Macron will ‘not recognize Palestine’

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron has reiterated that he will not recognize Palestine as a state as it would hinder good relations between Israel and France

Prior to his election win, Macron said he backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that recognizing Palestine would cause instability and he would not risk France’s relationship with Israel to serve the Palestinian agenda. At a political rally Macron said: “Unilateral recognition of Palestine, right now, will undermine stability.” He added: “it will not change the lives of anyone on the ground, including Palestinians.”

Dutch benefit event “radical” Muslims in Utrecht cancelled

A benefit event organized by the Dutch Muslim organization World Wide Relief in Party Centre Luxury in the Dutch city of Utrecht was cancelled by the centre. Spokesperson of Party Centre Luxury Gino Shaho stated that it was not known that “radical Muslims” would attend the benefit event.

The organization World Wide Relief organized a similar event last year were they collected money for Palestine, Birma, and South-Morocco. But at that event no speakers were invited. Among others, this years event would feature two controversial Muslim preachers, the saudi shaykh Assim al-Hakeem and the Dutch convert Abdul-Jabbar van der Ven.

The management of the party centre was not in tune with the perceived political implications of the event. According to Shado World Wide Relief has reacted in an understanding way.

Questions have been asked about the event by members of the Dutch parliament. Earlier this week Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders retracted the visa for three imams that were to attend a similar event in the Dutch municipality of Rijswijk. The parliamentary members wanted to know if visas were also extended to the guests at the event in Utrecht.

Nadine Morano, member of the UMP, confuses Islamic State with the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine

Nadine Morano is opposed to France’s recognition of the Palestinian state, as proposed by socialist deputies in the National Assembly. On November 28 she

French politician Nadine Morano confuses Islamic Jihad and Islamic State.
French politician Nadine Morano confuses Islamic Jihad and Islamic State.

expressed her sentiments about the proposal. She said, “who decapitates westerners? Those that are members of the Islamic jihad, Hamas’s partners. It’s the Jews that are beheading people today? It’s the Jews that decapitated Hervé Gourdel?” Her statement clearly confuses the Islamic State and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (JIP).

The Islamic State wants to establish a caliphate in its occupied territory. The JIP aims to eradicate Israel in order to establish a Palestinian state on the Israel’s current territory. Those who decapitated Hervé Gourdel “were members of the Islamic State.” Its members regularly threaten Western countries that are aiding Iraq’s government in overthrowing the Islamic State. ISIL has executed five hostages in the last three months. Gourdel was killed in September in Algeria by the group Djound Al-Khalifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate,) a group affiliated with ISIL.

First Interview with Lady Warsi on Palestine and why she left her position

"“There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing,” says Lady Warsi. (Photo: Paul Cooper/Rex Features)
“There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing,” says Lady Warsi. (Photo: Paul Cooper/Rex Features)

The tipping point for Sayeeda Warsi came in the aftermath of one of the most notorious incidents of this year’s Gazan war: the killing of four Palestinian children by Israeli shells as they played football on the beach. Warsi hoped that David Cameron would condemn the attack as beyond the pale. Instead, she heard only the dry language of diplomacy. She insists her resignation was not a knee-jerk response and makes clear that she is far from an isolated voice within her party.

 

On domestic issues such as extremism and the government’s approach to counter-radicalisation, Warsi refuses to be drawn. “My argument is that extremists are more of a threat to British Muslims than the community as whole; not only do those people cause us harm like everybody else – they’re indiscriminate – but also the backlash. It’s a double whammy. British Muslims have more incentive to rid society of extremists.”

 

For her, the issue is how will Islam evolve and overcome an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding towards it. “What will British Islam look like for my kids, grandkids? Chinese Islam is very different to Saudi Islam; the challenge for our times is how we find this place.”

Baroness Warsi resigns from Conservative party over Gaza and warns Tories over attracting ethnic minorities

August 10, 2014

Former Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi says her party will not win the next election unless it does more to attract ethnic minority voters. She resigned as a government minister over the UK’s policy on Gaza last week but has now broadened her criticisms. Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke said her criticisms would soon be forgotten.

