Labels and definitions allow containment…

Definitions are important especially since we tend to be a society that analyzes, categorizes, objectifies, and enforces legal and social control through labels and definitions. Labels and definitions allow containment and shepherding of ideas and concepts. It facilitates communication in some ways but also allows propagandizing and manipulation or politicization of shared mind spaces.

There may be discrete concepts that overlap or conflict in some areas but a system utilizing broad definitions can link originally tenuously related ideas so they become like scattered magnets on a confined surface. You pick up up one but a dozen others come along with it and it is difficult to separate or pry them apart. In other words you accept the premise of one label or definition and are compelled to accept many others to which you may have serious objections. So the setting of labels and definitions that operate at the level of social and legal and political discourse and those which a government adopts deserve careful scrutiny and thought since our acceptance will impact not just policy but even the mode in which a society and individuals begin to think. This clustering of labels and definitions is quickly adopted as a means of political manipulation, political warfare and as an easy path to influence minds and shape the landscape of a nation.

And in our time, more than in any other era, labels and definitions and the structures generated from them when they begin to clump together, proliferate with bewildering speed and impact. And the way our world is shaped changes correspondingly.

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In times of conflict

In times of conflict, language and image are spun to shape perceptions of reality and it is through the characterizations and emotional colouring of the media’s visual language and their choice of terminology that events are interpreted, explained, and experienced. Just as symbolic religious language gives meaning and an interpretation to the world, so also the images and language of the media present a filter through which people view the world and react to unfolding events. To the extent that this language is adopted, accepted, and disseminated by the media and absorbed by the average citizen, it becomes an instrument in defining the role and shaping the response of the general public.

People look to the world around them and derive a significant portion of their concepts of value and worth, benefit and harm, from their interaction with society and from the images of their society and the wider world that are endlessly paraded before them through all the various sources through which they draw their information. This information environment and its content plays a powerful role in shaping and re-shaping viewpoints, eliminating or creating biases and prejudices, and defining boundaries and contexts within which people find their social identity. That identity which was once achieved through family, community, church, temple, or mosque is now driven largely by the media in all of its myriad manifestations.

As a result, the media is probably the most potent modern tool available to those seeking to change or condition a society’s viewpoints, biases, and identity. It has a positive function in that it plays a powerful role in creating a shared societal identity – it has a negative role in that due to economic and political realities, the major media are for the most part, profit-oriented heavily commercialized corporate enterprises. Depending on the ownership and stakeholders, strong biases are expressed so that a news network, especially during times of crisis, disseminates specific points of views, to the extent that it can become little more than a purveyor of propaganda.

And they’re highly networked enterprises in that whatever approach or tactic is seen to draw an audience or is successful in a given area rapidly propagates in slightly different forms across the range of media offerings. Ideas and values are shared, augmented, buttressed, sustained, and reinforced across this range. Despite the fact that there is commercial competition between media entities, that very competitiveness leads them to produce “competitive” variations of each others products which often amounts to little more than a repackaging of what another company has produced – the same news and opinion formula in a new guise or flavour. In times of crisis the same “experts” appear and reappear across the various television and radio networks until, in effect, a fairly narrow and constricted range of interpretations of events propagate across the airwaves, internet, and streaming services.

In this way the visual and aural language of the mass media in times of crisis acquires a real potency and currency – one that is countered only through the growth and accessibility of alternate sources, through grassroots connectivity, and through our growing ability to filter out bias and spin. This is currently a chaotic process still very much at an early stage of development where new social networks and connections are being formed – but there is still a long way to go.

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A prayer

This live-streamed genocide is hard to bear. But far harder to bear is the indifference of so many towards it. It breaks my heart.

So many children suffering and dying before the eyes of the world and yet there is, across the West, a conspiracy of obstinate silence, or worse, obstinate approval of the relentless bombing that deliberately targets civilians, and that is a clear war crime. With the terrible suffering of children and the heartless equation of strategically inflicting suffering on them which Israel is committing and the U.S. is aiding, I cannot help but be reminded of the Biblical verse:

“But whoso shall offend or harm one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into and drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

And yet it goes on – a Christian President who in violation of every tenet that Jesus taught, is hell-bent on clearing a path for the slaughter. But we know that those in positions of power have given up something of their souls in favor of a kingdom of this world. We do what we can to counter the propaganda, to appeal to people’s conscience and call for an end to this genocide with whatever means are available to us.

