Gaza Conflict, NSA Spying
1 hour ago
expected to highlight the contributions of Muslim Americans to U.S. society at
the annual White House Iftar on Monday evening, a tradition dating back to 1996
in which Muslims break their fasts during the holy month of Ramadan in the
company of administration officials.
But this year, growing frustration with the
administration's policies on surveillance, Guantanamo Bay and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict has prompted a viral campaign to boycott the
event. More than 200 people have also signed up for a protest on the South Lawn
that will occur during the dinner.
The movement to boycott the White House Iftar
isn't new -- last year, a similar effort was launched, and focused in
particular on the administration's failure to close Guantanamo Bay and the
force-feeding of detainees on hunger strike there. While the concerns over the
detention center remain part of this year's campaign, at its forefront is the
growing Palestinian death toll after nearly a week of Israeli airstrikes on the
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee, an Arab American grassroots civil rights organization, said the
administration's refusal to condemn Israeli airstrikes on Gaza is the main
reason it will be sitting out this year's White House Iftar and any similar
government-held iftar dinners.
"In the government’s silence, Israel is
committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground
assault. Our American tax dollars have contributed to over 100 civilian
casualties as of Monday morning, of which 70% are estimated by the United
Nations to be women and children," the group said in a statement Monday. "This
deplorable situation, brought on by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned illegal occupation
of Palestine, has received no direct action from President Obama. Yet, as this
humanitarian crisis continues abroad, we do not believe it is appropriate to
attend iftar dinners sponsored by government agencies while lives are being
The White House has defended the Israeli
military amid its bombing campaign, which Palestinian health officials estimate
has killed 176 people, the majority of them civilians. There have been no Israeli deaths in the conflict, due in
large part to Israel's U.S.-backed Iron Dome air defense system intercepting
rockets from Hamas.
"The White House coming out and
endorsing wholeheartedly Israel's assault, saying Israel has a right to defend
itself, is very shameful when Palestinian children are being killed,"
Ramah Kudaimi, a D.C.-based activist who helped organize the protest against
the White House Iftar, said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Kudaimi added that the protest is about a wide range of issues, including
Guantanamo, the Obama administration's drone policy and surveillance that
disproportionately targets Muslims.
"The last straw was the NSA spying
scandal and the fact that those being spied on ranged from officials with [the
Council on American-Islamic Relations], as well as Americans whom you would
describe as 'patriotic,' and who have served their government and been proud of
it," Kudaimi said. "And yet that does not mean that they have escaped
government surveillance. … I think this whole mixture of things got to a point
of making the boycott calls louder and louder."
Muslims across the country have expressed
similar grievances on social media over the last week, using the hashtag
#WhiteHouseIftar. A petition to boycott the event was also
widely circulated on Monday and signed by more than 100 people.
"We are a group of scholars, advocates,
activists and grassroots organizers who are outraged and deeply concerned by
the violence that the United States has committed under the guise of national
security," the petition reads. "We are outraged that human and civil
rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike are so callously rejected in favor of a
national security state that purports to be a democracy and the leader of the
free world, while furthering undemocratic policies and ideals. We are outraged
that so many individuals have suffered from profiling, detention, torture, and
murder by virtue of specifically being Muslim or looking Muslim."
For writer Mariam Abu-Ali, the gathering of
White House officials and Muslims is "a slap in the face to those in the
Muslim community who have been victims of U.S. civil-rights and human-rights
Abu-Ali's brother Ahmed, a U.S. citizen, has
spent more than a decade imprisoned under charges of conspiracy to assassinate
then-George W. Bush in 2003 -- charges Abu-Ali says were manufactured while her
brother was studying in Saudi Arabia. Ahmed, Abu-Ali wrote on Monday, was tortured into
issuing a confession on videotape.
Not all Muslims are joining the pro-boycott
crowd. Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office for the Muslim Public
Affairs Council, a public service agency, said his organization believes that
choosing not to engage with the government will only hinder the chances of
achieving any changes in policy.
"For me, the White House Iftar is
important because it actually does allow us to engage with senior White House
officials for a decent amount of time on substantive issues," Tarin told
HuffPost. "It's not just the ceremonial thing that people talk
Tarin said his group also disagrees with the
administration's policy on surveillance, post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy,
and a number of other areas such as the crises in both Syria and Gaza. But to
sit out the Iftar, he argued, would only further alienate Muslim Americans who
continue to be perceived as "foreign" and not as average citizens who
share many of the same concerns most Americans.
"What we tell our constituents and
American Muslims is to keep organizing. You have to keep organizing, you have
to keep empowering yourself," Tarin said. "No community within the
United States of America is able to change policies without extremely impactful
organizing and public image building. … Government policy is not going to
change without our commitment to changing public perception."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first
Muslim elected to Congress, said in a statement Monday that he planned to
attend the White House Iftar.
"While I certainly share the concerns of
the people who have called for the boycott, I disagree with the tactic,"
Ellison said in a statement. "It will not close Guantanamo Bay, guarantee
a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine or undo the NSA’s targeting of
"If the boycott was successful and no
Muslims showed up, then no one would talk about the issues on behalf of our
community," he added. "Precisely because the people adversely
affected by these policies cannot be present, passionate and articulate members
of the community must be there tonight."
Kudaimi said that no one is arguing in favor
of disengaging with the government entirely.
"That is not our position. Several of us
work with the government, we're working on changing U.S. policies that we
believe are wrong, and we know that means we'll have to engage with government
officials," she said. "Our particular issue is just with this White
House Iftar itself, which we believe is a publicity stunt."
If Muslims would like to be part of the
political discourse, Kudaimi added, there are many other venues beyond a
celebratory dinner, such as requesting meetings with Obama, White House
officials and members of Congress.
in order to make sure that the United States is pushing this idea that, 'We're
welcoming Muslims and Muslim Americans, and please don't pay attention to the
fact that for the past at least 10-15 years, our national security policies
have targeted Muslims and ruined the lives of so many Muslims not only in the
U.S. but worldwide,'" Kudaimi said.
is not to solve the long drawn dispute of Israel=Palestine with a view to
gradually grab the entire Palestinian's land seems to be the center point of
its all policies.
What I fear is this exposes the similar event that took place in the case with
US and the Indians long time back. But now it is different.
The difference is Indians had no back up support and in Palestinian's case it
has and such naked acts of killing of innocent Palestinians by Israel and grabbing land
with the plea of self-defense has affected the reputation of US of helping
Israel covertly in all their criminal activities.
Unfortunately this is what is the understanding among the World community of
nations. However, overtly none speaks.
Israel's criminal activities and to save it US using veto power is alienating US
from the Muslim world gradually, while Israel loses immensely making US 's
position weak among the Muslim Community in Mid East. By being apportioned
blame of being covertly engaged supporting the only recognized terrorist
country meaning a terrorist nation in the world. That Israel calls others terrorists
to hide its own criminal image in the world. That does not hold good rather
diminishes its own reputation if there is any left.
Over and above Israel is playing with fire in an area when both Russia and
China are larking in the dark to get an opportunity to make considerable dent
in the American+Muslim relationship. Israel cannot escape the consequences that
might happens in Middle East.
I, would not go in details about American relationship with Arab countries and
Israel's covert / overt official and informal relationship and activities with
the Arab countries because it is Israel's prerogative but would like to suggest
that even by mistake Israel should not try to play and hurt the sentiments of the
Muslims of the world.
Israel must visualize, that if once
Israel by killing Innocents Palestinians activates the Muslims sentiment of the
world then no sophisticated arms bombs and nukes would be able to deter the
total destruction of the earth least to speak of grabbing land for Israel
expansionism. It would be better to forget repetition of US and Indian case in
Look at the consequence of G W Bush + Cheney +Tony Blair + Russia and the rest
of the world in Iraq and Afghanistan wars that caused so much hardship and pain to
the citizens only because of the Israel's persuasion. In addition, mighty
nations of the world and also robust Financial & Economical countries are still
reeling under Global Recession.
It is good to jump but refrain from jumping too high because then once one falls
none would be there to save him from death. Stop telling lies. See the protest
march all around the world by nations chanting not about Israel's velour but
against Israel's committal of Genocide.
World Community of Nations is convinced that Israel is a liar and a Genocide
Committal Terrorist country. It would be worthwhile togo and prove Israel is not
so and please stop harassing and smearing the good name of US in front of the World
Community Nations in UN for your criminal activities..
Enough is Enough Please stop these innocent palestininan killing game and sit down to
solve the dispute.