Lady Warsi became the first female Muslim cabinet minister when David Cameron became prime minister in 2010. In her newspaper interviews she also criticised “bitchy” male colleagues and repeated her anger at the government’s handling of the fighting in Gaza. She said: “I will be out there, vocally fighting for an outright Conservative majority. But the electoral reality is that we will not win outright Conservative majorities until we start attracting more of the ethnic vote.”

Lady Warsi said she was one of David Cameron’s earliest supporters in 2005, stating: “This is a guy who gets today’s Britain. He’s a new kind of Conservative. He’s comfortable with today’s Britain. I think the party has shifted since then. The party leadership has shifted since then. I think over time it will be a regressive move because we have to appeal to all of Britain, not just because it’s morally the right thing to do… but because it is an electoral reality.”

She called on the government to “recognise Palestine as a state” and impose an arms embargo on Israel. She also criticised Chancellor George Osborne and chief whip Michael Gove for not using their “very, very close” relations with the Israeli government to help end the hostilities. “What is the point of having that strong relationship if you can’t use it to move them to a position which is in their interests and our interests?”

She also rejected Mr Osborne’s claim that her resignation had been “unnecessary” by saying: “My actions would not have been necessary if he had done what he should have done, which is pick up the phone to people he is incredibly close to and say: ‘It’s unnecessary for you to meet your ends by taking out power stations, taking out homes, taking out schools and killing kids on beaches.'”

Mr Shelbrooke, who is the MP for Elmet and Rothwell, said Lady Warsi had “embarrassed herself” and her criticisms would “quickly fizzle out”. He said: “I think within a week, ‘Who was Lady Warsi?’ will be the question. She has ended her career in many ways. Isn’t it best to step down on a point of principle, but don’t you embarrass yourself if you start launching into a tirade about many other things, when you come from a position of having never held elected office.”

The Conservative Party said it would not comment on Lady Warsi’s newspaper interviews at the moment. Lady Warsi stood for election to the Commons in her home town of Dewsbury in 2005 but lost to Labour. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 2007. The government’s chief whip in the House of Lords is to replace Baroness Warsi as a Foreign Office minister, with the right to attend cabinet. Lord Taylor of Holbeach is the new Lords Chief Whip. Conservative MP Lord Bates, replaces Lord Taylor as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who paid warm tribute to Lady Warsi on Tuesday, will take over her faith brief, in addition to his existing responsibilities.

In her letter to the prime minister, Lady Warsi – the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet – said: “I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in government at this time I do not feel that I can be sure of that.” Mr Cameron replied that he understood her “strength of feeling on the current crisis”, adding the situation in Gaza was “intolerable”, but he rejected her call to change direction.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he had a “great deal of respect” for Baroness Warsi, adding that she had done “excellent work” for the Conservative Party and in government.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Israel had “overstepped the mark” in the conflict and called for the suspension of arms export licences.

The prime minister has faced criticism from some in his own party for not condemning Israel for what they believe is its disproportionate use of force against Hamas and civilians in Gaza. But neither Mr Cameron nor any Conservative minister has said that Israel has gone beyond what is proportionate. The response from the new foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, was telling. What Lady Warsi has labelled a “morally indefensible” position he has dismissed as a call for “megaphone diplomacy”. He emphasised that he felt he had to be “balanced”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the BBC: “The government’s position is wrong and I think Sayeeda Warsi’s statement is completely right about this.” He said that Mr Cameron had to “think much more clearly” about policy on Gaza and had to “break his silence” over Israel’s actions.

But Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I do find it rather surprising that she has chosen now, this particular moment, to take this step when, in fact, we are now at long last seeing some relief, seeing some progress on the issues about which she was so passionately concerned.”

David Cameron’s response to her resignation stated he had “much regret” she hadn’t talked to him about her concerns before she quit. But there was also a warm tribute. “I would like you to know how much I have personally appreciated your support and friendship over the years’ he wrote.

