bay. She is disappointed that Jeff Jacoby of the Washington Post "decries female interrogators wearing tight t-shirts, fondling themselves, brushing their breasts against prisoners� backs and putting red inkon the face of prisoners." Ms Schlussel does not mention that the red ink is not merely red ink. To torture the detainees, among whom surely there are a number of innocent people, female interrogators pretended to have inserted their finger in their vaginas and smeared period blood on the detainees, when unbeknownst to the detainees it was red ink. To Ms Schlussel, such actions are not torture. She writes: "This is torture? Puh-leeze. We know what real torture is. It goes on in Muslim countries around the globe, every day. In case you forgot what that is, there�s a video starring Nick Berg all over the net."
Schlussel presents herself as an attorney, an expert on Islam who works closely with law enforcement, and a media personality: regular columns, radio shows, guest appearances, the lecture circuit, you name it, she does it. Once in a great while, she breaks through to legitimate media outlets. But her racism is evident in her flamboyant rantings, designed to sell herself and her column. For those who search for substance rather than sales, factual errors about the religion of Islam - and subsequent erroneous conclusions - abound. But Shclussel's intent is to inflame, not inform.
What Baruch Goldstein did with his bullets, Debbie Schlussel does with her words. Both are deadly and hateful.

Ihsan Alkhatib is is president of the ADC Detroit Chapter board and is also on the ADC Michigan advisory board.
Editor's note: For those who want to complain, attorney misconduct can be reported to the Attorney Grievance Commission, www.agcmi.com, 243 W. Congress Suite 256, Detroit Michigan 48226. Their telephone number is 313 961 6585.

Published in Arab American News

Ahmad Al Asaad makes sense on Lebanon

الاربعاء، 20 شباط، 2008

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أحمد الاسعد: شبعنا "حروباً مفتوحة" وكفى استعمال الشيعة وقودا 20 شباط, 2008
أكد رئيس "لقاء الانتماء اللبناني" أحمد الأسعد رفضه أي حرب مفتوحة قد تجرّ لبنان الى الهلاك. وقال في مؤتمر صحفي عقده اليوم: "شبعنا حرباً مفتوحة وأهلنا شبعوا الحروب المفتوحة". وتابع: "اذا شاركتنا الدول العربية وايران في الحرب فنحن لها ولكن أن تكون الحرب مسؤوليتنا وحدنا وتحديداً مسؤولية الشيعة في لبنان فذلك لم عاد مقبولاً أبداً".
وتعليقاً على اغتيال القيادي في "حزب الله" عماد مغنية، قال: "نستنكر أي عملية اغتيال والعنف من أي طرف ليس هو الحلّ، لأن العنف لا يحلّ المشاكل ويوصلنا الى دوامة مستمرة نريد الخروج منها". ورداً على سؤال عن قراءته لزمان ومكان عملية الاغتيال قال: "هيك بّدك تسأل البصّارة". وردّ على تصريح رئيس الحرس الثوري الايراني الذي توقع زوال اسرائيل على أيدي "حزب الله" بالقول: "اسأله ما هو دوركم؟ تتفرجون فقط ونحن نحارب؟ ألا يحق للشعب اللبناني أن يعيش بهدوء واستقرار مثل الشعبين السوري والايراني؟"وأعلن الأسعد رفضه للحرب الأهلية معتبراً أنها "خط أحمر". واتهم النظام السوري بأنه يريد تسوية على حساب المحكمة الدولية فيما النظام الايراني يريد "من خلال الشيعة بناء امبراطورية فارسية جديدة". وقال: "من حق الدول أن يكون عندها طموحات ولكن ليس على حسابنا وكفى اللبنانيين والشيعة تحديداً أن يكونوا وقوداً للطموحات الخارجية". كما اتهم المحور الاقليمي الايراني- السوري بالوقوف وراء اعمال الشغب التي شهدتها بعض أحياء بيروت وأضاف: "أعمال الشغب رسالة من المحور الاقليمي الى المجتمع الدولي في محاولة لتركيعه وابتزازه والقول إن لا مجال للهدوء والاستقرار في لبنان إلا من خلال عودة نفوذ المحور الى لبنان".وتابع الأسعد أنه نقل الى المسؤولين الأميركيين خلال زيارته الاخيرة الى واشنطن رسالة مفادها إن الصراع القائم في لبنان يجب أن تربحه القوى الديمقراطية. وقال إنه لمس عند الأميركيين جدية في مواجهة المحور الاقليمي وأضاف: "قلت للأميركيين اذا ربحنا في لبنان فهناك مجال لربح الصراع في بقية دول المنطقة". وشدّد على ضرورة تفعيل العلاقات مع المجتمع الدولي "لأن الطرف الآخر لم يقدر على فرض قوته لولا الدعم الهائل من ايران". وأضاف: "من يتجرأ ويقول إننا خائنون أقول له: انتبه لأن في قولك يعني أنك تخون مبادئ الاسلام وقيم التشيع لأن الاسلام والتشيع هما اقرار بالرأي الحر والانفتاح وعدم تخوين الآخر، والامام الحسين قام بثورته لانه لم يشأ أن يكون الفكر الاسلامي محتكراً من طرف واحد".وعن تقرير فينوغراد والاعتراف بهزيمة اسرائيل في حرب تموز قال: "نربح الحرب على اسرائيل بعلمنا ووعينا وتطوير اقتصادنا وليس بالكاتيوشا والصواريخ فقط ".

