22 February 2003

The Wonderful World of Syria

As students here at Wayne State, we believe in education and the educational opportunities that arise. We also believe in open discussion of ideas and ideologies. However, there is a problem when there is an opportunity to do “educational business” with a terrorist country.

In the beginning of January, Wayne State signed an agreement of scientific cooperation and cultural relationship with the state controlled Damascus University in Syria. In any other case this would be a great opportunity to learn about another culture, but in this instance it is clearly wrong to have any connection, scientific or other, to the country of Syria.

Syria is one of the countries on the U.S. State Department list of states that sponsor terrorism. Syria supports and harbors terrorist organizations, including the al-Qaeda connected Hizbullah. Hizbullah is responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans, in the bombings of the U.S. Embassy, and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut - and probably the Kohbar towers bombing which murdered 19 American soldiers. Syria is also home to Hamas, a terrorist organization which has murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians as well as many American citizens in homicide bombings. We also must include Syria’s support for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al-Jihad and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All of these groups have been involved in murdering Americans around the world. (www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-horowitz102401.shtml)

What about Human Rights? Governmental Syrian security forces rule everyday life in Syria. They arrest and kill citizens for their political and religious beliefs. Not only do they murder individual citizens, they have already massacred thousands. In 1982, in order to end political dissent, Syrian security forces moved into the city of Hama. They proceeded to massacre between 30,000 and 40,000 Syrian men, women and children. In addition to this massacre, thousands of people were displaced. Nobody has ever been held responsible for these murders. In fact, Rifa’at Asad, the uncle to the present president of Syria, who was in charge of the massacre, was rewarded by being appointed to be vice-president of national security. Other officers were given higher ranks. Ever since the massacre in Hama, there have been no protests against the Syrian government. (www.shrc.org/english/99reports/18021999.htm)

As if all this were not enough, Syria is a major center for drug trafficking as well as forging Western bank notes. In November 1997, President Clinton told the Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee that he wanted Syria and Syrian-occupied Lebanon removed from the list of 30 countries who grow and distribute drugs worldwide. This was based on the fact that those countries had reduced the amount of poppy fields used in the production of opium. They had also reduced the amount of cannabis, used for hashish and marijuana production. However, Clinton failed to notice that Syria and Lebanon had increased production of harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine. These drugs are more profitable, harder to trace and more dangerous. Over the last two years, Syria and Lebanon have increased production of hashish and marijuana and are the number one drug trafficking country in the Middle East. (www.ict.org.il/articles/crime2.htm)

Bringing our focus to Syria’s business practices, Syria has a new program to bring foreign investments to the country. This includes free-trade zones and laws that make it easier to build the country’s economy. Unfortunately, although not surprisingly, this includes doing business with another repressive dictator in the region - Saddam Hussein of Iraq. This agreement was brought forward by the Syrian Ministry of Industry. Syrian and Iraqi officials have said that the value of the trade exchange is holding at about a billion dollars. (http://arutzsheva.com/article.php3?id=2010)

When we look over all these different areas that the Syrian government is involved in: everything from being a haven for and funding terrorist organizations, massacring tens of thousands of their own citizens, and being the number one drug producing and trafficking country in the Middle East, it is inconceivable how Wayne State University has decided to have any connection to the country of Syria. Who knows who the recipients of joint scientific projects will be. Iraq? Al-Qaeda?

Damascus University is not a public university like Wayne State. It is a university that is completely controlled by the state, without any chance of freedom of expression by the professors there. This agreement is being peddled to the students of Wayne as being part of “building bridges” between “equals” and “academic freedom” for those involved. Syrian professors and students do not have a concept of what “academic freedom” means, or even what “freedom” means. By creating such an agreement, we are legitimizing a murderous, terrorist, drug trafficking state. As far as “building bridges” between “equals”, this is not a bridge I in good conscience would like to help build.

15 February 2003

Francis Bok: Escaped Sudanese Slave

Last week Thursday, Peace Through Knowledge, my student organization brought in Francis Bok, an escaped Sudanese Slave. It was amazing.