Belfast City Hall peace vigil for those suffering in conflicts

August 6, 2014

Several hundred people have attended a prayers for peace vigil at Belfast City Hall. Prayers are being said by representatives of churches from across the world, including the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon called for peace in countries across the Middle East and other war torn areas of the world. Belfast City councillors from across the political divide also attended. One group holding a Palestinian flag stood outside the gates, but were unable to get into the grounds. It was organised by the lord mayor.

Ms Mallon said the vigil was “about people coming together in a humanitarian appeal to end this suffering and conflict”.

“This is a multi-denominational vigil offering people the opportunity to show solidarity with all of those suffering and to pray for peace in Gaza, across the Middle East and the wider world. It is open to everyone – those of all faiths and none.

Naughty Boy defends #FreePalestine tweet with Zayn Mailk

July 31, 2014

Producer Naughty Boy admits he and One Direction’s Zayn Malik sent tweets with the hashtag #FreePalestine, not because they are Muslim but because they are “humanitarian”. Zayn Malik was criticised about his decision to send the tweet last Sunday to his 13 million followers. But despite comments from fans and the media the singer did not delete it. Naughty Boy, who’s 29, said artists had a “responsibility” to speak out on Twitter. The producer, whose real name is Shahid Khan, has been working with One Direction on new track One Chance to Dance and happened to be in the studio with Zayn Malik. “We did a simultaneous tweet,” he told the Asian Network. It’s just more about being a human being. If I saw that going on in Israel, the amount of women and children being killed, that is just too shocking

He said: “We are educated on the subject and the history of Palestine; so we have a responsibility as we are creating awareness about children dying. Zayn’s biggest fan base is teenage girls so it’s good to highlight.” His tweet prompted a response from upset One Direction fans in Israel using the hashtag #ZaynYouHaveFansinIsrael. Naughty Boy denied he was taking sides in the conflict.

Have French socialists and Francois Hollande lost the Muslim electorate because of Gaza?

August 6, 2014

“To our French cousins, one thing to repeat for Hollande, Valls and Cie: ‘Gaza, if I forget you in the 2017 polls, let my right hand be cut off!’” Reads one of the latest Facebook posts calling to “punish” Hollande and the Socialist Party at the next presidential election in 2017.

The Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR), which is very active in mobilizing for Gaza in France and which played a major role in the two demonstrations that were banned, has been vocal about its dislike for Hollande’s policies.

“The tide is turning. After more than a month of a Zionist invasion, from all sides, emerges the slogan: ‘In 2017, the PS will pay,’” it warned in a recent statement.  “Numerous voices have marked the date for the presidentials, and call for a real Waterloo for the PS in the next elections” stated the PIR, which has promised to “employ all its forces.”

In activist circles and beyond, Francois Hollande, who obtained 85% of the Muslim vote in 2012, is currently at his lowest popularity level. Although it is impossible to determine what constitutes the “Muslim vote,” it is evident that many Muslims are angry with Hollande and how he has dealt with the situation in Gaza.

Early in the conflict Hollande expressed his support for Israel and urged the government to “take every measure to protect its population in the face of threats.” This statement has since prompted outrage from the Muslim community.

Many activists and elected socialists of Muslim origin have noticed the rise in hostility toward the Socialist Party, a dislike which has increased since the ban on public demonstrations in Paris and Prime Minister Valls’s accusation of anti-Semitism in poor neighborhoods. Hollande’s party has suffered from internal debate.

Certain members of the French government have revised their original support for Francois Hollande as more civilian casualties in Gaza take place. For example, Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius recently recognized the “massacre of civilians” in Gaza.