Source: PSP.org.lb

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Letter to the Arab American News

I am writing to register my shock and disappointment at a column written by Ms Raja Saadeh in the February 16-22, 2008 paper.
I believe in the freedom of expression - a sacred value . However, I don’t think that intolerant speech deserves a platform at mainstream media.
I strongly object to the savage attack on Mr. Walid Jumblatt. Accusing him of “working with Israel and executing its plans” is an outrageous accusation of him, a leader of the National Movement- with his father, Kamal Jumblatt, a martyr for Palestine. [ Incidentally such an accusation or rhetorical assassination is what the criminals (Israel?!) assassinating the free Lebanese leaders start with- to be followed by actual murder].
As to her advice to Shaykh Saad, she should know that Shaykh Saad has enough advisers and does not need more advice. As if her giving advice is not offensive and audacious enough, she proceeds to ask Shaykh Saad to delve into the “Deyanat,” Arabic for religion, of his allies- meaning here the Druze faith (an offshoot of Shiite Islam) of Walid Jumblatt!
The Arab American News has well-known biases and sympathies and the coverage of Lebanon events has been clearly pro the Syro-Iranian block-this is a legitimate editorial policy. But to attack a faith group in this manner is clearly outrageous and is something that I doubt Kay and Ousama stand for.
The conflict/s in Lebanon, as Samir Khalaf brilliantly analyzed, is/are political ones that unfortunately sometimes play out in religious/sectarian fashion. In a nutshell, these conflicts have always been political conflicts over the direction the small but magnificent country Lebanon should take.
You owe an apology to the Druze faith and all other fair people who reject attacks on faith communities, regardless of political agreements with leaders that belong to these faith communities.

Sincerely,

Ihsan Alkhatib, Esq.

[And for the record – all the massacres that occurred in Lebanon are outrageous attacks on all humanity- this includes the Fathallah massacre and the Damur massacres, and all killings of civilians who were stopped at checkpoints and killed merely for belonging to the “wrong” faith community. But what happened in the Shouf pales in comparison to Tal al Zaatar, Damur and Sabra and Shatila. Ms Saadeh should check her facts before she writes.]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hariri Memorial

