Palestinians in Chicago Defeat Extremist Pro-Israel Candidate in Local Elections

April 12, 2021

A protest in Chicago, calling on Sharon Brannigan to resign.(Photo: US Palestinian Community Network, via Twitter)

The Palestinian community in Chicago, Illinois, succeeded in defeating extremist right-wing and pro-Israel candidate, Sharon Brannigan, in the local election, news agencies reported yesterday.

According to news agencies, the Palestinian community mobilized other Arab communities and supporters of the Palestinian cause to take part in a campaign to ensure Brannigan does not win in the Palos Township Council of Chicago election race.

Brannigan is said to have carried out “many bigoted attacks on Arab Americans and other neighbors.”

Palestinians, Arabs, and their supporters participated in the campaign against Brannigan using the hashtag #ByeBrannigan.

Brannigan and the town’s board attempted to silence the community but they consistently failed, even after they hired a security company to bully protesters and call the Palos Hills police, leading to the arrests of five leaders of the movement, Fight Back news website reported.

Protesters were vindicated, however, when the judge deemed Brannigan’s testimony “contradictory”, dismissed the case, and “essentially affirmed the right of protestors to chant and challenge Brannigan and other trustees at the township meetings,” according to an October 2020 statement from the Arab American Action Network.

Incumbent Assessor Robert Maloney appeared to win with 62 percent of the unofficial vote, however, results reported by the Cook County clerk’s office last week are unofficial until certified and all mail-in and provisional ballots are counted. The canvass deadline is April 27.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Oriental ’Orientalists’ and the US Unchanged Policies

Oriental ’Orientalists’ and the US Unchanged Policies

By Elham Hashemi

Media outlets have been trying to anticipate and predict the new Biden Administration’s performance in terms of US domestic and international politics, with much focus on the nuclear deal with Iran known as the JCPOA. 

Articles and Op-eds praised the quick reversal of his predecessor’s decisions such as the reversal of the ‘Muslim Ban’, which may seem like a sign of goodwill. He seems to be giving his administration a façade of diversity which is impressive to the public opinion at least.  

But people of different color and race in the new administration is not necessarily a good thing. If those placed in power do not represent the popular opinions of the communities they come from then it is to no avail. The appointing of Kamala Harris, as the first woman of color to hold the position of Vice President, does nothing unless she is willing to create real change for women of color. 

Also pointing an American-Palestinian, Maher Bitar to a position co-ordinating the stream of information coming in from the US intelligence apparatus does not necessarily mean Biden will retreat from supporting the Israeli apartheid regime. 

According to a report published by the Politico last Friday, Bitar, who served as general counsel to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and played an important role in former president Donald Trump’s first impeachment, will assume the post of senior director for intelligence on Mr. Biden’s National Security Council.

The designation of the high-profile Arab-American lawyer to a prominent White House position co-ordinating the stream of information that pours in from the vast US intelligence apparatus and Kamala Harris sounds like Biden has decided to use the “oriental orientalists” to help him push his US policies forward. 

The Joe Biden website reads “Joe knows how we treat Muslim-Americans and prioritize issues affecting them reflects who we are as nation. As President, he will: protect Muslim-American constitutional and civil rights; honor the diversity of Muslim-American communities; ensure adequate healthcare; create a safe learning environment; rebuild our economy with a more resilient, more inclusive middle class; and make communities safer.” But these remain to be words of publicity and an exploitation to the American diversity unless serious steps are made and new policies are made in terms of dealing with the “East”. 

Why should the reversal of the “Muslim Ban” matter when the US is helping destroy many of the Muslim countries on that list? The halting of the border wall is maybe perceived as move of good will too, but wouldn’t it be great and more real if the United States was to also halt its policies which help create many of the refugees trying to find a better life in the United States?

The US Biden administration is different from the Trump administration, probably only in stopping the US staunch support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. It may arrive to a deal with Iran too on its nuclear program, but simultaneously without addressing the nuclear war heads Israel possesses or the violence and breach of law against other states. 

“Orientalism,” as Edward Said wrote, is “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.”

