Thursday, August 31, 2006

PR: Situation in Gaza Deteriorates

Gaza – A view from the inside
(Jerusalem – August 31, 2006) – "The reality in which we are living in Gaza can only be described as miserable and wretched." (Dr. G. Hamad – PA Government spokesman quoted from the Al Ayyam Newspaper – August 29 2006)

When you walk in the streets, you find garbage is everywhere. Many streets are closed because of the numerous mourning tents in memoriam of the dead. PNA employees are not getting their salaries. Gunmen are spread in the streets. The electricity is often cut off and the water is not clean. Above all, the Israeli Army is still making incursions into Gaza, killing and injuring the people and demolishing the houses in many areas. This is the situation in the Gaza Strip these days.

On August 30, there has been another incursion and it is directed at the civilians in Shejaeye, where ten Palestinians were killed and where civilians and the journalists were also targeted. All of this is happening amid the deafening silence of the international community and during the visit of Mr. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General. (Al Quds Newspaper, August 31 2006)

These incursions are causing many severe injuries among the people especially the young men. Many areas like Maghazy, Toffah, Zaytoun, Beit Hanoun and recently Shejaeya have faced Israeli assaults and hundreds of injuries have been the result. During the last two months, these military operations have left catastrophes to many Palestinian families.

After every Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, destruction spreads. Trees are rooted out. Roads are destroyed. Israeli bulldozers smash everything. Moreover, people lose parts of their bodies and sometimes they lose their lives. Last month, tens of young men lost their arms and legs.

Dr. Bandalay El Sayegh, the Director of Caritas Jerusalem's Gaza Medical Center said, "The wounds are mostly in the reproductive organs and the lower parts of the body."
He added, "The medical care items we have stored for emergencies are close to being depleted. This is because of the huge number of wounded following the incursions."

More than 200 Palestinians were killed and hundreds were wounded during the last two months. The number of killed and wounded people is increasing day by day.

Hamed Hirzallah, a 20 year old from Gaza, said: "I was among some men and suddenly an Israeli shell targeted us. I don’t know from where it came!" Hamed lost one of his legs and the other leg was severely injured. His left hand is now broken and he has many wounds in his body. He now needs a prosthetic for his leg and walkers.

Mohamed Farahat, a volunteer for Caritas, said, "The doctor and I walk hundreds of meters in order to reach the injured. It is a duty, especially so now because so many injured are not receiving proper medical treatment." Not only is the Caritas team providing primary medical treatment, they are also following up on injured people on an ongoing basis.

Arafat Adel Bolbol, 16 years old, has been injured in both of his thighs. His right leg was amputated. This happened after he was targeted by the Israeli army in Toffah in Gaza last month. Arafat now needs a prosthetic for his leg.

The Caritas Medical team walks to the houses of the injured. They walk through narrow streets smelling burnt rubbish. The atmosphere is not healthy even for the people who are uninjured. When the Caritas Medical team reaches the injured, often there is no electricity, which is important for every day life.

Zeyad, Mohamed and Mahmoud Karam are brothers all living together in one house. All of them are injured. Zeyad has a muscle torn in his right knee and injuries in all over his body. Mohamed has an injury in his stomach and another in his foot. The youngest brother, Mahmoud, has his left hand broken.

Another house, another amputee. Emad Marzouq is 37 years old and he lost both his legs. He has injuries in his back, thighs and his right armpit. He needs a wheelchair in order to get out of bed.

Yousef Abu Shoaib, 24 years old, is another double amputee and his back is also severely burned. He was also injured during Toffah incursion in the 27th July, 2006. Yousef said, "I feel real pain in my back during the night when I want to sleep." He needs a medical bed and a wheelchair.

These are all cases that the Caritas Medical team is following up on. These people have been seriously injured and they need ongoing care. The Caritas Medical team is working to let them know that they are not forgotten.

Talking about some of the needs in Gaza, Dr. El Sayegh said: "We in Caritas want wheelchairs, medical beds and many basic medical materials in order to cover this amount of injuries in Gaza." The Caritas Jerusalem Program Manager for Health, Mr. Jameel Khoury said: "We are in daily contact with our medical team in Gaza and are working to respond immediately to all of their requests on the ground. We certainly wish to thank our partners and those caring individuals who have given support at this time. Thank you all for your help."

For more information, please contact:
Communications Officer
Caritas Jerusalem
P O Box 20894
Jerusalem Israel 97200
Phone: 972 2 628 7574
Fax: 972 2 628 8421

Op-Ed: The War of Jesus and Allah, By Neal AbuNab

The War of Jesus and Allah
By Neal AbuNab

Contributions are welcome Please email: Contact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirement of editors.Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48121, USA All Rights reserved 2006

Every group commemorates the anniversary of September 11th with a notion reflecting its own angle of the world. Staunch Republicans are using the occasion to remind the world of the importance of waging war. Democrats point out the incompetence of Republicans in waging the wrong war in Iraq. Believers in Armageddon and the concept of the End Times paint a scenario of a fatalistic escalation of hostilities with Islam leading up to the end of this world.

A thoughtful friend of mine, also a devout Christian, offered his frank view of 9/11. He said to me: “as long as your God is not my God we will be at war.”

Naively, I’ve always thought that God is the God and that all of humanity must’ve come to this realization, which some of us take for granted, a long time ago. Apparently not. My friend who holds an advanced University degree said that his God was Jesus while my God was Allah. I tried to explain to him that Allah is not a name of a God and that Arab Christians also worship Allah. He did not believe it. In his view, the war on terrorism was a war to decide whose God is right, once and for all. Is it Jesus or is it Allah?

President Bush has defined the enemy we’re fighting as “Islamo-fascists” and his rhetoric seems to be directed to the Christian base that my friend belongs to. They want to hear that this war is between Jesus and Allah. Donald Rumsfeld gave a long speech this week and accused his critics that they were “morally confused.” He argued that the rise of fascism in Islam is just like the rise of Nazism in Germany in the late thirties. Many far right commentators have been pressing this argument for years but it seems like the administration is now ready to embrace it.

In the past, the enemy was defined as an isolated group of fanatics that did not represent Islam. But five years later this group seems to have swelled up and expanded instead of what people were led to believe this war would do, which is to make fanatics shrink and die. The administration has finally warmed up to broadening the definition so that Iran can fit neatly as the “head of the snake” of Islamo-fascism. The administration already knows that it has missed the boat on initiating any military action against Iran. This option is off the table and Iran has already called the bluff, but the administration is currently waging an election campaign and making its own base of voters believe that it still has a military option.

The Bush administration is desperate and wants to win the elections in November at almost any cost. The reality is that people are tired of war and not just in this country but all over the Middle East. The Democrats are poised to regain control of the US Congress which will turn Bush into a lame duck President for his remaining two years in office. The Democrats will end the war in Iraq in a hurry and will begin negotiations with the so-called “Islamo-fascists” who truly control the new rising Middle East.

The label itself is pure hate-speech because it offends every self-respecting Muslim on this earth. Some times I wonder about the actions of President Bush and how clueless he sounds when he talks about the Middle East. The more they repeat Islamo-fascism the bigger this group will grow. It is called the radicalization of Islam and they are causing it. There is no Islamo-Liberal or Islamo-Moderate. Muslims have too long and too rich of a history to accept the ignorant labels of others, especially when others are clueless about Islam. The administration is developing a new product under this brand name, and packaging it basically for domestic consumption. There are no adherents or followers of Islamo-fascism out there in the real world that exists beyond the bubble of the Rose Garden.

The war started out against the Afghani Taliban regime and less than 2,000 Arab fighters from Al-Qaida. Five years later, the enemy expanded from Afghanistan to Iraq to Palestine to Lebanon to Iran to Syria to Sudan to Somalia and reached South American shores in Venezuela and Bolivia. Is Hugo Chavez an Islamo-fascist? The last time I checked he was still a Christian.

The truth of the matter is that this President is slowly uniting the entire world against America. An objective measurement of the success of this war should be in the form of quantifying the enemy. Five years ago it used to be 15 million people who lived in Afghanistan. Today, America’s Muslim enemies alone number 200 million people if we apply the lowest estimate, taking into account only the countries that the Bush administration had declared as “terrorist.”

Bush often cites the ultimate objective of Osama Bin Laden as creating a super Islamic state from Morocco to Indonesia. In historic terms no one has been able to unite all Arabs or Muslims except two men in the last fourteen centuries; the prophet Muhammad and Saladin. Iran’s President, Ahmadinejad, with all his fiery speeches can only ignite a fraction of the passion that President Bush inflames when he speaks. But it is anti-America passion that he inflames. Bush has an uncanny way of insulting people of the Middle East, Muslims and almost every person who does not agree with him. He has united Arabs and Muslims more than any leader in modern history.

Unintentionally, President Bush is doing what Bin Laden could only dream about. He has united the sentiments of Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. He has served the cause of Islam very well. He will go down in the history books as the Chief Islamo-fascist Jihadist of the 21st century. He will wear his own label till the end of time.

Jesus and Allah called for peaceful means to resolve differences. Maybe that’s something all humanity can agree on instead of creating more labels to justify more killing of God’s creatures.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”- available on An Arab American who advocates for a balanced US policy in the Middle East. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at:


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NEWS: Jordanian Oudist featured in Online Arab TV

Master Oudist featured on Arab TV

Sakher Hattar is the guest on the online TV program "30 Minutes" hosted by journalist Ray Hanania. Hattar, who is from Fuheis, Jordan, was the featured entertainer at a performace in Bridgeview on August 29.

Hattar discussed his history in performing the oud and also history about the Arab instrument that was first introduced to the Middle East 3000 years BC.