Dearborn gathering to honor Lebanon's former prime minister
February 8, 2008
By NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Lebanese Americans are set to gather tonight in Dearborn to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of Rafic Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister.
Up to 1,000 people are expected to be at the Fairlane Club this evening for an event held by the Future Movement, the group set up in Hariri's memory to carry out his legacy. On Sunday, hundreds are expected to attend an event honoring his memory at a Lebanese center in Dearborn.
AdvertisementThe commemorations are a reflection of how closely the politics of Lebanon are followed in Michigan, home to one of the largest Lebanese immigrant communities outside the Middle East. Hundreds of metro Detroiters have benefited from university scholarships that Hariri funded.
Hariri was killed in a car bomb explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on Feb. 14, 2005.
"He believed in the youth, in democracy, and in nonviolence," said Waleed Naseef, 57, of Dearborn, who heads the U.S. chapter of the Future Movement. "He had a vision of rebuilding Lebanon."
Hariri was a billionaire who funded a lot of educational programs. Naseef estimated that about 6,000 Lebanese Americans were able to study in the United States because of scholarships Hariri funded.
Ihsan Alkhatib, a Dearborn resident, is one of them. Alkhatib planned to pay tribute to Hariri on Friday night with a speech proclaiming that "the significance of his leadership and vision are eternal," according to prepared remarks.
"It is difficult to over emphasize the importance of Rafic Hariri," Alkhatib plans to say. Alkhatib said he plans to open his speech with a quote from Hariri, who once said:
"No human being has a monopoly on the whole truth; the truth belongs to all people and is seen by each individual from his or her perspective. It is important that we handle things in a civilized, ethical and decent way. It is equally important that we listen to one another and engage in a dialogue."
Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 248-351-2998 or warikoo@freepress.com.

Muslims in America- 2/11/2007

Re “Iraq’s Shadow Widens Sunni-Shiite Split in U.S.” (front page, Feb. 4):
The war and its ugly aftermath have served to raise the salience of this split. Most important, American Muslim religious leaders have not dealt with this issue in a realistic manner.
My experience attending Sunni as well as Shiite mosques is that Muslim religious leaders take one of two opposite stands — stating either that there is “no difference” between the two groups or that the two groups are “completely different.”
Both positions are false and unrealistic; neither helps the groups enjoy a healthy coexistence.
Muslims will get along better only when there is an acknowledgment of commonalities as well as real and major differences, and an understanding that religious diversity is a blessing and not a curse.
Ihsan AlkhatibDetroit, Feb. 4, 2007The writer is president of the Detroit chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Dialogue- Free Press letter

Step up, not away, from talks
It's unfortunate that Rabbi Klein wants to disengage from interfaith dialogue with Muslims.
Interfaith dialogue is about our children in this country. Interfaith dialogue should be about us all as Americans knowing each other and getting along with each other despite our differences and disagreements.
Imam Qazwini got it right on point when he said that Rabbi Klein is "unrealistic if he thinks Muslim leaders based in Michigan can cool the world's religious hot spots." If one lights a candle and there is still light, the response should be to light more candles, not to blow off the sole lit candle. The frustration expressed by Rabbi Klein calls for more interfaith dialogue, not less.
Ihsan AlkhatibPresident, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee,Detroit Chapter

