Adonis Diaries

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Jewish diaspora angry as Netanyahu scraps Western Wall mixed prayer plan

Decision to abandon landmark deal described as a ‘slap in the face’ and prompts charity to cancel gala event with Israeli PM

A high-profile body that liaises between Israel and the Jewish diaspora has reacted with fury at a decision by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to in effect abandon a plan to allow men and women to pray together at the Western Wall.

The Jewish Agency has cancelled a gala dinner with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and is to discuss the ramifications of the decision at a meeting this week.

The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday to scrap a compromise agreement made 17 months ago, which was intended to resolve a battle lasting more than a quarter of a century over equal rights for women praying at the Western Wall. (In 1967, both genders prayed together)

Netanyahu came under intense pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties in his coalition government and the religious authorities that manage the site, the holiest place that Jews can pray.

The plan would have created a new area for worship at the Western Wall for men and women to pray together. At present, prayer areas are segregated, with a small stretch of the wall of the ancient temple reserved for women.

The deal, made in January 2016, was welcomed by liberal and reform Jews, and the feminist group Women of the Wall, which has mounted monthly protests at the Old City site since 1989. The gatherings frequently ended in physical tussles and arrests.

Women of the Wall also demanded an end to ultra-Orthodox bans on women praying aloud, reading from the Torah and wearing traditional prayer shawls, known as tallit.

The compromise followed three years of intense negotiations between liberal Israeli and American Jewish groups and the Israeli authorities and was seen as a significant breakthrough in promoting religious pluralism in Israel, where ultra-Orthodox authorities govern almost every facet of Jewish life. (If this lame issue needed such intense negotiation, what the Palestinians should expect from the right parties in Israel?)

But opposition from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious establishment has prevented the agreement from being implemented

Speaking after Sunday’s announcement, Moshe Gafni, the leader of the ultra-religious United Torah Judaism party, said: “We are happy about this, and thank the holy one, blessed is he, on this great success.”

But Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, accused Netanyahu of reneging on a “historic” agreement with liberal Jewish denominations.

“This is a bad day for women in Israel,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The Women of the Wall will continue to worship at the women’s section of the Western Wall with the Torah scroll, prayer shawls and phylacteries until equality for women arrives at the wall as well.” (If there is No equality in praying, what kind of liberal and democratic system are we talking about?)

Natan Sharansky, a former government minister and chairman of the Jewish Agency, who helped broker the original deal, said the move was a “deep disappointment”.

The agreement would have established “a dignified space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall,’’ Sharansky said. “[The] decision signifies a retreat from that agreement and will make our work to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together increasingly more difficult.”

The Jewish Agency’s board of governors, which is meeting in Jerusalem this week, said: “In light of [Sunday’s] decisions by the government of Israel, the board of governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel will be changing its entire agenda for the remaining two days of its meetings in Jerusalem, in order to address the ramifications of these decisions.

“The scheduled dinner with the participation of the prime minister has been cancelled.”

A ceremony to mark the opening of the board of governors at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Monday was also cancelled

Salai Meridor, a former head of the Jewish Agency and former ambassador to the US, said the decision was “a slap in the face to world Jewry” and the Western Wall “belongs to all Jews”.

The American Jewish Committee said the decision would weaken ties between American Jewry and Israel.

“The Kotel [Western Wall] belongs to all Jews worldwide, not to a self-appointed segment,” said its chief executive, David Harris. “This decision is a setback for Jewish unity and the essential ties that bind Israel and American Jews, the two largest centres of Jewish life in the world.”

The cabinet decision came before a deadline set by Israel’s high court of justice on Sunday for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the agreement.

Thousands of Jews pray every day at the site, the last remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount, pushing scraps of paper bearing handwritten prayers into the cracks between stones.

The wall also attracts thousands of tourists and international dignitaries, with Pope Francis, Donald Trump and Madonna among global figures who have visited.

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices in Israel such as weddings, divorces and burials.

The ultra-Orthodox religious establishment sees itself as responsible for maintaining traditions through centuries of persecution and assimilation, and it resists any inroads from liberals it often considers to be second-class Jews who ordain women and gay people and are overly inclusive toward converts and interfaith marriages.

Note 1: Saudi Kingdom cannot appreciate any Israeli policy Not satisfying gender discrimination and contemplate full support to Israel. Kushner demanded this restriction too.

Note 2: Erecting new settlements by American Jews are matters of doing business and illegal tax dodging on lands robbed from Palestinian owners

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Eid al-Fitr: Muslims around world celebrate end of Ramadan fast

Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the holy month of fasting

This weekend, Muslims all over the globe begin celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan.

The name translates as “the festival of breaking the fast” as during the month of Ramadan, Muslims perform one of the five pillars of Islam: the fast.

Food, water and sexual activity are all banned until after sunset.

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Egyptian Muslim men and women are separated from each other as they gather for a prayer in the village of Dalgamon, Tanta, some 120 kilometres north of Cairo, Egypt (EPA / Khaled Elfiqi)

Ramadan takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is believed that the Quran’s first verse was revealed during the last 10 nights of this month.

The exact date of Eid depends on the lunar cycle, and it is traditionally celebrated for three days – although from country to country, the festival can last anywhere from one to four days.

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Muslims offer prayers outside the Grande Mosquee de Paris (Great Mosque of Paris) (AFP / Zakaria Abdelkafi)

Muslims in the UK generally celebrate Eid for a single day.