I've been working on and off more than 3 weeks on bringing him into Wayne State. I had other student groups on this also, which was also great. Association of Black Business students, Political Science Department, Hillel of Metro Detroit, and the Grosberg Religious Center. I'm so thrilled that it worked out in the end.

We had something like 80-100 people attend. It was a mixed crowd, black and white. It was a real opportunity to work together. Hopefully this was only the first time that we'll work with the Assoc. of Black Business Students. They were great.

The Muslims were upset and accused Hillel of being racist and using the ABBS to cover themselves. Whatever. It was my group that brought Bok in and had asked Hillel to sign their name on. They're welcome to get upset if they want. They were'nt happy that we said on the flier that it was Arabs who enslaved Bok. Besides the fact that I made the flier straight off his bio on his website, it's too bad they can't deal with reality. It was Muslims who enslaved him.

All in all, the point wasn't to point the finger at them, the point was that I thought this was a great opportunity to pull many different groups together behind something we could all stand behind as far as a humanitarian position - being against slavery. I thought everything went amazingly well.

The website to check out is: www.iabolish.com

The Forgotten Refugees

Imagine you have been living in the same city that your parents, grandparents and even your great-great-grandparents have lived in for the last twenty five hundred years. Sounds incredible. Then one day, it’s all over. You are thrown out of your home and sent penniless hundreds of miles away with no chance of ever returning. This is the story of the Jews that were living in the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Jews lived in what are now the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa since the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE (BC). When the Muslim Arabs swept through the Middle East and North Africa, Jews were one of the few indigenous peoples that resisted conversion to Islam. As a result, they were reduced to second class citizens, otherwise known as dhimmis. This meant the Jews were tolerated but could never achieve equal status of a Muslim.

Caliph Omar, who succeeded Muhammed, created a set of codes by which a dhimmi had to live. The degradation of Jews under the Charter of Omar depended on the individual ruler. From Time Immemorial, documents some of these actions. In Yemen “life was abject slavery...where one of the Jews’ tasks was to clean city latrines and another was to clear the streets of animal carcasses-without pay, often on their Sabbath.” Albert Memmi, a Tunisian Jewish newspaperman wrote: “What have we been for centuries if not dominated, humiliated, threatened and periodically massacred?”

When dhimmis laws were not being strongly enforced, there were times that Jewish community would flourish. The response to that success would be a wave of harassment or massacre of Jews, instigated by the government or the masses. Once the Jewish community was weak again, they would be temporarily left alone.

This is the backdrop to the tragedy of the forgotten Middle East refugees. In 1948, nearly 900,000 Jews lived in the Middle East and North Africa, some having lived there for 2500 years, such as in Iraq. Today, 99% of these communities no longer exist and less than 8,000 Jews live in the Arab countries of the MidEast and North Africa.

The rise of Arab nationalism in the mid-20th Century led to the destruction of these communities. Hajj Amin al-Husayni, an Arab nationalist leader, and the Mufti of Jerusalem went to Nazi Berlin in 1941 and asked Hitler to “resolve the problem of the Jewish elements in Palestine and the other Arab countries in the same way as the problem was resolved in the Axis countries.” A few years later, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen drove out most of their Jewish citizens through government action and physical attacks. In Iraq, 150,000 Jews were forced to leave their bank accounts and life savings, and only allowed one suitcase. Libyan Jews were allowed to leave with no more than twenty dollars apiece.

In 1947, before the creation of the State of Israel, the Arabs were offered a state of Palestine alongside that of a Jewish State. They refused, declared war on Israel, told the Arabs living in pre-state Israel to leave their home temporarily until Israel was destroyed. The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha proclaimed on May 15, 1948, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

When the Arab states lost the war, two refugee situations were created. The first was the Jewish refugee problem of almost a million people. Israel welcomed them and integrated them into the newly formed State. The second refugee problem was the one of the Arabs who were waiting to go back to their homes after Israel was destroyed. While Israel had taken in the Jews from the Arab countries, these displaced Arabs were placed into refugee camps to be run by the United Nations, paid for by the world.