France and its Jews

France and its Jews: Solving the conundrum By Maria Sliwa May 27, 2003


Nathalie Soussan loves her native France but thinks she may have to build a life elsewhere. At 21 she is an intern for the French House at Columbia University in New York City, and says she is afraid to return to France because of the pervasive acceptance of anti-Semitism and violence against Jews in her country. Soussan is Jewish. There are about 5 million Muslims and 650,000 Jews in France, the largest number for both communities in Europe. Most of the attacks on Jews occur in Paris suburbs and other neighborhoods where Jews and Muslims live in close proximity. "Since the French, Jewish and Muslim communities are both the largest, it is not surprising that misinformation and lack of education can lead to anti-Semitic hate crimes in France," Laila Al-Qatami, spokesperson for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League, said in a recent e-mail. "As documented by the recent national report on hate crimes in France, these quadrupled in 2002, with over half the attacks aimed at Jews." The outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada on September 28, 2000 sparked a wave of Middle East related anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, with the largest number of European anti-Semitic attacks occurring in France: 1,300 recorded since 2001, the highest level since World War II, according to the Wiesenthal Center. At the same time there has been an increase in the number of Jews leaving France to live in Israel. According to Israeli government figures, 2,556 French Jews immigrated to Israel last year. This is double the number a year earlier and the most since the 1967 Six Day War. Though the Jewish Agency in Paris said these figures were "more about protecting Israel than fleeing France," a recent poll published by the JTA Global News Service said that more than a quarter of the Jews in France are considering leaving in the wake of the serious attacks targeting the country's Jewish community. As incidents increased, many French Jews gave up calling the police and claim authorities are downplaying anti-Semitism. Instead, they are logging complaints with the SOS Truth and Security Organization, a grass roots group established in Paris by a former police commissioner. Data on the incidents is compiled, analyzed, and published by the Wiesenthal Center. "Though a lot of Jews in France feel very French, they also feel abandoned by their government because the officials have not acted strongly enough to stop the violence," says Soussan, who will return home to Paris in June. "The French government is doing what it can. There have been anti-Semitic incidents in the past, and unfortunately there will likely be more again," Emmanuel Gagniarre, of the French Embassy in DC said in a recent interview. "Most of the time these incidents are the deeds of young people of Arab and North African descent, who live in the rougher neighborhoods, in the suburbs of big cities, with the backdrop and international environment that is not very conducive to peaceful relations." Early last month, Agence France-Presse reported that Jacques Chirac called for the "utmost vigilance and firmness," in the face of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic acts, noting he was worried that the war in Iraq would spark further tensions between Jewish and Muslim communities in France. Around the time of Chirac's statement, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy publicly briefed police officials on the new "double zero tolerance" security legislation against racism and anti-Semitism just passed by the government. As part of this new regulation, demonstrators will not be allowed to carry flags with swastikas and other anti-Semitic, non-neutral symbols. The French police also recently announced the formation of a new unit to investigate racist and anti-Semitic crimes, and stepped up police protection at synagogues and Jewish schools. This was not the first time officials acted according to Gary Ratner, executive director of the American Jewish Congress West Coast Region. Ratner met with members of the French government last summer to discuss concerns over the country's rising tide of anti-Semitism. He praises the work of Sarkozy and says that during these meetings, Sarkozy not only made commitments to crack down on anti-Semitic acts but also followed through on his promises. "There was a beefed up police presence at Jewish institutions," Ratner said during an interview. He also noted a decrease in the number of incidents. But Soussan says Sarkozy and government officials are not really tackling the problem: "They are not taking preventative measures at all, but rather wait for something to happen first and then act." Anti-Semitism is not new to France. "France never purged itself of anti-Semitism, just hid it," said Daniel Pipes in a recent e-mail. Pipes, an expert on militant Islam, was recently nominated by President Bush to serve on