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Showing posts from April, 2008

Zakat in America

Zakat is arguably more important for the Muslim faith than prayer itself.
The situation facing American Muslim charities puts American Muslims in a bind. Whom to give?
American citizens have a constitutional right to give zakat, organizations don't have a constitutional right to take zakat.

Either alternative American Muslim organizations that the US government trusts should be set up to meet the religious need to give or American non- Muslim organizations should establish Zakat compliant funds that spend the money on needy Muslims in the world, just like some American banks have been offering Sharia compliant mortgages.

Alimony for Men: the Blessings of Gender Equality

"Men Receiving Alimony Want a Little Respect- Modern Males say Living off the Ex-Wife is no cause for Shame"- Wall Street Journal 4/1/08 by Anita Raghavan.

It is rare that a WSJ article makes me laugh. This one did.

Alimony for men. Great.
Only fair.

Marriage is a partnership and if a partner wants out- that’s their right- but economic fairness is gender blind.

One woman who has to pay alimony, $9,000 a month, Rhonda Friedman, a supervising producer of the Bold and the Beautiful, is extremely unhappy with having to pay alimony to her ex husband whom the Journal described as "stays in phenomenal shape and looks much younger than his 50 years."

With $9,000 a month he has a lot of time to work out.

Ms Friedman voiced what men have for many years been screaming in anger in objecting to alimony.

She is quoted saying:

“I feel financially raped”
“I don’t understand why someone becomes your financial responsibility just because you married them.”

The article reads “so distasteful are…

The UN Food Progamme

One billion people live on a dollar a day.
The Economist of 4/19/2008 writes that “the UN World Food Programme is the largest distributor of food aid and its most important barrier between hungry people and starvation.”
There is a low opinion of the UN in the US. The UN does a lot of good that is not advertised enough.

http://www.wfp.org/english/

NWFP and Sadr City: The Myth and the Reality

Poverty does not cause radicalism.
Reading the news on Pakistan and Iraq one would think just because the residents of some area have no access to basic services there is a situation ripe for anti American sentiment.
The fact that Sadr city in Baghdad does not have many basic services, that garbage is not picked up or there is no electricity, services that we take for granted, does not explain why the Mahdi army is active in Sadr city.
[ See, for example, CSM story, U.S. pushes utilities to counter Moqtada al-Sadr
US general in Baghdad says bringing basic services to Sadr City to weaken Sadr and his militia can work this time.
By Howard LaFranchi


http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0428/p01s03-wome.html]

The fact that the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan is poor and lacking almost everything does not explain why the Al Qaeda finds refuge there.
The US spent billions of dollars on aid to Pakistan. This will not destroy the Al-Qaeda in NWFP. The answer is not spending more money on …

Schlussel Lies about Siblani

The Internet is the Wild West of the news business.
There is no regulation and info. is thrown in- there is the good, the bad and the ugly.
The ugly is those who spread lies. The lies get carried by other sites and the lie, unchallenged, becomes "the truth."

Right- wing extremists, and their subgroup of Muslim radicals, have used the internet to spread lies, hate and to recruit to their hateful messages.

One of these right wingers is a Detroit local, Debbie Schlussel, who is obsessed with American Arabs and Muslims. She, like the late terrorist Meir Kahane, is concerned about their presence and their influence. Kahane saw this presence as a threat to the pro Israel monopoly on the national dialogue on Israel. They want it a monologue of pro –Israel "Amen corner" monopoly as Pat Buchanan put it. To keep the monologue going on, they make sure to vilify and demonize activist Arabs and Muslims. 911 boosted their efforts tremendously.

Below is an excerpt from Schlussel. The …

Iran's Open War

Another pro-Iran Arab militant declares “open war.”
Moqtada Sadr, from Iran, declared open war unless the pro-Iran Maliki government of Iraq ends its assault on his rag tag army of thugs and illiterates, a group of thugs specialized in burning Sunni mosques, and torturing and killing innocent Sunnis .
Another Iranian creation in Lebanon, months before, declared “open war all over the world” after the high profile Hizbullah leader Imad Moghnieh was assassinated in Damascus.
The political language is interesting- “open war”-
Both are empty threats unless the Mullahs in Tehran deem the timing right.
Iran is not ready now for an open confrontation with the US.