The Hattar interview is available only online at "30 Minutes" is a weekly online Internet VODCast (video on demand broadcast). Selected interviews are also broadcast on Comcast Cable TV in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Tinley Park, the Palos community and 70Southwest Suburban communities every Friday night on Channel 19 at 8:30 PM. The September show features an interview with former Palos Heights Mayor Dean Koldenhoven who spoke out against anti-Muslim bias in the 2000 Palos Heights mosque controversy.


NEWS: Musical ensembles perform in Chicago

Arab musicians perform for Southwest community
By Arab American Media Services
(Permission granted to republish)

More than 200 people attended the special musical performance hosted by the Southwest Arab American Coalition (SWAC) in Bridgeview August 29.

The evening featured poetry and a wide range of Arabian music that included a special performance by famed Jordanian Oud master Sakher Hattar.

Hattar, who is visiting the United States from his hometown in Fuheis, was accompanied by Chicagoland master violinist Anton Shamoun. Together, their music inspired the attendees to rededicate themselves to advancing the Arab cause and strengthening Arab culture.

“This was a beautiful event,” said Fahed Sweilem, the owner of Heritage Renaissance Enterprises which specializes in importing cultural items from the Middle East to the United States. Their web site is

Sweilem provided the artwork and cultural display items that decorated the performance stage at the Bridgeview Community Center where the show and SWAC events are held every month, usually on the last Tuesday in the evening.

Co-hosts of the evening included The Future News Publisher Mansour Tadros and The Horizon Newspaper Publisher Amani Ghouleh. The sound system was provided by Ehab Rafati.

The evening was filled with entertainers including poetry by Jordanian activist Mahmoud Zeyudi and award winning poet Munira Mesbach Jalfi. Jalfi’s words on Lebanon and the fight of the Lebanese people against the terrorism and violence by Israel inspired the audience to cheers and standing ovations.

A highlight of the evening was the performance by the Tagareed Ensemble that included singer Mary Hazboun, Amjad Hamdan, Shamoun and percussionists Rayan Mayer and Saed Ben Haki.

The Tagareed Ensemble features members of all three Middle East religions, Muslim, Christian and Jew. They performed earlier in the week at the Society of Professional Journalists Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, arranged by the National Arab American Journalists Association which featured a booth and participated in panel discussions there.

Hazboun, who family recently immigrated to the Chicago area from Bethlehem, Palestine, said she was very moved by the audience response and the turnout at the evening event.

“We sing to give strength to our community and our people,” Hazboun said after the show. Tagareed in Arabic means “sound of the singing bird.” SWAC has asked Shamoun and Tagareed to perform at another musical festival to be organized later this year or early next year.

The evening would not have been possible without the hard work of Ibtesam Asfour, president of the Lady’s Guild at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, the largest congregation of Arab American Christians in the Chicago area and located in Cicero, Illinois.

Asfour served as the evening emcee introducing all the poets, performers and attendees.

“This is so important and maybe tonight marks a new beginning when we can bring our community together to celebrate our heritage and our rich culture,” Asfour said.

Also attending the event was North Park College Professor Rev. Donald Wagner. Wagner also said he was very impressed with the turnout and the musical performance and compared Hazboun to a “modernday Fairuz.”

“The Tagareed Ensemble was tremendous and very inspiring, as were all of the performers,” Wagner said. “We need more of this.”

Hattar established the al-Fuheis Troupe for Heritage Revival in Jordan in 1982 and he has been performing his Oud renditions and selections at festivals around the world.

Also attending was Chicago Oud master George Jubran who spent much time sharing experiences with Hattar. Jubran is a favorite of the Arab American community and a longtime performer at local and regional Arab American celebrations and haflis.

SWAC organizer Ray Hanania, who manages the monthly meetings and movies, said that the events have helped to set a new tone both of moderation and in activism for Chicagoland Arab Americans.

“For too long, we’ve been dragged from one political agenda to another. Finally, we have a steady and reliable resource where we can showcase our Arab American heritage representing not only Christians and Muslims, but also the wide variety of Arabs including Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Egyptians,” said Hanania, who is the author of the recent book defining the history of Arab settlement in the Chicago area, “Arabs of Chicagoland.”

SWAC is hosting its next meeting on Tuesday night, Sept. 26. Tentatively, the evening will feature a discussion led by mainstream American politicians on the need for Arab Americans to become more active in Chicagoland Republican and Democrtatic politics.

More information on SWAC and future meetings and movies can be obtained by visiting


Monday, August 28, 2006

Op-Ed: Holding BUsh's feet to the fire, By Ray Hanania

American Journalists fail to hold Bush feet to fire
By Ray Hanania

At the annual convention of the Society of Professional Journalists this past week in Chicago, the issue of how to describe extremist elements in the Arab and Muslim World surfaced.

It always does at mainstream American journalism confab.

Trying to tell American journalists to not put an ethnic or religious face on extremism and terrorism has been as futile as is demanding that mainstream American Opinion Page editors give more space to Arabs and Muslims to balance off the precipice in favor of pro-Israel scribes.

Yet many mainstream American journalists seem conflicted about the obvious ethical lapses of their colleagues when it comes to coverage of the Middle East and terrorism.

So I wasn’t surprised when a mainstream American journalists in the audience at a panel discussion on covering the Arab and Muslim American community asked me what they should do when someone like President Bush uses the term “Islamo-Fascists.”

Bush certainly must be quoted, and many journalists quickly picked up on his term “Islamo-Fascists” when he spoke to reporter recently and used the term to refer to the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.

There are several problems with the term, I and others on the panel pointed out.

First, the tough one. When the president says something, it is quotable.

However, the lapse is not in the quoting of the president as every mainstream American journalists did do that day, but in the failure to hold the President’s feet to the fire when using such ridiculous terms which speak to the growing emotional hysteria in America but not to the reasoned analysis of the Middle East conflict.

Not one reporter pressed President Bush to explain exactly what he meant or why he picked the term “Islamo-Fascists” to describe a stubborn militia that had fought valiantly and with some success against Israel, which has the fourth strongest army in the entire World.

Why was Bush given a pass? And why did journalists just quote him without challenge?

“When President Bush used terms like “nuke-elar” and “subliminable” in past press conferences, two words that are non-existent that still found themselves dished up to the nation by the president himself at press conferences, did mainstream American journalists simply enter the word mutations into their daily reporting without question?” I asked in response.

The point I made as a representative at the SPJ Convention on behalf of the National Arab American Journalists Association is that when even a president says something stupid, he should be called on the carpet to explain what he means and why he said what he said.

But it seems that when the topic is the Middle East, the Arab World, terrorism and Muslims, any negative term is embraced almost without question by most mainstream American journalists because it is in fact negative.

The professional journalism approach to coverage of the Middle East, Arab and Muslim World and even the so-called “War on Terrorism” has been anything but professional.

Studies have shown that the majority of the bias exists not just in daily reporting but on the Op-Ed pages of American newspapers which drive American public opinion.

Newspaper editors routinely publish anything even incoherent trash if it advocates on behalf of Israel, but excludes and outright bans columns written by Arabs and Muslims that exposes instances when Israel’s government’s perpetrates war crimes, uses torture, or is involved in what Arab critics charge is "state-terrorism."

It almost seems that the majority of journalists intentionally allow negative out-of-place rhetoric about Arabs and Muslims to be used simply because they are sensational and especially because they are negative.

Why didn’t one reporter stop and say, “Mr. President? What do you mean by Islamo-Fascists?”

Of course, that might expose the president’s obvious ignorance about the Middle East, an ignorance he has shown from the very day he took office and without any knowledge or understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict decided to remove resolving it from his list of priorities.

That single act of turning his back on the Middle East conflict and abandoning the process that had been meticulously established by nearly every past presidential predecessor more than anything opened the door to extremists around the world to ramp up their terrorism and expose the United States and the World to increased politically-driven violence.

If the Middle East is in an utter shambles, racked by terrorism and if world security is at its lowest the victim of ceaseless violence, the blame falls on the shoulders of President Bush.

But the failure to hold President Bush accountable for his failings falls on the shoulders of the mainstream American news media which continues to prefer skewered and hatefully anti-Arab and anti-Muslim coverage to the obvious truth.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning journalist, author and co-founded of the National Arab American Journalists Association. He can be reached at

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Op-Ed: Hezbollah of Iraq, By Neal ABuNab

Hizbullah of Iraq
By Neal AbuNab

Syndicated Opinion Columns by Aramedia Suggested contribution: $40 There is no obligation to pay if you print article.If you decide to make a contribution please request a bill and tell us the amount you would like to contribute. Please state name of publication to be billed.Request bill by email: nealabunab@todaylink.comContact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirements of editors.Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48126, USA All Rights reserved 2006

In 1799 Napoleon Ponaparte wrote to the Jews offering them the land of Palestine. His army was encamped outside Acre near Haifa. He assured the Jews that their new homeland would be protected by the French Empire. The interests of France in creating an Israel outweighed the interests of the Jews at that time. Napoleon figured to hit two birds with one stone; get rid of the Jews of Europe and plant them in a land that had a long history of resisting the domination of western Christians. He knew that the Jewish state will always be at war with Arabs and so he offered the backing of his powerful army. Napoleon’s primary aim was to inject a source of constant threat and instability in a region that never complied with western interests.

In that vein of thinking he was a visionary man well ahead of his time. His “Israel” project never got off the ground but the historic offer provided future European leaders with a new tool to combat Islam and make good use of the Jews. The idea was picked up by the British Empire in its Balfour Promise of 1917 and then later championed by the USA in 1948.