the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. "It is important to remember that Muslim anti-Semitism is different from Christian anti-Semitism and is relatively new for France in modern times," said Toni Kamins, author of The Complete Jewish Guide to France in a recent e-mail. Both Pipes and Kamins say that of the two, Muslim anti-Semitism is more likely to erupt in violence. Social and economic factors may be to blame. Today, many of the Muslim families from North Africa live in grim, drug-infested high-rise suburbs on the outskirts of French cities. Their community lacks cohesion and is split within itself by ethnicity, history, religiosity, politics and class. Kamins says Muslims are regarded with fear, suspicion, and hatred by many French; and while Jews were eventually accepted into French society, Muslims are not. "Unemployment among Muslim immigrants is high, education is an afterthought, access to mainstream French society is nearly impossible, and being arrested for suspicion of this or that is common," Kamins says. Experts note that these impoverished Muslims feel they have become the victims of institutionalized racism, and see the Jewish community as more affluent and better integrated than they are. Some Muslim experts blame the violence on the growth of radical Islamic movements. Dr. Gilles Kepel, a Muslim and director at the French Centre for Sociological Research, explained during an interview with an Arab weekly magazine, Ain-Al-Yaqeen, that a majority of these radical movements are the result of an alliance between poor urban Muslim youth, the Muslims of the petite bourgeoisie, (who feel marginalized and excluded from political privileges), and those he calls the "bearded engineers," or graduates of state universities, who distort the broad tenets of Islam to serve their political needs. Other French Muslims, like deputy mayor of Sannois in Val d'Oise, Rachid Kaci, encourage the cultivation of an Islam that is cut off from the foreign influences of extremism, and are outspoken against anti-Semitism. These radical movements are encouraged by various cooperating associations, Kaci says. Fundamentalist proselytizers diligently work the housing projects and the prisons in France for new converts. With monies obtained from Saudi Arabian subsidies, and donations from a sincerely openhearted and pious community, the Union of French Islamic Organization (UOIF) appeals to the unemployed North African Muslims in the ghettos, providing an alternative social-service network that is often better than the French one. At the same time, the U.S. has also experienced an increase in reported anti-Semitism. "There were 1559 anti-Semitic cases reported in the U.S. last year, which is up eight percent from the year before. Many of the events grew out of anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses," Aaron Brietbart, senior researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in an interview. The Anti-Defamation League also reports an increase in pro-Palestinian rallies across the country, which the ADL says go far beyond legitimate criticism of Israel to promote anti-Semitic hatred and anti-Israel sentiment. Extremism may be a factor of increasing anti-Semitism worldwide. According to Pipes, every militant Islamic organization across the globe preaches anti-Semitism, many in public, some more discreetly: Nearly all refer to a battle to the death with Jews. The assassination of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, for example, was filmed by Islamist executioners who forced him to look into the camera and confess his Jewish origin before they beheaded him. "This way of thinking has damaged the Islamic religion over the years more than it has served it," Kepel says. He predicts a decline in extremism will give way to a generation of Muslims who will free themselves from Islamic movements, and will open up a new era for Islamic society, which he calls "the era of Muslim democracy." Ihsan Alkhatib, an immigration attorney and doctoral student of international relations in Dearborn, Michigan, says the issue of Israel has created tension between Arab Muslims and Jews almost everywhere. "Jewish support for Israel is due to tribal solidarity, regardless of the merits of the case," Alkhatib said in a recent interview. "The animosity displayed against Jews by the French Arabs or Muslims is also due to tribal solidarity or 'Assabiyeh.'" Al-Qatami notes that there have been hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs as well in France, following the September 11, 2001 attacks. She is hopeful that the recent actions by the French government, including the formation of a Muslim National Council, will "serve to prevent future hate crimes for all the citizens of France." In the wake of the violence, Kamins encourages Jews not to remain silent. "France is the third largest Jewish community in the world," she says. "It is important that the Jewish community of France assert their rights for protection. Pressure from other governments should also be exercised."