The Arabs that were told by the Arab commanders to temporarily leave their homes are now being used as a propaganda tool against Israel. These Arabs could have been easily resettled in any Arab country. Zuheir Muhsin, executive member of the PLO wrote in the Dutch daily newspaper, Trouw: “Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel...”

As it stands today, the concept of compensation for the Jews thrown out of their native Arab countries has never made the headlines of any newspaper. They lost what is the equivalent of billions of dollars. It’s time to talk about compensation for these forgotten Middle East refugees.

For more information: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. (www.jimena-justice.org)

09 February 2003

Ambulances and Bombs

When we hear the sounds of an ambulance siren behind us, there are usually two automatic reactions that occur. The first is that we pull over to the right side of the road. The second reaction is that we usually worry about the welfare of the person inside the ambulance that needs such


At the same time we are moving aside to let the ambulance through, we do not wonder if the ambulance is carrying a bomb or armed terrorists. On the other hand, this is a real concern for Jews driving down the street in Israel.

Last week I heard a passing comment about how terrible it was that an ambulance was delayed at a security checkpoint. I agree, this is a terrible situation. The fact that Israelis can not longer trust ambulances to be transporting people needing medical treatment is a horrible situation.

There have been many instances where Red Crescent ambulances have been used for terrorist activities. One such example was reported on in the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, on June12, 2002. It reported that when Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance carrying a woman and three children, they also found a 22 pound bomb sewn into a coat crammed into a stretcher mattress. The bomb was taken out of the ambulance and detonated in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRP).

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the driver, Islam Jibril confessed to trying to smuggle in the bomb. He also admitted both that this was not the first time that an ambulance was used to transfer terrorists and bombs, and that Red Crescent workers are sent on terror missions. Jibril said that the bomb, assembled as a belt to be worn by a suicide bomber, was given to him by Mahmoud Titi of the Al Aqsa Brigade, a group associated with the Palestinian Authority.

In a statement, the Israeli Emergency Services of the Magen David Adom "requests the International Red Cross intervene immediately in order to ensure that its protege, the Palestinian Red Crescent, strictly observe and respect the protective emblems, for humanitarian purposes only."

The ICRP responded to the bomb incident by saying that it was "shocked and dismayed" and "condemns such use of an ambulance and of the Red Crescent emblem." (Journal of Emergency Medical Services www.jems.com/jems/news02/0415a.html) ICRP also stated that

it "understands the security concerns of the Israeli authorities, and has always acknowledged their right to check ambulances..."

This is only one situation out of many. In January 2002, Wafa Idris blew herself up on a crowded street in Jerusalem becoming one the first female suicide bombers. She was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, as was Mohammed Hababa, the Tanzim (terrorist organization with ties to the Palestinian Authority) operative who sent her. She left the West Bank in an ambulance.

In October 2001, Nidal Nazal, a Hamas terrorist was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces. He was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, and used the unrestricted travel to be a messenger between Hamas headquarters and different West Bank towns.

These terrorists have even boasted about using ambulances to news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and others in the Arab press. To see English translations go to www.memri.org.

It is a terrible state of affairs that the Israeli authorities must search ambulances in order to feel safe. What is even worse is that the Red Crescent has compromised its humanitarian role to be used by terrorists. Any injured people that are delayed at the checkpoints can thank the

Palestinian Authority and other terrorist organizations for destroying the trust that should go along with riding in the back of an ambulance.

05 February 2003

The First Jewish KKK Member?

Last week was incredibly insane. I was called a KKK member.

I was called a KKK member during an Arab divestment meeting. I guess that I'm now officially the first Jewish KKK member. He made the generalization that Jews think they're better than everyone else so therefore we're no better than the KKK. So I yelled at him that he wrong about the generalization and that I'd add the KKK idea to my resume.