But at this time, with a heart rent in pieces by the suffering I am hourly witnessing, with my whole being perturbed and distraught with the horror of what is so coldly executed on the innocent, I find my soul in desperate need of that which will stabilize and balance it in the midst of a world completely out of balance. And that, I think, cannot be found except in turning inward, through prayer and supplication (dua), to the One that encompasses both the inward and the outward, the restorer of balance. Here is a simple petition which I hope may begin to repair hearts cleft by the sorrows to which we all stand painful witness.


A Supplication

Praise belongs to God, the first before a first, the last beyond any last. No imagination is capable of reaching Him, no depiction is capable of describing Him, there is no thing in all the heavens or all the worlds that is like Him. He is the utterly unique. Minds are thrown into confusion and bewilderment and the realization of their own inadequacy and limitation when they contemplate Him. Their takbir (their recognition of His Grandeur) is an acknowledgement of this inability and of His elevation above all that they imagine. And yet He is near to His creation such that He encompasses the hearts, so ‌“know with full knowledge that God stands guard between a person and their heart….”‌ (Qur’an 8:24) He is the Generous Giver, the source of all giving, the source of all sustenance, the support for all existence, the guide and protector of hearts for those who sincerely seek His guidance. To Him we turn for all our needs while we dwell in this world and to Him is the final return.

“For it is He who gives life and death. There is nobody to give life and death besides Him. And to Him alone is the beautiful return of the servants…. (Qur’an 50:43)

Oh God, when we deal with others, guide us to ‌“deal with them in the most beautiful manner”‌(Qur’an 16:125). Let us be among the people ‌“who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges.”‌ (Qur’an 23:8), ‌“who turn away from vain talk”‌ (Qur’an 23:3), ‌“who walk gently (with humility) on the earth”‌ (Qur’an 25:63), and who, ‌“since good and evil cannot be equal, repel the ugliness of evil with good, with that which is better and more elevated.”‌ (Qur’an 41:34)

Place us among those whose hearts are overthrown with awe when Your name is mentioned:

“For the believers are those whose hearts tremble and quake with awe when God is mentioned, whose faith increases when His revelations are recited to them, who put their trust entirely in their Lord.” (Qur’an 8;2)

Awaken our hearts through the deep realities expressed within Your Qur’an. Increase the wisdom and knowledge awakened within us through the Qur’an. Make this truthful book our constant companion as we move through this world. Make it a healing for our faults and let its verses come alive in our hearts to revive them and to remove our spiritual impoverishment.

And open the vision of our heart’s eye so we can see things as they truly are. Enable us to see the Truth as Truth and give us the ability to follow it. And enable us to see falsehood as false and give us the ability to turn away from it and to disavow it.

Make The Qur’an and not the opinions of the times be our guide. Remove all worries from us as we deal with the vagaries of our times and the confusion and turmoil within the world. Do not let us be like those whose hearts twist and turn with each passing breeze, with each passing opinion of our era, but make our hearts and our feet firm upon Your straight path, the path expressed so beautifully and powerfully in the verses of Your Book and in the lives of Your messenger and Your bondsmen, your mutaqin (Your true unswerving devotees). Make us worthy of Your book and Your path. Open our hearts to Your Presence.

Let us not be among those who take a part of Your book and leave aside the rest. For then we would be like those of whom it is said:

“Do you believe in some of the Scripture and reject the rest?…These are the ones who trade the life awaiting in the higher worlds for the life of this mundane world….” (Qur’an 2:85–86)

Rather, place us among those who follow Your book and Your prophets (all of them) with sincere hearts. Such that we:

“believe in God and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (in wholehearted submission) to Him.” (Qur’an 2:136)

Do not disgrace us by allowing us to be swayed by the foolishness and confusion of the times we live in such that we take pieces of Your book and set aside the rest. How deluded we would be then. Teach us instead to delve deeply into understanding the ayats (the verses/the signs) so they become for us a true guidance and an unswerving light when the times are dark.

Turn harmful destinies away from us and beneficial destinies towards us. Grant us the wisdom to discern between them and to turn only towards that which is of benefit, and unite us with the best, the most beautiful, the most sublime, and the most excellent of destinies.

Help us to be worthy of bearing Your trust – that trust that You offered to the heavens and the earth and the mountains but only humankind accepted it. Let us not be among those who treat the trust lightly, who follow the low aspects of their nafs (their souls) and who, through this, corrupt their own selves and corrupt the hearts of humankind. Safeguard and protect us from such influences. For as it had been said by your Prophets, ‌“scandals and great corruption will come (with increasing frequency), but woe to those through whom they come.”‌ (Matthew 18:7) Turn us away from those who deliberately turn away from Your way or distort Your way and bring about scandal, corruption, and great harm.

Awaken in our hearts the reality of the covenant (in a higher realm of existence before our existence here) mentioned in Your book, where it says, ‌“When your Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam all their descendants, and asked them to bear witness concerning their own souls: ‘Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?’ – We responded: ‘(Bala) Yes! To this we bear witness!” ‌So awaken us to this reality which sleeps in forgetfulness within us so that our hearts again bear witness and say ‌“Yes!”‌ to Your Lordship and to the trust you bestowed upon us as we journey within this world of trials and tests and difficulties. Help us reaffirm, in the depths of our hearts, our fidelity to You O God.

Let us be among those who follow Your guidance, as You have said in Your book: ‌“…surely there will come to you a guidance from Me, then whoever follows and acts upon My guidance, no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.”‌ (Qur’an 2:38)

Surely we are Your’s and to You shall we return, so make our return a blessing and accept our supplication as You have promised when You said: ‌“I answer the prayer of the supplicants when they call on Me, so they should answer My call and trust in Me that they may walk in the right path.” ‌(Qur’an 2:186) Make our hearts sincere in our asking of You. Place us among the people of tawakkul, those who place their full trust in You and accept Your decrees, knowing that what You give is best, and beyond what we, with our limited understanding of the complexity of cause and effect, can fathom. So our full trust is in You, and We seek the best in Your decrees.

We seek refuge in You from the weakness and the crookedness in our own souls, we seek protection in You against unjust leaders, against injustice in society, against laws which favour the powerful and wealthy and discriminate against those who are oppressed and weak, against the powerful who use their power for oppression and slaughter. Place us among Your friends, those upon whom there is no fear and they are true and faithful to You and Your Book. Set right for us our understanding of our religion and Your book, for it is the guide for our souls.

You are our place of refuge and our strength. Grant us the strength to follow Your path. Take us by the hand and lead us for we cannot walk it without Your help. Grant us fidelity to Your book and let us imbibe its wisdom into our hearts, and through this grant us awe of You for You are the foundation, the source, the sustainer, the support, of all that exists – all who believe otherwise live in delusion.

And if the times we inhabit become dangerous for the believers and for Your bondsmen (Your true unswerving devotees) such that the powerful nations of the world seek to disrupt, harm, overthrow, or sow disorder, chaos, and death among the believers and within their lands, then through remembrance of You, through supplication to You, through turning to You, we seek Your help, assistance, and protection. O Allah, deliver the believers from their enemies, open or concealed, who intend harm against your servants and bondsmen. Defend them from those that plot against them, those that engage in dangerous mischief around the world, whose words are too often lying swords in their lips. Scatter their unity and dismantle their ability to do harm. If they act to harm the believers, turn that harm such that it rebounds instead on themselves. Root out firmness and determination from their hearts and fill their minds with confusion and doubt about the ill-intentioned path they take. And for the lies which they speak let them stumble and fail in their objectives through their own pride and through a humiliating exposure of their lying inventions. As You have stated in Your book, which speaks truth through every letter, word, and verse:

“Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and truth dashes out the brains of falsehood, and behold, falsehood is an ever vanishing thing. Then woe to you for your lies….”‌ (Qur’an 21:18)

O God be the shield of the believers and of your bondsmen from all who intend them harm through word or deed. Only in You is Our strength, You are our defence, You are our salvation in difficulties and calamities and in times of trial. Open up the door of protection and relief for the believers through Your graciousness and confer the beauty of Your Mercy upon them. And bring Your relief to those who are suffering under oppression, bring them solace and raise them in nearness to you and bestow strength from You upon them.

And just as we detest being wronged by those who show enmity and hostility towards us, so also prevent us from doing wrong towards others.

Oh God, through the protective compact of Your Mercy which You have ordained for Yourself – as you have said in Your Qur’an: “Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy….”(Qur’an 6:54), so grant for all the men and women seeking Your path, the like of that which we have asked from You in this supplication, desiring Your mercy, Your guidance, Your protection, and Your help. You are truly the bestower of every bounty, the source of every blessing, and the goal of every desire. Draw us near to You and bind our hearts to You so that we will not stray in this world.

And awaken our hearts and the hearts of all Your servants to the truth of this invocation: ‌“La hawla wa kuwata ilah Bila ali Al Azeem.”‌ That there is no power or strength save in God the most Exalted of the Exalted, the most mighty of the Mighty. And He, Allah does as He Wills.

“And Increase us, O Lord, in marvelling at You, in awe of You and the beauty of what You have created.”

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master Muhammad and upon his blessed family.

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There is no existential threat to Israel

There is no existential threat to Israel or to the Jewish people or to Judaism. There is, however, as there should be, a very real threat to political Zionism. Its time is done.

Judaism is a faith, a religion, a way of life, and it is to be respected, honoured, and protected. Political Zionism is a colonial project with an ugly, brutal, bloody history of heartless occupation, ethnic cleansing, and systematic oppression of an entire people. It deserves no respect, no honour. It needs to end once and for all and to be replaced with a new paradigm of equality, free of the ugly dichotomy of occupier and occupied.

This is no longer something the Palestinians need to ask the Western powers for. They have experienced decades of western obfuscation, vetos of UN declarations, protection of Zionist crimes. They know western assistance is a mirage, a delusion, a con game used to repeatedly mislead and to delay and prevent the end of Israeli apartheid.

For Israel to maintain and continue their unconscionable apartheid project they are compelled to deny the reality of history, to cast as unreal the aspirations and the suffering of the Palestinian people, and to be obstinately blind to their own misdeeds.

Today, we see an openly racist discourse, promulgated by the Israeli government, supported openly by Zionists of every stripe, backed by the U.S. and other western nations, amplified by the western media, and echoed in the halls of power and commerce. Humanistic ideals such as tolerance, equality, enlightenment, and the rule of law are simply a disguise, a mask, a front. Like Dorian Gray, these pretend ideals are merely a pretty picture, a portrait concealing a monstrous reality, a corruption so deep and malignant that genocide is a mere trifling matter undertaken and supported without compunction.

No moral, ethical, historical, or social constraints restrain those infected with the virus of Zionism as they inexorably move forward toward their aim of annexing all of Palestine and “cleansing” it of its inhabitants. They believe themselves a world entire unto themselves and not subject to any paradigms or rules that attempt to come between them and their ultimate aim. The map, devoid of Palestinian territory, that Netanyahu displayed at the UN General Assembly made this clear. And the ongoing firebombing of Gaza and its civilian population by a government devoid of humanity, makes clear that they will attempt to achieve this end, no matter the human cost.

Zionists have a particular very narrow narrative by which they live. The world has to bend to their narrative and they apparently have no interest in fitting into a larger shared human story. Theirs is a narrative of exceptionalism in which there is no place for Palestinians and their attachment to Palestine. Palestine is outside the boundaries of a Zionist narrative and so it has no legitimacy, no place within the “true” reality espoused by Zionism and backed and enforced by the West.

The West adheres to its own narrative of Western exceptionalism, an approach which allows it to impose rules and limits on others while violating those rules and limits itself. It, like Israel, sees no contradiction in this behaviour, since it views itself as the ultimate end and fulfillment of the movement of history, as witnessed by the U.S. president’s declaration that “America is not just the greatest country in the world, but the greatest nation in the entire history of the world.”

The grandiosity with which the U.S. and Israel view themselves presages a kind of delusional narcissism that is a danger to their own selves and an even greater danger to the rest of the nations, who are trapped, in this shrinking world, with these unstable, untrustworthy, and somewhat deranged inmates. Inmates who are heavily armed and who view themselves as wardens, self-appointed to monitor, limit, restrict, and exploit their charges. At a time of crisis, like the world is currently experiencing, the dangerous incompetence of these delusional wardens is laid bare for all to see.

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Gaza – a lamentation

This fall the harvest of the olive trees became doubtful. The F-16s roared overhead as we went to pick fruit from slim trees newly rising from the bulldozed soil of the old groves. Their desert flowers were scattered here and there, but their blossoms were now replaced by the incandescent blooms that flared endlessly, brightly, shattering our homes, our families, our city, our land.

Autumn came on like a fever, burning up the land with a relentless urge to disfigure, implacable and indiscriminate. And we burned with it. Like dry kindling, we sparked and then flamed, first a low smoky fire, flickering and dying and then flaring again, until in the full oppression of our neighbor’s rancour and ire, we flashed like a wildfire and began to truly burn.

This fall the skies rained metal and splashed shrapnel, piercing our flesh, sluicing open our arteries, slicing into our hearts. But our blood was like oil and we let it pour upon the flames. In the heat of our oppression, we became furnaces until the ovens of our bodies could no longer contain the heat, and collectively we became a conflagration, a holocaust of burning bodies set on fire by the children of the holocaust of old.

But the fire ignited our souls, we became “light upon light” (Qur’an 24:35) till the eyes of those who sought our destruction were blinded with the intensity of our suffering. Our homes, our fields, our lands, burned with us as the metal rain became a deluge, and rivers of flame, mixed with our blood, flowed through our streets.

Our cries are all luminous brightness within, our selves blessed olive trees whose blood, like oil, shines forth even as our bodies blacken, burning with our beloved land. God guides whom He wills to light. The time of test and trial is here.

“So Who responds to the suffering of the distressed when they cry out to Him, and lifts the evil (of the oppression) they are suffering….” (Qur’an 27:62)

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The template of their fiction

When there is no connecting thread that ties information together the way is opened for someone to overlay a story (a way of viewing the information) onto events and in this way to color and shape perceptions. Rather than looking for patterns which naturally emerge from events and which best explains all the information, a desired interpretation is instead imposed upon the data. This is a function of propaganda – a storyline is strongly, emotionally, and persistently repeated – its outcome and objectives are linked to a national/societal ego, to strategic hegemonic goals, to pride, and to fear of imminent dangers and threats. The information that doesn’t fit the story is re-interpreted or deemed irrelevant or insignificant while that which bolsters and supports the ideological viewpoint is emphasized and harped upon as evidence of the truth of the story and the viewpoint. First comes the policy, then the story to legitimize the policy – this becomes the frame through which all information is viewed, the template which blocks out undesired interpretations – if it doesn’t fit the frame it’s not relevant. So we are asked to dwell within the limits of this story, to only look outward through that particular frame. Their main task is not to search out the truth but to propagate particular narratives, particular fictions.

Israel uses these techniques to frame the stories fed to the media, the U.S. amplifies the stories, and the media duly propagates and endlessly repeats them ensuring that no other views can challenge those narratives. The aim is to clear a path for actions and violence and to legitimize Israel’s continued brutal colonial occupation of Palestine, something that would normally never be acceptable. It is the attempt to make, in the minds of people, the unacceptable acceptable or even to make the unacceptable desirable.

In this is a tragedy that overtakes all involved. Some swallow and then carry out the plot of the story in the hope and belief that the fiction they are enacting is a true one. They believe the imagined story, they act on that story, and they hope to bring it to their wished for imagined ending. They have overlaid the template of their fiction on the world and through every means at their disposal they seek to press that template upon it, rending, tearing apart, editing out, or re-interpreting whatever does not fit the convolutions of the plot they spin. And in the process real living people, real children and women and men are edited out of existence by the very real bombs used to fulfill the cruel stories visited so brutally upon their helpless flesh.

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Mocking principle, mocking truth, mocking Prophets

“Alas for the servants! there comes not to them an apostle (with truth) but they mock at him.” (Qur’an 36:30)

According to the Christian gospels, when Jesus was arrested and held in Jerusalem, the Roman soldiers charged with his capture were simultaneously amused by and spiteful towards him. Their spite was tinged with a sense of the superiority they felt through the virtue of belonging to what they believed was a vastly superior culture, one grounded in “reality”, not one based on some vague prophecies and the impractical teachings of a so-called Prophet. Their solid conviction in the pre-eminence of their civilization, their certainty in the unshakable power and authority backing them created within them a disdain and contempt for the unkempt, ragged looking disciples and for the bearded brown Prophet who led them. Malice, and anger combined with arrogance, caused them to first mock and deride Jesus and then, according to the gospels, to brutalize him.

“….And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.” (Luke 63 – 65)

Assured by his position in office and by the support of the people, Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged and then handed him over to the mockery of his men in the praetorium. They engaged in jest and sport against Jesus by dressing him in a viciously farcical mockery of kingly attire, pressing a ring of thorns onto his head.

“…Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him….” (Matthew 27 – 29)

Here there is the mockery by the temporarily powerful as a display of their power and as a reassurance to themselves of their superiority. This is a drama that has been replayed endlessly throughout history in different ways (by the irreligious, the anti-religious, and those (religious or not) who overthrow principle and let power politics shape their outlook and behavior. We have seen it repeatedly in our time, we see it today in the land of Jesus (and other great prophets) where occupiers run amok, backed by the militarily powerful. We see it in the dehumanizing, mocking rhetoric of their propaganda and in years of callous and deadly oppression by them.

In the case of Jesus, it was insufficient to have sway over him and to determine his fate, so it was also necessary to attempt to debase him and that which he stood for – to cancel out the psychological discomfort that his existence generated. It is a way of lashing out at the possibilities that the teachings and his very presence raises. If that reality is derided, then we can be satisfied with mere physical and psychological existence, and power and authority, however immoral, becomes the forefront of our experience and is satisfying and sufficient for us.

Yet there remains an agitation (manifested in attitude and action) in those who take such a mental path. “Man was created in restlessness/anxiety.” (Qur’an 70:19). In the case of those who confront, disparage, and mock the Prophets, this state of restlessness, of dissatisfaction and anxiety increases in urgency and intensity when they face one who advances claims concerning the existence of realities that transcend the worlds we know. And so the reaction is disproportionate and extreme as perhaps it is a reaction to an internal contradiction – an attempt to counter inner anxiety and tension by exercising a mocking superiority. Perhaps this arises from an unrecognized, unacknowledged, unrealized metaphysical connection – a subtle but foundational recognition of the Absolute – the remaining echo of our nafs acknowledgment of it’s meeting with God in pre-eternity.

“When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam all their descendants, and asked them to bear witness concerning themselves (concerning their own souls, their nafs): “Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?”- They responded: “Yes! To this we bear witness!” (This), lest you say on the Day of Return: “Of this we were ignorant” (Qur’an 7:172)

We may not be able to grasp the full meaning and import of this covenant and the manner in which it dwells within us, but it nevertheless exists as an impulse within our being. And so long as it exists unrecognized, unknown, buried, forgotten and unsought, denied appropriate outlets, human restlessness and anxiety turns and churns unquenched. And in times of stress or challenge to the status quo, governments turn unflinchingly, zealously murderous, and their citizens, like Jesus’ mockers and scourgers, become unfeelingly callous.

“They only desire to ruin and erase you: Rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made plain to you the Signs, if ye have wisdom.” (Qur’an 3:118)

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Gaza, Palestine, Israel – The Simple Way Forward

Ottawa demonstration

Today, my daughter and I attended a protest calling for the end of violence in Gaza, in Palestine. It was a cloudy, gloomy day, with rain drizzling on and off.

But the overwhelmingly positive spirit and energy that pervaded the march infected all of us. The crowd was huge and we could feel the energy and unflinching determination of all within it.

Despite the loss and sadness we all felt at the suffering endured by those locked into Gaza and at the endless humiliation and slaughter they have had to endure year after year at the hands of the IDF and successive Israeli governments, we also felt the endless strength and resilience of the Gazans.

We were in awe at their ability to rise again and again over the years from the endless blows the Israelis have rained mercilessly on them. And we were stunned by the politicians and governments who are, right now, in this present moment, minute by minute witnessing the ethnic cleansing, the indiscriminate killing of women and children and spurring it on. They witness and give their assent to the use of banned weapons to burn and shred the defenceless bodies of Palestinians. They see the bodies of children collecting in morgues, and the wounded in hospitals and yet repeat their words of support for all these crimes.

And they give their assent to the shutting down of hospitals, to the killing of medical staff, aid workers, journalists, to the denial of water, to the destruction of homes and shelters. They witness war crimes, crimes against humanity, a veritable genocide in progress and through their words, like a ghoul in a horror film, they give a macabre consent and approval to the bloody proceedings.

All this is in the minds, in the hearts of the protesters. They know governments and leaders are enabling Palestinian suffering through their words and actions. This is nothing new. They have been doing it for years, for decades. But no one is disheartened. Instead a spirited demonstration unfolds. Loudly they call for fairness, for an end to years of ethnic cleansing, land theft, and slaughter. They do not support the killing of Israeli civilians, they condemn it, but they absolutely refuse to keep quiet about the endless years of killing of Palestinians.

Those who are right now seeing a genocide in progress in real time have a choice.

They can speak out and act to stop it. This is why the protest had such a positive aura despite the seriousness of the situation. It was a defense and affirmation of the rights and humanity of the Palestinian people who have been displaced and disrespected and dehumanized for far too long. It was to uplift a downtrodden people.

The other choice is to urge on the destruction of Gaza, a city of children (half the population are children), and try to justify it. It is to place your boot on the face of the occupied and oppressed. Those who have done this and continue to do so have sold out their own humanity, their own souls. And it is hard to come back from such a blackness and hardness of heart.

Today’s protest was a call to all to see the humanity, not just in the Israelis, but in every single person inhabiting that land of two peoples (but one humanity), and to enshrine it in the law of the land. That is the simple way forward, the only way forward.

May this be possible in spite of blind politicians, malicious governments, and propagandizing media.


P.S. Afterwards, we went to an Israeli demonstration and I offered my condolences to a volunteer for those they lost. We talked for a bit and both of us agreed that all violence on both sides needed to stop immediately. He appreciated that we took the trouble to come by and to condole. It was a very positive, very human encounter. May we all cultivate and grow these small connections.

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Hamas is guilty. Is Israel also guilty?

A combination of ideology and effective propaganda has the potential to make people apathetic, cold, indifferent, or even pleased at the plight of others – those others who hold conflicting viewpoints. No longer able to see each other’s humanity, they instead see ideological ciphers.

This allows a state or group to undertake unsavory or repugnant actions – bombings, aggressive military action, killing of civilians – in order to accomplish that which they desire to accomplish.

Hamas is guilty of this.

Is Israel also guilty?

The world has spent the last few days in genuine sadness at the killing in Israel, and in anger. Now the anger has turned into indiscriminate revenge against those who had nothing to do with Hamas’s action, who happen to be imprisoned (by the Israelis) in Gaza along with Hamas. Killing innocents is simply part of the method they adopted long ago. This is Israel’s favored way of dealing with rebellion – massive collective punishment against the innocent, since the guilty are harder to pin down. Collective punishment, sadly, is the tactic seemingly adopted by Hamas as well – however, the scale was larger this time.

Collective punishment is an ugly road taken by Israel a very long time ago. They cannot justly complain when it happens back against them. The tactics they validate will also become tactics used against them.

It is an immoral tactic that should not be used by either side. But will either side forego it – that seems unlikely, especially considering the large scale killing of civilians taking place in Gaza right now which will only set up future retaliations.

Unfortunately, Israel endlessly prods the Palestinians through a myriad of continuous and purposeful provocations designed to generate just such a response that will allow it to take brutally heavy-handed action with the backing and cheering on of America and many among the Western international community.

This type of scenario has played out over and over again since the creation of Israel as a Zionist state. Over the years, the existence of groups such as Hamas, Fatah, the PLO, have all been used to excuse the refusal to come to a truly fair accommodation with the Palestinian people and to justify wholesale slaughter, expropriation of land, and endless restrictions on the already hamstrung Palestinian population.

Israel has and (in its current political manifestation) will continue to provoke and act, since it acts, not on the human demands of a situation, not seeking a just solution, not on any shared humanity, but on a heartless ideological imperative that will brook no other course of action, no other goal but total, complete capitulation of the Palestinians (whose land and lives they openly steal) to Israeli demands.There is a vast, unfathomable power balance between Israel and Palestine that is kept in place and maintained by America, and Israel is like an out-of control, morally bankrupt, dependant child who lives off the money funneled to them by a doting parent and whose actions ensure that everyone around them wants as little as possible to do with them.

It is crystal clear who the long term abusers are, who the colonizers are, who the occupiers are, who the thieves of land and lives are, who over the years has carried out the most killing of innocent civilians, who has uncaringly slaughtered the most children, who has done the most maiming, the most kidnapping, the most bombing, caused the most havoc and destruction, it’s clear who has openly carried out ethnic cleansing (a euphemism for genocide), who has imprisoned an entire population in the equivalent of a concentration camp. It is Israel and they are doubling down on this strategy.

There simply is no comparison.

But since Palestinians are collectively guilty, because of Hamas (and because any resistance of any type, even peaceful resistance is unacceptable to Israel), then their culpability and guilt compared to Israel’s is a stone to Israel’s mountain.

It seems that some of what was so unjustly and inhumanly and brutally done to the defenseless Jewish population by the Europeans during World War II (pogroms, ghettoization, confinement, theft of land and assets, dehumanization, collective punishment, crushing dissent as in the Warsaw ghetto uprising)), the Israelis seem to be gradually, over time, visiting upon the Palestinians. I know this sounds harsh, but it is the unfortunate truth and perhaps the only reason it isn’t worse is because the eyes of much of the world is on the region and what the Israelis do they have to constantly make acceptable with a barrage of propaganda co-ordinated with their Western enablers and consultation with them. This is what a vast power imbalance allows when the materially powerful imagine they have a right to dominate, no matter the means employed.

What should the Palestinians do in such a situation? They have tried every possible tactic over the decades, from military actions and largely ineffective missile attacks to stone throwing, to intifadahs, to peace marches, to pleading, to endless attempts at negotiations. But since the playing field is not level, every attempt at securing a fair and just solution has failed. Israel is quite happy with the status quo and over time hopes to push out Palestinians entirely through increasing settler colonial activity and making life so unbearable that Palestinians will perhaps migrate to get away from the brutal treatment meted out to them. In between, Israel will periodically bomb, kill, and unjustly imprison as a means of reducing the population and “incentivizing” the Palestinians to leave the region. In effect, a de-population strategy.

So, given the reality of the situation, and the intransigence of Israel, and the powerlessness of the Palestinians, what should the Palestinians do?

How should they secure, as is their absolute right, a fair, just, future for themselves?

How can the destructive narrative that successive Israeli governments have held onto for decades and which they don’t seem to want to move away from, be changed to include a future shared with the Palestinians?

How can a future riddled with disasters in the region be prevented?

And any future that does not put the Palestinians on an equal footing in every way with the Israelis is not going to have the desired result. No matter how difficult it is, after decades of conflict and propaganda, to wrap one’s head around the “radical” concept of complete equality and parity between Palestinians and Israelis, this is what is right and what is necessary.

twitter(X): @i_from_i
Another blog: islam from inside

Further reading:

Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom

Israel in Palestinian Gaza: Revenge is more satisfying than Peace

Gaza’s shock attack has terrified Israelis. It should also unveil the context

We’re facing unprecedented horror. Why is Biden adding fuel to the fire?

As Gaza Braces for a Ground Invasion, the Circle of Violence Continues

There is Only One Way Out of This: Unless Israel ends the occupation and the apartheid state, this will never be over

A psychological barrier has just been shattered in Israel-Palestine

The end of the Netanyahu doctrine

No Other Options

Moral Equivalence

The industrialized slaughter of millions of people (in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Yemen, and in Palestine) by supposedly civilized Western nations and their allies, has in the last few decades called into question the whole Western view of a rules based system, reason, and morality. Palestine is but one example of the pointlessness of a rules based order when different rules are enforced for different populations.

In Israel, their treatment of Palestinians has resulted in generations of inexcusable abuse of an entire population, with the despicable backing of Western powers. Any claims of moral superiority or even basic humanity, any claims of reasonableness, any attempts to pretend to a moral high ground are by now seen (by any moderately well informed person) for the empty manipulative rhetoric that it is. The purpose served by making moral claims seems to be only to silence criticism while Israeli forces went about their murderous work against the Palestinians over the past decades. Rather than speaking of a Palestinian problem, It would be more truthful to say there is an Israeli problem, one of a conscienceless nation that has treated and continues to treat an entire people as sub-human.

If this was not genuinely the case, we would never have seen this current Palestinian uprising (with its tragic outcomes for both parties) or any of the previous ones, because a moral Israel would have ensured that the Palestinians were looked after, treated as equals, as fellow humans, and given freedom and dignity. There would have been no cause for Palestinians to desperately break out of their open air prison (in Gaza) in an attempt to strike out against their jailers. There would have been no panopticon-like prison to begin with. But the bitter truth is that for Israel and for their supporters there is no actual morality, only a pretence of it for public consumption. In actuality there is, it would seem, only “the will to power” of a government and an ideology that seek to dominate and bend others to their purpose (to erase Palestinian autonomy and ultimately their existence as a people with a land and a history of their own). Israel has not sought fairness or justice for Palestinians at any level, but instead has acted out and enforced policies of brutal discrimination. Dissenters and dissenting views are lambasted.

We are told there cannot be moral equivalence between Israel and Palestine. This is more proof of the moral bankruptcy of those who make such statements. Without moral equality, without assuring the rights and privileges of all, without putting aside the polemical approach of Israeli superiority, an approach which they have used for decades as a cover to behave with depravity towards Palestinians, there can only be repeated rebellions against the fascist tactics adopted by the Israeli leadership.

Israel and their American enablers have had remarkable success in rendering moral language almost entirely meaningless. Their hegemonic savagery and endless propagation of misinformation and lies in the service of national goals has achieved the dubious result of reducing their national morality and ethics into some kind of linguistic or logical error. They spin fables for their populations as if they are children who need a nice fictional bedtime story to put their political intelligence to sleep. And so, having lulled the moral and political conscience they comfortably go to their brutal tasks with speed and amoral ease. Sadly, it can truly be said that in this day and age, “Something is rotten in the state of” Israel.

twitter(X): @i_from_i
Another blog: islam from inside