Today more than ever the interests of the Bush administration lie in destabilizing the Middle East and keeping it under the threat of war for the foreseeable future. This guarantees the flow of oil from divided Arab fiefdoms and ensures that the revenues from this oil never go to strengthen the overall political power of Muslims.

Peace in the Middle East is not good for America; that’s been the long-standing policy of President George Bush. In the nineties and in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, President Bill Clinton adopted the policy of negotiations to maintain America’s sole supremacy. Clinton was the embodiment of that policy as he met with Syria’s late Hafez Al-Assad, gave a speech to the Jordanian parliament and toured the refugee camps of Gaza. His ability to converse with almost everyone and the popularity of his personality promoted the values of America to the Muslim world. His relentless pursuit of peace in the Middle East gave birth to the idea of an “honest broker.”

The Republicans led by Bush changed the policy of negotiations to one of isolation. They argued that America can maintain its status of the “only superpower” by destroying opposition and dissention. They embarked on a project of demonizing enemies in preparation for waging war. The axis of evil was defined as North Korea, Iran and Iraq. China and Japan have experienced enough wars and destruction in the past century that they have lost the stomach for a confrontation with North Korea. So, the chances of having another war in the Korean peninsula were slim to none. This eliminated North Korea from being the first target.

The attacks of 9/11 provided Bush with a golden opportunity to begin his “isolate and destroy” approach to foreign policy. Osama Bin Laden may hate America but as a dumb strategist every action he has ever undertaken has helped Israel and the Republicans. Bush enjoyed the support of almost everyone in the world when he went to war in Afghanistan. But everyone was under the impression that this moron, Bin Laden, and his brigade of illiterate followers will all be wiped out and the world would move on. Instead, the Bush administration let him go in the mountains of Pakistan and allowed his network to live. It was a “convenient” blunder of incompetence which gave birth to the “war on terrorism”.

Iraq was attacked next because it was the weakest link in the axis of evil. Meanwhile, Sharon in Israel isolated the Palestinian Authority and then destroyed it. Iran was surrounded by US troops from both sides and it was next on the list. 2005 was the most suitable year to strike Iran but the US military feared the violent reaction of the Shi’a population in Iraq. Things in Iraq and domestically did not go Bush’s way in 2005 and his doctrine began wobbling as he talked about negotiations and diplomacy; an approach that is foreign to his isolationist personality.

In June 2005, Iran had an election and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became President. He had figured out the “isolate and destroy” approach which doesn’t need much brainpower to figure. He adopted the exact opposite approach of “connect and build”. He struck strategic alliances with most Muslim nations and re-started the nuclear energy program to confront Bush’s doctrine head on. This week Iran asked for serious negotiations regarding its nuclear program and the US refused opting to run to the United Nations to ask for a resolution to isolate Iran economically. The Palestinians asked for negotiations and Israel refused. And the Syrians asked for negotiations and the US and Israel refused.

Iraq today stands like Lebanon in 1983. Back then, Lebanon was occupied by Israeli forces and a civil war that took advantage of sectarian differences had been raging for about 7 years. Every major power in the world was fighting its own war on Lebanese soil. Hizbullah was born with a single aim to eject the Israeli occupier.

Iraq today is the focus of world powers and on its land shall be fought the battle for American supremacy. The “isolate and destroy” policy inside Iraq has been defeated. De-baathification has failed and turned into a Shi’a-based campaign to strip Sunnis of any remaining political power. The entire population of Iraq sees the American occupation as the main cause of Iraq’s insecurity. Most Iraqis blame America for fanning the flames of sectarian hatred and keeping the country unstable so that the forces of occupation remain in Iraq.

The conditions are ripe for the birth of a Hizbullah of Iraq. It is only a matter of time for the US to clash with the Shi’a of Iraq in a big way. We saw a preview of that clash a couple of years ago when Muqtada Al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia were almost wiped out by US forces. Today, the Mahdi militia has become a force of about 15,000 fighters and Al-Sadr is the most vocal Shi’a critic of the occupation. He is the most likely candidate to lead a Hizbullah of Iraq. A couple of weeks ago he mobilized almost 300,000 Iraqis who demonstrated in Baghdad waving the flag of Hizbullah and chanting against America and Israel. They will probably fight the US forces who will attempt to disarm all the militias in the upcoming months.

“My critics want to leave Iraq before the job is completed”, declared a defiant Bush in a press conference on August 21. He wants to kill the terrorists in Iraq so that “we don’t have to face them here.” This argument has become a domestic partisan issue and Bush is determined to “stay the course” and lead Republicans to another victory in this November’s elections. Rumsfeld’s beefing up of US forces in Iraq may indicate an imminent large-scale military operation in the works.

The confrontation between Iran and the Bush administration will remain military in nature till the end of Bush’s term. Israel let him down in Lebanon but it is asking for another round, and it is approaching the current cease-fire with an attitude of “run away today to fight another day.”

If Democrats win in November, the occupation of Iraq is over. Bush has one last chance to make his case and it will be in the form of an all-out military campaign in September. If he can create a perception that the US had won the battle for Baghdad the Republicans will win the elections. Otherwise, his war is over and everyone will negotiate with each other starting December of this year.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”- available on An Arab American who advocates a balanced US policy in the Middle East. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at:


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Taybeh, Palestine festival set

Taybeh Festival set Sept. 16-17

The Taybeh Municipality Council
Mr. David C. Khoury, Mayor
and all of our local organizations
Cordially invite you to the
Taybeh October Fest
September 16 & 17
11 a. m. - 7 p. m.

Come enjoy a day of fun, food, music, & Taybeh beer
Support our local products produced in Taybeh

Pray with us during Sunday Church Services starting at 9 a. m.,
at one of our three churches: Greek Orthodox, Latin & Greek Catholic

Directions to Taybeh

From Ramallah
Exit Bet El Checkpoint; follow winding road; turn right on Road 60 to Jerusalem.
Drive straight (about 10 minutes), turn left onto Road 457; Drive straight on
curvy road (about 10 minutes) until Israeli military camp; turn left into Taybeh.
From Jerusalem
Exit Jerusalem Hizma Checkpoint; turn left; drive straight on winding road (about
10 minutes) until rotary; turn right to Road 60 towards Bet El (left goes
Qalandia); Drive straight on main road (about ten minutes) turn right to Road
457 (sign says Maale Mikhmas/ Rimmonim); drive straight on curvy road (about
10 minutes) until Israeli military camp; turn left into Taybeh.
Public Transportation
From Damascus Gate take public shared taxi to Ramallah.
Take second taxi from Mujama central taxi station to Taybeh.
(Taybeh is between Ramoon and Deir Ejrear)
Taybeh- Ramallah District, Palestine

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Op-Ed: Israel's historic defeat By Neal AbuNab

Israel’s historic defeat
By Neal AbuNab

Syndicated Opinion Columns by Aramedia Suggested contribution: $40 There is no obligation to pay if you print article.If you decide to make a contribution please request a bill and tell us the amount you would like to contribute. Please state name of publication to be billed.Request bill by email: nealabunab@todaylink.comContact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirements of editors.Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48126, USA All Rights reserved 2006

This is not Israel’s first defeat and it won’t be its last one. But it will go down in the books of history as a turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Hizbullah defeated Israel the first time on May 25, 2000. The current Lebanese government was so ashamed of that victory that it banned all celebrations this year. We still celebrated in Dearborn and the Lebanese Consul in Michigan joined us at the Bint Jebail club.

The significance of today’s victory is that the war was waged on all fronts and Hizbullah and Lebanon came out ahead. On the military front where Israel has always behaved like a wild beast that can not be tamed or deterred, it was dealt a severe blow. In the air campaign it conducted more than 10,000 sorties that delivered more bombs than the combined nations of NATO in their war against Yugoslavia in 1999. Every bomb cost Israel about $40,000 while Hizbullah delivered approximately 4,000 Katyusha rockets that cost about $300 each.

It was an asymmetrical war conducted on the cheap but delivered the maximum effect for Hizbullah. Israeli missiles were striking fear in the heart of Lebanese civilians and the Katyusha’s were striking a similar fear in the hearts of Israelis. The Israeli air force with its state-of-the-art technology and weapons was neutralized by World War II-type rockets. Its precision-targeting systems killed hundreds of civilians while the antiquated technology of Katyusha’s killed only a handful of Israeli civilians.

Israelis claim that they had bombed Lebanon back to the Stone Age and that is victory. This is the logic of force that they deeply believe in. It’s like having a 20-year old beat up a 2-year old and calling it a victory. It is downright repulsive and criminal in nature. They are right when they say there is no moral equivalence with Hizbullah’s methods. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah’s leader, challenged them to fight like men and to park their F-16’s and fight on the ground. After three weeks they answered the call and began their ground invasion. They pushed thousands of troops into southern Lebanon and every time they declared victory in a town they retreated from it the following day.

Over 100 Israeli Merkava tanks which cost $40 million dollars each were destroyed. When it became clear that the ground war was producing “diminishing returns” they agreed to a cease-fire. Wars are all about expectations and objectives. Israel has the fifth strongest military force in the world equipped and financed by billions of US taxpayers’ money. Israel was not only expected to crush Hizbullah easily but also to make an example of it in order to build a new Middle East that dares not question the right of Israel to exist.

Israel declared war on Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah and to release its two captured soldiers. It failed in achieving both objectives. The US had taken it for granted that Israel would crush Hizbullah and so it began working on a UN Resolution that provided International legitimacy to Israel’s aggression. It assured its allies that Hizbullah had no chance in surviving the assault and that the resolution should just reflect the facts on the ground. Henry Kissinger is famous for saying that “war is just another instrument of diplomacy.” He gained notoriety when he negotiated with the Vietnamese while bombing them into submission.