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Saudis and foreigners perform prayer at the al-Masmak grand mosque of Prince Turki bin Abdulla palace in Riyadh (EPA / STR)

It’s not to be confused with Eid al-Adha, the “sacrifice feast” – so-called to honour Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael – which takes place two months later and coincides with the annual Mecca pilgrimage.

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Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (3rd R) attends prayers on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, inside a mosque in Hama (SANA Handout via Reuters)

To commemorate Eid, prayers are offered in the morning at the mosque, with readings from the Quran.

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Pakistani residents offer Eid al-Fitr prayers on the outskirts of Peshawar (AFP/Getty Images)

Celebrations then take place with friends and family, as well as among the whole community.

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Bangladeshi Muslims travel home for celebrations on a crowded ferry in Dhaka (Rex Features / Sony Ramany)

Children often receive new clothes and their first pocket money, and parents exchange gifts and pastries.

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Afghan children ride swings during celebrations in Herat (EPA / Jalil Rezayee)

 

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In Albanian capital Tirana, prayers take place on recently renovated Skanderbeg Square (AP / Hektor Pustina)

 

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Egyptians try to catch balloons released after prayers, in a public park outside Cairo’s El-Seddik Mosque (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

This year marks the first time since 1996 that the White House will not host a celebratory iftar dinner to commemorate Eid.

First held in the White House in 1805, Hillary Clinton made the ritual an annual tradition in 1996 after learning more about it from her daughter Chelsea.

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An Afghan woman and her son beg at a Kabul mosque on the first day of Eid (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)

The White House issued a statement on Saturday evening: “Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honour these values.”

The statement ends with the traditional greeting: Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid).

 

Yes, Native Americans Were the Victims of Genocide

Saturday, June 04, 2016 By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, History News Network | Op-Ed

This paper, written under the title, “U.S. Settler-Colonialism and Genocide Policies,” was delivered at the Organization of American Historians 2015 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO on April 18, 2015.

US policies and actions related to Indigenous peoples, though often termed “racist” or “discriminatory,” are rarely depicted as what they are: classic cases of imperialism and a particular form of colonialism — settler colonialism.

As anthropologist Patrick Wolfe writes, “The question of genocide is never far from discussions of settler colonialism. Land is necessary for life “[1] The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism.

The extension of the United States from sea to shining sea was the intention and design of the country’s founders. “Free” land was the magnet that attracted European settlers.

After the war for independence but preceding the writing of the US Constitution, the Continental Congress produced the Northwest Ordinance. This was the first law of the incipient republic, revealing the motive for those desiring independence.

It was the blueprint for gobbling up the British-protected Indian Territory (“Ohio Country”) on the other side of the Appalachians and Alleghenies. Britain had made settlement there illegal with the Proclamation of 1763.

In 1801, President Jefferson aptly described the new settler state’s intentions for horizontal and vertical continental expansion, stating: “However our present interests may restrain us within our own limits, it is impossible not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond those limits and cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar form by similar laws.

This vision of manifest destiny found form a few years later in the Monroe Doctrine, signaling the intention of annexing or dominating former Spanish colonial territories in the Americas and the Pacific, which would be put into practice during the rest of the century.

The form of colonialism that the Indigenous peoples of North America have experienced was modern from the beginning: the expansion of European corporations, backed by government armies, into foreign areas, with subsequent expropriation of lands and resources.

Settler colonialism requires a genocidal policy. Native nations and communities, while struggling to maintain fundamental values and collectivity, have from the beginning resisted modern colonialism using both defensive and offensive techniques, including the modern forms of armed resistance of national liberation movements and what now is called terrorism. In every instance they have fought and continue to fight for survival as peoples.

The objective of US colonialist authorities was to terminate their existence as peoples — not as random individuals. This is the very definition of modern genocide as contrasted with premodern instances of extreme violence that did not have the goal of extinction.

The United States as a socioeconomic and political entity is a result of this centuries-long and ongoing colonial process. Modern Indigenous nations and communities are societies formed by their resistance to colonialism, through which they have carried their practices and histories. It is breathtaking, but no miracle, that they have survived as peoples.

Settler-colonialism requires violence or the threat of violence to attain its goals, which then forms the foundation of the United States’ system.

People do not hand over their land, resources, children, and futures without a fight, and that fight is met with violence. In employing the force necessary to accomplish its expansionist goals, a colonizing regime institutionalizes violence.

The notion that settler-indigenous conflict is an inevitable product of cultural differences and misunderstandings, or that violence was committed equally by the colonized and the colonizer, blurs the nature of the historical processes. Euro-American colonialism, an aspect of the capitalist economic globalization, had from its beginnings a genocidal tendency.

So, what constitutes genocide?  (The Turkish government is still debating on the nuance of its Armenian genocide?)

My colleague on the panel, Gary Clayton Anderson, in his recent book, “Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian,” argues: “Genocide will never become a widely accepted characterization for what happened in North America, because large numbers of Indians survived and because policies of mass murder on a scale similar to events in central Europe, Cambodia, or Rwanda were never implemented.”[2] There are fatal errors in this assessment.

The term “genocide” was coined following the Shoah, or Holocaust, and its prohibition was enshrined in the United Nations convention presented in 1948 and adopted in 1951: the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The convention is not retroactive but is applicable to US-Indigenous relations since 1988, when the US Senate ratified it. The genocide convention is an essential tool for historical analysis of the effects of colonialism in any era, and particularly in US history.

In the convention, any one of five acts is considered genocide if “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”:

(a) killing members of the group;

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.[3]

The followings acts are punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in genocide.