The result of this attitude and these policies? A culture in which the Middle East is seen as a playground and a subject for exploration, rather than a region of equal worth and value as the West. This was what the Palestinian-American intellectual and professor Edward Said observed in much detail in his famed book Orientalism, over fifty years ago.

Why Muslims in the US face a crisis of leadership

Hafsa Kanjwal

8 December 2020 12:12 UTC | 

Last update: 11 hours 18 mins ago

Some Muslim American groups have turned into agents of oppression, providing cover for harmful and destructive policies towards our communities

The King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California, is pictured on 23 May (AFP)237Shares

For many Muslims in the US, the news that we will not be plunged into fascism with a second term for President Trump has been met with relief.

However, as Muslim Americans begin to reconfigure their political advocacy, we cannot be complicit under a Biden presidency that remains true to the core principles of American neoliberalism and empire. Most importantly, we cannot go back to the Muslim American political subservience that we witnessed during the Obama years.Joe Biden, Emgage and the muzzling of Muslim America

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Muslim communities around the world – whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, China or Myanmar – face many injustices today. And it is an unfortunate reality that the US is either directly responsible for, or has aided or prolonged, many of these injustices. 

There has been a push in recent decades – and especially during the Obama years – to make Muslim Americans feel a sense of exceptionalism, and to view issues from “back home” as removed from our reality in the US. This is despite the interconnected nature of how Muslims around the world are treated – and how that structural violence also impacts us here. 

From Obama to Trump

The Obama years were defined by the rise of a professional Muslim class that was made into agents of empire and oppression, providing cover or tacit approval to some of the most harmful and destructive policies towards our communities, including the ramping up of counter-violent extremism (CVE) policies using Muslim leaders and institutions. Many of these individuals or organisations positioned themselves as the “resistance” under Trump: we know they will, and already have, gone back to being the native informants for the neoliberal establishment.

The Muslim community in the US faces a crisis in terms of having a principled leadership that speaks truth to power

This means that Muslim Americans have a lot of work cut out for them. We have reached a crucial stage, in which a critical mass of fellow Muslims are pushing to sacrifice Muslims around the world and in the US in order to gain mainstream acceptance and access to certain corridors of power here.

Nowhere is this more evident than in how so many Muslim-American institutions and leaders are normalising Zionism, even as opposition to Zionism is gaining traction within the Jewish-American community. Muslim Americans may not be able to bring about a complete transformation in how the US conducts its affairs in the Muslim world – though they should at least try – but at the very least, they should not contribute to injustice. 

Trump’s presidency was devastating for many people of colour and Muslims in the US. But it also provided political clarity about the US that was not possible under the veneer of the Obama-led liberal establishment. It spurred important, long-awaited conversations about the role of imperialism, neoliberalism and white supremacy in the US that had previously been obscured.

A new generation of Muslim Americans has become politically mature and much more critical than older generations, which are still reeling from the kind of respectability politics in which we have been forced to engage post-9/11. They are building their own institutions. 

Nonetheless, there is a danger that the veering to the far right has left Obama and Biden appear to Muslims as more progressive than they actually are. While the Trump era has ignited more imaginative conversations elsewhere about reducing the military-industrial complex, ending wars, and defunding the police, it has also given establishment Muslims a portal to exercise restraint over developing these wants. 

Going forward

The Muslim community in the US faces a crisis in terms of having a principled leadership that speaks truth to power.

Far too many organisations and leaders are more interested in having access to power than in representing our agenda. Consequently, we need to hold these leaders accountable.

Muslim Americans must advise those who claim to speak on their behalf, and hold them to account if they continue to cause harm to our causes. Lives are at stake when individuals or organisations enable the state’s violence against Black or brown bodies. Silence, or a desire not to “rock the boat” or alienate anyone, makes us complicit. There is no point to “unity” if our goals are not the same. 

Former US President Barack Obama hosts an iftar dinner at the White House in 2014 (AFP)
Former US President Barack Obama hosts an iftar dinner at the White House in 2014 (AFP)

The community must also put a check on American exceptionalism. Our lives here are not more important or more valuable than those of the victims of American imperialism. Furthermore, Muslims living amid some of the most disheartening conditions around the world have a great deal to teach us – we cannot simply adopt a colonial attitude and think we know best.