And so the US in the person of its top diplomat, Condy Rice, focused its diplomacy to reflect the expected defeat of Hizbullah; a fait accompli in the eyes of the administration. She went to Beirut to check on the pulse of Hizbullah. It was still beating. French officials went to Beirut to check for themselves and they found the pulse to be very strong. They also found that 90% of the Lebanese people had become united behind Hizbullah. And by the fourth week all the Arab countries lined up behind Hizbullah and an Arab League delegation went to New York to negotiate.

This was the first time Arabs united on one position and they all stuck to it. It was truly a historic moment and it only came about because of Hizbullah’s inspired resolve to defend Lebanon. The US stalled while Israel promised victory in a matter of days. In 1982, it marched to the Litani River in 3 hours. After 4 weeks of fighting it was still stuck in Bint Jebail, barely 5 Km north of the border. Then, last Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, gave an all-out ground invasion order pushing 30,000 soldiers into Lebanon. They met with resistance they had never seen before.

Hizbullah fighters began hunting Israeli tanks and bulldozers like a spider that invites flies to its deadly web. Israeli soldiers were reminded of the Lebanon “mud” they had left six years ago. A Hizbullah fighter talked to a CNN reporter after the war ended and described how one Israeli soldier was injured in the middle of one of these small border towns. His buddies would not come back for him and he laid there on the ground crying and begging Hizbullah fighters not to shoot him. They did not. But he died later of his wounds because Israeli soldiers waited too long before they came back to get him.

The myth of the Israeli soldier was shattered forever. It was replaced by a new reality on the ground. A reality that will be legendized and will become the new myth; that Hizbullah can not be defeated. Olmert realized this fact in less than 24 hours after giving his orders. On Thursday evening Israel declared that it was ready to accept a UN Resolution that declared a cease-fire. On Friday, UN Secretary General Kufi Anan, said: “war is the utter failure of diplomacy.” Then, they passed UN Resolution 1701 calling for the cessation of hostilities between the two parties.

Lebanese civilians were the greatest losers in this war. But their pain did not move the entire world to put a stop to the Israeli attack. It was Hizbullah’s fighters who proved that a military solution was impossible that put an end to the battle. Hizbullah proved that Israel can destroy the entire country of Lebanon and turn it into rubble but it can not defeat its fighting spirit. Nasrallah proclaimed that the Arabs had scored a “strategic historical victory against Israel.” On Monday night, fireworks lit up the skies of Beirut in celebration and a genuine sentiment of deep pride was evident on the faces of all Arabs. It was the first time in history that Israel was defeated militarily and diplomatically.

As for the Lebanese civilians Hizbullah began rebuilding their destroyed homes the next day. Many Lebanese investors lost their life savings in this war. This is a valuable lesson for them that unless their economic accomplishments are insured by political gains their efforts will always be at risk. It is the lesson that they refuse to learn even here in Dearborn. We’ve been telling them for years that all their money has no value and all their beautiful new buildings on Warren Avenue have no value unless city hall pays attention to their causes. Instead of having the mayor of Dearborn cut ribbons for new Arab businesses let’s see him march with us in our protests. He managed, as always, to keep his distance from the Arab pain. And so did every city councilman.

Arab money has no value without local politicians fighting to protect it by making our views mainstream to the American people. Unfortunately, this war has proved that most of our elected representatives are too afraid to champion Arab causes. The blind love for Israel is dragging America to hell and elected politicians must have the courage to face that reality.

This is the first time Arab pain has emerged triumphant. A handful of courageous politicians felt our pain and championed resolutions demanding an immediate cease-fire. But one of these politicians stands tall in our community. He was at every protest and he showed a deep commitment to social justice. He is Gary Woronchak, our elected commissioner in Wayne County. He proved to be a true friend of the Arab American community.

Our business leaders who are sobbing for their lost money must learn how to reward the politicians who stand with us and how to punish those who stood on the sidelines. President Bush has taught us that “you’re either with us or against us” and our business leaders must learn this fact if they hope to protect their investments in the future.

Hizbullah has released the Arab spirit and the genie is out of the bottle. The winds of liberty and freedom are blowing very hard in the Middle East and they are led by the two flags of Hizbullah and Hamas. America can choose to stand on the side of freedom or stay with the tyranny of Israel and the Kings of Arabia. The choice is simple and it will become clearer with every passing day.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”- available on An Arab American who advocates a balanced US policy in the Middle East. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at:


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Op-Ed: America loses right to lead Middle East peace efforts

Time for US to step aside in Middle East peace drive
By Ray Hanania

If the war between Israel and Lebanon has shown us anything, it is that the United States no longer can lay claim to the mantel of neutral arbitrator in helping to resolve the Middle East conflicts.

In fact, in the Lebanese conflict and the war in Iraq, the United States has been the aggressor, violating international laws and fundamental moral principles that have guided most past American administrations.

Factually, everyone agrees that the war in Lebanon in a large part continues to rage beyond a negotiated cease fire for more than a month because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice intentionally avoided achieving a cease fire to help Israel, which has risen from the longstanding category of “American ally” to “partner in conflict.”

Worse, while the focus on the Lebanon-Israel war has been on the allegations that Hezbollah, the resistance militia that was founded after Israel illegally invaded and occupied Lebanon in 1982 not before, has been supplied by Iran and Syria, the mis-focus has been the role the United States has played in supplying Israel with weapons of mass destruction.

It’s not Israeli fighter jets that are strafing civilian neighborhoods in Lebanon’s cities or even in the still-Israeli occupied Gaza Strip. It is American made fighter jets. American made missiles. American made weapons of mass destruction that are causing the death of hundreds of civilians in Lebanon, Palestine and in Iraq.

Rice and President Bush have played a clear role in helping to fuel rather than end the conflicts, primarily to pander to the emotions of an American public. The fact that a majority of Americans have no come to realize that the United States is losing not winning the war in Iraq, if you interpret the polls correctly, exposes the reasons why the Bush administration is exploiting rather than tempering these conflicts.

This Fall, the Republican Party that Bush represents, stands to loose many seats in the Congress, in part because of the backlash against the Iraq war. There is a growing and justified public understanding that the Bush response to the terrorism threat has not made American safer but rather has exposed Americans to greater harm not just internationally but also in the homeland.

The Republicans control the Congress and therefore controls jobs, contracts and dominate the political process.

If they loose control, the Republicans and Bush will see a quick reversal in America’s Republican-led policies not just foreign but also in the United States.

Worse, if the political trend against the Republicans continues, the GOP (Grand Old Party as it is called) will also insure the loss of the White House two years from now. At that time, it seems clear that U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, will be the Democratic candidate.

And while Senator Clinton has waffled on the Middle East issues, she has done so to navigate through the complexities of Americans’ changing mood.

If she is elected President, certainly, the United States may be qualified to restore its efforts to be a neutral arbiter in the conflicts, which in turn would help restore American successes in combating terrorism and making Americans safe.

Until then, the Middle East is left leaderless in the field of peace negotiations and that is not a good situation for anyone in the United States, in the West or in the Middle East.

In contrast, if the European Union, which has resisted manipulation by both the Bush administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, can link up with the Arab League and other less controlled world nations, maybe they can better fashion a compromise to address the reasons why Hezbollah attacked Israel’s military border patrols, and achieve a lasting peace on the Lebanon-Israel border.

And, such an effort could reassemble the scattered pieces of the failed Oslo Peace accords and pressure Israel to make real concessions rather than the shallow, face-saving gestures it offered to the late President Arafat at Camp David.

Maybe they might even be pushed to put those offers in writing so as not to play the typical bait and switch tactic characteristic of American and Israeli foreign policies.

Such a new alliance of world powers could change the course set by Bush when he intentionally stepped back from Middle East peace efforts – before Sept. 11 -- to allow the Israeli military to rampage throughout the region and in Palestine.

Too many innocent people have died on all sides because of Bush’s failed policies and because of the failure of the American Congress to pursue genuine peace and justice rather than partisan politics to feed their hunger for funding, votes and domestic power.

(Ray Hanania is the former national president of the Palestinian American Congress and an award winning columnist and author. He can be reached at


Friday, August 11, 2006

Six semiFinalists chosen for 2006 Independent Film Competition


Detroit, MI - Six semi-finalist film shorts were selected last week for the 2006 Independent Film Competition sponsored by IFC and Comcast. The semi-finalists were selected by a panel of judges including representatives from Comcast, Detroit's "Movie Show Plus" host Greg Russell and other local celebrity judges. The finalists are: Melissa Bush (Grand Rapids), Gary Bosek (Shelby Township), Charles Dewandeler (Clinton Township), Natasha Beste (Oxford), Keith Jeffries (Ann Arbor) and Jason Fishell (Stanton).

The six short films selected will be shown to the public each week, at the Comcast Film Series starting Saturday, July 22 and continuing through August 26, at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.

Now through August 26, Independent Film Channel (IFC) viewers across the nation will be able to log on to Media Lab/Detroit ( and vote for their favorite short film finalist from the 2006 Independent Film Competition, presented by Comcast.

The top filmmaker as selected nationally by IFC viewers will receive a Digital Camera and have their film featured on The Independent Film Channel. The second-place entry (runner-up) will receive a one year movie pass to Phoenix Theaters in Detroit or Farmington Hills. The winning filmmaker will be announced in early September at a red-carpet event hosted at one of the Phoenix Theatres.