The term “genocide” is often incorrectly used, such as in Dr. Anderson’s assessment, to describe extreme examples of mass murder, the death of vast numbers of people, as, for instance in Cambodia. What took place in Cambodia was horrific, but it does not fall under the terms of the Genocide Convention, as the Convention specifically refers to a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, with individuals within that group targeted by a government or its agents because they are members of the group or by attacking the underpinnings of the group’s existence as a group being met with the intent to destroy that group in whole or in part.

The Cambodian government committed crimes against humanity, but not genocide. Genocide is not an act simply worse than anything else, rather a specific kind of act.

The term, “ethnic cleansing,” is a descriptive term created by humanitarian interventionists to describe what was said to be happening in the 1990s wars among the republics of Yugoslavia. It is a descriptive term, not a term of international humanitarian law.

Although clearly the Holocaust was the most extreme of all genocides, the bar set by the Nazis is not the bar required to be considered genocide. The title of the Genocide convention is the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” so the law is about preventing genocide by identifying the elements of government policy, rather than only punishment after the fact. Most importantly, genocide does not have to be complete to be considered genocide.

US history, as well as inherited Indigenous trauma, cannot be understood without dealing with the genocide that the United States committed against Indigenous peoples. From the colonial period through the founding of the United States and continuing in the twentieth century, this has entailed torture, terror, sexual abuse, massacres, systematic military occupations, removals of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories, forced removal of Native American children to military-like boarding schools, allotment, and a policy of termination.

Within the logic of settler-colonialism, genocide was the inherent overall policy of the United States from its founding, but there are also specific documented policies of genocide on the part of US administrations that can be identified in at least four distinct periods: the Jacksonian era of forced removal; the California gold rush in Northern California; during the Civil War and in the post Civil War era of the so-called Indian Wars in the Southwest and the Great Plains; and the 1950s termination period; additionally, there is the overlapping period of compulsory boarding schools, 1870s to 1960s.

The Carlisle boarding school, founded by US Army officer Richard Henry Pratt in 1879, became a model for others established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Pratt said in a speech in 1892, “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.”

Cases of genocide carried out as policy may be found in historical documents as well as in the oral histories of Indigenous communities. An example from 1873 is typical, with General William T. Sherman writing, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children . . . during an assault, the soldiers can not pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.”[4]

The so-called “Indian Wars” technically ended around 1880, although the Wounded Knee massacre occurred a decade later. Clearly an act with genocidal intent, it is still officially considered a “battle” in the annals of US military genealogy. Congressional Medals of Honor were bestowed on twenty of the soldiers involved.

A monument was built at Fort Riley, Kansas, to honor the soldiers killed by friendly fire. A battle streamer was created to honor the event and added to other streamers that are displayed at the Pentagon, West Point, and army bases throughout the world. L. Frank Baum, a Dakota Territory settler later famous for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, edited the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer at the time.

Five days after the sickening event at Wounded Knee, on January 3, 1891, he wrote, “The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one or more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”

Whether 1880 or 1890, most of the collective land base that Native Nations secured through hard fought for treaties made with the United States was lost after that date.

After the end of the Indian Wars, came allotment, another policy of genocide of Native nations as nations, as peoples, the dissolution of the group. Taking the Sioux Nation as an example, even before the Dawes Allotment Act of 1884 was implemented, and with the Black Hills already illegally confiscated by the federal government, a government commission arrived in Sioux territory from Washington, DC, in 1888 with a proposal to reduce the Sioux Nation to six small reservations, a scheme that would leave nine million acres open for Euro-American settlement.

The commission found it impossible to obtain signatures of the required three-fourths of the nation as required under the 1868 treaty, and so returned to Washington with a recommendation that the government ignore the treaty and take the land without Sioux consent. The only means to accomplish that goal was legislation, Congress having relieved the government of the obligation to negotiate a treaty.

Congress commissioned General George Crook to head a delegation to try again, this time with an offer of $1.50 per acre. In a series of manipulations and dealings with leaders whose people were now starving, the commission garnered the needed signatures.

The great Sioux Nation was broken into small islands soon surrounded on all sides by European immigrants, with much of the reservation land a checkerboard with settlers on allotments or leased land.[5] Creating these isolated reservations broke the historical relationships between clans and communities of the Sioux Nation and opened areas where Europeans settled. It also allowed the Bureau of Indian Affairs to exercise tighter control, buttressed by the bureau’s boarding school system.

The Sun Dance, the annual ceremony that had brought Sioux together and reinforced national unity, was outlawed, along with other religious ceremonies. Despite the Sioux people’s weak position under late-nineteenth-century colonial domination, they managed to begin building a modest cattle-ranching business to replace their former bison-hunting economy. In 1903, the US Supreme Court ruled, in Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, that a March 3, 1871, appropriations rider was constitutional and that Congress had “plenary” power to manage Indian property.

The Office of Indian Affairs could thus dispose of Indian lands and resources regardless of the terms of previous treaty provisions. Legislation followed that opened the reservations to settlement through leasing and even sale of allotments taken out of trust. Nearly all prime grazing lands came to be occupied by non-Indian ranchers by the 1920s.

By the time of the New Deal–Collier era and nullification of Indian land allotment under the Indian Reorganization Act, non-Indians outnumbered Indians on the Sioux reservations three to one. However, “tribal governments” imposed in the wake of the Indian Reorganization Act proved particularly harmful and divisive for the Sioux.”[6] 

Concerning this measure, the late Mathew King, elder traditional historian of the Oglala Sioux (Pine Ridge), observed: “The Bureau of Indian Affairs drew up the constitution and by-laws of this organization with the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. This was the introduction of home rule. . . .

