The Myth of a Greater Israel

Originally posted on Beyond the Cusp:

We often hear reference to a Greater Israel as the goal of the Israeli people and government. The claim is that Israel plans on extending her boundaries to include the West Bank and in some claims also the Gaza Strip. In order to further understand the controversy of a Greater Israel there exist a couple of maps that make it much easier to visualize.

The above is a representation of the original British Mandate of Palestine. According to the intent of the Balfour Declaration and associated edicts from the League of Nations the shaded area was reserved for the Jewish State, Israel. After WWI the British wished to reward the Hashemite Arabs for their allegiance in fighting in the Middle East front of the war. This lead to the British dividing the British Mandate into Transjordan, today’s country of Jordan, and Palestine which was then supposed to become the Jewish…

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Why, As A Pakistani, I Stand With Israel

Pakistanis from everywhere have been sending me messages and photos on Facebook and Twitter, expressing support for Israel. And that is surprising even for me because even though I am pro-Israel, I didn’t think there were so many other Pakistanis like me who stand with Israel. Indeed, the Pakistani government doesn’t speak for all of us.

 

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There was one common thing which they all said: they all said that they are afraid to be vocal about their pro-Israel views because of fear of backlash from family and friends. This is true. Ever since I have been vocal about my pro-Israel views, I have received a heavy backlash from my own friends. Some have unfriended me. Some are about to. Some have accused me of taking sides while others have accused me of being a part of an “ongoing genocide” in Gaza. I don’t mind the accusations. Being an atheist, I have been accused of “shaking hands with the Satan” by some of these same people. But these are not the people I want to address here. I want to address secularists and liberals like me. People who otherwise share pretty much the same views with me on other political issues. It appears that I have alienated some of these people. So here I will answer some of the criticism I have received,hoping to clear some of these charges if not all, while clearing some of the misconceptions Pakistanis have about Israel.

Charge # 1:

“You are an atheist and you support Israel? That’s contradictory!”

My answer: Yes, I am atheist. And I’m a staunch supporter of Israel. Is that a contradiction? Not necessarily. Did you know that the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl was an atheist? In fact, a recent poll showed that almost half of the Jews today are atheists. Is that the only reason I support Israel? Absolutely not. Jews and Judaism are not necessarily the same thing. Jew is also a cultural identity. Moreover, there are atheists, Muslims and Christians in Israel too. Yes, it is true that many Jews use the “promised land” argument – an argument I find absurd – to defend Israel. Frankly, I could care less about what bullshit, made up religions say. What I do acknowledge is the fact that Jerusalem has an important place in the history of Jews and that Jews, unlike their god, are real. They are real people who have been subjected to racism and hatred and systematic genocide. They are real people who deserve to live in peace. And they have a right to live in peace in the modern State of Israel which was legally formed in 1948.

Charge # 2:

“You are a Zionist!”

My answer: Guilty as charged. I acknowledge that Jews have a history of being subjected to racism, hatred and genocide. I support the protection of Jews from racism and their right to live in peace in a Jewish homeland. I also acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist. If that makes me a Zionist, then that’s fine with me even though I never identify as a Zionist. Remember, unless you believe that Israel should cease to exist, you are a Zionist. If there can be over 50 Muslim majority countries, I think it’s fair to say that Jews can have at least one, where they can live in peace without having it’s neighbors calling for it’s destruction.

Fun fact: 40% Palestinians support suicide bombing, according to a poll

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Charge # 3:

“You are anti-Palestine!”

My answer: No, I am not. I believe that the only lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is the two state solution. Both Israeli and Palestinian people have the right to live in peace. But I also acknowledge that there wasn’t a legally recognized Palestine at the time when modern State of Israel came into existence. Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan in support of war while Israel accepted it, and in this way, the modern State of Israel came into being. In 1967 during the Six Day War, Israel took control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The dire situation of Palestinians is more of a deed of foolish Arab leaders than Israel. I also acknowledge that for peace, both sides should be ready to make massive compromises. Israel made one such massive compromise when it handed over Gaza to Palestinians in 2005 for peace. Unfortunately, Palestinians had other plans.

Charge #4:

“You are anti-peace!”

My answer: No, I am not. Like everyone else, I would love to see peace between Israel-Palestine. I would love to see both people living side by side in peace. But right now, that is nothing more but useless idealism. You cannot have peace when you vote in a terrorist organization into the government that wants utter destruction of Israel. That’s exactly what Palestinians did by voting in Hamas after Israel gave up Gaza. To understand this, imagine if: Pakistani people voted in Taliban, and then Taliban launched strikes on India. You cannot expect flowers from Indians when you’re sending missiles their way. Similarly, Palestinians must understand that peace can only come with recognizing Israel. Palestinians must understand that they cannot let more of their children become “martyrs”. Palestinians must love their own children more than they hate Israel. The difference between Palestinians and Israelis is that one side dreams of martyrdom while the other spends billions on security and defense.