The six semi-finalists' films will also be available to Comcast Digital Cable customers through Comcast ON DEMAND throughout the month of August. Watch the Comcast Detroit Film Series Finalists on Comcast ON DEMAND or online at

For complete entry information and contest rules visit


PS. You can also find more information about the film on my website

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Op-Ed: The War of Words, by Neal AbuNab

The war of words and images
By Neal AbuNab

(EDITORS: Syndicated Opinion Columns by Aramedia. Suggested contribution: $40 There is no obligation to pay if you print article.If you decide to make a contribution please request a bill and tell us the amount you would like to contribute. Please state name of publication to be billed. Request bill by email: Contact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirements of editors. Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48126, USA All Rights reserved 2006.)

“I appeal to you from a wife to another wife to tell me if my husband is still alive”, Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of captured Israeli soldier, Ehud Goldwasser, made her appeal on live television from the studios of Fox News on August 6, 2006. Shlomo, the father of the soldier, appeared with his daughter-in-law and thanked the American Jewish community that helped bring them to America and organize their appearances. Karnit and Ehud had been married for only 9 months when Ehud was “kidnapped” on the last day of his military duty. Karnit told her story to the American people with wedding pictures intertwined with fond memories and longings to live a peaceful and happy life.

Peace and happiness were denied to this couple by the Hizbullah terrorists who are hell-bent on destroying Israel with their hateful ideology. It is a gut-wrenching human story conveyed with such strong emotions that garner the immediate sympathy of any peace-loving human being.

That is the story of Israel in the US media. It is the story of a human tragedy of epic proportions. The story of a persecuted people that escaped total annihilation in Europe and ran off to the land promised to them by God to live in peace and security.

Fox News is the champion of this story as it tells it with great care hosting military experts, terrorism experts, and guests that demand forcefully from the President to declare that “Islam is evil”. The rest of the TV media has somewhat cooled off on its “unconditional love for Israel” message and began focusing on the horrific images of death and destruction coming out of Lebanon. MSNBC is almost approaching the line of balanced reporting which infuriates the lovers of Israel. Pat Buchanan has become the leading contrarian voice answering to the compelling arguments made by seasoned neo-conservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes and William Crystol.

The story of Israel as told to Americans has always been a human story. The labyrinth of politics in the Middle East poses a sort of a mental challenge to the collective mind of America. Since the early days of President Harry Truman there was a conscious decision made on the part of media handlers to reduce this story down to over-simplified human terms and to tell it from the eyes of the victimized Jew. Arabs rarely appeared in this story till the seventies and the eighties, when they began blowing up planes and taking hostages, and so the “terrorist” brand name coined by Israel began sticking.

Why did Arabs blow up planes? The answer offered was simply because they hated Jews. Why do they hate them? Because Arabs are like Hitler and the Nazis of Germany; they have an ideology of hate. Why did Arabs attack America on 9/11? Because they hate Americans. Why do they hate Americans? Because they have an ideology of hate. These simple answers formed the basis of the easy-to-follow logic of “terrorism for dummies”, which allowed savvy Republican strategists to win one election after the other in the past 5 years. This logic formed the basis of the war on terror. But the democrats may have signaled that they are not buying any more of this logic, as they nominated this past week in Connecticut a relatively unknown political entity; Ted Lamont, and rejected the trigger-happy longtime war cheerleader veteran Senator Joe Lieberman.

Ever since the eruption of the latest war in the Middle East, Americans have showed that they have a renewed appetite for more information. This race was championed by cutting-edge journalists like CNN’s Anderson Cooper with his famous “AC360” 2-hour News program. In his search for the story he went to Beirut, Cyprus and Israel. But the time he spent outside of Israel pales in comparison.

In the past two weeks, I would say he’d gone totally “native” and joined his emotions with the Israelis. He is depicting the glory of the Israeli army as it confronts a coward enemy that hides behind human shields. He is faithfully broadcasting the story of immense sacrifice and pain which shows clearly on the faces of Israeli soldiers going into battle. He “embedded” for a weekend with an army unit that went into Lebanon and the report he filed was similar to media “embeds” with the US army in Iraq. The idea is to depict Israel’s fight as America’s war. His reports succeeded in painting a human image of the Israeli army with strong connotations that they are fighting for God and country, and that they are confronting the enemies of America and the enemies of western civilization. The intended conclusion for every viewer is that they are doing us a favor, and so they deserve our wholehearted unconditional support.

The written word echoes more in the mind of man and so the colossal newspaper industry has pretty much stuck to the logic of “terrorism for dummies.” Its unilateral approach has starved intellectuals out of the market and inhibited the political evolution of American society. The same columnists and editors keep hammering the same message over and over again. But too much medicine can kill the patient. The love of Israel has been shoved down the throat of Americans for so long that some are throwing up involuntarily.

The war of words and images to capture the hearts and minds of Americans is the bedrock of public policy and diplomacy. This media war that shaped the Arab-Israeli conflict for the past 60 years has always been unfair and unbalanced. A non-profit organization by the name of has been making this case for years. Its numerous studies prove how biased the US media coverage is towards Israel. One of its typical studies shows that reporting Israeli children’s death takes place routinely at a rate almost 7 times greater than reporting the death of Palestinian children, as a result of the violent conflict. This deliberate policy is aimed at making the humanity of Israelis more precious than the humanity of Arabs. If people only hear about Israelis being killed their innate sympathy will gravitate towards the victim.

The US will never have a balanced foreign policy in the Middle East that serves American interests till we have a balanced coverage of this conflict on the TV screens.

The Arab story as told often to America consists of abstract statistics and quick images while the Israeli story has a human face. Israeli pain is more valuable than Arab pain. This is evident in the statistics of casualties; 100 dead Israelis so far compared with 1,000 dead Lebanese. Almost every Israeli casualty is reported with a human story showing the unjust nature of the death, family members crying and a whole community grieving and burying its precious members. The time allocated to tell the story of one Israeli death is about ten times that of the Lebanese death. This keeps the balance of emotions always shifted on the side of the Israeli victim whose life has been magnified to bond with the viewer’s life.

No one in America hears about the Lebanese prisoner Samir Al-Qintar imprisoned by Israel since 1979, and sentenced to 453 years. No one in America hears about the 70 elected Palestinian legislators kidnapped over a month ago and thrown in Israeli jails. No one in America hears the story of the Palestinian Parliament Speaker, Aziz Duwiek; abducted from his house in Ramallah last week and tortured by Israeli interrogators in jail. No one in America hears about the 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Each has a gut-wrenching human story to tell. Their mothers went on a hunger strike last April to get the attention of the world but no one took notice. No one takes notice of the Arab pain unless it is translated to violence that causes Israeli pain.

In the US media, Israelis always appear through personal stories with kids and names. Their pain and anguish moves us to tears while Arabs are nameless, faceless and their death is a deserved punishment. Arabs die because of their hate and anger while Israelis die because of their love for humanity. The systematic de-humanization of Arabs makes it easier to strip them of morality. This is a deliberate policy to de-humanize, demoralize and demonize a whole people. This way, selling the idea that they simply hate us becomes easier.

Hate-mongering is very important for a group of policymakers as it leads to fear-mongering which keeps war-mongering alive. All this adds up to a whole bunch of money that the defense industry is making, and the idea of Israel is a vital factor in its profitability equation.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”- available on An Arab American who advocates for a balanced US policy in the Middle East. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at:


Eye witnesses from Lebanon in US

US Peace Activists in Beirut Available for Interviews
August 9, 2006
CONTACT: Medea Benjamin 011-961-70-906316
Andrea Buffa 510-325-3653

Intrepid Women Bear Witness to the Tragedy in LebanonBeirut, Lebanon -- Four women peace activists from the United States traveled to Northern Beirut this week to bear witness to the war's impact on Lebanese civilians.

Medea Benjamin of San Francisco is the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange and the women's peace group CodePink; Judith LeBlanc of New York is a co-chair of the national anti-war coalition United for Peace and Justice; Gael Murphy of Washington, DC is a co-founder of CodePink; and Diane Wilson of Texas is a fisherwoman, peace and justice activist, and the author of An Unreasonable Woman.

The women are available for media interviews at the following cell phone number: 011-961-70-906316. The women arrive in Lebanon on Beirut on Monday.

In an email to friends and family, Benjamin wrote of their arrival, "As we were taking showers after the long drive, there were three loud "boom, boom, booms", which we later learned were attacks about 2-3 kilometers away that killed 14 people. It looked from the TV reports as if most were women and children. So sad... Our hotel is full of refugees from Southern Lebanon, each one traumatized by the fighting."Since then, they have met with humanitarian groups and visited improvised refugee camps where internally displaced people from Southern Lebanon and Southern Beirut are living.

This morning Benjamin said, "People are terrified. The ones who continue to live in the areas that have been bombed are traumatized - they don't know from one day to the next if they're going to be alive or if their homes are going to be there. Many people won't leave - they're old or disabled or too poor and afraid of losing everything they have ... And the Israelis are pushing up to the Litani River, so people are feeling that the worst is still yet to come. There are bomb blasts every night. Kids have told us that they're afraid when it gets dark, because that's when the bombing starts ... The refugee camp we've visited doesn't have wheelchairs for the elderly - it's just a park where about 1,000 people sleep outside every night - they don?t even have tents."

This afternoon LeBlanc said, "No matter who we talk to -- whether they're displaced persons now living in the largest city park in Beirut or on the streets -- they tell us 'We are not Muslims, we are not Christians, we are not Druze. We are Lebanese.' The people here are trying to find a way to unite while at every turn the Bush Administration and the Israeli military are trying to divide them. When people realize we're from the United States, they are so excited to learn that the U.S. peace movement is organizing emergency actions to pressure U.S. Congress to support an immediate cease-fire and a withdrawal of Israeli troops. It shows how important international solidarity is at a time when the Bush Administration is backing this disastrous war on the Lebanese people."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arabs and Muslims converge on Crawford, Texas to protest US support of terrorism against the Lebanese and Palestinians

Arabs and Muslims from All Over Texas are Expected to Converge in Crawford, TX
This Sunday Where President Bush Begins His Summer Vacation

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Fifteen days have passed since United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for an immediate cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel. The European Union, the United Nations Security Council and the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) have publicly demanded an immediate halt to hostilities and third-party intervention. In the meantime, according to Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora, "over 900 [have been] killed and 3,000 injured so far, one third of the casualties are children under 12."