The traditional people still hang on to their Treaty, for we are a sovereign nation. We have our own government.”[7] “Home rule,” or neocolonialism, proved a short-lived policy, however, for in the early 1950s the United States developed its termination policy, with legislation ordering gradual eradication of every reservation and even the tribal governments.[8] At the time of termination and relocation, per capita annual income on the Sioux reservations stood at $355, while that in nearby South Dakota towns was $2,500.

Despite these circumstances, in pursuing its termination policy, the Bureau of Indian Affairs advocated the reduction of services and introduced its program to relocate Indians to urban industrial centers, with a high percentage of Sioux moving to San Francisco and Denver in search of jobs.[9]

The situations of other Indigenous Nations were similar.

Pawnee Attorney Walter R. Echo-Hawk writes:

In 1881, Indian landholdings in the United States had plummeted to 156 million acres. By 1934, only about 50 million acres remained (an area the size of Idaho and Washington) as a result of the General Allotment Act of 1887. During World War II, the government took 500,000 more acres for military use. Over one hundred tribes, bands, and Rancherias relinquished their lands under various acts of Congress during the termination era of the 1950s. By 1955, the indigenous land base had shrunk to just 2.3 percent of its [size at the end of the Indian wars].[10]

According to the current consensus among historians, the wholesale transfer of land from Indigenous to Euro-American hands that occurred in the Americas after 1492 is due less to British and US American invasion, warfare, refugee conditions, and genocidal policies in North America than to the bacteria that the invaders unwittingly brought with them.

Historian Colin Calloway is among the proponents of this theory writing, “Epidemic diseases would have caused massive depopulation in the Americas whether brought by European invaders or brought home by Native American traders.”[11] Such an absolutist assertion renders any other fate for the Indigenous peoples improbable. This is what anthropologist Michael Wilcox has dubbed “the terminal narrative.”

Professor Calloway is a careful and widely respected historian of Indigenous North America, but his conclusion articulates a default assumption. The thinking behind the assumption is both ahistorical and illogical in that Europe itself lost a third to one-half of its population to infectious disease during medieval pandemics.

The principle reason the consensus view is wrong and ahistorical is that it erases the effects of settler colonialism with its antecedents in the Spanish “Reconquest” and the English conquest of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. By the time Spain, Portugal, and Britain arrived to colonize the Americas, their methods of eradicating peoples or forcing them into dependency and servitude were ingrained, streamlined, and effective.

Whatever disagreement may exist about the size of precolonial Indigenous populations, no one doubts that a rapid demographic decline occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its timing from region to region depending on when conquest and colonization began.

Nearly all the population areas of the Americas were reduced by 90 percent following the onset of colonizing projects, decreasing the targeted Indigenous populations of the Americas from a one hundred million to ten million. Commonly referred to as the most extreme demographic disaster — framed as natural — in human history, it was rarely called genocide until the rise of Indigenous movements in the mid-twentieth century forged new questions.

US scholar Benjamin Keen acknowledges that historians “accept uncritically a fatalistic ‘epidemic plus lack of acquired immunity’ explanation for the shrinkage of Indian populations, without sufficient attention to the socioeconomic factors . . . which predisposed the natives to succumb to even slight infections.”[12] Other scholars agree. Geographer William M. Denevan, while not ignoring the existence of widespread epidemic diseases, has emphasized the role of warfare, which reinforced the lethal impact of disease.

There were military engagements directly between European and Indigenous nations, but many more saw European powers pitting one Indigenous nation against another or factions within nations, with European allies aiding one or both sides, as was the case in the colonization of the peoples of Ireland, Africa and Asia, and was also a factor in the Holocaust.

Other killers cited by Denevan are overwork in mines, frequent outright butchery, malnutrition and starvation resulting from the breakdown of Indigenous trade networks, subsistence food production and loss of land, loss of will to live or reproduce (and thus suicide, abortion, and infanticide), and deportation and enslavement.[13] Anthropologist Henry Dobyns has pointed to the interruption of Indigenous peoples’ trade networks.

When colonizing powers seized Indigenous trade routes, the ensuing acute shortages, including food products, weakened populations and forced them into dependency on the colonizers, with European manufactured goods replacing Indigenous ones. Dobyns has estimated that all Indigenous groups suffered serious food shortages one year in four. In these circumstances, the introduction and promotion of alcohol proved addictive and deadly, adding to the breakdown of social order and responsibility.[14] These realities render the myth of “lack of immunity,” including to alcohol, pernicious.

Historian Woodrow Wilson Borah focused on the broader arena of European colonization, which also brought severely reduced populations in the Pacific Islands, Australia, Western Central America, and West Africa.[15] Sherburne Cook — associated with Borah in the revisionist Berkeley School, as it was called — studied the attempted destruction of the California Indians. Cook estimated 2,245 deaths among peoples in Northern California — the Wintu, Maidu, Miwak, Omo, Wappo, and Yokuts nations — in late eighteenth-century armed conflicts with the Spanish while some 5,000 died from disease and another 4,000 were relocated to missions.

Among the same people in the second half of the nineteenth century, US armed forces killed 4,000, and disease killed another 6,000. Between 1852 and 1867, US citizens kidnapped 4,000 Indian children from these groups in California. Disruption of Indigenous social structures under these conditions and dire economic necessity forced many of the women into prostitution in goldfield camps, further wrecking what vestiges of family life remained in these matriarchal societies.

