And This Is How It’s Done
By Raheel Raza – a Pakistani-Canadian freelance writer and recipient of Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club.
Did US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib really want to go to Israel? Maybe they never wanted to go but just wanted to create hysteria and garner attention, something at which they are experts. I think it’s the latter, and they got all the chatter.
Omar and Tlaib made it a point in their press conference on this issue to point out that they were “Muslim.” They also said they were going to meet people from both sides and work at “peace.” Yet they have no qualms about slamming the entire country and therefore the entire people – all the time.
Did Omar and Tlaib make a statement condemning the brutal murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb without simultaneously justifying anti-Jewish violence?
As a Muslim woman who has been to Israel a dozen times, let me tell them how it’s done. I fully support Israel’s right to exist with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of the Jewish people to be free from orchestrated antisemitic attacks.
In my travels to Israel, I go with an open mind and no pre-conceived notions. I’m well aware of the problems, and I’ve met and spoken to people from both sides of the equation. I’ve met policy-makers, activists and ordinary citizens and heard their stories. It always amazes me how critical Israelis can sometimes be about their own government, but this is what a democracy is all about.
So, I invite Omar and Tlaib to come with me. I will show them what Israel stands for and the beauty of the Israeli people.
Raheel Raza who has written for The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, Khaleej Times is president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. She will speak on non-violent Islamism in the West during the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s 19th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya.
ARAB CAUTION AGAINST AMERICA’S FOREIGN POLICY
Kheir Allah, Al-Arab, London, August 23
Six years ago today, the Syrian regime resorted to the use of chemical weapons against its people for the very first time. More than 1,500 civilians were killed in the province of Ghouta near Damascus.
The Obama administration quickly promised to respond to the attack, especially after the US president drew redlines against the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Then-US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel hastily returned to Washington, where he was preparing a response to Assad’s criminal attack.
But suddenly the US president changed his mind, just as everyone was prepared to deal a blow to the Syrian regime. The Syrian opposition was encircling Damascus and approaching sensitive sites in the Syrian capital, the international community condemned Assad, but Obama backed down. Hagel himself, who resigned from his position, wondered why Obama changed his mind in such a dramatic way.
A few years later it finally became clear: the Obama administration was secretly negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. Obama did not want to take any steps that could upset Tehran. He allowed the mullahs to kill hundreds, even thousands of Syrians. What he didn’t allow was any attempt to prevent the Islamic Republic from blackmailing the West, including the United States. In the summer of 2015, the G5+1 signed an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
The deal was the ultimate goal of the US president, who falsely believed that terrorism comes only from al-Qaeda or ISIS. He forgot, for example, that the ideological roots of al-Qaeda and ISIS came from the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leader Obama supported during the Egypt coup. Thankfully, in the end, the Egyptian street, supported by the Egyptian military and Gulf states, had the courage to defy the American administration regarding Egypt. It is no secret that these Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, rushed to support Egypt and provided it with the necessary financial and political support it needed to get back on its feet.
What was unique about the Arab position at this time was not only its caution with the Obama administration, but also its boldness to confront Washington’s foreign policy. Arab leaders witnessed Iran reaping the benefits of its blackmail. Tehran received billions of dollars from the United States and spent a good portion of this money on its expansion project, which spewed violence and hatred through the entire region, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Although President Donald Trump’s administration has been the antithesis of the Obama administration, especially in regard to Iran, in 2019 there is still reason to be cautious and fearful of reliving the 2013 experience. This past summer, the Iranians downed an American drone carrying sensitive equipment worth well over $140 million. The United States prepared to respond to this hostile act, especially after it confirmed that the plane, which was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz, was outside Iranian airspace. But at the last minute, Trump backed down for reasons still unknown to us.
Arab countries have the right to defend their interests regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. Of course, the current US administration knows Iran well. But this knowledge is not enough if one considers the broader American stance in the region. What is America’s policy in Yemen? What is its Syrian policy? What is its Iraqi policy? Last but not least, is there an American position that truly understands what is at stake in Lebanon?
We are living in a turbulent world and we must act with caution. More importantly, we must get answers and assurances from America about where it stands in regard to our security interests. By Kheir Allah