Pope Benedict and the War on Terror

According to the Wall Street Journal, at the UN Pope Benedict “told diplomats that a lack of respect and economic fairness for all nations will provoke violence.”
Another headline in the paper on the Pope visit reads: “Benedict, in New York, warns on poverty”
This is what the Pope does best- speak out against poverty and violations of human dignity. He can be a powerful voice for the underprivileged- just like John Paul II was.
The comments and actions of Pope Benedicts about Islam have been very harmful to the cause of fighting extremism. His infamous quote on Islam and the high profile baptism of a Muslim Italian only emboldens the extremists who are preaching that there is a Crusade against Islam. The Pope’s actions and words have been very helpful to the extremists.
The Dalai Lama, another religious figure of international stature, on a visit to Ann Arbor said that people should seek contentment and peace.
These are messages that need to be said and heard- over and over.
The Pope can do…

The PLOing of the Hizbullah

Hizbullah is on the path of the PLO.
The PLO clashed with the Jordanian government and the Lebanese government for exactly the same things that Hizbullah is irresponsibly doing now.
Hizbullah is claiming the right to make decisions of war, usurping the state’s monopoly on violence, and standing in the way of enforcement of law and order.
They are the same transgressions on the State that the PLO stood accused of in Jordan and in Lebanon. In both countries it ended real ugly.
Syria under Hafiz Assad made sure not to fall in the same situation by putting onerous restrictions on the different Palestinian factions it hosted/captured. It is undreamt of that any group would even dare do in Syria what the PLO did in Jordan and Lebanon and what the Hizbullah is doing now in Lebanon.
The Hizbullah took Lebanon to war and imposed a massive armed conflict on the government and its people.
Hizbullah is stopping the government from enforcing laws, such as building codes, in its islands of lawlessness. T…

Hizbullah and Sunni-Shia Tension in Lebanon

I have always wondered how relations between the Shia and Sunnis of Lebanon have deteriorated so badly.

Hizbullah is mainly to blame.

In the modern history of Lebanon, the assassination of PM Hariri stands out as the key defining event for the Sunni Lebanese community.

The Lebanese and Syrian security agencies are suspected of collusion in the assassination.
The Hizbullah was part of the security arrangement that included the Syrian and Lebanese security forces.

PM Rafic Hariri was assassinated by a huge bomb after months of being vilified by Syria’s stooges, such as foul-mouthed Suleiman Franjieh and Weam Wahab, having his security detail reduced, and after a taped tacit threat from the Syrian foreign minister Walid Moallem.

PM Hariri was not sectarian or confessional. He was an open- minded modern statesman. However, with his savage killing in Beirut, while a sizeable segment of the Lebanese people across the confessional spectrum rose in protest of this death, the Lebanese Sunnis, given …

President Nijad and the Israeli Extremists: The Death Wish Club

Yesterday Iran celebrated its “Army Day.”

In a speech President Nijad humbly declared Iran the “strongest country in the world.”
Of course the Iranians can't have a ball without the usual Death to America and Death to Israel chants.

I can’t think of anything that shocks the conscience the same way as these chants do. Only someone with a depraved heart would stoop to this level.

Israeli extremists are on the same page as President Nijad.

Mr. Ali Anunimah in "Anti-Arab Racism and Incitement in Israel" writes about the equally repugnant "Death to Arabs" chants in Israel that are becoming common in Israel. Palestine Center Information Brief No. 161 (25 March 2008)

‘One particularly disturbing indicator is that the chant "Death to the Arabs" is voiced not just by mobs of right-wingers angered by this or that Palestinian attack. Rather, "in the late 1990s and onwards," writes Amir Ben-Porat, a professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ben Gu…

Iran and Google Earth: Arab or Persian Gulf?

In President Bush’s last speech on Iraq, Iran was a big part.

In the Arab world- Iran is an item on the top of the public and government agendas.
In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, the pro-West Prime Minister of Lebanon, the courageous and honorable Mr. Fouad Saniora said that Iran should stay away from Arab issues. Well stated.

In an article in the Al Arabiya news site about the reaction of Iran to Google Earth’s naming the “Persian Gulf” the Arab Gulf ( http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/04/16/48377.html) the Iranians got mighty angry at the perceived slight and they threatened legal action since the naming of the Gulf “Arab” is nothing but a “crime” as one official stated!

This new item generated 490 responses. Almost all very harsh on Iran. Common themes:

“Iran was defeated by the Iraqis in the 8 year war.
There are Arabs on both sides of the Gulf- the residents of the Iranian side are ethnic Arabs. The Persians are historically mountain people and not sea people.
Iran is like I…

Lebanon: Building codes and the Rule of Law

An item in today’s Lebanese al Akhbar caught my attention. http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/70439.

The Lebanese security forces are having trouble enforcing building codes- basically they are increasingly unable too. The writer, Reema Hoteit, states that this difficulty is especially acute in the Southern suburbs of Beirut, an area dominated by the Shia Islamist group Hizbullah.

Human beings everywhere need government. A building code means safety. On many occasions, the police enforcing building codes are faced by angry mobs that include children and women.
In the future if these structures fall on the occupants the outcry will be why the government is not doing its job. PM Fouad Saniora would be blamed!

It’s appalling that the safety of human beings is not being paid enough attention too. The Beirut suburbs are dominated by the Hizbullah. Hizbullah claims to be the defender and protector of the Lebanese Shia. However, their lack of interest in this safety issue is deeply troubling. You …

Misery in Lebanon: The Palestinian Refugees' 60th Year

60 years.

This is the age of the State of Israel and the age of the Palestinian refugee situation.
The birth of Israel resulted in the fleeing or forced expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. They sought refuge in neighboring countries. One of these countries is Lebanon.

There is no country of refuge that the Palestinian refugees fared worse- and are faring worse-than in Lebanon.

In the history of Palestine two massacres stand out in the international conscience- one is Deir Yassin in today’s Israel and the other is the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut.

Every other day a Lebanese politician comes out of no where to state how the "conspiracy of naturalizing the Palestinians" would only succeed on his dead body. Each politician goes out of his way to show he is more against than anyone else the solving of the "Palestinian problem" by settling the Palestinians in Lebanon.

A Shia Islamist leader, not too long ago, said that the conspiracy is to remove the Le…

President Bush: Unequivocal on Iran and Iraq

It is too tempting to focus on the Iraq war as a mistake as Senator Obama likes to do.
The war happened.

The aftermath of the war is a reality that imposes itself on the US and the world.
President Bush’s Iraq speech summarized the reality that the world faces in Iraq, succinctly and clearly, in ways better than any of three candidates so far have.

The quotes below are from President Bush’s speech quoted in The New York Times.

“Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al Qaeda and Iran”

“If we fail there, Al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States, our friends and our allies,” “Iran would work to fill the vacuum in Iraq, and our failure would embolden its radical leaders and fuel their ambitions to dominate the region.”
President Bush is right on point.

If the US leaves Iraq, Al Qaeda would claim credit for “liberating Iraq,” just like the…

Baghdad Five Years After: The Failure of Vendetta Governance

Today is the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

Baghdad is near and dear to all Arabs and Muslims. It was the capital of the Muslim world for many years. It is the capital of the glorious Abbasids who encouraged arts and learning. It is the home of Imam Abu Hanifa al Nauman, a great Muslim scholar, whose shrine is in the town of Al- Azamiyeh.

The fall of Baghdad was a traumatic experience for Arabs and Muslims.

Yet- Many hoped that the fall of Baghdad is a new beginning for freedom in the Arab world from police states that have suffocated all creativity. The hope was that an entrenched dictatorship would be be replaced by an enlightened unity government and a representative government that is guided by the American values that are universal. The hope was that the new government of Iraq would bring rule of law, economic and political freedom, and fight corruption.

Also, it was hoped that the oil riches would be spent to modernize Iraq instead of this wealth being squandered on milit…

Arab American Gets Navy Medal of Honor

A question is often asked: Are Arab Americans doing enough for their country?
We are.
Today, the Navy held a meeting with community activists and leaders in the Lebanese Heritage Club in Dearborn to raise awareness of the Navy, to listen to community concerns and to talk about the upcoming navy Seal Fitness Challenge scheduled in Dearborn on May 10, 2008.
(To register for the Fitness event visit http://www.sealfitnesscahllenge.com/)

Today also was Petty Officer Mike Monsoor, an Arab American, posthumous Medal of Honor Ceremony at the White House. This medal was given to petty officer Monsoor who, while serving in Iraq, sacrificed his life to save his teammates.

There are many other Arab and Muslims American serving honorably in the US armed forces such as Ms Heather K. Charara, NCI (SW), Navy Representative in Charge, Westland, MI Recruiting Station.

Excerpts from the Navy Press release on the Medal of Honor Ceremony:

“Mike Monsoor exemplified the SEAL ethos,” said Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, t…

Alqaeda, Iran: Why Sen. McCain is Right?

Presidential candidate McCain singled out Iran as sending al Qaeda terrorists to Iraq. Senator McCain was criticized for confusing the Shia terrorists with the Sunni Al Qaeda terrorists.

Given the verbal attacks of the Al Qaeda on the Iran, it was argued that Iran does not tolerate al Qaeda- let alone harbor it and send its terrorist to Iraq!

Mr. Abdel Rahman Al Rashid’s article in the Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper titled "Al Qaeda, Iran and Israel: What Relationship?” reads that despite the verbal attacks of Al Qaeda on Israel and Iran, the organization never attacked either country or their interests. http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/NewsPapers/2008/4/319595.htm.

The Al Qaeda attacked US and Saudi interests, but not Iranian or Israeli ones. Mr. Al Rashed writes that Saad Osama Bin Laden and Sayf Al Adl, another A Qaeda figure, are in Iran, where they sought refuge from the American onslaught on Afghanistan. These two Iran-based Al Qaeda terrorists, he states, plotted for terrorist …

An Iranian in Umayyid Damascus Insults the Arabs

---And does not get kicked all the way to Tehran.

Mr. Rajih Al Khouri, in the Lebanese Daily An Nahar of April 5, 2008, wrote about the Iranian awful arrogant attitude concerning the UAE islands occupied by Iran. An attitude expressed at the Damascus “Arab Summit” by the Mullah regime foreign minister.
http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/NewsPapers/2008/4/318740.htm

The three UAE islands occupied by Iran have always been a permanent item on the agenda of Arab summit meetings. The Arab countries always advocated a peaceful end to this occupation. The Arabs proposed resorting to internationally accepted channels to resolve the matter.
Iran, under the Shah and under the Mullahs, has flatly refused any sort of process to deal with the issue of the islands.

These islands were occupied in 1971 by the modestly titled Shah, whose name in Persian translates into English as King of Kings, not just the lowly title of “King”.

It’s remarkable that Iran, a non- Arab country that fought Iraq for eight years in …

Fitna, Dutch Jews and Dutch Muslims

Muslims increasingly find themselves between two groups of extremists. One group is the Muslims extremists who allege that the Muslims are being targeted by a Crusade that the Muslims extremists by their violence are attempting to repel. The other groups includes non-Muslims who vilify all Muslims and declare the religion guilty for the deeds of a tiny percentage of the world's Muslims.

Added to this mix is the non-Muslim misguided. Those misguided take real issues, such as freedom of speech, and test its limits on Muslims. This is done at a time when the global situation is so tense and there is no need to add more tension. They ridicule and attack the Muslim religion in the name of freedom to insult. Those misguided, unwittingly, end up helping the extremists by providing material to their case that the West is out to "destroy Islam." While the misguided define their works as an issue of freedom, the extremists use these works as propaganda to recruit for the war agains…

Rabbi Yoffie Exposes and Confronts America's Christian Extremists

I read with interest the press release issued by the Union for Reform Judaism regarding the comments of their President Rabbi Eric Yoffie on April 2, 2008. Reasonable people say reasonable things and make peace possible.
See below the press release. No need for comment from me.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie confronts extremist Christian Zionist: Reform Jews should not engage in alliances with Hagee’s Christians United for Israel
CINCINNATI, OH – April 2, 2008 –The president of the Union for Reform Judaism, tonight made clear his disagreement with those in the American Jewish community who have embraced Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United for Israel (CUFI), saying that the views of Pastor Hagee and many other Christian Zionists “may advance their theology but they do so at the expense of Israel’s security and well-being.”
Rabbi Eric Yoffie , who over the past two years made headlines when he spoke at the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and at the convention of the Islamic Society of No…

Mr. Shamoun Comes to Washington (and Michigan)

Mr. Dori Shamoun, the leader of the Christian political group Hizb alAhrar, the National Liberal Party, is on a visit to the US. Before him was the visit of another Lebanese Christian leader, Dr. Samir Geagea.
Both of them are members of the 14th March Movement, a Lebanese movement that is standing in the face of the Syro-Iranian killing machine and its hegemonic designs.
Both Dr. Samir Geagea and Mr. Dori Shamoun are true voices of the Lebanese Christian community that the US should receive well and listen to as the true speakers in the names of the Christians of Lebanon. They have been consistent in their embrace of a national pro-Western outlook, Lebanese national unity, dialogue, and refusal to be drawn into a civil war or other wars in service of other countries.
They are very different from the post- Lebanon- return- from- exile Aoun, the new but unimproved MP Michel Aoun. The old Michel Aoun is a man who visited the US numerous times before his Syrian engineered and approved retur…

Mr. Perry's Freedom and NIMBY's New Low

NIMBY ‘s Injustice

The Detroit Free Press's April 2nd, 2008 headline on the ex-teacher Perry case is cause for a new level of concern over the NIMBY phenomenon.

Mr. Perry, a school teacher, is accused of sexually abusing young students. Mr. Perry was tried before and convicted. New evidence resulted in a second trial. Eleven of the jurors voted to acquit. One juror held out.
This juror held out for personal reasons.
This juror lives 200 feet from Mr. Perry’s house and walks his dog by Mr. Perry’s house. This juror did not want Mr. Perry in his back yard. To this juror NIMBY trumped an innocent man’s freedom and reputation.
Bad social policy is sometimes pursued because of NIMBY. Inefficiencies result. But it’s a different ball game when NIMBY results in sacrificing an innocent person’s lifetime freedom.
That juror violated the trust the Constitution and society put in him to evaluate the facts and make a decision. There should be a way to hold this juror accountable and to set an exampl…