Historians and others who deny genocide emphasize population attrition by disease, weakening Indigenous peoples ability to resist. In doing so they refuse to accept that the colonization of America was genocidal by plan, not simply the tragic fate of populations lacking immunity to disease. If disease could have done the job, it is not clear why the United States found it necessary to carry out unrelenting wars against Indigenous communities in order to gain every inch of land they took from them — along with the prior period of British colonization, nearly three hundred years of eliminationist warfare.

In the case of the Jewish Holocaust, no one denies that more Jews died of starvation, overwork, and disease under Nazi incarceration than died in gas ovens or murdered by other means, yet the acts of creating and maintaining the conditions that led to those deaths clearly constitute genocide. And no one recites the terminal narrative associated with Native Americans, or Armenians, or Bosnian.

Not all of the acts iterated in the genocide convention are required to exist to constitute genocide; any one of them suffices. In cases of United States genocidal policies and actions, each of the five requirements can be seen.

First, Killing members of the group: The genocide convention does not specify that large numbers of people must be killed in order to constitute genocide, rather that members of the group are killed because they are members of the group. Assessing a situation in terms of preventing genocide, this kind of killing is a marker for intervention.

Second, Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group: such as starvation, the control of food supply and withholding food as punishment or as reward for compliance, for instance, in signing confiscatory treaties. As military historian John Grenier points out in his First Way of War:

For the first 200 years of our military heritage, then, Americans depended on arts of war that contemporary professional soldiers supposedly abhorred: razing and destroying enemy villages and fields; killing enemy women and children; raiding settlements for captives; intimidating and brutalizing enemy noncombatants; and assassinating enemy leaders. . . . In the frontier wars between 1607 and 1814, Americans forged two elements — unlimited war and irregular war — into their first way of war.[16]

Grenier argues that not only did this way of war continue throughout the 19th century in wars against the Indigenous nations, but continued in the 20th century and currently in counterinsurgent wars against peoples in Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific, Southeast Asia, Middle and Western Asia and Africa.

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part: Forced removal of all the Indigenous nations east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory during the Jackson administration was a calculated policy intent on destroying those peoples ties to their original lands, as well as declaring Native people who did not remove to no longer be Muskogee, Sauk, Kickapoo, Choctaw, destroying the existence of up to half of each nation removed.

Mandatory boarding schools, Allotment and Termination — all official government policies–also fall under this category of the crime of genocide. The forced removal and four year incarceration of the Navajo people resulted in the death of half their population.

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group: Famously, during the Termination Era, the US government administrated Indian Health Service made the top medical priority the sterilization of Indigenous women. In 1974, an independent study by one the few Native American physicians, Dr. Connie Pinkerton-Uri, Choctaw/Cherokee, found that one in four Native women had been sterilized without her consent. Pnkerton-Uri’s research indicated that the Indian Health Service had “singled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures.”

At first denied by the Indian Health Service, two years later, a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office found that 4 of the 12 Indian Health Service regions sterilized 3,406 Native women without their permission between 1973 and 1976. The GAO found that 36 women under age 21 had been forcibly sterilized during this period despite a court-ordered moratorium on sterilizations of women younger than 21.

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group: Various governmental entities, mostly municipalities, counties, and states, routinely removed Native children from their families and put them up for adoption. In the Native resistance movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the demand to put a stop to the practice was codified in the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

However, the burden of enforcing the legislation lay with Tribal Government, but the legislation provided no financial resources for Native governments to establish infrastructure to retrieve children from the adoption industry, in which Indian babies were high in demand. Despite these barriers to enforcement, the worst abuses had been curbed over the following three decades. But, on June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling drafted by Justice Samuel Alito, used provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to say that a child, widely known as Baby Veronica, did not have to live with her biological Cherokee father.

The high court’s decision paved the way for Matt and Melanie Capobianco, the adoptive parents, to ask the South Carolina Courts to have the child returned to them. The court gutted the purpose and intent of the Indian Child Welfare Act, missing the concept behind the ICWA, the protection of cultural resource and treasure that are Native children; it’s not about protecting so-called traditional or nuclear families. It’s about recognizing the prevalence of extended families and culture.[17]

So, why does the Genocide Convention matter? Native nations are still here and still vulnerable to genocidal policy. This isn’t just history that predates the 1948 Genocide Convention. But, the history is important and needs to be widely aired, included in public school texts and public service announcements.

The Doctrine of Discovery is still law of the land. From the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, most of the non-European world was colonized under the Doctrine of Discovery, one of the first principles of international law Christian European monarchies promulgated to legitimize investigating, mapping, and claiming lands belonging to peoples outside Europe. It originated in a papal bull issued in 1455 that permitted the Portuguese monarchy to seize West Africa. Following Columbus’s infamous exploratory voyage in 1492, sponsored by the king and queen of the infant Spanish state, another papal bull extended similar permission to Spain.

Disputes between the Portuguese and Spanish monarchies led to the papal-initiated Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which, besides dividing the globe equally between the two Iberian empires, clarified that only non-Christian lands fell under the discovery doctrine.[18] This doctrine on which all European states relied thus originated with the arbitrary and unilateral establishment of the Iberian monarchies’ exclusive rights under Christian canon law to colonize foreign peoples, and this right was later seized by other European monarchical colonizing projects.

The French Republic used this legalistic instrument for its nineteenth- and twentieth-century settler colonialist projects, as did the newly independent United States when it continued the colonization of North America begun by the British.