Banks, civil rights and terror laws

Banks, civil rights groups and community members should lobby together for change in terror laws.
A number of individuals, businesses, and organizations have had their bank accounts closed due to so-called "suspicious account-related activity." The suspicion causes the compliance department to recommend account closure.
This is not happening only to Arab Americans and American Muslims. A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting in Washington that centered on the issue of charities in the U.S. A non -Arab/non-Muslim resident attorney who attended the meeting spoke of his Saudi clients and shared a story about his bank experience. He said that he receives wired funds to his escrow account from Saudi Arabia for his legal fees. His bank sent him a notice stating that it intends to close his escrow account. He found out that the funds from Saudi Arabia were the reason. The cost-benefit analysis of the bank showed that closure of the red-flagged account was the bank's best bet.
The obvious and initial reaction of most clients is anger towards the bank. Since the 9/11 attacks, the Arab and Muslim communities have been hit hard by the increased sensitivity of banks to "suspicious activity." Banks are not simply refusing Arab and Muslim business. On the contrary, they strive for clientele growth; it is well known that banks offer numerous incentives to draw new customers in. It is fair to say that all banks want Arab and Muslim business.
Banks are acting this way because of anti-terror laws. In the post 9/11 era, banks have found themselves having to live by "know your client" rules. This seems like a sensible mandate until you read "Follow the money" by Ted Frank in "The Wall Street Journal" on October 28, 2006. He writes: "Banks are not immune from terrorist-related lawsuits ... They're getting hauled into court because of who has accounts at their institutions." He adds "[f]ederal laws permit parties injured by an act of terrorism to recover treble damages and attorneys' fees in civil suits against terrorists. But an act of terrorism may also include 'knowingly providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.'"
Providing "material support" to a terrorist organization is a crime. Innocent banks doing business with entities which even the government has not classified as associated with terrorism have been subject to costly litigation. This is due to "the vagueness and breadth of this language" and post 9/11 "lawsuits are pending now that claim that the banks should have known then what the U.S. government did not decide until years later," Frank writes. An infamous bank robber once stated that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." Plaintiffs cannot sue the terrorist suspects/defendants so they sue "where the money is." Banks are being sued in terrorist-related cases because of individuals/entities who hold accounts with them.
These lawsuits can potentially expose banks to great financial liability. To reduce this risk, banks have been ruthless with closing accounts that are deemed suspicious. Unfortunately, the bulk of those ensnared in this risk aversion tactic are primarily but not solely Arabs and Muslims.
There is a way to deal with this situation. The banking industry lobby group is ranked as the most influential lobby group in Washington. Muslim, Arab and other advocacy groups have a common cause with the banks. In this particular case, reasonable bank protection would make banks less likely to close someone's account due to a newspaper article or weblog entry raising wild allegations. A coalition of advocacy groups and banks should lobby for what Frank calls laws that "make clear that civil liability is limited to those who commit criminal acts of international terrorism and those who aid and abet with specific intent to commit terror."
This is one instance where Arab and Muslim advocacy groups as well as civil rights organizations have common ground to change the law. In protecting the banks from frivolous lawsuits, we preserve the civil rights of Arab Americans and American Muslims. This is sound advice that you can take to the bank.

Speech at Third Hariri Memorial in Dearborn Michigan

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for attending this memorial for the late PM of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri-
When we speak about him we speak of great leadership and vision
What ‘s commonly known about him is his great wealth and great generosity to match
He was a man who believed that human beings are basically decent and can only be improved by education.
A prominent Arab- American leader told me that he admired PM Hariri’s role in education.
This education of students did not stop with his death and so far about 50,000 students have benefited from his ongoing generosity.
While his role in education is remarkable, his shining legacy is-
his vision and values-
the values of openness to the other- and inclusion. His belief in Lebanon and its people-
When Mr. Hariri returned to Lebanon, Lebanon was torn in every conceivable way. It was physically in shambles-
He believed it could be rebuilt to be its old self and even greater
Despite the great weight given in Lebanon to family, sect and region-
From day one- He belonged to all Lebanese,
everything he did-
from rebuilding- to educating -to his philanthropy-
individuals of all religious affiliations benefited-
In giving back and elevating the country and the people- he transcended family, sect and region-
Such a transcendence is indeed a revolutionary idea in a country emerging from civil war.
Other values he expounded include:
1. Honesty- a rare commodity in third world politics
2. Faith
3. Being above hate and envy
4. Philanthropy-
5. Providing opportunity- reducing poverty by education and economic development.
6. Commitment to dialogue, compromise and nonviolence
7. Celebrating life and entrepreneurship.
He is a role model of the practicing Muslim that embraces modernity and expounds values that are truly universal.

Indeed, his loss is a tragic loss
not to be forgotten or forgiven.
Thankfully, his vision is institutionalized in the Future Movement led by his son Shaykh Saad- A man committed to the same values as his father was.
---As Americans of Arab and Muslim descent, our children are bombarded by media images of radicals-
radicals expounding on and celebrating the culture of death-
Radicals preaching ignorance, exclusion, hate of the other, and the blind belief in the clash of civilizations.
Unfortunately, as Americans of Arab and/or Muslim descent, we are looked at suspiciously as if those merchants of death and hate represent our faith and our Arab heritage.
We can counter that nonsense by Exhibit # 1-
the statesman, the vision, of Mr. Hariri-
of how he truly represented Arabs and Islam. This is his legacy.
We shall not forget you, the most honorable of men- Ya ashraf al nas Ya rafeeq al hareeri.

Thank You.