Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

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Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

“The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Mr Gabriel told the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, according to German newspaper Deutsche Welle.

Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position… even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same.”

Ignorance… The State of Ignoring

Prior to 1939, world leaders were witness to a gradual buildup of militarization within a nation previously brought to surrender in a world war prefaced by a gradual buildup also witnessed by world leaders. The outcome of such buildup was, of course, another world war and another surrender. A portrait of history ignored until the last moment… too late…

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Peter Kassig the Untold Story

caged but undaunted

Peter Kassig the Untold Story

{Previously published in Arabic in Newsweek Middle East & in English by The MideastWire Blog

*By Stanley Cohen

The life of a “radical” defense attorney in the United States is a seamless journey of never ending, tense, often complex battles with implications that extend well beyond a given case or the courthouse doors. At times, some of these struggles necessarily make for strange bedfellows.

The life and death of Peter Kassig is one such journey.

To activist attorneys, in particular, people’s liberty… on occasion their very lives… comes at us in waves of political uncertainty sculpted by events and decisions over which we have little control.

I had just finished almost two years of non-stop work on behalf of Suliman Abu Ghayth, Usama Bin Laden’s son-in law. Having been released from prison in Iran, Abu Ghayth was kidnapped by the US from Jordan after tasting…

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Palestinians have a legal right to armed struggle

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**Originally published in Al Jazeera July 20. 2017. This is the unedited version with original title and links**

For Some, History is a Failed Recollection (Original Title)

Long ago, it was settled that resistance… even armed struggle… against a colonial occupation force is not just recognized under international law but specifically endorsed.

In accordance with international humanitarian law, wars of national liberation have been expressly embraced, through the adoption of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as a protected and essential right of occupied people everywhere.

Article 1 (4) of Additional Protocol I provides that “international armed conflict” include those in which people are fighting against “colonial domination, alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination.”

Finding evolving vitality in humanitarian law, for decades the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA)… once described as the collective conscience…

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Breaking With Qatar

caged but undaunted

Breaking With Qatar

There are provocative, if not dangerous, crossroads in history which can easily take us down either smart or dim-witted paths. I suspect the recent break in relations with Qatar announced by KSA, UAE and Egypt . . .  and with the full blessing, if not lead, of the White House… will prove to be one such weighty moment.

I also suspect that with Trump in the vanguard there is a great chance he will turn a periodic and unfortunate regional flex into a tragic raging fire. Lost for meaning and purpose… it’s what he does best.

I’m no stranger to the region having spent much time there, over the past few decades, as a welcome guest, attorney, advisor and friend who has seen and shared in both its beauty and its pain.

There’s no country, in…

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Where Food is More than Nourishment

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Unedited copy of article originally published at al Jazeera May 31, 2017

Where Food is More than Nourishment

Count time, count time, count time. In prisons all across the world, in as many different languages as there are cruel autocratic despots hanging on to ruthless power, political prisoners are called out from the isolation of their cell-blocks to stand for a moment to ensure they’ve somehow not magically escaped from the dungeons and catacombs they call home. What’s missed? For them, prison is a choice… principle is not.

The march from Bobby Sands to Mandela to Palestinian hunger strikers is steady and unbroken. It derives its strength from resistance as ancient as tyranny itself. Often faceless to most but themselves, each collective that has struggled to maintain personal dignity in pursuit of shared justice has become a torch bearer… inheritors of an age-old arch of liberty bound by resistance, sacrifice…

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If the international community is willing, Hamas’ declaration can mark a turning point

If the international community is willing, Hamas’ declaration can mark a turning point

The movement’s document could mark a step towards a lasting solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – but will the message be heard?

 

Three years ago, I wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian in which I sought to correct the inaccurate, though prevalent, perception of Hamas as a movement whose resistance against Israel is driven by religion, in general, and a hatred of Judaism, in particular.

There has been an active unwillingness to hear the repeated efforts of senior members of Hamas to clarify the movement’s position towards Israel and the conflict

“Hamas draws inspiration from faith; yet religion has little to do with our struggle,” I wrote at the time. I attempted to explain the journey and evolution that Hamas has undergone since its foundation it the 1980s.

Unfortunately, to date there is little evidence that this message has yet been universally understood amongst the international community. Rather, it seems that at times there has been an active unwillingness, and especially amongst Western societies, to hear the repeated efforts of senior members of Hamas to clarify the movement’s position regarding Israel and the conflict.

Despite this failure to acknowledge earlier efforts to explain its motives, Hamas has released a document this week attempting again to convey the movement’s current thinking on several key issues.

A struggle against occupation

The document makes it clear that Hamas differentiates between Judaism, a religion towards which there is no hostility and whose adherents should be respected, and the current occupation of Palestinian land by Israel – against which there is a legal and moral right to resist.

Put simply, the struggle is not against Jews but against the occupation and Israeli rogue state, whose government persistently pursues policies aimed at humiliating and depriving the Palestinians of their basic rights of independence and self governance.

Although the Palestinian people can never be forced to give up the dream of returning to their ancestral homelands, this new document reflects political realities that we face in the present day.

In line with the position of other Palestinian national movements, Hamas has expressed a willingness to accept a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, provided that the Palestinian people are free to live in dignity, security and with recognition of their right to sovereignty, self-determination and complete independence of Israel.

Years of debate

Some may be sceptical of these claims, arguing that it is at best a tactical shift that masks the “real” nature of Hamas which is best reflected in the Charter of 1988. But such arguments are fundamentally flawed.

Hamas’ declaration is all the more remarkable when the devastation and loss of thousands of Palestinians in the three wars since 2008 is taken into account

As I have written previously, the 1988 charter was a product of the circumstances that prevailed at the time and should be understood as an expression of the deep anger, frustration and hopelessness that stems from the continued illegal occupation that laid at the heart of the first Intifada.

In contrast, this new document is the product of years of thinking and debate, among both Hamas’ leadership and the rank and file of the movement. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the leadership to make such a public declaration without broad acceptance or it would have risked alienating its own base.

Hamas’ declaration is all the more remarkable when the devastation and loss of thousands of Palestinians in the three wars since 2008, along with the daily costs of the siege of Gaza, is taken into account. That Hamas is still pressing ahead with this decision despite this recent history is a reflection of the deep commitment to the values and principles contained within the document.

In April 2017, Palestinian children play among the ruins of a building in Gaza City destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in the summer of 2014 (AFP)

Accordingly, I believe that this new document represents a historic opportunity. If the international community is willing to hear its message, it could mark the beginning of a new conversation with Hamas. This could lead to a genuine exchange and dialogue that creates understanding. Such a conversation marks an essential first step in the journey towards a lasting peaceful solution to the conflict.

If, on the other hand, this gesture is rejected like previous ones, and people continue to wrongly associate Hamas with an extremism that seeks regional domination and the destruction of those who do not share our Islamic beliefs, it can only undermine the efforts of the movement to engage in a meaningful dialogue and risk the continuation of the conflict that has marred life in the region for far too long.

– Dr Ahmed Yousef is a senior political adviser to former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, former deputy of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the head of the House of Wisdom Institute.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

House of Hate

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(Originally published on Al Jazeera March, 30, 2017)

House of Hate

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
―Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

I remember as a young boy sitting and watching my father’s blank stare as he looked at a documentary about WWII and concentration camps. He seemed to travel to distant places, as if he was all alone and not seated there right next to me. Only once did he share with me what he had seen as a soldier when part of a group that had liberated camps.

On that occasion he described carrying the skeletal remains of a still as yet living man from the darkened catacombs far below the ground to the light of day, as they both cried… the survivor because he expected to die and my dad, I am…

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