In 1792, not long after the US founding, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson claimed that the Doctrine of Discovery developed by European states was international law applicable to the new US government as well. In 1823 the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. McIntosh.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Marshall held that the Doctrine of Discovery had been an established principle of European law and of English law in effect in Britain’s North American colonies and was also the law of the United States. ( Israel still applies the British administrative colonial detention law on Palestinians)

The Court defined the exclusive property rights that a European country acquired by dint of discovery: “Discovery gave title to the government, by whose subjects, or by whose authority, it was made, against all other European governments, which title might be consummated by possession.” Therefore, European and Euro-American “discoverers” had gained real-property rights in the lands of Indigenous peoples by merely planting a flag.

Indigenous rights were, in the Court’s words, “in no instance, entirely disregarded; but were necessarily, to a considerable extent, impaired.” The court further held that Indigenous “rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations, were necessarily diminished.” Indigenous people could continue to live on the land, but title resided with the discovering power, the United States. The decision concluded that Native nations were “domestic, dependent nations.”

The Doctrine of Discovery is so taken for granted that it is rarely mentioned in historical or legal texts published in the Americas. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, which meets annually for two weeks, devoted its entire 2012 session to the doctrine.[19] But few US citizens are aware of the precarity of the situation of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

Note: Israel is founded on settlers genocide and displacement of Palestinians. Boycott Settlements products and services.

Pre-Independence Lebanon: In Pictures

Australian Army Archives Reveal Pre-Independence Lebanon

In Rare 1941 Footage

by Nadine Mazloum , LBC GROUP news
13-02-2015
13:00

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In what may be a super rare find, this gem of a video appeared before me on YouTube.

Not only does it depict Lebanon’s Cedar ski slopes in 1941 but the low number of views makes it all the more worthwhile.

The rare footage, as shot by the Australian Imperial Forces depicts the soldiers first ski unit, which was raised and trained in the Cedars.

The footage was shot by some of Australia’s pioneering war photographers, Frank Hurley –also recognized for accompanying Ernest Shackelton on his famous ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica in 1914-1916 and Damien Parer, considered one of Australia’s best known combat cameramen.

 

“The Cedars of Lebanon are a clump of trees 6000 feet up in the Lebanon Range. This range extends along the coast and has 2 skiing centers, Les Cedres and Beskinta…The school classes were held on the slopes opposite the hotel…” -The description within the video reads.

While it isn’t the usual sensationalized videos that we see of Lebanon in the past, with models adorned in jewelry, glamorous cocktail parties as narrated by a Voice-Of-God stylized raconteur; it does depict the ski slopes of Lebanon following the defeat of Vichy France by the allied forces, which consequently led to Lebanon’s independence from the French in 1943.

So what were the Aussie forces doing here exactly? A little history.

The Battle of Beirut on the 12th of July 1941 marked the end of hostilities in the Syria-Lebanon campaign of WWII between Vichy-France and the Free French, British and Australian alliance.

As part of the coalition, Australian troops –specifically the Australian Imperial Forces advanced from northern Palestine towards Beirut after which an armistice was signed two days later bringing into effect a cessation of hostilities.

The Aussies part in the World War II alliance is often overshadowed, but back in the land down under, it is celebrated as an integral part of the Australian yearly calendar.

Veteran soldiers who fought during WWI, also known as diggers hold special reverence in both Australia and New Zealand.

Which brings me to my point.

As an Australian born repatriated Lebanese, I have to say that ties between Canberra and Beirut pale in comparison to the past.

Given that Australia is now home to over a million Lebanese expats, the bond should have become stronger seemingly since Australia played a major role in our independence at home and growth overseas.

But how can that come to be?

I’ll leave it up to the concerned parties to figure it out. And by concerned parties I’m looking at the:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants

Australian Embassy in Beirut

Lebanese expatriates in Australia

Older Europe refugees denying Refuge of former hosts States

During WWI, Armenians and Christians in general were persecuted by the Turkish government (genocide) and they flocked to Syria and Lebanon before immigrating everywhere they could.

Turkey is at it again: This time persecuting the Kurds who were used in WWI to commit atrocities that Turks declined to perform in the remote regions.

During WWII, refugees from Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia, flocked to refugee camps in Syria
Artisans were allowed to work in their professions and training nursing classes were instituted and they were permitted to visit the nearby towns to buy supplies that camps didn’t provide.

How the refugees in Europe are being treated? Horded in concentration camps?

They flocked to Syria, Egypt and Palestine by the same passage ways currently used

A reminder: WWI and  WWII wars were Not the doing of Syria or any Near-Eastern States. Why the West is conducting this new world war on the Syrian people?

The current civil wars were instigated and funded by the US and European States, and yet they refuse to take on their responsibilities toward the refugees

Lebanon has far more refugees, relative to its population, than any country in all the history of mankind. Equal number (Syrians and Palestinians) with its population of 4 million.

Lebanon has always been the preferred land for immigrants and refugees of dictatorial regimes in Middle-East in this century.

“Two or three things that I know about…” Part two

Sabine de Bustros and Loris Moutran had a bunch of questions.

For two years, they interviewed 28 French personalities whom they never met before, and gathered their responses.  This part include samples of answers.

1  If the night could say a word?

2  What is eternity?

3  If you were an echo?

4  If you were a gesture?

5  What cannot be communicated?

6  What is fear?

7  What do you watch alone?

8  What you could never forget?

9  How do you negotiate with the unknown?

10 You are a tear drop: Where do you stop?

11 You are a caress: Where do you land?

12 What is sadness?

13 What is smile?

14 What is an emotion?

15 What silence holds?

16 What cannot be grabbed?

17 What is the impossible?

18 What is not logical?

19 Any use for the redundant?

20 What is beauty?

21 What is decency?

22 What is leaving?

23 What is your noise?

24 What give eternity to emotions?

25 What gesture for sadness?

26 If pain was a location: Where would it be?

27 If soul could give a kiss: Where would it be given?

28 If tears could form a sentence?

29 What is the Hour of the moon?

30 What is the gift of autumn?

31 What is a terrible love?

32 What is the sound of solitude?

33 If you were an error, a mistake?

34 What season describes best?

35 What mark would you leave?

36 Ask a single question to God

37 What book you like to be?

38 What fictitious love affair you like to have?

39 Where is your ideal  stopover?

40 What is an instant?

41 What’s the origin of solitude?

42 What is your preferred dance?

43 Your preferred water?

44 Preferred light?

45 Preferred rhythm?

46 preferred work of art?

