Biden needs to find the ‘will’ to pursue Israel-Palestine peace, a congressional ally says

Short Url
Updated 16 June 2022

Biden needs to find the ‘will’ to pursue Israel-Palestine peace, a congressional ally says

Biden needs to find the ‘will’ to pursue Israel-Palestine peace, a congressional ally says
  • The US must end inaction and convene the stakeholders, who should decide between ‘a one-state option, a two-state option, a federated model, or a Belgium model,’ says Democrat Marie Newman
  • Congresswoman is outspoken critic of Tel Aviv’s policies and human rights violations, including ‘immoral’ home confiscations

CHICAGO: President Joe Biden needs to find the “will” to do the right thing and push Israelis and Palestinians together to achieve peace, one of his strongest supporters in Congress told Arab News Wednesday.

Congresswoman Marie Newman, a Democrat, said the issue of Palestine and Israel is important to her constituents in her former 3rd District, and even more so in the newly drawn 6th District where she is running for re-election in the June 28, 2022 Democratic Primary election.

Newman has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government’s harsh policies toward Palestinians, including the home confiscations in Sheikh Jarrah and several other human rights violations. But she insisted she supports Israel and the Biden administration, explaining that getting both to do the right thing is not something to be criticized for.

“I wish the answer was yes, Ray, I just don’t think it is there. I think it is not a priority for them. And as much as I scream about it, Rashida screams about it, and Ilhan. There are 10 of us that talk to the State Department regularly about this and it has not been prioritized. We fight, we fight. We fight. Because every fight starts with one person. Then it grows to 10. And then it grows to a thousand. We have to fight,” Newman said.

“It is all about will. We could go in and start peace talks ... and it would take some finessing … because there are many members of Palestine’s various areas that would have to be represented, because there is not just one government entity there. With regards to Israel, we would have to get them to the table. But here is what is important. I am never a fan of forcing what someone’s governmental model should be. Getting them together is the main (aim), convening the stakeholders is our job. The US’ job. If they chose a one-state option, a two-state option, a federated model, a Belgium model, I am okay with it because they chose it as a team. So, let’s let the people who live in the place decide. Let’s not ... I shouldn’t be deciding for them. The American government should not be deciding for them. But it is our job as the leader of the free world to bring them together and to have peace talks and help them get to a place where both can live freely, equally and in justice.”

Newman unseated an entrenched conservative Democrat in March 2020 to represent the 3rd Congressional District which had the largest concentration of Palestinians and Muslims of any of the nation’s 435 congressional districts. Pro-Israel Democrats redrew the district merging it with the 6th District forcing her to face-off on June 28, 2022 with another Democrat, Congressman Sean Casten, hoping Newman might be forced out.

But Newman said the Palestinian, Arab and South Asian Muslim community has doubled in size making the need to speak to Palestinian and Arab needs that much more of an imperative. Newman said nearly 10 percent of the old 3rd District was Palestinian, Arab and South Asian Muslim; the same community in the newly drawn 6th District is “closer to 18 percent.”

Newman praised Biden for supporting many important issues and sponsoring policies to help Americans, but she said the Palestine-Israel conflict is an “additive” issue in his administrative.

“Let’s be very clear. This is additive. Has he done some great things with foreign policies? Is he handling Ukraine well and all those things? But when it comes to Israel and Palestine, we are very conflict-diverse because Israel is a close ally of ours. And it should remain a close ally of ours,” Newman said.

“But let’s be clear. This (supporting Palestine rights) is additive. It is not critical (to Biden). I am saying now is the time to start addressing the issue. Add it to the top of your priority list. It is additive.”

As a result of supporting Palestinian rights, Newman has been attacked as being “anti-Semitic.” The freshman congresswoman has sponsored and supported several pieces of legislation and endorsed resolutions that have criticized Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

She remains resolute despite the personal attacks: “You can’t be afraid to do the right thing. The right thing, is the right thing.” She said it is becoming easier for members of Congress to support Palestinian rights because American attitudes, especially among the younger generation, are steadily changing.

“At the end of the day, what was even controversial five years ago is not controversial now. The sentiment around Palestine and Israel has really gotten to be a much more realistic look at what the state of the situation is. Years ago, people would just say Israel could do no wrong. Everybody wants Israel to be at peace and be prosperous,” Newman said,

“But when the government and the military mistreat the Palestinians, that is absolutely wrong and I will not stand for it. And humanitarian rights are humanitarian rights. And this is not about religion or anything else. This is about treating humans correctly and that is really where all this is rooted in.”

Newman insisted that criticizing Israel’s government is legitimate and that she is offended by attacks from pro-Israel extremists and even extremist members of Congress who have labeled her “anti-Semitic.”

She said being called anti-Semitic is “infuriating” and very hurtful to her husband, who is Jewish.