Gaza, Islam and Anti-Semitism

August, 2014

Due to the tragic situation in Gaza and the gross violation of human rights and international law, Muslims (without any clear organizational affiliation) have addressed the atrocities effecting the Palestinian civilian population by demonstrating in various cities. Parts of the demonstrators, however, forwarded anti-Semitic slogans sparking public debate about the nature of such rallies, about anti-Semitism in Muslim communities and the lack and limit of a legitimate critique focusing on Israel. Micha Brumlik, well-known philosopher and educator, warned against a new “quality” of anti-Semitism influenced by the war in Gaza. Focusing on anti-Semitism from Arabic-Muslim background in particular, Brumlik suggested to immediately increase educational work and interreligious dialogue as well as claimed Muslim organizations to extent their engagement with this issue as well. Wolfgang Benz, established historian and director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism, however, warned against exaggerating the issue and didn’t see any new “quality” of anti-Semitism in Germany. Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), explicitly answered the public concerns regarding anti-Semitism in Muslim contexts in an interview by condemning anti-Semitism, racism and the exploitation of the situation in Gaza by Islamic radicals, respectively. As an effect of these and related debates, the Islamic Community Milli Goerues (IGMG) together with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB) organized a rally in Berlin. Equally the Islamic Religious Association Hesse (IRH) formed a coalition with the Palestinian community in Hesse as well as with the European Jews for Just Peace and condemned anti-Semitism, agitation and xenophobia along with the systemic destruction of Gaza, the killing of civilian population in Palestine, the illegal Israeli occupation and settlements as well as the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt since 2007. The Islamic Religious Association Hesse had invited several non-Muslim speakers including Janine Wissler (Member of the Landtag of Hesse) and Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos (Minister of the Greek Orthodox Church in Frankfurt).

 

On demonstrations and Anti-Semitism:

http://www.fr-online.de/frankfurt/demonstrationen-israel—palaestina-parolen-gegen-israel,1472798,27897172.html

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2014-07/antisemitismus-gazastreifen-israel-deutschland-demonstrationen

http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2014-07/nahost-demonstrationen-antisemitismus

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/antisemitismus-unter-muslimen-der-hass-ist-voellig-ausser-kontrolle-geraten-1.2059322

http://www.fr-online.de/politik/antisemitismus-warnung-vor–franzoesischen-verhaeltnissen-,1472596,27932444.html

http://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2014-07/al-quds-tag-berlin-antisemitismus

http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2014-07/al-quds-demo-berlin

http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2014-07/alquds-demonstration-berlin-israel

http://www.fr-online.de/meinung/kommentar-antisemitismus-antisemitismus-und-mogelei,1472602,27952464.html

 

From Anti-Semitism to a legitimate political critique of Israel

http://www.fr-online.de/politik/nahost-konflikt–es-gibt-keine-lawine-,1472596,27917186.html

http://islam.de/23968

http://islamische-zeitung.de/?id=18166

http://islamische-zeitung.de/?id=18154

http://www.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/inhalt.interview-mit-rolf-verleger-in-israel-gibt-es-eine-kultur-des-hasses.57c6125c-ba8b-4a56-b25b-6d1771763317.html

http://www.fr-online.de/meinung/gaza-krieg-israels-unrecht-auf-geraubtem-land,1472602,28007268.html

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2014-07/israel-gaza-konflikt-antisemitismus

http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/anti-israelische-proteste-wer-hat-uns-das-denn-eingebrockt.694.de.html?dram:article_id=292408

A Militant Jewish Group Confronts Pro-Palestinian Protesters in France

August 6, 2014

Several hundred pro-Palestinian demonstrators rampaged through the Jewish quarter of this northern suburb of Paris in July, some chanting, “Death to Jews.” As the rioters attacked a funeral home and set fire to a pharmacy, a band of young Jews formed a human shield in front of the city’s main synagogue, brandishing motorcycle helmets as weapons.

Foot soldiers of a French offshoot of the Jewish Defense League, a far-right Zionist group that advocates muscular self-defense in the face of violence and anti-Semitism, they faced off with the crowd as protesters clashed with riot police officers.

“If it wasn’t for those boys, this whole neighborhood would have been burned and turned into hell,” said Fortunée Fitoussi, a cashier at Boulangerie Nathanya, a popular bakery in a large Jewish neighborhood of kosher grocery stores and blocky apartment buildings in Sarcelles often called Little Jerusalem.

But while some Jews embraced members of the group as heroes, it also added a volatile element to France’s sometimes violent street protests as the Gaza war fueled tensions, especially between Muslims and Jews, in a climate of growing anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere in Europe.

The group models itself loosely on the Jewish Defense League in the United States, an organization founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990, and whose Kach party was banned in Israel as racist. The American group has been listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a terrorist organization. The French interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, warned in July against “excesses” of the French League, prompting speculation that he was considering banning the group.

The French news media has characterized the French League as a dangerous vigilante group, though experts say it is small, disorganized and less militant than its American counterpart.

Founded in France in 2003 by former members of Betar, the youth movement linked to the Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the French League has roughly 400 members. They are predominantly young Sephardic men from working-class suburbs, some trained in krav maga, a hand-to-hand martial art used by the Israeli military. Critics accuse the group of advocating violence and racism, noting a past entry on the League’s Facebook page that referred to Arabs as “rats.”

“They are dangerous, violent and anti-republican,” said Sihem Souid, a human rights activist whom the League has lambasted on its website and accused of encouraging anti-Semitism. Ms. Souid, who works for a victims’ organization attached to the Justice Ministry, vehemently denies the accusation and has called for the group to be banned.

In a rare interview, one of the group’s senior officials, a burly 62-year-old former law enforcement official who declined to give his full name but called himself Eliahou, summarized the French League’s philosophy: “I would rather be a mean Jew than a dead Jew.”

Eliahou said the League had no qualms about harassing people wearing kaffiyehs, the black-and-white scarf that is a symbol of Palestinian resistance, on the Rue des Rosiers, a street lined with Judaica shops and falafel joints in central Paris. “This is our neighborhood,” he explained. “Our aim is to annoy people who hate Israel and are anti-Semites.”

Eliahou said anti-Semitic violence was swelling the group’s ranks, with 10 recruits joining every day, while donations had poured in from as far away as Canada. Though his claims were not possible to verify, the group’s members are being embraced across Jewish neighborhoods in the French capital as gutsy, if hotheaded, protectors, residents said.

During another attack in July at a synagogue in an eastern district of Paris, on the Rue de la Roquette, several witnesses, including Jean-Yves Camus, director of the Observatory of Political Radicalism at the Jean Jaurès Foundation in Paris, credited the League with helping to fend off up to 150 pro-Palestinian demonstrators as congregation members cowered inside.

Several congregation members who were there said demonstrators, some wielding metal bars and bats, had tried to scale the walls while League members forced them back by tossing tables and chairs. Palestinian groups accused the League of provoking the attack by taunting demonstrators and throwing projectiles.

Mr. Camus said he had studied the group extensively and concluded that it was capable of fighting but did not resemble its American counterpart, a serious terrorist organization.

Still, members have gained reputations as provocateurs. Bernard Ravenel, a member of the France Palestine Solidarity Association, said that in 2004, half a dozen masked members of the League tried to break down the door to the group’s headquarters to disrupt a conference. Eliahou denied that the attack took place.

In 2012, the French Jewish Union for Peace demanded that the group be disbanded, accusing it of making threats. Members have also interrupted a reading in Paris organized for Jacob Cohen, a writer critical of Israel, heckling him as a “collaborator.”

That year, a member of the League sprayed Houria Bouteldja, a French-Algerian activist, with red paint as she stood near a museum devoted to Arab culture.

Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, dismissed the League as marginal. The Protection Service of the Jewish Community, a security body that works closely with the police, is highly effective, he said, and hundreds of officers from the French security services have been deployed in recent weeks to maintain order. But he dismissed claims by pro-Palestinian groups and the French news media that the League had provoked recent anti-Semitic attacks.

“We don’t know the League, and we don’t want to know it, and I am sad that youths feel attracted to this organization,” he said. “But I understand when youths say that we are faced with a pogrom and need to defend ourselves.”

Law enforcement officials said some League members had criminal records. A leading member of the Protection Service, who asked that his name not be used, citing security concerns, said members did not have adequate training, were overly aggressive and were giving Jews a bad name.

But Chantal Haziot, owner of a Judaica shop in the Jewish quarter of the Marais, expressed a more common refrain heard these days: “People are afraid, and, like them or not, I am happy they’re there.”