Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Israeli Supreme Court rejects international rule of law in Gaza Strip


30 January 2008

In response to Supreme Court’s rejection of petition against fuel and electricity cuts:

Gisha and Adalah: “This decision sets a dangerous legal precedent that allows Israel to continue to violate the rights of Palestinians in Gaza and deprive them of basic humanitarian needs, in violation of international law.”

Today, 30 January 2008, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition by ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations to stop Israel from cutting supplies of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip, as part of a governmental decision authorizing punitive measures against the population of Gaza. The petitioners had argued that cutting fuel and electricity supplies constitutes forbidden collective punishment and violates the prohibition in international law against deliberately targeting civilians. The fuel cuts, which have forced Gaza’s only power plant to reduce production of electricity, have severely disrupted the functioning of vital humanitarian services, including hospitals, water wells, and sewage pumps.

The court’s decision allows the state to proceed with its plan to cut electricity sold to Gaza directly by Israel’s Electric Company from 7 February 2008. Gaza is already experiencing a 20% electricity deficit, which is forcing rolling blackouts in hospitals and other vital humanitarian institutions. The petitioners submitted extensive documentation showing that cuts in supplies of electricity and the industrial diesel needed to produce electricity will necessarily mean longer and more frequent power outages across Gaza, from which vital humanitarian institutions will not be spared.

At the last hearing held on Sunday, 27 January 2008, utility officials from Gaza were prevented from attending the hearing, in violation of the state’s commitment to the court. The state offered oral testimony by a military official, unsubstantiated by affidavit as required, claiming that the cuts would not harm humanitarian needs.

According to Sari Bashi, Director of Gisha: “This is an unprecedented decision authorizing collective punishment in its most blatant form. The court ruling relies on unsubstantiated declarations by the military and ignores the indisputable and well-documented evidence of harm to civilians caused by the fuel and electricity cuts – with no legally valid justification.”

According to Hassan Jabareen, General Director of Adalah: “According to the Supreme Court’s decision, it is permitted to harm Palestinian civilians and create a humanitarian crisis for political reasons. This constitutes a war crime under international criminal law.”

For more information: Noga Eitan, Gisha spokeswoman: 0547-533644, Sari Bashi, Gisha Director, 054-8172103; Adalah Attorney Fatmeh El-’Ajou: 050-907-2729; Rina Rosenberg, International Media, Adalah: 052-849-8807, or 04-950-1610, ext. 118.


Currently, the Gaza Strip is suffering from a 20% deficit in electricity. During the winter, the demand for electricity in the Gaza Strip is approximately 240 mega-watts or more per day, depending on the weather. Currently, Gaza is receiving 120 mega-watts sold by Israel and 17 megawatts supplied by Egypt to Rafah. Gaza’s power plant is able to produce 80 megawatts per day, but the restrictions imposed on the supply of industrial diesel sold to Gaza limits the power plant to generating just 55 megawatts. As a result, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) is unable to provide the electricity needed to operate hospitals, water pumps and schools, and so institutes rolling blackouts across main lines. Some humanitarian institutions have back-up generators, but the restrictions on the supply of diesel have disrupted the operation of the generators, too.

Israel controls Gaza’s borders and does not allow Gazans to purchase fuel except via Israeli-controlled crossings.

The petition was submitted on 28 October 2007, the day that Israel cut supplies of petrol (benzene), diesel, and industrial diesel to Gaza. Residents of Gaza purchase fuel from an Israeli company and receive it via Israeli-controlled crossings.

A prior decision of the Supreme Court temporarily prevented Israel from cutting supplies of electricity sold to Gaza by Israel’s Electric Company. Today’s court decision allows the direct electricity cuts to be implemented on 7 February 2008.

The organizations which petitioned the Supreme Court are:
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights-Gaza
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

-- Julia FitzpatrickHuman Rights Advocacy FellowAdalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in IsraelP.O. Box 510Shafa'amr 20200, IsraelTel: +972-4-950-1610 ext. 117Fax: +972-4-950-3140E-mail:

Chicago Profiles: Big ddreams turning into big realities

Big Dreams Turning Into Big Realities
Four Chicago based businessmen doing their part to change Chicago

Chicago is a big city with big dreams and its residents are turning their dreams into reality everyday. These four Arab-American businessmen are of the top business men in the country. What do they all have in common? They are changing the world as we know it with their relentless motivation and drive.

Talat M. Othman- Mr. Talat Othman is the President of Arab-American Business & Professional Association in Chicago. The AABPA is a non-profit, cooperative, voluntary-joined organization of business and professional Arab-Americans, organized to assist its members in dealing with mutual business and professional concerns. The purpose of the Association is to promote the common interests of the Arab-American Business and Professional community. Both Mayor Daley and Governor Blagojevich serve as Honorary Chairman in this association.