47 Preferred Word?

48 Space you would hate to fill?

49 If you were a lie?

50 Is fire a beginning or an end?

51 If you were a form?

52 A question most revealing about you?

53 In what shape should God appear?

54 A single reason to selling your soul?

55 What would you suppress or delete if you were immortal?

56 What is induced sadness?

57 The single fear you would like to confront?

58 What in life is never anticipated?

59 What justify the truth of a word?

60 What word is as powerful as a storm?

61 The music of your life?

62 How to be reincarnated?

63 The difference between destiny and fatality

64 Name your prime emotion

65 What God should know?

66 A compliment that destabilizes you?

67 Time is a wheel or a stage?

68 Is life a question or an answer?

69 Would you build in space or in time?

70 What would you introduce as a preamble?

71 What is your own question?

Who is dangerously wrong about ISIS and Islam?

Note: In all religions, there are factions that seek interpretations and those that want to adhere literally to the words. What if initially the language had no punctuation in the first place?

On Monday, The Atlantic unveiled a new feature piece by Graeme Wood entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” which claims to expose the foundational theology of the terror group ISIS, also called the Islamic State, which has waged a horrific campaign of violence across Iraq, Syria, and Libya over the past year.

The article is researched, and makes observations about the core religious ideas driving ISIS — namely, a dark, bloodthirsty theology that revolves around an apocalyptic narrative in which ISIS’s black-clad soldiers believe they are playing a pivotal role.

Indeed, CNN’s Peter Bergen published a similar article the next day detailing ISIS’s obsession with the end times, and cited Wood as an “excellent” source, quoting a passage from his article with the kicker “Amen to that.”

Posted on February 18, 2015

Despite this, Wood’s article has encountered staunch criticism and derision from many Muslims and academics who study Islam.

After the article was posted online, Islamic studies Facebook pages and listserves were reportedly awash with comments from intellectuals blasting the article as, among other things, “quite shocking.”

The core issue, they say, is that Wood appears to have fallen prey to an inaccurate trope all too common in many Western circles: that ISIS is an inevitable product of Islam, mainly because the Qur’an and other Islamic texts contain passages that support its horrific acts.

In his article, Wood acknowledged that most Muslims don’t support ISIS, as the sheer number of Muslim groups who have disavowed the terrorist organization or declared it unIslamic is overwhelming.

Yet he repeatedly hints that non-literal Islamic arguments against the terrorist group are useless because justifications for violence are present in texts Muslims hold sacred.

“…simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.”

Wood writes. “Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet.”

Although Wood qualifies his claim by pointing briefly to the theological diversity within Islam, Islam scholars argue that he glosses over one of the most important components of any faith tradition: interpretation.

Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Professor of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York, told ThinkProgress that Wood’s argument perpetuates the false idea that Islam is a literalistic tradition where violent texts are taken at face value.

“That’s very problematic to anyone who spends any of their time dealing with the diversity of interpretations around texts,” Lamptey said.

“Texts have never been only interpreted literally. They have always been interpreted in multiple ways — and that’s not a chronological thing, that’s been the case from the get-go … [Wood’s comments] create the [impression] that Islam is literalistic, backward-minded, and kind of arcane or archaic, and we’ve moved past that narrative.”

Lamptey also said that Wood’s argument overlooks other Quranic verses that, if taken literally, would contradict ISIS’s actions because “they promote equality, tolerance.”

She pointed to surah 22:39-40 in the Qur’an, which connects the permission for war with the need to protect the houses of worship of other religions — something ISIS, which has destroyed several Christian churches, clearly ignores.

“ISIS exegetes these verses away I am sure, but that’s the point,” she said. “It’s not really about one perspective being literal, one being legitimate, one ignoring things…it’s about diverse interpretations.

But alternative ones tend to not gain any footing with this kind of black-and-white rhetoric. It completely delegitimizes them.”

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq's Anbar Province

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar Province

Wood, of course, didn’t accidentally invent the idea that violent passages in Islamic texts make the religion especially prone to violence, or that ISIS’s supposedly Islamic nature is evidence of deeper issues within the tradition.

These concepts have been around for some time, but are becoming increasingly popular among two groups that usually find themselves ideologically opposed — namely, right-wing conservatives and the so-called “New Atheists,” a subset of atheism in the West.

Leaders from both camps have pointed to violent passages in the Qur’an as evidence that Islam is a ticking time bomb. Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, has regularly attacked Islam using this logic, and recently responded to questions about the Qur’an on Fox News by saying that Islam “is not a religion of peace” but a “violent form of faith.”

Similarly, talk show host and outspoken atheist Bill Maher sparred with Charlie Rose last September over ISIS, saying that people who disavow the group as unIslamic ignore the supposed “connecting tissue” between ISIS and the rest of Islam, noting “The Qur’an absolutely has on every page stuff that’s horrible about how the infidels should be treated.”