"We are outraged that the U.S. can't stop Israel's relentless bombardment of Lebanon and military siege of Gaza. Arabs and Muslims from all over Texas are expected to converge in Crawford, TX this Sunday," Crawford Peace House representative Hadi Jawad stated.

The organization will be holding a press conference of Arab, Muslim and peace and justice movement leaders this Sunday.
Date: Sunday, August 6, 2006
Time: 1 p.m. CDT
Where: Crawford Peace House, 9142 E 5th Street, Crawford, TX 76638

"As United States Secretary of State Rice continues to feign diplomacy, children are dying in Gaza and Lebanon. The mass exodus of displaced civilians continues. Ghana's UN Ambassador has stated that among the 15 nation Security Council, the US is the only member opposing an immediate halt to fighting to prevent a regional war," Laray Polk, one of the organizers of the event said.

"The Bush Administration's blind support for Israel's military adventures in the Middle East does not serve the interests of our nation. Our leaders in Washington are discovering the futility of imposing military solutions in Iraq. Likewise, Israel should follow suit immediately. A sustainable peace can come only through direct negotiations between key regional players and the United States abandonment of one-sided support for Israel. The U.S. must become an honest broker for peace in the Middle East," Polk continued.Members of the media are invited to attend to press conference Sunday, Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. (CDT) at the Crawford Peace House.

This release was issued through The Xpress Press News Service, merging e-mail and satellite distribution technologies to reach business analysts and media outlets worldwide.

For more information, visit Media Contacts: Hadi Jawad 214-392-2939 Laray Polk 972-534-1108Source: Crawford Peace House

CONTACT: Hadi Jawad, +1-214-392-2939, or Laray Polk +1-972-534-1108,both for Crawford Peace House

Contacts for Christian resources on Israel's davastation of Lebanon

Contacts for Christian resources on Israel's davastation of Lebanon

110 West Road, Suite 360, Baltimore, Md. 21204
Tel: (410) 243-9820 — Fax: (410) 243-9824
Web: — E-mail:

For immediate release

August 4, 2006

Beirut Staff Convert Development Program Resources Into Emergency Aid for Hundreds of Displaced Families

Baltimore (IOCC) – Day 23 of the invasion of Lebanon finds one-fourth of the country’s population displaced from their homes of which an estimated 128,000 have taken shelter in public schools and institutions. IOCC is continuing its relief efforts to displaced families, delivering food and hygiene parcels to 892 families in the Maten and Alley areas, and reaching the more dangerous regions of the Chouf during the 48-hour lull in fighting.

Many of these displaced families are staying in the public schools where IOCC has been repairing infrastructure and conducting an education/feeding program since 2001. On average there are 30-40 families per school, with each family staying in a classroom. Staff is coordinating efforts with the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Middle East Council of Churches, and with the Orthodox Church in each village or area that IOCC distribution of supplies is taking place.

“IOCC may not be one of the larger aid organizations on the ground in Lebanon,” says Interim Director of Operations Matthew Parry, “but it is certainly one of the best positioned.” Literally overnight, Beirut staff converted the IOCC development program into an emergency relief effort using trucks that normally distributed public school meals to reach distressed families. Staff was also able to use their network of food suppliers to procure food and hygiene items, a task that was very difficult in view of the security situation.

IOCC began its relief efforts in the Maten and Alley areas of Mount Lebanon, providing one food and one hygiene parcel per family. Church World Service has also pledged 5,000 hygiene kits, 500 collapsible water containers and hundreds of wool blankets. Each parcel contains supplies that last for one month. Food parcels contain milk powder, vegetable oil, canned fish, hummus, beans, pasta, rice, corn, jam, tea and sugar. Hygiene parcels contain toothbrushes, tooth paste, soap, tissue paper, toilet paper, shampoo, antiseptic cleaner, laundry soap and sanitary pads.

“I think IOCC is distinctive in its approach because in addition to providing basic food and hygiene supplies, we are also providing educational materials about ways to relieve stress and the importance of food and personal hygiene,” says IOCC Beirut Program Coordinator Linda Shaker Berbari. “This will help families cope better with their environment and prevent problems that might arise due to poor hygienic practices.”

IOCC has been active in the Middle East since 1997, when it first implemented humanitarian programs in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. With funding from the Greek Government, IOCC is currently implementing an emergency response program in Gaza and recently completed a civil society program for rural Palestinians. IOCC also has various relief and development activities in Iraq and Jordan and has undertaken programs in Lebanon since 2001. Current programs in Lebanon include a USDA-funded Food for Education program.

To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC's donation hotline toll-free at
1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write "Lebanon Crisis 2006" in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.

Media calls: Contact Amal Morcos at 410-243-9820 or (cell) 404-805-4142.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Op-Ed: Israel Loses the first round, By Neal AbuNab

Israel loses first round
By Neal AbuNab

Israel has lost the first round of this grueling match with Lebanon. Most observers agree that the current war will not be decided by a “knock-out” punch from either side. The two-day lull in the air campaign, last week, allowed both sides and the world to tally the points scored so far. Israel suffered its greatest loss in the humanitarian argument which gave Hizbullah the deciding points for this round.

When this war started there was so much temptation for escalation and Israel just could not resist. Its disproportionate response has passed the line of immorality to criminality. Lebanon today is the Kosovo of the Middle East. The massacre in Qana, this past week, reminded us of the massacre of 41 civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak by Serbian forces in January 1999. When the world saw that massacre there was a turning point in public opinion and Qana did that last week. The world just can not stand by idle watching the mangled bodies of innocent women and children.

By the end of March 1999 Nato forces were pummeling Serbia and cornering its criminal regime headed by Slobodan Milosovicz. The population of Kosovo was terrorized by the brutal Serbian forces, much the same way as Israel is terrorizing the Lebanese today, and millions left their homes and ran for the mountains of Albania. If we replay the images of that dispossessed population fleeing Kosovo in April 1999 it will almost replicate what happened in southern Lebanon last week. There is good and evil. But back then, the United States led by President Bill Clinton stood on the side of good and rallied the entire world against evil. Back then, Serbia stood alone with Russia against the world. Today, the United States stands alone with Israel against the world.

Israeli officials stress that there is no “moral equivalence” between their fight and Hizbullah’s. They are right. They are on the side of evil and Hizbullah is on the side of good. Hizbullah is defending its own civilian population from the merciless destruction of Israeli firepower. Israel has unleashed the flames of hell against defenseless civilians and even declared bridges as its enemy. Hizbullah is defending its own land and the right of Lebanese people to live in that land in peace and security.

Israel apologizes to the American people, who paid for its bombs, for killing Lebanese civilians in cold blood. But in the same breath it defiles the memory of these victims by blaming them for their own death. It sends leaflets to Lebanese civilians ordering them to leave their homes or else be killed. Israel believes that by warning these civilians it has obtained a moral justification to kill them.

Let’s turn this “moral equivalence” around and suppose that Hizbullah sent leaflets to all Haifa residents to evacuate or be killed. The world will react “disproportionately” in its outrage and condemnation of Hizbullah. Jews all over the world will accuse Hizbullah of trying to commit a “holocaust”; an idea monopolized by Jews and therefore Lebanese and Palestinians can never be the victims.

Israelis claim that all they want is to “live in peace” and live a normal life like Americans do. Isn’t that what the Lebanese and the Palestinians want also? But Israel’s concept of morality is discriminating and she sees that only Jews deserve such a basic human aspiration. How could they live in peace on a land they had stolen from Palestinians? Hizbullah sends its rockets to northern Israel to tell them that the land does not belong to them. Hizbullah is defending the rights of Palestinians who own Haifa, but instead had been forced to live in wretched refugee camps in Lebanon since 1948. Don’t they have a right to live in peace and live a normal life like Americans do?

When Hizbullah arrested two Israeli soldiers occupying its land the US called it a “kidnapping”. But when Israeli commandoes kidnapped five Lebanese civilians from a hospital 70 Km’s away from Israel, in Baalbeck, the media called it a “daring arrest”. But the US media has been playing this game of criminalizing any legitimate activity against Israel for the past 60 years. They twist the meaning of words so that Israel’s actions are shrouded in a cloak of legitimacy while the actions of Arabs are always suspect in nature.

However, the US media has not served American interests and has rendered the majority of Americans ignorant about the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The truth is as bright as sunshine and it will burn through the spin provided by the Bill O’Reilly’s of this world. Americans see hundreds of thousands of peace-loving defenseless people fleeing their homes, cities turned into rubble and atrocious massacres. What is the world doing about that? They ask and their President, George Bush, tells them: we’re sending humanitarian aid to the Lebanese and bombs to the Israelis.

Israel is fighting on the side of evil. Hizbullah is fighting on the side of good. God is on the side of good and so I don’t have a shred of doubt that Hizbullah will prevail in the end. The Qur’an says: “Anyone who pledges his allegiance to God; to His messenger and to the believers will have joined the Party of God that is destined for victory.” (Chapter 5, Verse 56). Of course, Hizbullah means the Party of God and its name was inspired by the Qur’an as its moral legitimacy.