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Charge # 5:

“You are siding with the oppressor!”

My answer: No, I am not. Those siding with Hamas are siding with an oppressor. Israel has gone through great pain trying to avoid civilian casualties. On the other hand, Hamas is using a strategy of using Palestinian civilians as human shields in Gaza. Hamas encourages civilians to stand on the roofs of their houses while Israel repeatedly warns civilians before an attack is initiated. Hamas’ own spokesperson admitted in an interview that this strategy has been very successful. And he is right. Let me explain how. Hamas uses mosques,schools and hospitals to hide rockets and as rocket launching sites. In this way, Hamas gives Israel two options: 1. Either Israel sits back and takes rockets while doing nothing. This is the only way to make sure there are ZERO civilian casualties. 2. Or, Israel retaliates and kills a bunch of civilians in the process, and receives international condemnation and is shown in the media once again as a ruthless monster that kills women and children. This will and has swayed world opinion in Hamas’ favor. And I admit that Hamas has been winning the media war.

So no, I am not siding with the oppressor. Hamas oppresses both Palestinians and Israelis and anyone who defends Hamas, no matter what their argument might be, is definitely siding with the oppressor. Hamas is no different than al-Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban.

“A strong people” written in Arabic–word play on the name Hebrew name of Operation Protective Edge–encouraging Palestinians in Gaza to stand on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields.

“A strong people” written in Arabic–word play on the name Hebrew name of Operation Protective Edge–encouraging Palestinians in Gaza to stand on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields.

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Charge # 6:

“You are siding with the powerful /the evil!”

My answer: No, that’s not why I support Israel. Palestinians could have been powerful too had they spent their funds on health and education and loved their children more than they hate Israeli children. Instead, they spend their funds on rockets and bombs, and they use the resources meant for humanitarian purposes for building terror tunnels. Misled by the Arab leaders of the past and the present, Palestinians have become a victim to themselves. Most importantly, Israel-Palestine conflict is not a fight between good and evil. To even say so is so ridiculous and it clearly shows the person’s lack of knowledge about the facts, history and politics of that land. In the Israel-Palestine conflict, both sides have very genuine grievances. Both sides have been affected by the violence. So to say “there should be no Palestine” or to say “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist” is not the kind of rhetoric that will bring peace between both people.

Hamas leader

Hamas leader

Charge # 7:

“Don’t you think it’s better not to take sides in a war?”

My answer: Mind you, I am not taking sides in a war. The current Israel-Hamas conflict, which was started by Hamas, started just a few days back. I am staunchly pro-Israel since last 10 years. I am not for war although I’m not a pacifist either. I do think war sometimes is necessary. For example, the current war in Waziristan between Pakistan Army (aided by U.S.) and Pakistani Taliban is one such necessary war. At the same time, I find the current Israel-Hamas war unnecessary. Had Hamas not attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets, this would not have happened. As a Pakistani, I am pro-Israel because I want my country to establish and maintain good relations with Israel. I love Pakistan and I strongly believe that my country can benefit a lot from friendship with Israel. I am not the only one who thinks this. Many other Pakistanis also think that Pakistan can benefit from good relations with Israel, including Pakistan’s former president Mr Pervez Musharraf, who also admitted this in an interview with Israeli paper Haaretz.

Charge #8:

“If you were a Muslim, you would never support Israel!”

My answer: I was pro-Israel in my last few years as a Muslim. But if that doesn’t satisfy you, I can tell you that there are many, many Muslims out there who support Israel.  A lot of anti-Israel bias found in people living in Muslim majority countries is because of how the local media portrays Israel. But this is the age of the internet and once you dump the mainstream media and do a little research of your own, you start to realize that your views of Israel are based on lies or half truth.

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Charge # 9:

“You are a Mossad agent!”

My answer: Seriously? Let’s see, up till now I’ve been called a CIA agent, a RAW agent and a Mossad agent for my political views. Living in Pakistan, I am used to this. You gotta come up with a better argument.  I have nothing more to say to that, except, I would like to demand my share from CIA, RAW and Mossad.

Charge # 10:

“You are blindly supporting Israeli government! / Pakistan doesn’t even recognize Israel!”

My answer: No I don’t. Like many Israeli citizens, I don’t agree with everything Israeli government says or does.  Here’s a good article on how to criticize Israel without being antisemitic. And yes, Pakistan doesn’t recognize Israel, and for that I blame Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. But if the argument is that I cannot be pro-Israel because Pakistan doesn’t recognize Israel, I’d say Pakistan doesn’t recognize atheism either, and I am an atheist. Pakistan also doesn’t recognize Ahmadi Muslims as Muslims, and I do. Pakistan also doesn’t recognize the struggle of the Baloch people and oppresses them in their own land, and I am against it. So there are a lot of things where my country’s establishment and my views don’t match. Does that mean I should shut up and go along with the flow? Sorry, that cannot happen.