It is perhaps for this reason that Fox News and several other conservative outlets fawned over Wood’s article after it was published, as did prominent “New Atheists” Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

But while these positions are widespread, Lamptey noted that they are also potentially dangerous because they play directly into ISIS’s plans. By suggesting that Islam is ultimately beholden to specific literal readings of texts, Lamptey said Wood and other pundits inadvertently validate ISIS’s voice.

“[Wood’s position] confirms exactly what people like ISIS want people to think about them, which is that they are the only legitimate voice,” she said. “It echoes that rhetoric 100%. Yes, that is what ISIS says about themselves, but it is a different step to say ‘Yes, that is true about the Islamic tradition and all Muslims.’”

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with Raw Story on Tuesday. He argued that in addition to Wood’s piece being “full of factual mistakes,” its de facto endorsement of literalistic Quranic interpretations amounts to an advertisement for ISIS’s horrific theology.

“Scholars who study Islam, authorities of Islamic jurisprudence, are telling ISIS that they are wrong, and Mr. Wood knows more than what they do, and he’s saying that ISIS is Islamic?” Awad said.

“I don’t think Mr. Wood has the background or the scholarship to make that dangerous statement, that historically inaccurate statement. In a way, I think, he is unintentionally promoting ISIS and doing public relations for ISIS.”

Awad also noted that Wood used “jihad” and “terrorism” interchangeably, which implicitly endorses ISIS’s argument that their savage practices (terrorism) are a spiritually justified religious duty (jihad).

In addition, there is a major issue with Wood’s offhand reference to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “the first caliph in generations”: although a caliphate can be established by force, a caliph, by definition, implies the majority support of Muslims (which ISIS does not have) and caliphates are historically respectful of other religious traditions (which ISIS certainly is not).

Lamptey also noted that Wood’s position is demeaning, because it renders invisible the overwhelming majority of Muslims whose theologies rebuke violent atrocities.

Among other things, Wood’s piece extensively quotes Bernard Haykel, a Princeton scholar the journalist relies on heavily throughout the article, who says Muslim leaders who condemn ISIS as unIslamic are typically “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion.”

This stands in stark contrast to the bold statements from respected Muslim scholars all over the globe challenging ISIS’s Islamic claims, and Lamptey says such comments can be read by many Muslims as having their peaceful devotion to their own religion second-guessed by people who believe they’re simply “overlooking things.”

“[Wood and others think moderate Muslims] they’re not ‘real’ Muslims, but ‘partial’ Muslims, or even apostate,” she said. “The majority of [Muslims] do not subscribe to [ISIS’s] view of their religion. But they do subscribe to the idea of emulating the Prophet Muhammad, upholding the text, and upholding the tradition, but come up with very different end points about what that looks like.”

“It’s not like these Muslims are ‘kind-of Muslims.’ They’re Muslims who are committed to the prophetic example in the texts and the Qur’an,” she added.

Other Islam scholars say this narrative breeds suspicion of Muslims as a whole. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor & Toronto Research Chair for the Law and Economics of Islamic Law at the University of Toronto, told ThinkProgress that these arguments entertain the notion that all Muslims are just one literal reading away from becoming terrorists.

“There already is the background … that stresses the idea that Muslims lie about what they believe,” Fadel told ThinkProgress. “That they really have these dark ambitions, but they just suppress them because of their own strategic purposes of conquest. They pretend to be nice. They pretend to be sympathetic to liberal values, but as soon as they get the chance, they’re going to enslave us all. The idea here is that they’re all potential followers of ISIS.”

“On first reading [Wood’s article] seemed to suggest that a committed Muslim should be sympathetic to ISIS, and protestations to the contrary either are the result of ignorance or the result of deception.” he said. “That’s not helpful, and potentially very dangerous.”

Granted, Fadel and Lamptey agreed that a discussion of ISIS’s apocalyptic theology is important, and were hesitant to single out Haykel. But they remained deeply concerned about the popularity of Wood’s framing, and challenged his assertion that ISIS is a “very Islamic” institution that is somehow representative of the global Muslim community.

“Yes, [ISIS is] Islamic in that they use Islamic sources to justify all their actions,” Fadel said. “But I think the question that bothers most Muslims is the idea that just because someone says they are Muslim or that their actions are representative of Islam doesn’t make it so. Just because a group can appropriate Islamic sources and Islamic symbols, and then go around doing all sorts of awful things, doesn’t mean that they get to be the ones who define for the world what Islam means.”

“Muslims who reject ISIS aren’t doing it because they’re bad Muslims. They just have a compelling version of Islam that they think is much better.”

Note 1: A thousand years before the schism between Catholics and Protestants, Islam had undergone extensive scholarly dialogue between interpretation and literal comprehension of the Koran, and this confrontation lasted for centuries and dozens of voluminous books were written and studied for centuries

Note 2: All these violent factions rely on the biased Hadith (what people said about what Mohammad said or did after his death) and Not in the Koran

Note 3: A few comments on FB:

  • Yuval Orr I didn’t read Wood’s article as suggesting that ISIS is “right.” I read it instead as an attempt to place the group within a framework of apocalyptic beliefs found in the particular strain of Islam to which it adheres.
    Andrew Bossone What does “strain of Islam” even mean? Do they follow a particular school of interpretation that developed over the last 1200 years? I can’t help but lump this guy into a group of people who aren’t scholars of a field doing some research and acting like one. Kareem Abdul Jabbar put it pretty well when he compared ISIS as a representative of Islam to the KKK is of Christianity.
    Here’s another article that explains what’s wrong with Wood’s writing: http://www.middleeasteye.net/…/isis-and-academic-veil

 


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