Israel kills innocent civilians, apologizes and then blocks the United Nations from condemning its actions. A UN resolution passed last week called the Qana massacre “regretful” and it “deplored the violence”. Israel has lost the war for the hearts and minds of people and whoever loses the media war usually loses the morality war, the diplomatic war and eventually the military campaign.

A recent poll showed that almost 90% of the Lebanese people support Hizbullah and most Arab Americans reflect that sentiment. Its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, declared on Thursday that all of its military actions are a direct reaction to Israel’s aggression. If Israel stops attacking then Hizbullah will stop reacting just like it did in those two days. World public opinion has reached a critical mass and has become united in asking for an immediate cease-fire. Israel and the US stand alone bare and naked in their warmongering intentions. They are still convinced that they can smash Hizbullah and extract it from its roots.

Last Wednesday marked the 22nd day of this war and Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, rang the bell for round two of this match. He said that Israel will push its ground forces deep into Lebanon and will only give up the territory to an international force. Shortly afterwards, the highly anticipated massive ground invasion commenced and fierce battles raged with black smoke rising from towns all along the border.

I expect round two to bring an escalation in destruction and casualties on both sides and it may entice Syria to jump into the fray. This round will be longer than the first one and more gruesome in nature, as the stakes have been raised even higher. All this sits well with the embattled Republicans who will enter the upcoming election season united with Israel in a global war against “Islamo-fascism” and “terrorism.” May God save the American people from the ignorance perpetrated upon them by their own leaders.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”. A Palestinian-American. He’s been campaigning for a balanced US policy in the Middle East for the past 20 years. He advocates for peace and social justice. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at:

Syndicated Opinion Columns by Aramedia

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All Rights reserved 2006

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

ADC establish humanitarian relief for victims of Israeli government terror

ADC Establishes Fund for Humanitarian Relief in Lebanon

Washington, DC
August 2, 2006
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), has established a special fund for donations to help the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. All contributions made to the ADC fund will be donated to Mercy Corps which will assist those in need.

"The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon has deeply affected all of us in the US. ADC knows the community would like to help alleviate some of the suffering, we hope you will contribute to this fund," said ADC President Hon. Mary Rose Oakar.

The special fund has been set up through the ADC Research Institute (ADCRI). ADCRI is a 501(c)(3) educational and charitable foundation, and contributions to it are tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Donate online via ADC at:

Alternately, checks should be made payable to:

ADCRI: Lebanon Relief Fund

and mailed to:

ADCRI: Lebanon Relief Fund
1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20007

Mercy Corps works amid disasters, conflicts, chronic poverty and instability to unleash the potential of people who can win against nearly impossible odds. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1 billion in assistance to people in 82 nations. Supported by headquarters offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, the agency's unified global programs employ 3,200 staff worldwide and reach nearly 10 million people in more than 40 countries. Mercy Corps works in Lebanon.


NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to combat racial stereotyping and to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tel: 202-244-2990
: 202-244-7968

ATFP donates $45,000 top Palestinian relief


Contact: Rafi Dajani
Telephone: (202) 887-0177
Washington, D.C., August 2, 2006 – The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today announced the donation of $45,000 for Palestinian humanitarian relief, with grants going to Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, and the Washington, D.C.-based United Palestinian Appeal (UPA).

ATFP launched an appeal in May 2006 to collect donations for urgent humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. ATFP will donate all funds it raises from the Palestinian Humanitarian Appeal to medical facilities in the West Bank and Gaza.

Two donations of $20,000 each were made to Al-Makassed and St. Luke’s Hospitals. Medical directors from both hospitals provided ATFP with lists of desperately needed surgical equipment. The donation to Al-Makassed Hospital will go to purchase orthopedic equipment; to include an Elan-EC surgical drill, a Macro-line pistol drill, and several required attachments.

The donation to St. Luke’s Hospital will go to purchase obstetrical supplies and equipment, to include an ultrasound machine, fetal monitor, packheater, surgical suction unit, vacuum extraction package, birthright delivery bed system, fetal monitoring paper, reusable abdominal belts, fetal belt buttons, and ultrasound gel. In addition, ATFP donated $5,000 to UPA earmarked for medical supplies for Palestinian refugees in Gaza.

Al-Makassed and St. Luke’s Hospitals and UPA are institutions of impeccable credentials and integrity. ATFP consulted the relevant US government authorities regarding the donations and was assured by these officials that the donations are consistent with the policy of the US government to encourage non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian aid to independent Palestinian institutions.

ATFP also contacted regional officials and is assured there will be no bureaucratic impediments in Israel or Palestine to proceed with the donations.

ATFP will continue to collect donations for the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund and, with your continued support, hopes to raise a total of $100,000 for several medical facilities in the West Bank and Gaza. During this time of crisis, ATFP will distribute all funds raised by the appeal to hospitals with a desperate need for assistance.

To donate to the Palestinian Humanitarian Fund, please visit
or contact ATFP at (202) 887-0177 ext. 222

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

2006 Shabeeba Conference, Muskegon Michigan Sept 8-10

8th Annual Arabic/English Christian Shabeebeh Conference, 2006

When: September 8 - 10, 2006 (Friday – Sunday, the weekend after Labor day)Speakers: Fayez Khoury (English program) and Others (Arabic program)

Worship Leader: Bro. Ziad Shehadeh (Arabic program)Where: Maranatha Bible Conference, Muskegon, Michigan, USA. Here's the website for the conference center if you're interested:
Maranatha Pictures:

Suggested Price: $125 American (~$140 Canadian), which covers lodging, food, and everything in between. Please try to make it even if you don't have the money.Ages: 15-45 *

Rooms are limited, so please reserve your spot by 8/28 *
* Kids are permitted with parents. Sunday School will be provided.

Please feel free to call or e-mail with any questions or to register. We are looking forward to seeing you with us.Your brethren in Christ,The Chicago Arab Christian Group
The Michigan Arab Christian Group

Bisher Rihani:
Day: (630)579-5182Evening: (773)631-8486
Cell: (773)719-4440Alternate E-mail:

Roger Srouji:
Cell: (517)402-1169E-mail:

Chicago Lebanese rally to raise funds for victims of Israeli terror

Press Release

The Chicago Lebanese Club (CLC) witnesses the current humanitarian crisis in Lebanon with great sorrow. As a humanitarian organization, CLC hopes for timely resolution of this humanitarian crisis, as well as peace in Lebanon and the region. Motivated to help alleviate the suffering of civilians, the Chicago Lebanese Club has organized an effort to support the Lebanese Red Cross. To contribute to the Lebanese Red Cross via CLC a check can be made to:

The Chicago Lebanese ClubP.O. Box 81584
Chicago, IL 60681-0584

Type in the memo field “Lebanon Relief”. Alternatively, donations can be made directly to the Lebanese Red Cross via the following link:

God bless and protect Lebanon.

Mr. Samer Barakat, President
Chicago Lebanese Club"Lebanese Friends in Chicago"Founded

CLC Mission Statement
The Chicago Lebanese Club (CLC) is dedicated to preserving, enriching, and promoting the Lebanese culture and aims to serve the Lebanese community in and outside Chicago through cultural, educational, humanitarian, and social activities. CLC is a non-for-profit organization and is not affiliated with any religious or political cause.

CLC is a 501(c)(3) Illinois organization. Only check donations will be accepted. Donations are tax-deductible.

For questions or comments please contact Mr. Roger Dabdab at (312)493-4499

Op-Ed: Lebanon war exposes impotency of Arab World

Israeli assault exposes impotency of Arab World
By Ray Hanania

(Editor's note: Ray Hanania's columns can be published with full attribution and in whole. Edits for length can be made as long as they preserve the intent of the column viewpoint. A suggestion syndication payment of $125 is requested but not mandatory, and a email notification of use. Please send to Ray Hanania, PO Box 2127, Orland Park, IL 60462. Email Ray Hanania at

We could all sit back and just blame Israel for all the killings but the Arab World has to share in the blame, especially its leaders.

The fact is that no Arab country has the power or the courage to stand up to Israel, at least not the courage that Hezbollah and Hamas have shown despite being labeled as “terrorist organizations” by the United States.

Yet, after seeing the massacre of Lebanese children and their mothers in Qana in Southern Lebanon this past week, it would hard not to describe Israel’s government as a terrorist organization, too.

In fact, when you look at how the conflict, Israel’s government looks more and more like a terrorist organization that deserves to be confronted for its own good.

The problem is, no one has the courage or strength to stand up to Israel.

Hezbollah and Israel have been in battle ever since Israel invaded Lebanon and the Arab World did nothing to stop it. Israel took a military beating not from any Arab government army but from Hezbollah, a ragtag group of Muslims who banded together to expel Israel from occupying another Arab country.

In fact, while Israel was in Lebanon, it was also occupying Syrian land, and Palestinian land, in violation of international laws and United Nations resolutions.

Israel argues that Hezbollah initiated the conflict and gave it the right to fight back with unrestrained power when Hezbollah fighters crossed into Israel and attacked a fully armed Israeli military patrol. In the fire fighter, both Israeli soldiers and Hezbollah fighters were killed. And, Hezbollah, which more and more is proving to be the only real Arab World force that can back up its promises to defend Arab land, captured two Israeli soldiers.

Israel calls them “hostages,” mainly to claim the mantel of the moral high ground in this conflict and Hezbollah merely refers to the captured soldiers as prisoners. Hezbollah has offered to return the two Israeli soldiers if Israel will return hundreds of Lebanese fighters and political prisoners who have been held in its jails along with nearly 10,000 Palestinian resistance fighters and civilian political prisoners.

Israel has always held the Western media, mainly in the United States, in a vise-like headlock. It’s so criminal, though, it might better be referred to as “vice-like.”