How stupid. A friend of mine said that the whole concept was dumb. Since I'm Jewish, the whole burning cross thing wouldn't work, in addition if I wanted to burn a Jewish star that would be a problem. To begin with, Jewish stars are hard to bang into the ground, and they don't balance well anyway. The whole sheet over the head thing wouldn't work anyway - it would mess up my hair.

What can I say? How dumb. Divesting from Israel is a bad idea. It would hurt the United States just as much Israel. All the major American companies invest in Israel.

Obviously, we are not dealing with a thinking crowd. It's just another tactic to attack Israel disguised as a "peaceful" method to end the "occupation".

And I, of course, am the first Jewish KKK member.

03 February 2003

Welcome Home

I always say. Do the research!! Todays events are only the reflection of yesterday. In the next few articles the issue of the Palestinians and the Palestinian refugees will be addressed. These articles will be based in fact and not emotion. In order to be an honest researcher, put away what you have learned off of the evening news and do some thinking from facts.

The beginning of the Palestinian issue begins way back during ancient Roman times. When the Romans conquered the Jews in 70 CE (Common Era aka A.D.) and destroyed the Temple, the Romans still had problems with the Jewish People. The Jewish People were not willing to give up their Land without a fight. So finally in 135 CE, the Romans had had enough. They wiped out the stronghold of Masada, and gave the Holy Land the new name of “Palestine”, named after the Greek Philistines of Bible fame, and scattered the Jews across the known world. This new “slave name” was created to break the connection that the Jews had with their homeland and to destroy the Jews as a People. As 2000 years of history has shown us, Rome is gone and Israel is back. However, the “slave name” stuck. Although the Jews were the original “Palestinians” we now seem to have a “new” Palestinian people.

It’s time to skip ahead in history to post-WWI. The Ottoman Empire picked the wrong side and its Empire was split up among the victors of the War To End All Wars. Part of the Empire was called “Palestine” or Greater Syria, which included what is now Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The Palestine Mandate was the area given to Great Britain to administer. The Mandate included what are now the countries of Jordan and Israel.

Up and through this time of post World War I, there were small communities of Jews living in the Land. The Jews had never even attempted to establish another homeland anywhere in the world. At the same time, the Land of Israel had waited for them. The Land had exchanged hands many times over the centuries, from the Romans, to the Muslims, to the Crusaders, and to the British to name a few. Amazingly enough, no nation had ever established a capital city or independent country in the Land and it was always part of larger empire.

At this time, the majority of Arabs in the area considered themselves Syrian. Who considered themselves “Palestinians”? Strangely enough, both Arabs and Jews considered themselves “Palestinians”. Both people had this identification stamped in their passports. (From Time Immemorial, by Joan Peters) Since both pre-state Jordan and Israel were part of the Palestine Mandate they were free to travel back and forth between parts of the Mandate.

Now things get complicated. In 1917, the British promised the Jewish People a homeland in all of the Palestine Mandate - Jordan and Israel. There was even Arab support for this plan. Faisal Ibn Hussein, son of Hussein the Sharif of Mecca and King of the Hejaz, (and great grandfather of the current King of Jordan), was recognized as the legitimate leader of the Arab world after WWI. He was also the official head of the Arab delegation to the 1918 Paris Peace Conference, which most nations attended. Faisal recognized Jewish Palestine in London in February 1919 when he signed the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement with Chaim Weizmann, the officially recognized head of the Zionist delegation to the peace conference. Weizmann would later become the first president of Israel. This agreement formally recognized the Balfour Declaration, which called for the creation of a Jewish National Homeland in Palestine.

On March 8, 1919, Faisal sent a letter to Harvard Law School Dean and later Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter which shows the attitude that Faisal and most Arabs of his generation had toward Zionism. “Dear Mr. Frankfurter, ...We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement...We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home...We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another...The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist; our movement is national and not imperialist; and there is room in Syria for us both...People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, ignoring the need for cooperation of the Arabs and Zionists, have been trying to exploit the local difficulties...I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us...”

What went wrong? Tune in next week.