Ahmed Abdelaziz- After his hard work and perseverance, Ahmed Abdelaziz is now the successful owner and CEO of Omarica Builders, Inc. After coming to the US in 1980, Ahmed worked his way in the hotel business in Chicago and Boston to the management level before establishing his presence on Wall Street in 1987. After trading for several firms in the financial markets, he decided to diversify his experience by going into real estate development. His solid success in this field led him to expand his contracting services to the public sector. With Ahmed’s his extraordinary talents as a real-estate developer Omarica not only designs and builds dream homes for his clients but has also branched out into hotel renovations, including prominent, upscale hotels across the nation.

Dr. Naser Rustom- Beginning as just a family practitioner Dr. Naser Rustom has come along way to be one of the most prominent and successful businessmen in the Chicagoland area. Dr. Rustom not only has expanded his practice into several offices across the city, but also has three full diagnostic facilities and a surgical center all to provide the top medical care to Chicagoans. However, his day does not end there; instead Dr. Rustom goes to his other, more entertaining business venture, Alhambra Palace Restaurant in which he recently spent several million dollars building. There Dr. Rustom provides an authentic cultural getaway featuring Moroccan cuisine and his hand-picked array of live entertainment including belly dancing, flamenco, salsa and jazz.

Ali Al-Arabi- As the President of Vanguards for Human Rights and Freedom Mr. Ali Al-Arabi organizes meetings to address issues of bigotry and discrimination between victims, support groups and government agencies. Al-Arabi organized the meeting with Mayor McLaughlin and Police Chief McCarthy and the mayor vowed to create several community liaisons to address Arab American concerns.

For media inquiries please contact:

Lina Khalil
Account Executive
Empower PR
O: 312.255.4017
C: 312.479.2162

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Khoury exhibition at Arab American National Museum


Cranbrook Grad, CMU Teacher Spotlighted in Solo Show

Dearborn, MI (January 22, 2008) – Sari Khoury was many things – a student, an artist, a writer, a college professor, a philosopher, an immigrant, a family man. He was a pillar of the community in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and a citizen of the world who treasured his Palestinian heritage. The combination of these various identities made Khoury an eloquent communicator, who used both words and art to express himself and engage those around him.

The Arab American National Museum’s new exhibition, Fragmentation & Unity: The Art of Sari Khoury, presents 25 late-period works paired with quotations from Khoury’s prolific writings. Among the pieces on display January 31 through April 27 is the artist’s final work, a brilliant untitled triptych that has never before been displayed in public.

This exhibition also brings with it two “firsts” for the Arab American National Museum (AANM). The Museum is offering its first-ever series of free gallery talks, in this case for those who find abstract art intimidating and hard to understand (dates/times listed below). In addition, the Museum’s first-ever online-only companion exhibition – focusing on Khoury the man, his personal interests and his friendship with fellow Palestinian artist Kamal Boullata – will be offered at

Sari Khoury (1941-1997) left Jerusalem, Palestine at age 17 to forge a new life in the American Midwest. He earned an MFA from the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1965 and settled in at Central Michigan University, where he taught in the Department of Art for three decades, serving as its chairman for several years. Exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in major galleries and museums, Khoury earned a glowing global reputation.

“In his art and in his words, Sari Khoury often explored what he called the ‘non-tangible allegories’ of fragmentation and unity,” says Steve Williams, manager of the AANM’s Curatorial Department. “He reflected on these contradictory themes in terms of his own life as an Arab American, and as an artist - fragmenting his life’s experiences into abstract forms and potent symbols. Abstract art – being spontaneous and intuitive – excited him as an artist and continues to excite the viewer,” he says.

Read more by and about Sari Khoury at

An opening reception with complimentary refreshments is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, January 31. At 7:30 p.m. that same evening, the winter-spring season of the Comerica Ford Global Thursdays world music concert series kicks off with a sizzling performance by New Orleans zydeco zealots C.J. Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band.

The opening reception for the exhibition is free and open to the public; please RSVP to Fay at 313.624.0200 or

Tickets for the C.J. Chenier performance are $10 in advance; $8 Museum Members and students; $12 at the door. Advance tickets are available online with a credit card at; by phone at 313.582.2266; or in person at the Museum. For music clips and more, visit The Global Thursdays series was named “Best Place to Concertize in Color Year-Round” in the Metro Times 2007 Best of Detroit issue.

The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates, and educates the public on the history, life, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans. It serves as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at and

The Arab American National Museum is a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Read about the Affiliations program at

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313.582.2266 for further information.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Arab Writers Group columnist hired by mainstream daily newspaper

I am happy to inform you that on Thursday, January 24th, The Record (formerly known as The Bergen Record, New Jersey's second largest daily newspaper and the 60th in the nation) will be launching my new weekly opinion column! The column will be appear every Thursday.

I will be using the column to express views and analysis on issues related to both New Jersey, and the issues facing our international society as well. This is a major breakthrough for an important perspective which I and others feel is severely lacking in the public discourse. I hope that ALL OF YOU will do what you can to support this new development in balanced media.

A showing of support and appreciation for this new column can include (1) obtaining a subscription to The Record for those of you who live in North Jersey, stating that you are subscribing in order to read Ahmed Soliman's column; (2) writing letters to the editor in response to the column's I write and subsequently showing a solid following and increased discourse; and (3) for all of you, who live in North Jersey and outside that area as well, to hit the online version fo the column to show a demand for the perspective it provides (webpage address forthcoming).

More updates to come. Thanking you in advance and reminding you to feel free to share your ideas and perspectives with me: it might make it to the pages of a newspaper that has hundreds of thousands of readers.

Your friend,Ahmed Soliman

New Award winning Middle East film premieres Feb 1

CARAMEL, a new award-winning Middle Eastern film (from Lebanon) that will open next month at a theatre near you. This film is special for many reasons.

First, it critically acclaimed. A hit at the Cannes Film Festival this past year, Caramel went on to win the Audience Award at The San Sebastian Film Festival. And it is Lebanon's Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 80th Annual Academy Awards next month.

Second, Caramel is an Arab film that is not only directed by a woman, it also features an all-women cast. This is, in and of itself, an exceptional achievement.

Third, it is utterly charming. Caramel centers around five women whose lives intersect in a beauty salon, a colorful and sensual microcosm of Beirut. The salon is a place where several generations come into contact, talk and confide in each other. Between haircuts and sugar waxing with caramel, they engage in intimate and liberated conversations that reveal their joys and fears surrounding men, sex and motherhood.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it marks one of the widest U.S. theatrical releases of a film from an Arab nation in recent years. Supporting this film sends a message to the film industry that there is a viable market for films from this part of the world. It also affords those outside the Arab-American community an opportunity to gain a wider perspective on a region of the world that most know far too little about. Films like Caramel remind us that our similarities oftentimes vastly outweigh our differences.

We urge you to help us spread the word by forwarding the following blurb (along with the website link below it) to the members of your organization, and your friends and neighbors.

“Caramel” is opening February 1. This award-winning and critically acclaimed film is directed by a woman and features and all-women cast. Caramel centers around five women whose lives intersect in a beauty salon, a colorful and sensual microcosm of Beirut. It’s important that we support this film to show the film industry there is a viable market for Arab films in the U.S. To find out more, please


If you have any questions, please contact us at Thank you.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Christian groups press for support of Christians in Palestine and Israel

Church Coalition Welcomes Bond-Rockefeller Christmas Letter to Bush Highlighting Decline of Palestinian Christians & Need for Holy Land Peace
CONTACT: Julie Schumacher Cohen, 202-543-1222; 917-655-4273;

[Washington, DC- December 21, 2007] Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomes the letter to President Bush sent today by Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) and John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-WV) commending his efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and bringing to his attention, ahead of the Christmas holiday, the rapid decline of the Palestinian Christian community. The CMEP coalition, comprised of 22 Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant national church bodies, shares the Senators' concerns regarding the increasing emigration of Palestinian Christians and agrees that the achievement of a peaceful, two-state solution would greatly benefit the long-term viability of this historic community, and indeed all the peoples of the Holy Land.

The Bond-Rockefeller letter describes the difficulties faced by the dwindling Palestinian Christian community "caught in a storm of violent conflict, religious extremism and economic deterioration, often unable to access their holy sites, and lacking reliable law and order." Senator Rockefeller, chair of the Select Intelligence Committee and ranking member, Sen. Bond, highlight the important role that Palestinian Christians play in any future democratic and pluralistic Palestinian state and cite the decline of indigenous Christian communities throughout the Middle East as having "serious implications for U.S. national security interests and the stability of the region". Their letter also points out the impact that the decline of the Christian community has in Jerusalem, saying that if the trend does not change, the city "with its universal and sacred importance, will cease to be the home of three living faith communities."

The Senators conclude by encouraging the President's continued peacemaking efforts, which can help transform the Holy Land "from the tragic symbol of strife and discord that it has become, into the powerful beacon of hope and tolerance that it can and should be."

Commenting on the letter, Corinne Whitlatch, CMEP's Executive Director said, "We commend Sens. Bond and Rockefeller for bringing attention to the plight of the Christians in the Holy Land and the urgent need for peace at this time when Christians everywhere are preparing for Christmas and are reminded of the place of Christ's birth. The American churches have long been concerned about the situation of Palestinian Christians, who are increasingly emigrating due to political and economic instability. The loss of this historic community would not only be a tragedy for world Christianity, but as the Senators say, would have serious ramifications for a future Palestinian state, the interreligious nature of Jerusalem, and regional peace and security."