Still, even with the cheerleading from the American media, Israel continues to attack Lebanon unprovoked.

Israel argues it is attacking Lebanon to end the Hezbollah rocket attacks, but it was Israel that launched the full scale attacks with missiles and rockets and initiated a blockade by land, sea and air. And Hezbollah’s first rocket attacks were in response to Israel’s rocket attacks against Lebanese civilian targets, Such as Beirut’s civilian Rfik Hariri International Airport.

Israel and the United States blame Iran and Syria for arming Hezbollah, a claim that has never been proven but is published in American newspapers as if it were the Gospel Truth.

Yet, the fact is that the bombs that killed the little children and mothers of Qana, Lebanon were in fact supplied by the United States. The United States continues to provide the bombs and weapons of mass destruction to Israel that makes Israel a continued threat to longterm peace.

Rather than step in and criticize Israel’s excessive response to what many see as an ongoing cross-border raid, the Arab World leaders have basically been silent.

The truth is the Arab World is crumbling. They have been bought off in Egypt and Jordan. Elsewhere, the Arab World believes it is protecting its oil interests and even protecting itself from possible Israeli attack.

After all, Iran is only accused of trying to build a nuclear weapon, but it is Israel that has more than 200 and that refuses to abide by international nuclear treaties.

In reality, when the Lebanon war ends, and it will certainly end, probably with the wholesale destruction of a country and the mass murder of thousands of civilians, the Arab World itself might also formally cease to exist, too.

Despite their numbers, the Arab World has no real voice in the United Nations. Despite their oil reserves and industry, the Arab World has no ability to exercise economic power.

And worse, despite the justice that is in their cause to liberate Palestine, by forcing Israel to accept a peace based on two states defined on the basis of realistic boundaries, the Arab World doesn’t know how to use that justice.

It never has.

(Ray Hanania is the former National President of the Palestinian American Congress, a columnist and author. He can be reached at

Op-Ed: The New Middle East, By Neal AbuNab

The New Middle East
By Neal AbuNab

(Editor's note: Syndicated Opinion Columns by Aramedia. Suggested contribution: $40 There is no obligation to pay if you print article. If you decide to make a contribution please request a bill and tell us the amount you would like to contribute. Please state name of publication to be billed. Request bill by email: To Contact Neal AbuNab (313) 506-4409, for all other inquiries. Length of article can be edited according to requirements of editors. Aramedia, P.O.Box 7596, Dearborn, MI 48126, USA All Rights reserved 2006)

This past week, Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, did a lot of “photo op” stops in Beirut, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Rome which demonstrated that the Bush administration is fully engaged in the latest conflict. She marketed an old project with a new label called the “new Middle East”. The new American vision is serious and it is about creating a linkage between Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. President Bush referred to this emerging vision in a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki. He lumped the war against all of these “terrorist” forces in the Middle East as one war between good and evil. Of course, Israel and America stand on the side of “good” and people who oppose this will stand on the side of evil. The US and Israel are absolutely determined to crush “totalitarian” organizations in the new Middle East (how about the Saudi regime?). There will be no resistance to the idea of Israel in their new Middle East.

President Bush threw Al-Qaida, the Iraqi Baathists, Hizbollah and Hamas all in one basket. He called them “the enemies of democracy”-without mentioning that Hamas and Hizbollah were democratically elected- and claimed that they were only interested in creating totalitarian theocratic regimes in the Middle East. This large umbrella can provide Israel with international legitimacy to continue its ethnic-cleansing of Lebanon from the forces of “evil.” But the US administration is doing more than that. It is actually pushing Israel to score a clear military victory in Lebanon which it could not get in Iraq. It rushed to Israel 500 laser-guided bunker busting missiles that went straight into the neighborhoods of southern Beirut seeking the political leadership of Hizbollah.

In the battlefield, Hizbollah has sustained more beating than anyone ever expected. Israel has never faced an Arab enemy like Hizbollah. In the 1967 war, Israel crushed Egypt, Jordan and Syria in less than 6 days. Spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Mark Regev, admitted this week that a military solution for the current conflict is virtually impossible. He is countering American claims that Hizbollah can be eliminated. America is pushing Israel beyond its capacity to win this war. Even Shimon Perez, Israel’s deputy Prime Minister, acknowledged how critical this war is when he said: “this war is a matter of life and death for Israel.” Crushing Hizbollah will guarantee Israel another 20 years of uncontested life.

Rice went to the Middle East to sell the American-Israeli plan of disarming Hizbollah and occupying most of southern Lebanon by an international force. She armed herself with UN Resolution 1559, which called for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon- which it did last year- and for the disbanding of all militias. The rest of the world that met in Rome asked for an immediate cease-fire and for discussions to follow at the UN. But Rice insisted on a “sustainable” cease-fire that disarmed Hizbollah before ending the Israeli offensive. She wants the international community to hold Hizbollah down while Israel punches it to death. This diplomatic escalation is a direct reaction to Hizbollah’s strength on the ground. Shimon Perez estimated that Hizbollah’s force was no more than 7,000 fighters. The Bush administration can not comprehend how such a tiny force is standing up to Israel’s mythical military might.

America will agree to a cease-fire only when Hizbollah is ready to surrender. The conditions of this cease-fire will form the basis of a unilateral disengagement plan with Lebanon and Syria. Israel wants to eliminate the need for negotiated solutions with the Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians. The new game plan is to have its security guaranteed by United Nations resolutions.

In Beirut, Rice proposed the terms of this agreement to members of the Cedar Revolution, like Walid Jumblat and Amin Gemayel. They agreed that Hizbollah must be disarmed and that the southern half of Lebanon will become a buffer zone guaranteeing Israel’s security. Lebanese Speaker of the House, Nabih Berry, called it “a recipe for internal conflict and civil war.” Fouad Siniora, Lebanese Prime Minister, went to Rome to undo some of the damage inflicted by Rice in Beirut. He proposed a 7-point plan that reflected the common view of his coalition government. He is trying to hold on to a very fragile consensus that the US is working so hard to break. Victory for Israel is not possible unless the unity of the Lebanese people is broken. It is the same story at the Palestinian front.

Rice accepted in essence the exchange of prisoners and the return of Shebaa farms to Lebanon. But she rejected point number one: an immediate cease-fire. Turkey and others accepted Rice’s argument as long as Hizbollah agreed to disarm voluntarily. This implied direct negotiations with Hizbollah, Syria and Iran, which Rice rejected. The new Middle East that she carries in her womb does not care about the interests of Syria or Iran, and does not negotiate with “terrorists”. She wants to give birth to a new Middle East that readily accepts and applauds unilateral disengagement plans conceived by Ehud Olmert.

Such plans do not tolerate opposition, resistance or negotiations. These plans will be dictatorially imposed on the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and Iranians; in the name of all peace-loving democratic nations. Olmert’s plan is simple with all of Israel’s neighbors; security buffer zones in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. These plans are perfectly suited for the Bush administration’s policy in the war on terror. The idea is to prevent real peace from ever taking root in the Middle East while at the same time giving a false sense of security to Israel.

Israel was created in the Middle East to keep tensions alive and to keep Arabs divided. The US does not want Israel to have real peace with its neighbors or to have thriving democracies in the Middle East. The role of Israel is to keep war alive. Rice even alluded to that in Ramallah when she said: “the real problem is that there has not been a sustainable peace in the region.” She was trying to lay the blame on everyone else but the United States. No one holds the key to peace in the Middle East except the United States. History did not start two or three weeks ago when a couple of Israeli soldiers were captured.

The purpose of Rice’s trip was to tighten the grip on Hizbollah, within Lebanon and outside. She paved the way for an upcoming UN resolution that blames Hizbollah for the current war, calls for disarming it, and provides a mandate for the Israeli army to invade and occupy southern Lebanon. The current thrust is to define to the world that Hizbollah is the problem and not Israel. Discussions at the UN will focus on these questions: was Hizbollah justified in capturing the two Israeli soldiers? Was Hizbollah trying to save Hamas or did it have the interests of Lebanon at heart? Is Hizbollah to blame for the utter destruction of Lebanon? Hizbollah’s rockets to north Israel; is that a terrorist action?

All of a sudden Israel has become so keen on implementing the will of the international community as stated in resolution 1559. What happened to all the other resolutions like 242, 338 and so many others that called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and to allow all refugees to return to their homes? How about deploying an international force in Gaza and the West Bank?

Arab League Secretary, Amer Mousa, has the right idea. He called for declaring all peace initiatives in the Middle East as dead. He wants all the Arab countries to go back to the United Nations and simply ask for the implementation of UN resolutions passed.

We are thankful for America’s humanitarian assistance to Lebanon. The US has already floated the idea of one billion dollars in re-construction aid once this war ends. How about saving American taxpayers some money by sending fewer bombs to Israel! It makes you wonder if these career politicians ever use the logic of common people. We spent billions of dollars on missiles that destroyed Baghdad and now we’re wasting tens of billions more pretending to repair that damage. We spent billions in building the Palestinian infrastructure and its authority and now we give billions to Israel in the form of bombs to destroy all of it. The Lebanese borrowed billions of dollars to rebuild their nation and now we rush laser-guided missiles to Israel to bring all these buildings down.

At this rate, when Rice is ready to give birth to the new Middle East; other Arab capitals like Damascus, Amman and Cairo will have followed in the glorious footsteps of Baghdad, Gaza and Beirut.

Neal AbuNab is a Michigan-based author of “The War on Terror and Democracy”. A Palestinian-American. He’s been campaigning for a balanced US policy in the Middle East for the past 20 years. He advocates for peace and social justice. He is a commentator on Arab and Muslim affairs and his weekly column appears in the Arab American News. He can be reached at: