Sunday, August 5, 2012

Israel's Fading Democracy - Avraham Burg

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.
My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.
Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?
Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.
Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.
In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.
This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.
The modern combination between democracy and Judaism was supposed to give birth to a spectacular, pluralistic kaleidoscope. The state would be a great, robust democracy that would protect Jews against persecution and victimhood. Jewish culture, on the other hand, with its uncompromising moral standards, would guard against our becoming persecutors and victimizers of others.
BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits.
The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.
If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.
This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long.
But there is another option: an iconic conflict could also present an iconic solution. As in Northern Ireland or South Africa, where citizens no longer spill one another’s blood, it will eventually become clear that many Israelis are not willing to live in an ethnic democracy, not willing to give up on the chance to live in peace, not willing to be passive patriots of a country that expels or purifies itself of its minorities, who are the original inhabitants of the land.
Only on that day, after much anguish, boycotts and perhaps even bloodshed, will we understand that the only way for us to agree when we disagree is a true, vigorous democracy. A democracy based on a progressive, civil constitution; a democracy that enforces the distinction between ethnicity and citizenship, between synagogue and state; a democracy that upholds the values of freedom and equality, on the basis of which every single person living under Israel’s legitimate and internationally recognized sovereignty will receive the same rights and protections.
A long-overdue constitution could create a state that belongs to all her citizens and in which the government behaves with fairness and equality toward all persons without prejudice based on religion, race or gender. Those are the principles on which Israel was founded and the values that bound Israel and America together in the past. I believe that creating two neighboring states for two peoples that respect one another would be the best solution. However, if our shortsighted leaders miss this opportunity, the same fair and equal principles should be applied to one state for both peoples.
When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle. Every time the prime minister says “peace” the world will actually believe him, and when he talks about justice and equality people will feel that these are synonyms for Judaism and Israelis.
And for all the cynics who are smiling sarcastically as they read these lines, I can only say to Americans, “Yes, we still can,” and to Israelis, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset, is the author of “The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes” and the chairman of Molad, the Center for Renewal of Democracy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ramadan Mubarak: Salaam alaikum wa rahmatallah

I must apologize to all of you. I have neglected the Voice of the Ummah blog, dealing with trials and tribulations with life. Inshallah, I hope to break my long six month silence, very soon.

Isma'il ibn Bilal

Saturday, March 10, 2012

AMAZING VICTORY! - Manal Fakhoury, United Voices

The Florida Legislative session just ended at midnight, and SB 1360 IS DEFEATED & DEAD!
This has been an intense and emotional three weeks for us all.  A bill crafted by a fear-monger and pushed by anti-Muslim hate groups took us all by surprise just as We were finalizing arrangements in Tallahassee for Muslim Capitol Day
We rallied hundreds of people to Tallahassee 10 days ago, only to watch in shock and disbelief as lawmakers mocked us and passed the bill in a Senate subcommittee without any public debate on the matter.  Again, We were mocked as State Senators claimed this was NOT a bill about suppressing freedom of religion while openly distributing anti-Muslim, hate-filled literature among colleagues in our State Capitol.  They counted us out and assumed we were knocked out…
...but they didn’t count on us coming back swinging; and swing we did.
By the Grace of God, we launched the website We fired up the email, delivering over 40,000 email messages to Florida Senators urging them to oppose SB1360, and in the final days we made 3,000 phone calls to Senators demanding they stop their assault on Muslims and religious minorities. 
We showed them our tenacity and resolve.   We showed them we have united voices that will echo from across Florida and the Nation. As your voice grew louder, they grew weaker. It came down to tonight, the last hour of the last day of the 2012 session. That's where we delivered the knock-out punch, killing the bill SB1360 and their agenda of hate.
Congratulations to our communities and to America!
Now is the time for us to strengthen our newly-formed coalitions, so they will think twice about messing with our communities.
It is also a time to extend our appreciation to the lawmakers that stood with us, and the people of other faiths who joined our struggle to defeat this bill. Look for a future email on how you can thank them.

The opposition is cunning, and they WILL be back.  This anti-Muslim law has been introduced in over 23 states, and with your help we will defeat it state-by-state.  It is up to us to be prepared.
Together we can defeat similar bills in other battleground states. But in order to take the fight to them, we will need your financial support.  PLEASE HELP OUR MOVEMENT BY MAKING A DONATION NOW. CAN YOU DONATE $50, $100 OR $250 NOW?  CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

All Praise to Almighty God.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Demain: Journée Internationale de la femme publié le 07/03/2012 par Nations Unies

Demain: Journée Internationale de la femme
Le thème officiel de la Journée internationale de la femme 2012 est : « L’autonomisation des femmes rurales et leur rôle dans l’éradication de la pauvreté et de la faim, le développement et les défis actuels ».
En contribuant de manière déterminante aux économies mondiales, les femmes rurales jouent un rôle crucial dans les nations développées comme en développement : elles renforcent le développement agricole et rural, améliorent la sécurité alimentaire et peuvent aider à réduire les niveaux de pauvreté au sein de leurs communautés. Dans certaines parties du monde, les femmes constituent 70% de la main-d’œuvre agricole, comptant pour 43% des travailleurs agricoles de par le monde.
Les estimations montrent que si les femmes bénéficiaient du même accès aux ressources productives que les hommes, elles pourraient augmenter les récoltes de leurs exploitations agricoles de 20 à 30%, permettant de sortir de la famine de 100 à 150 millions de personnes.
L’inégalité entre les sexes et l’accès limité au crédit, aux soins de santé et à l’éducation ont toutefois posé un certain nombre de problèmes aux femmes rurales. La crise alimentaire et économique mondiale de même que les changements climatiques n’ont fait qu’aggraver la situation. On estime par exemple que 60% des personnes victimes de famine chronique sont des femmes et des filles.
Et pourtant, l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture (FAO) estime que les gains de productivité réalisés en garantissant aux femmes l’égalité de l’accès aux engrais, aux semences et aux outils pourrait permettre de réduire le nombre de personnes affamées de 100 à 150 millions. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

United Voices, - Manal Fakhoury

I'm shockedI'm speechless, I'm upset and I've just had enough.

I've had enough of the madness coming out of Tallahassee. I've had enough of their dirty politics. But all that could not have prepared us for what just happened in the Florida Senate. As Senators get ready to debate and vote on SB1360, the Senate is swamped with anti-Islam hate-filled booklets, flyers and posters.

We've been sounding the alarms, mobilizing, rallying and lobbying people in Florida against SB1360. It's sponsor Senator Alan Hays, has said over and over that the intended purpose of his bill is to protect American and Florida laws from "Foreign" laws.  We've repeatedly pointed out that his legislation is a version of David Yerushalmi's model legislation that's designed to target Muslims and Islamic practices.

Now that his legislation, SB1360, has been sent to the Senate floor and will be voted on in the next two days, WHAT DOES SENATOR HAYS DO

According to the Miami HeraldSenator Hays' office has flooded the Senate with a booklet titled “Shari'ah Law: Radical Islam's threat to the U.S. Constitution.”He said his intent is to educate people on Islam and Sharia Law, a Koran-based code followed in some Islamic countries.

But that's not all Florida Senators found in their mailboxes and in hallways today.  Accompanying Senator Hays' booklet, are VERY DISTURBING AND HATEFUL posters. One poster urges the reader to "SAVE US FROM THE PERSECUTION OF ISLAM" and claims that "ISLAM.. IS THE ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES" that's "DETERMINED TO OVERTHROW OUR STATE AND COUNTRY."

Another poster, scares the reader with "Under Shariah law, non-Muslims are subject to banishment, amputation and death." Click here to see the posters for yourself.


Our supporters (you) have generated over 10,000 emails to the Florida Senate over the last 2 days. Now we need to generate hundreds of phone calls. Can I count on you to make at least 5 phone calls today?

Below are the names and phone numbers of the The Florida Senate Leadership. Traditionally, lawmakers will follow their party leadership when it comes to voting on issues. If the leadership opposes SB1360, the other Senators will also oppose it.  The Democratic leadership has already indicated that they oppose the bill. Which means we need to put pressure on the Republican leadership starting with the Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Senator Bennett, Senator Gardiner and Senator Benacquisto.  We've included their phone numbers below.


Mike Haridopolos
Mike Haridopolos
(850) 487-5229
Mike Bennett
Mike Bennett
President Pro Tempore
(850) 487-5078
Andy Gardiner
Andy Gardiner
Majority (Republican) Leader
(850) 487-5047
Andy Gardiner
Lizbeth Benacquisto
Deputy Majority (Republican) Leader
(850) 487-5356

Evelyn J. Lynn
Evelyn J. Lynn
Conference Chair
(850) 487-5033
Nan H.  Rich
Nan H. Rich
Minority (Democratic) Leader
(850) 487-5103
Arthenia L. Joyner
Arthenia L. Joyner
Minority (Democratic) Leader
Pro Tempore
(850) 487-5059



Manal Fakhoury
United Voices

P.S. Regardless of where you live, we need your financial support to continue this political fightCAN YOU MAKE A DONATION OF $50, $100 or $250 in order to mobilize more people, grow this campaign and defeat this law in Florida?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pakistan: Shia Genocide - Spreading From Karachi to Kohistan

On February 28, 2012, armed men, disguised in Pakistani army uniforms in the Kohistan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, blocked a convoy of two buses and a van that was on its way back to Gilgit Baltistan from a religious pilgrimage of the holy sites in Iran. Reportedly, the passengers on gun point were forced to show their ID’s.
The selected men and women were then dismounted off the vehicles, lined up and shot at point blank range. Eighteen of them (including two women) died on spot while several others were injured. Those killed had one thing common; their faith. They all belonged to the Shiite sect of the religion Islam.
The faith based killings of the Shiites in Pakistan is not the first of its nature. Back in the 1990s, doctors and engineers of the mentioned faith were systematically targeted. Eighty seven Shiite doctors are reported to have been killed in these target killings until now.
With time the centre of these faiths based killings have moved from South Punjab to Parachinar (KPK) and Balochistan where the Shiite Hazara tribe is notably at the receiving end.
At least twelve Shi'ite Hazara community members were gunned down in Pakistan's southern city of Quetta. 4th October 2011
At least twelve Shi'ite Hazara community members were gunned down in Pakistan's southern city of Quetta. Image by RFE/RL. Copyright Demotix (4th October 2011)
Here is the horrific timeline of the past one year that portrays a very bloody picture:
April 6, 2011 - 5 killed in Hazar Gunji, Balochistan
May 6, 2011 - Several people were killed in Hazara graveyard in a firing incident (Western Bypass Quetta)
May 18, 2011 - 6 people killed in an attack on a vehicle again in Hazar Gunji
July 29, 2011 - Several pilgrims killed when gunmen attacked a bus in Sohrab Goth, Quetta
August 30, 2011- 11 killed in a powerful blast outside Quetta mosque after Eid ul Fitr prayers
September 20, 2011 – In Mastung, 30 pilgrims were killed in an attack (similar to the one in Kohistan) on a bus going to Iran
October 4, 2011 – Baluchistan, 13 people were killed in a bus attack near western bypass
December 31, 2011 - Karachi, popular Shia activist Askari Raza was murdered along with his nephew
January 17, 2012Khanpur South Punjab, bomb attack on a religious procession (Chehlum) killing 18 mourners
January 25-30, 2012 - Karachi, Eight incidents of sectarian violence and militants attacks took place in Pakistan’s economic hub that claimed 11 lives in systematic target killings.
February 18, 2012 - Parachinar, 41 people killed in a suicide attack after Friday prayers
February 19, 2012 - Muzaffar Garh, Popular Shia Scholar and School Principal Hafiz Saqlain Naqvi was attacked in a firing incident, who later died from his wounds.
A massive funeral procession for slain Shi'ite leader, Askari Raza. Image by Syed Yasir Kazmi. Copyright Demotix (1st January 2012)
A massive funeral procession for slain Shi'ite leader, Askari Raza. Image by Syed Yasir Kazmi. Copyright Demotix (1st January 2012)
Blogger Suleman Akhtar in his post found these killings no different from historic tragedy of Holocaust:
Last time it happened they called it the Holocaust. The Nazis did not annihilate the Jews for what they had done or for what they had not done for that matter. They exterminated millions of Jewish men, women and children for what they were – the Jews.
Changing political course
For the past ten years Pakistan has been a centre of religious militancy and extremism. Banned sectarian outfits like Sipah e Sahaba and Lashkar e Jhangvi that were allowed proliferate turned against their masters and this has resulted in the spree of suicide attacks all over Pakistan.
Religious and right wing parties called these suicide attacks a reaction to drone attacks. But the post-Osama Bin Laden scenario has altered the course of this new wave of terrorism. The example of such a change can be observed in the new developing alliance of 41 religious parties under the new platform of Defenders of Pakistan Council (DPC), led by former ISI chief and Taliban supporterHameed Gul, General Zia’s prodigy and former minister Ijaz Ul Haq, Pakistani media’s favorite politician Sheikh Rasheed, and religious leader Sami ul Haq who is known for his close association with Afghan Taliban and banned sectarian outfits like Sipah e SahabaLaskhar e Jhangvi and Jamat u Dawa.
It is quite astonishing how the mentioned parties and people in DPC have changed their view point on the Pakistani army or country’s sovereignty overnight. They are holding rallies all over Pakistan apparently in support of the army. The money they are spending on their campaign is in the millions. What perks, privileges and liberty are they receiving in return, remains a frightening thought.
Protest rally of Shi'ite Muslims in Karachi, against Shia target killing in Pakistan. Image by Majid Hussein, copyright Demotix (20/06/2010).
Protest rally of Shi'ite Muslims in Karachi, against Shia target killing in Pakistan. Image by Majid Hussein, copyright Demotix (20/06/2010).
Failure of the law enforcers and judiciary
The continuous occurrence of faith based killings speaks volumes of the performance of the country's law enforcing agencies and the government. Those terrorists who ever get caught are easily acquitted thanks to loopholes in the judicial system. Murtaza Haider explains this fact in his post:
During 1990 and 2009, the anti-terrorism courts (ATC) in Punjab alone failed to convict the accused in 74 per cent of the 311 cases in which a final verdict was delivered. Most of the accused were acquitted not because they were able to demonstrate and/or substantiate their innocence, but because the judicial system in Pakistan is not capable of handling terrorism cases where prosecution’s case rests on circumstantial and forensic evidence, and not on the eyewitness account…. In 36 per cent of the cases, the courts acquitted the accused because they were not personally named in the FIR. This is an absurd requirement in terrorism cases.
No constructive measures by the parliament has been taken to control the growing faith based terrorism. Whether they are scared of the fallout from the religious parties or they are busy elsewhere is quite obvious to their voters.
Similarly, the Chief Justice of Pakistan who is very proactive to take Suo Moto notices (on petty issues like Slap Gate and the actress caught at an airport with a liquor bottle incident) has completely ignored the killings of Shiites and other minorities. No measure whatsoever is taken by the so called vibrant judiciary to reform the processes in the terrorist courts. One reason could be that minority killings in media are not as popular as Memo gate.
Suffocating silence of mainstream media and civil society
Dr. Muhammad Taqi writes about the attitude of media towards the killing of Shiites and other minorities:
Within minutes of many obscure happenings the traditional and contemporary media are alight with the particulars of those events — some more trivial than a pinprick on the skin of history. But when it comes to the slaughter of the minorities in Pakistan there is a certain lag time in publishing even sketchy details… Hardly an analysis or a talk show ever focuses on such mass atrocities. It is not clear why every such massacre becomes a Leontius moment for the media. Do they find the freshly executed corpses disgusting to look at or is it something else?
In the last few years Pakistani social media has come up as an alternate medium to change public opinions and pressurize corporations to take measures in public interest. The latest example is theMaya Khan campaign. But how many campaigns were run to highlight an issue as serious as this? None.
Suleman Akhtar explains:
As the state has miserably failed to protect its citizens, the intelligentsia and journalists – with few exceptions – share the proportionate blame for misrepresenting the spate of violence against Shias, that has come to be a systematic phenomenon. Deafening silence and misrepresentation of these inhumane killings have added to the miseries of the Shia community. …The identity of victims is usually missed out on purpose making it more difficult for common viewers / readers to comprehend the situation which is getting wretched with each passing day.
Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Shiite Muslims target killing. Image by Syed Yasir Kazmi. Copyright Demotix (23 September 2011)
Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the Shiite Muslims target killing. Image by Syed Yasir Kazmi. Copyright Demotix (23 September 2011)
The seed of resentment
A similar bitterness on the mysterious disappearance and killings has been raised on various forums by the people of Baluchistan. Lack of empathy and constructive measures has turned that wound into a cancer. Are we happily fostering these tumors and ignoring the inevitable repercussions? Time will tell. Till then I leave you with these conclusive words:
It is up to the Pakistani minorities — the Shia, Ahmediyya, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs — whether they want to continue to ask the enablers of genocide to intercede on their behalf or raise the issue on every international forum possible. The Baloch have a taken a lead in this for they know that those committing genocide and their handlers are repeat offenders and would not stop on their own. (Dr Muhammad Taqi)
The problem at hand is not that who are the killers wreaking havoc across the country, but at first the question that our collective consciousness as a nation still ought to ask and reflect upon is that who are the people getting killed. Once this question, which has been buried under the debris of lies and misconceptions, is addressed and well conceived, the truth immersed in the mist will start to emerge. Once we comprehend why a community persecuted and mass murdered during WWII is remembered as the Jews and not as Germans, Polish or Netherlanders despite being the residents of all these countries, we will start conceptualizing the reality. (Suleman Akhtar)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Proposed First Bill to the Senate by Lee Whitnum, U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut

Prosecute Zionist Violence Bill.

I present this bill for legislation for the federal prosecution of American citizens in Israel known as Israeli "Settlers" who commit acts of violence during the forceful taking of the homes, farms, and land of the indigenous Christians and Muslims (a.k.a Palestinians). Israel has failed to prosecute Americans who kill and commit acts of violence. Any American caught killing or maiming in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of US federal law. The actions of the Settlers are morally wrong, and constitute a regional instigation which makes all Americans unsafe.

For more than 60 years the establishment of Israeli Settlements on occupied Christian and Muslim land has continued, and this land grab - and accompanying violence - violates customary international law and humanitarian law. Article 49(b) of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits the transfer of the Occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory it occupies.

Israel has not kept its legal obligation to prosecute criminal acts committed by Settlers on the indigenous cultures. These violent acts by Settlers have resulted in more than 115 acts of murder and more than 1,200 incidents of maiming of members of the Christian and Muslim indigenous underclass. These criminal acts have, by and large, gone un-prosecuted by the Israeli justice system, despite clear videotaped evidence of the violence. Since most of the Settlers are Americans, this U.S. citizen can no longer sit by and allow such injustice to continue. While seven U.S. presidents have condemned the settlements and demanded that they stop, AIPAC’s powerful control of most elected officials squashes any attempt at peace or truth in the apparently endless Zionist hunger for more American money and illegally acquired land. The politics of delay - as well as disinfomation spread by Israel and AIPAC's powerful American PR firms - have made Israel richer and larger, and, unfortunately, have made the non-Jewish underclass poorer. The number of the wounded, traumatized, and dead is staggering and tragic.

Israel has a duty under customary international law, specifically Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, to ensure public order and safety in the territory it occupies. This is simply not the case, despite the existence of videotaped evidence of some settlers' alleged crimes. The excuse given is national security. Some state prosecutors use their discretion in employing national security claims to drop all charges against accused Americans. This has happened again and again in Israel. The prosecution’s decision to completely circumvent a criminal trial without exploring other procedural legal avenues demonstrates Israel’s obvious unwillingness to bring settlers to justice for violent actions against the non-Jewish indigenous culture.
There are numerous discriminatory elements of the Israeli justice system, particularly the courts’ inconsistent treatment in balancing Israel‘s right to keep information privileged with an individual‘s right to a fair trial. Under international human rights law, Israel is obliged (according to Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to ensure that all persons are entitled, without discrimination on any ground, to equal protection before the law. But, Israel has failed miserably and measurably in this regard.

By contrast, human rights groups have consistently documented cases where Israeli courts have allowed prosecutions of Palestinian defendants to proceed on the basis of secret evidence, thereby denying their right to due process. Israel‘s practice of administrative detention in the OPT has meant that Palestinians are routinely arrested and held without charge or prosecuted on the basis of secret evidence that is not disclosed to them. This double standard of justice based on religion is deplorable to this American. The detainees have no legal recourse within the Israeli legal system to challenge the evidence against them.

And, things are getting worse. In March 2009, three Israeli human rights organizations withdrew their petition to challenge the constitutionality of an Israeli criminal procedure order from the Supreme Court. The petition was withdrawn in protest over the Supreme Court‘s decision to allow the General Security Service to present information pertaining to the constitutionality of the law exclusively to the Court in the absence of the petitioners, thereby denying the petitioners the right to examine and question the evidence presented. This marked a troubling trend within the Israeli justice system, namely the system‘s failure to provide Palestinians with an effective means of legal recourse to challenge the system to which they are subject, thereby denying equal protection under the law.
Such failure to hold settlers to account creates an atmosphere of impunity, which encourages increased settler violence and widespread anti-American sentiment since many of the settlers are Americans. Senators, colleagues: we can no longer tolerate this situation. To vote against this is to condone murder based on religion - not the killing during a war but the slaughter of members of the underclass because they were born into a religion that is not deemed acceptable by the American Zionists and the Israeli government. To further compound the injustice is the fact that the violence is usually committed during the forcible acquisition of another’s property. It is a violation of human rights and basic rules of dignity and respect.
While a state may forcibly take the land of an owner by using the concept of Eminent Domain, the law requires the state to compensate that person at a fair market value. Given the vast amount of money given to the Israeli government every year from the United States, the land could have been purchased over and over again. Instead, Israel chooses and condones violence against its non-Jewish underclass and we, the United States, rewards them for it with more money and arms - and an electorate that constantly tries to outdo one another in their pro-Israel fervor.
Every American, every human being, should be outraged. I’m addressing this body today to pass this bill which would establish and guarantee prosecution to any American committing violence. Therefore, my esteemed colleagues, we must establish a means for ensuring that our citizens acting as "settlers" are not committing violence while taking the land or home of another human without paying for it. An American who causes the death or maiming of a Palestinian Christian or Muslim will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
No doubt AIPAC lobbyists will be out in full force fighting against this bill. Our esteemed Richard Clark, former counterterrorism czar, once said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "...achieve peace there and hatred for America would evaporate overnight." Zionism is at the heart of the problem. A vote against this bill states that you put Netanyahu and your own political campaigns before the safety of the American public. And, it also states that you condone murder and racial prejudice.

The settlers are Zionists. Zionists believe they are entitled by God to the land, groves and homes of the non-Jewish underclass. They quote the bible as the reference that "God gave them the land". The size of the alleged God-given land has never been determined and Israel's borders still remain fuzzy. As politicians, we obviously cannot subpoena God in order to determine if the land was indeed given to one human over another based on ethnicity. Therefore, my esteemed colleagues, we are forced to rely on the laws of Man, and in every culture in the world, except in Israel, if you take something that doesn’t belong to you it is stealing. This bill does not broach the property issue - which is indeed an injustice. Instead, this bill concentrates specifically on prosecuting those involved in violence - the physical assault - threat of life and limb to any human being of any religion by an American citizen. To main and kill in the act of stealing a family’s home or farm is a horrifying injustice. If this great governing body prefers to take a biblical interpretation of right and wrong I remind you that three of Moses' Ten Commandments are being violated: Thou shall not steal; Thou shall not kill; and Thou shall not covet thy neighbors goods. While the settlers feel they can pick and choose which biblical laws given from God to Moses they wish to respect, this mainstream American does not agree with this selective interpretation. Thank you, Senators. I shall await your vote.

CASE IN POINT: As I write this on Oct 29, 2011, it is the harvest in Palestine. Today, Palestinian farming families in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Howard will attempt to access their land for the annual olive harvest.

Since Monday, October 13, 2011 at least four Palestinian civilians have been injured by Israeli settlers while harvesting olives, including a 12-year-old boy. Israeli soldiers waiting on a hill near Howard opened fire after notifying residents via text message that anyone who goes to harvest almonds will be shot.

Palestinians across the West Bank have been attacked by the Israeli military, harassed by settlers, and prevented from accessing their land for the harvest, even after securing approval from Israeli authorities. According to human rights organizations, Israeli settlers have destroyed 7,500 Palestinian olive trees this season alone, causing an estimated $500,000 in damages.

These aren't isolated incidents. They are part of Israel's illegal military occupation and system of apartheid that is supported by U.S. policies, financed by American taxpayers, and used to systematically deprive Palestinians of their rights.

In this "religious" group, the Settlers, it's a badge of honor to bestow misery on other humans. Their message to the indigenous cultures of the Occupied Territories is: "We want your land, we don't want to pay for it, we will maim you, starve you and kill you and make life as miserable as possible so that you will voluntarily leave and so that we can take your property for free. We will do this with the full support of the Israeli government while soldiers stand around and support US American settlers."

By-and-large, the settlers' actions are unknown to most Americans, but their actions are viewed by the rest of the world, and the U.S. is less safe because the behavior of some of the 500,000 religious zealots squatting overseas on land that does not belong to them. Once again, this bill ensures that any American "Settler" caught maiming or killing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of United States federal law. As Americans, we can no longer allow the misguided extremist religious interpretation and the racially motivated violence by these extremists that make all Americans unsafe.