In addition, Muslim Americans need to understand that Islamophobia is not just restricted to a Muslim travel ban, or someone saying negative things about Muslims. Anti-Muslim racism is built into the fabric of a number of institutions in this country, and very much part of the neoliberal establishment.

The Muslim community must move beyond symbolism, and recognise when that is weaponised. What is the point, for example, of us getting excited over a political leader saying “inshallah” if he was actively campaigning for the immoral and illegal Iraq war and was bombing Muslim communities around the world? 

The heart of Islam

Most importantly, we need to push our institutions towards meaningful representation and to hold the government accountable.

Muslim Americans need to ask themselves where they, their leaders and their institutions are standing

How many mainstream, national Muslim American organisations are talking about surveillance, entrapment, Guantanamo Bay, the military-industrial complex, or the ravages of capitalism? Are these not issues where Muslims should be at the forefront, providing leadership based on our religious values?

Situating ourselves with the most vulnerable and the oppressed has been the core of our faith and its teachings: it is the heart of Islam. 

Muslim Americans need to ask themselves where they, their leaders and their institutions are standing. Are they looking up, trying to protect their interests, serving as tokens, or maintaining the pretence of influence – or are they with the people?

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

Hafsa Kanjwal is an assistant professor in South Asian history at Lafayette College. Her PhD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, was on the social history of modern Kashmir.

Joe Biden Is Unlikely To Fix The Problem Of American Islamophobia

By Denis Korkodinov

Source

In the United States, representatives of the Muslim community have high hopes for the new head of state, Joe Biden. The reason for this was the promise to lift the ban on the Islamophobic campaign and create comfortable living conditions for American Muslims. However, experts are confident that the promises made by Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris are populism.

According to the expert community, the restrictions imposed on Muslims in the United States can hardly be lifted on the basis of a single decision by the head of the White House. Islamophobia is ingrained in the life of American society, as a result of which it cannot be neutralized by political will alone. In this regard, American intolerance towards Muslims is a certain manifestation of internal aggression maintained at the mental level mainly in relation to its own citizens. Undoubtedly, it was the state institutions of the United States that over the decades have created the “ideal” conditions for the development of Islamophobia. Exercising total control over the activities and movement of representatives of the Muslim community and supporting programs to combat “radical Islam”, Washington purposefully instilled hatred of the followers of Islam in American society.

It is worth noting that, according to experts, only in the period from 2001 to 2015 in the United States, Muslim public and religious figures were much more likely to be prosecuted on terrorism charges than representatives of other confessions. Moreover, it was American Muslims who received much harsher criminal penalties, which is evidence of a biased American justice system.

Similar cases became popular under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, when only Muslims were involved in the “anti-state conspiracy” case. It is noteworthy that weapons were found on practically all Muslims accused in this case. At the same time, not a single “white” American or supporter of ultra-right ideology was involved in the case, even as a suspect.

The same Islamophobic trend is evident in the American media environment. Thus, in the specified period of time, 2001-2015, the number of anti-Muslim publications in the New York Times and Washington Post alone was 7.7 times higher than the number of publications in which representatives of other religious denominations were mentioned.

Meanwhile, this is only the public part of American life. There are many more manifestations of Islamophobia at the everyday level, when ordinary Muslims face many restrictions on a daily basis on the basis of following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In particular, in some American catering establishments, Muslims are prohibited from entering, and the local police can arrest a person without charge only because of his belief in Allah.

These problems are ingrained in the United States, as a result of which the new head of state, Joe Biden, is unlikely to be able to instantly change the situation.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Donald Trump still refuses to admit defeat. Based on this, he can deliberately use the factor of Islamophobia to provoke new acts of violence in order to put pressure on the Joe Biden cabinet.

It would be naive to believe that Islamophobia in the United States arose under Donald Trump. However, it was with the assistance of Donald Trump that American intolerance towards Muslims was elevated to the level of a national brand. Therefore, to eradicate this phenomenon, it will be necessary not only to change attitudes towards Muslims using political decisions. Work is also needed to overcome anti-Muslim hatred at the mental level of American society.

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