“I think you know that my husband is Jewish. I am called anti-Semitic on social media, members of Congress called me anti-Semitic. It is so upsetting to my husband and his family when that happens,” Newman explained.

“I am saying hey Israel, you cannot steal homes. You cannot disrupt people’s lives. You cannot drag people out of their homes and take their homes away from them. No. First of all, it is incredibly immoral but secondly you wouldn’t allow that in France. You wouldn’t allow that in Canada. You wouldn’t allow that in Korea. Why do you let Israel, without speaking up? So we criticize our ally Israel and say, wow, you have a huge humanitarian rights violation issue here. Huge.”

Newman acknowledged there are some in the Arab and Muslim community who want her to be even tougher in her criticism of Israel, but she said that she works closely with the community to get them to understand the reality of achieving peace.

“Because I am close to the community they understand, now, that I mean that Israel should be free, and be their own sovereign entity and be able to prosper and be their own nation. Israel has a right to exist now, too. I want both of them to live in peace and I think they really understand that,” Newman said.

“I think my ability to understand the complexity and the everchanging nature of what is on the ground there is emblematic. And I think people now trust that I constantly seek information and counsel because it is an everchanging situation. What we don’t want is war. We are pro-peace and pro-justice. And I think the community really understands that is my goal, is that we just want freedom for the Palestinians. The occupation is bad for Israel and Palestine, by the way. It is a horrible thing for both of them. It’s not a sustainable model moving forward. It is completely untenable.”

Newman strongly supported a resolution introduced to Congress in May that recognized the Palestinian “Nakba,” the Arabic word for “catastrophe.” Last year, Newman urged Biden to stop Israel’s evictions of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington DC including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

You can listen to the radio show podcast here:

Shock, shame among some Muslims as Afghan accused of New Mexico murders

Shock, shame among some Muslims as Afghan accused of New Mexico murders
Updated 11 August 2022

Shock, shame among some Muslims as Afghan accused of New Mexico murders

Shock, shame among some Muslims as Afghan accused of New Mexico murders
  • 51-year-old Muhammad Syed denied being involved with any of the four killings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Muslims in New Mexico interviewed on Wednesday said they felt shock and shame at the arrest of a Muslim immigrant from Afghanistan in connection with the murders of four Muslim men.
Police on Tuesday said they detained 51-year-old Muhammad Syed. A motive for the killings remains unclear, but police said he may have acted on personal grudges, possibly with intra-Muslim sectarian overtones.
Syed denied being involved with any of the four killings when questioned by police, according to the New York Times.
“We’re in complete total disbelief. Speechless. You know, kind of embarrassed to say he was one of our own,” said Mula Akbar, an Afghan-American businessman who said he had helped Syed settle in the city.
“His hatred of Shiites might have had something to do with it,” Akbar said.
Syed was from the Sunni branch of Islam and prayed together at Albuquerque’s Islamic Center of New Mexico mosque with most of the victims, three of whom were from the Shiite branch of Islam. All four victims were of Afghan or Pakistani descent. One was killed in November, the other three in the last two weeks.
Syed, who made his first appearance in court Wednesday, was formally charged with killing Aftab Hussein, 41, on July 26 and Muhammed Afzaal Hussain, 27, on Aug. 1.
Police said on Tuesday they were working with prosecutors on potential charges for the murders of Naeem Hussain, 25, a truck driver killed on Friday, and Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, shot dead on Nov. 7, 2021, outside the grocery store he ran with his brother in southeast Albuquerque.
It was not immediately clear if Syed had retained a lawyer. His family did not immediately respond to a request for comment but local television station KRQE News 13 quoted them as saying they believed he was innocent.
Palestinian-American Samia Assed said the Muslim community of around 4,000 in the city of over half a million people had work to do to prevent violence they left behind in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“This took me back to 9/11 when I just wanted to hide under a rock,” said the human rights activist after she hosted an interfaith memorial at the Islamic Center of New Mexico (ICNM) in Albuquerque, Albuquerque’s oldest and largest mosque.
“For this to happen it’s like setting us back 100 years,” she said.
The mosque is nonsectarian, serves mainly Sunnis from over 30 countries and has never before experienced violence of this kind, according to congregants interviewed by Reuters.
Police on Tuesday declined to comment on rumors Syed was angry one of his daughters had eloped and married a Shiite man.
Syed is a truck driver, has six children, is from Pashtun ethnicity and arrived in the United States as a refugee about six years ago from Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, said Akbar, a former US diplomat who worked on Afghan issues and helped found the Afghan Society of New Mexico.
Syed developed a record of criminal misdemeanors over the last three or four years, including a case of domestic violence, police said.
Video from February 2020 showed him slashing the tires of a vehicle at the ICNM believed to be owned by the family of the first known victim, Ahmadi, according to the mosque’s president, attorney Ahmad Assed.
“We’re in a surreal time trying to make sense of these senseless killings we’ve suffered,” he said.

9 Russian planes destroyed in ‘first Ukraine attack’ on Crimea

9 Russian planes destroyed in ‘first Ukraine attack’ on Crimea
Updated 11 August 2022

9 Russian planes destroyed in ‘first Ukraine attack’ on Crimea

9 Russian planes destroyed in ‘first Ukraine attack’ on Crimea
  • Strike on occupied territory is major escalation
  • Kyiv officially silent but military say ‘it was us’

KYIV: Ukraine’s air force said on Wednesday that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in a deadly string of explosions at an air base in Crimea, amid speculation of a Ukrainian attack that would be a significant escalation in the war.

Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts, or that an attack even took place. But Ukrainian officials mocked Russia’s explanation that a careless smoker might have caused ammunition at the Saki air base to catch fire and blow up. Analysts also said that explanation made no sense and that the Ukrainians could have used anti-ship missiles to strike the base.

“Officially Kyiv has kept mum about it, but unofficially the military acknowledges that it was a Ukrainian strike,” military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.

If Ukrainian forces were responsible for the blasts, it would be the first known major attack on a Russian military site on the Crimean Peninsula, which was seized from Ukraine by the Kremlin in 2014.

Crimea holds huge strategic and symbolic significance for both sides. The Kremlin’s demand that Ukraine recognize the peninsula as part of Russia has been one of its key conditions for ending the fighting, while Ukraine has vowed to drive the Russians out of all occupied territories.
After the blasts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “This Russian war against Ukraine and against all of free Europe began with Crimea and must end with Crimea — its liberation.”

The explosions, which killed one person and injured 14, sent tourists fleeing in panic as plumes of smoke rose over the coastline near by. Video showed shattered windows and holes in the brickwork of some buildings.
One visitor, Natalia Lipovaya, said: “The earth was gone from under my feet … I was so scared.” Sergey Milochinsky, a local resident, recalled hearing a roar and seeing a mushroom cloud from his window. "Everything began to fall around, collapse,” he said.
The base on the Black Sea peninsula is at least 200 kilometers from the closest Ukrainian position and beyond the range of missiles supplied by the West for use in HIMARS launchers.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked for longer-range missiles for HIMARS that can strike targets up to 300 kilometers away. The explosions raised speculation that it had finally obtained them.
Zhdanov said Ukrainian forces could also have struck the air base with Neptune or Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said simultaneous blasts in two places at the base probably ruled out an accidental fire, but not sabotage or a missile attack. “The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defense systems,” it said.

42 Malian soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attacks

42 Malian soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attacks
Updated 11 August 2022

42 Malian soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attacks

42 Malian soldiers killed in suspected jihadist attacks
  • Drones artillery used in attack, one of the bloodiest in Mali’s decade-long insurgency

BAMAKO, Mali: Forty-two Malian soldiers died in a sophisticated weekend attack by suspected jihadists using drones artillery, authorities said Wednesday, the latest violent incident to rock the troubled Sahel country.
The toll is one of the bloodiest in Mali’s decade-long insurgency, which has spread from the north of the country to the center and south and into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
A document naming the dead was authenticated to AFP by several senior military officials, while the government later confirmed the toll in a statement that said 22 soldiers were injured and 37 “terrorists” were neutralized.
The attack occurred on Sunday in the town of Tessit, in the troubled “three-border” region where the frontiers of the three nations converge.
On Monday, the army had said 17 soldiers and four civilians had died. Relatives of the victims, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that some of the civilians had been elected officials.
Monday’s statement pointed the finger of blame at the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), saying its members had deployed “drone and artillery support and (used) explosives and an explosives-laden vehicle.”
The last time Mali’s armed forces sustained such losses was in a string of attacks in the same region in late 2019 and early 2020.
Hundreds of soldiers were killed in assaults on nearly a dozen bases, typically carried out by highly mobile fighters on motorbikes.
The raids prompted the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe forces to fall back from forward bases and hunker down in better-defended locations.
In January 2020, France and its Sahel allies agreed on a push against the ISGS at a summit in Pau, southwestern France.
Several of its leaders were targeted and killed, including its founder, Abu Walid Al-Sahraoui, but local people say the group has continued to recruit and carry out its operations.

Tessit is one of the hotspots in the three-border area.
The ISGS is fighting for control of the strategic, gold-rich area against an Al-Qaeda-linked alliance, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).
In March 2021, 33 soldiers were killed in an ISGS-claimed ambush as units were being rotated, and in February this year, around 40 civilians — suspected by the ISGS of being in league with Al-Qaeda — were massacred.
Mobile phone connections to the area have been frequently cut over the last few years and physical access is hard, especially during the mid-year rainy season.
Thousands have fled Tessit to the nearest large town, Gao, which is located some 150 kilometers (90 miles) to the north.
Across the Sahel, the jihadist campaign has claimed thousands of lives and forced more than two million to flee their homes.
Sporadic cross-border attacks have also occurred in Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin to the south, amplifying fears of a jihadist push toward the Gulf of Guinea.

Indian mother and son shoot to fame after passing civil service exam together

Indian mother and son shoot to fame after passing civil service exam together
Updated 10 August 2022

Indian mother and son shoot to fame after passing civil service exam together

Indian mother and son shoot to fame after passing civil service exam together
  • Social media full of praise for family duo from Kerala
  • They applied and prepared together for Public Service Commission exams

NEW DELHI: A mother and son from Kerala made national headlines and the rounds on social media in India on Wednesday after clearing civil service exams together.

Nedumkalathil Bindu, 42, and Vivek Ottupara, 24, from the Malappuram district in the southwestern Indian state, have studied together to take the Public Service Commission’s examination.

The mother’s test results for Last Grade Servants were announced in late July with the rank of 92, while her son for Lower Divisional Clerk came out last week with the rank of 38.  

For Bindu, who for the past 10 years has been involved in rural social work, it was a third attempt at the test. And the third time proved to be the charm.

“I have been trying to clear this exam since 2014,” she told Arab News over the phone from Malappuram.

The exam is conducted every three years. After failing twice, Bindu joined hands with her son, who had completed his degree in geography in 2019.

“I used to go to the Prateeksha coaching center in the Areekode area of Malappuram,” she said. “I also asked my son to join the coaching.”

Although both knew that they were well prepared to clear the tests, they were surprised when the news broke, going viral on social media.

“We are happy and tense because we are not able to handle this situation of constant attention,” Ottupara said. “We did not expect that the result would go viral.” It was the last chance for Bindu to try to join the civil service in Kerala, where the maximum age to apply is 40. She applied in 2019, a year before crossing the limit.

Social media posts under news headlines praised the duo for being an inspiration for Indian mothers and their children, and an “awesome example of willingness to achieve goals.”

Bindu was initially reluctant to give interviews but said that her coaching center told her the achievement will help motivate others.

“I keep on getting lots of calls from people,” she said. “I got a call from a coaching center in Calicut which said that because of me many women have joined the coaching. I feel that all the bother is worth it if I can inspire even one person.”

UK accidentally leaks personal data on Afghan teacher in hiding from Taliban

UK accidentally leaks personal data on Afghan teacher in hiding from Taliban
Updated 10 August 2022

UK accidentally leaks personal data on Afghan teacher in hiding from Taliban

UK accidentally leaks personal data on Afghan teacher in hiding from Taliban
  • The man, who has worked abroad, has been in hiding in Afghanistan with his wife and two children since the Taliban takeover in August last year
  • Afghan teacher: ‘I am more exposed and at risk of being misidentified as a British spy, because I worked abroad for so long’

LONDON: An Afghan teacher has been told by a UK government department that his personal details were passed to a member of the public in Afghanistan “in error.”

The man, who has worked abroad, has been in hiding in Afghanistan with his wife and two children since the Taliban takeover in August last year.

The data breach has been acknowledged by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and is the first known leak under the government’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which prioritizes those who have assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan and vulnerable people, including members of minority groups.

Those wishing to apply for transfer to the UK through the scheme must complete an “expression of interest” form. The family’s personal details from this form were leaked to another Afghan citizen, putting them at risk of being found by the Taliban.

The ACRS team alerted the man to the leak, saying: “In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation, I am writing to inform you that some of your personal data has, in error, been forwarded on to another member of the public who had submitted an expression of interest for the ACRS … which contained personal data, including your name and background details.

“We have reviewed our processes in light of this event and taken steps to avoid it happening again.”

The man said: “What is really upsetting and unsettling is the fact that instead of being the source of comfort and sanctuary, the British government has regrettably become the source of unimaginable pain and danger for us. These errors could be lethal.

“I am so frustrated with the blunders and non-responsiveness from the government during such a difficult year. Now I am lost for words that this has happened. I am more exposed and at risk of being misidentified as a British spy, because I worked abroad for so long. We are extremely shocked … It is so distressing for us all.”

The FCDO and the UK Home Office have joint responsibility for processing ACRS applications.

The government says it aims to resettle more than 5,000 people through the scheme in the first year, once the window for expression of interest forms closes on August 15.

Anyone resettled through the scheme will receive indefinite leave to remain in the UK, and under existing rules be able to apply for British citizenship after five years.

The ACRS runs separately to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, which offers relocation to those who worked directly for the British government, including interpreters and security guards.