 

If you are a Pakistani and if you support Israel or even recognize Israel’s right to exist, Like this Facebook page.

Mehdi Hasan and the nature of complicity.

Originally posted on Futile Democracy:

The horrifying stories and pictures coming out of Gaza as Hamas launch rockets indiscriminately across the border, and Israel bombard the isolated region resulting in innocent lives lost and fear gripping both sides, rightfully strike at our collective sense of humanity. But it is the romanticised notion of a David and Goliath situation, and the bizarre attempts to either refuse to acknowledge the crimes of Hamas (upon Palestinians as well as Israelis), any wrongdoing whatsoever on the Palestinian side, or to explain away anti-Israeli sentiment whilst willfully silent on abuses elsewhere when they crop up, that seems to be the centre of the Galloway-left response.

Mehdi Hasan’s article for Huffington Post, entitled “We Single Israel Out Because We in the West Are Shamefully Complicit in Its Crimes” was one such attempt to justify a moral compass that only swings into action on human rights and oppression, when it…

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Stop underplaying Hamas’s rocket attacks.

Originally posted on Futile Democracy:

Those innocent lives lost as a result of Israeli attacks on perceived Hamas locations in Gaza are not the victims of just one side, they are the victims of both sides and the fact that both leaderships find it easier to hurl rockets at each other, to provoke each other, than they do to negotiate a settlement that protects all civilians in the region. They are the victims of the failures of leadership not just in Israel and Palestine, but the international community also. Too often, those seeking to highlight the plight of the Palestinians and the misery caused by occupation and bombings, try hard to underplay the misery caused by those in groups like Hamas seeking to kill as many as possible.

Today, Mohammed Ansar posted this:

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– I see variants of this theme all too often. Owen Jones The image of an apparent Hamas rocket on a barely…

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The Pagan Origins of Ramadan

Originally posted on Nabeel Afsar:

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To all my Muslim friends/family fasting right now, you might be curious to learn about the pagan origin of Ramadan.

Fasting for the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar actually predates Islam by centuries. Before the Hijrah, Arab pagans had been observing Ramadan as a holy month of venerating their Moon god, Sin or Hubal.

Three Muses approach the Moon God adorned by the crescent

Three Muses approach the Moon God adorned by the crescent

The sighting of the crescent Moon heralded thirty days of fasting from sunrise to sunset. When the next crescent Moon was sighted, the fast was broken with a feast called al-Fitr. The breaking of the fast was also commemorated through animal sacrifice and giving alms to the poor.

To my Muslim readers, this story should be familiar. For non-Muslims: Islamic Ramadan is declared when the crescent of a new moon is sighted, commencing thirty days of fasting from sunrise to sundown, and concluding with…

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A Response to “Talibani Atheism” How it Fuels Islamophobia

Originally posted on Consigliere Del Papa:

I’ve been an atheist for a long time. I’ve come to expect a certain amount of bullshit and pettifoggery from the religious and political conservatives. It comes with the territory. I usually grit my teeth and get on with my day. Occasionally there’s what I call “honest criticism” usually from principled people inside a social group who wish to implement a change benefiting the status of that group. It’s uncomfortable, but worth the time and effort to listen and consider carefully their concerns. It’s how we grow as a civil society. When I’m looking to persuade people to be potential allies, my credibility and trustworthiness is my number one asset. If what I say can’t be trusted as being truthful in one instance, everything else I say becomes irrelevant. It follows that my criticism needs to be a truthful one. My motivation must be from a place of hope for…

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Iraq suicide bomber was once a Calgary business analyst who ‘seemed like a regular guy’

Originally posted on National Post | News:

A suicide bomber who attacked an Iraqi army base last November was a Calgary business analyst who left the country in 2012, friends said Wednesday amid rising concerns about the flow of Canadians to overseas terror groups.

Those who knew Salman Ashrafi said they had lost all contact with him after the Pakistani-Canadian suddenly quit his job and moved away. And now they know why: He apparently died seven months ago after detonating a car bomb north of Baghdad.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria posted his photo online in March, calling him Abu Abdullah Al Khorasani, but a Calgary Muslim community leader said the man was Ashrafi, a privileged Pakistani-Canadian.

“He seemed like a regular guy and he was one of those guys that actually had a career, had a wife,” the man said.

[related_links /]

A University of Lethbridge graduate, he had worked for Talisman Energy and…

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