Whitlatch added, " We join with the Senators in urging the President's continued efforts, with the support of the Congress, to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. A two-state solution where a viable Palestinian state lives alongside a secure Israel is the best hope for preserving the Palestinian Christian community and for ensuring a positive future for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike."

Following, is the full text of the letter:
December 25, 2007

The Honorable George W. BushPresident of the United States1600 Pennsylvania AvenueWashington, DC

Dear Mr. President,

We commend your efforts to reinvigorate the peace process with last month's international meeting in Annapolis, and your vision of "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security." As you work to achieve this vision, and as Christmas approaches, we wish to draw your attention to the decline of the Holy Land's Christian community. A necessary element of a peaceful, stable Middle East- in which Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together-is the vitality of Christianity in the land of its birth. The small Palestinian Christian community is increasingly emigrating and it is clear that the achievement of a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would greatly benefit the long-term viability of this vulnerable population.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects the lives of all peoples of the Holy Land - including the Palestinian Christians, who comprise a small minority that is today less than 2 percent of the Palestinian population. Caught in a storm of violent conflict, religious extremism and economic deterioration, often unable to access their holy sites, and lacking reliable law and order, many Christians are emigrating. Progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would greatly improve the lives of the Palestinian Christians, who will play a critical role in any future democratic and pluralistic Palestinian state.

The dwindling of the Christian community in Jerusalem, for 1300 years the shared focal point of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious devotion, is especially troubling. For all these centuries, the Christian community has breathed daily life into the sacred sites of Christianity - caring for them, worshipping at them, preserving them. However, while the overall population of Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem is increasing, the Palestinian Christian community is steadily declining. If this trend does not change, the sacred sites of Christianity will soon be reduced to museums for visiting tourists - and Jerusalem, with its universal and sacred importance, will cease to be the home of three living faith communities.

The fate of Palestinian Christians should not be a matter of interest only on religious and cultural grounds. Rather, the decline of this population, as well as the decline of other indigenous Christian communities throughout the Middle East, has serious implications for U.S. national security interests and the stability of the region. The presence of Christian populations and their active participation in civil society is critical to maintaining a pluralistic Middle East and developing tolerant, open, democratic forms of government that respect human rights, including minority rights. Ensuring the vitality of the Palestinian Christian community is integral to achieving peace and stability in the Holy Land and throughout the region.

Mr. President, we welcome the commitment to Israeli- Palestinian peace that you articulated in Annapolis. As this process moves forward and you work to bring peace, stability, and security to the Holy Land and all of its inhabitants - and as hundreds of millions of Christians throughout the world celebrate Christmas - we ask you to keep in mind the plight of the Palestinian Christian community. The health and viability of this community, and indeed the coexistence of all three faith communities, is essential to the transformation of the Holy Land from the tragic symbol of strife and discord that it has become, into the powerful beacon of hope and tolerance that it can and should be - a beacon illuminating a path to better relations between peoples and religions in the region and around the world.

Christopher S. Bond
John D. Rockefeller

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 22 Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant church bodies and organizations including the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Mission Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Church in America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church.

phone: 202-543-1222 web:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

CAIR calls on racist Giuliani aide to resign

(WASHINGTON DC, 12/31/07) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called upon Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, to repudiate anti-Muslim remarks made by one of his campaign workers in New Hampshire.

John Deady, co-chair of that state's Veterans for Rudy, told Britain's Guardian newspaper that Americans need to chase Muslims "back to their caves." When Deady was later asked if he was referring to all Muslims, he said: "I don't subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims." He added that he "wasn't necessarily referring to genocide." Deady later resigned his post.

SEE: Giuliani co-chairman quits after Muslim remark
SEE ALSO: Rudy Surrogate: "I Don't Subscribe To The Principle That There Are Good Muslims And Bad Muslims"

“There is no need to point out why these chilling comments have absolutely no place in the public or political discourse of a serious presidential campaign – that’s obvious,” said Ahmed Rehab, a spokesman for CAIR. “The troubling reality is they were made by a representative of Giuliani’s campaign and he has yet to repudiate them. His silence sends a terrible message.”

American Muslims have expressed concerns about the anti-Muslim views of several advisors on the Rudy Giuliani campaign. In September, CAIR criticized Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who is on Giuliani's Homeland Security Advisory Board, for claiming "we have too many mosques in this country."
SEE: NY Congressman Says 'Too Many Mosques' in U.S.

CAIR had previously called on Giuliani to drop Daniel Pipes, whose controversial discourse on Muslims is widely criticized as being agenda-driven.
SEE: Giuliani Advisor Supports Terror Group

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

- END - CONTACT: CAIR Media Relations Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: