Sunday, January 20, 2008

Responding to Screeds: A Case Study

This is a long entry, but it provides a case study in responding to biased, misleading, anti-Israel screeds in newspapers.

Included below are screeds by Jamilah Rasheed and Mazin Qumsiyeh, published in The New Haven Register January 8 and January 10, 2008, an op-ed drafted by Ed Berns and submitted to The New Haven Register, and a much condensed version of Berns' op-ed, finally published by The New Haven Register as a letter on January 19.

In addition to being an example of an excellent response to the screeds, the publication of the letter demonstrates the importance of perseverance and contacting those responsible for the editorial page if a letter or op-ed is not immediately accepted.

The four items are in reverse order.

Published January 19:

Pity party for Arabs must end

The Register published recently two pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel Forum pieces in the span of three days.

One indicted Israel and the United States "because of disdain for Muslims and Islam" resulting from the mistrial in the terrorism case against The Holy Land Foundation. Indignantly, the author said millions of dollars raised by the foundation provided financial assistance only for orphans and widows.

This is a different world since Sept. 11. The United States identified the foundation as a terrorist organization that masquerades as a charity, with its primary purpose to fund Hamas. Although a federal jury deadlocked, it does not mean the defendants were acquitted. Federal prosecutors have indicated they will likely retry the case. To argue that a failed prosecution equates to "maligning Islam and Muslims" is to utterly fail to appreciate that this nation embraces all religions.

Notably, the founder, president and treasurer of another Islamic charity, Care International Inc., were convicted of duping the government into awarding it tax-exempt status by hiding the group's pro-jihad status. They were found guilty by a federal jury. The mission of that fund also was to help orphans and widows.

The other piece declared President Bush's Middle East trip "form over substance." The piece was less about American intent to broker peace than it was the writer's oft-repeated litany of big, bad, Israel and the injustice-suffering native people. If anything, it epitomized form over substance.

These writers always paint Israelis as the bad guys. I must have missed where they condemned the drive-by shooting recently of two young Israeli hikers by gunmen affiliated with the Palestinian Authority. I must have missed where they denounced the daily Palestinian rocket attacks. And I must have missed where they urged the Palestinians to repudiate the horror of homicide bombings.

It's time to put a stop to this one-sided Palestinian pity party and bring some balance to the table.

Edward J. Berns
North Haven

The original op-ed as it was submitted:

Last week was an exceptional week for the New Haven Register in its on-going anti-Israel agenda. How else could it justify publishing not one, but two, pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel pieces under its Forum banner in the span of two days?

First, on January 8th,the Register published the piece by the coordinator of the Connecticut Islamic Speakers Bureau indicting not only Israel but the U.S. as being against Islamic charity because of disdain for Muslims and Islam an argument solely arising from the mistrial declared in the government's terrorism case against The Holy Land Foundation. Indignantly, the author recited that the millions of dollars raised by the HLF provided financial assistance only for orphans and widows who had been systematically terrorized by the Israeli government.

A response to this patently fallacious if not downright ridiculous argument is required. We all know this is a different world since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. As part of its response to those events, the U.S. has identified HLF as an organization that masquerades as a charity with its primary purpose to fund Hamas, identified by the government as a terrorist organization. When shut down by the U.S. , Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill declared it one of a number of Hamas-controlled organizations that finance terror. Although a federal jury declared itself deadlocked it is important to recognize the HLF defendants were not acquitted. In fact, federal prosecutors have indicated they will likely retry the case. For the writer to posit that a failed prosecution equates to maligning Islam and Muslims is to utterly fail to appreciate that this nation embraces all religions and irresponsible repudiation of the fundamental tenet of American justice that all are equal before the law.

To further undermine the writer's thesis, if any is necessary, just last week the leaders of another Islamic charity, Care International Inc., were convicted of duping the government into awarding it tax-exempt status by hiding the group's pro-jihad status. After a two-month trial the organization's founder, president, and treasurer were found guilty by a federal jury on virtually all counts. Is anyone surprised that the stated mission of that fund, too, was to help orphans and widows?

Like the result in the HLF case or not, it is an example of the inherent fairness of American jurisprudence. Jurisprudence, it is fair to add, that is singularly distinctive from the Muslim system of justice, sharia, examples of which we have seen demonstrated viciously in recent weeks. A volunteer teacher from the UK in Sudan was imprisoned for allowing the children of her class to name a teddy bear Mohammad. A 19 year-old Saudi woman who was a victim of a gang rape was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes because she was with an unrelated male when she was attacked. And, in Iran this week, the amputation of the right hand and left foot of five convicted criminals. These writers should give thanks every day that they live in America ; the same America they rail against. Would the sharia system permit, if not actually encourage, anti-government freedom of speech? We all know the answer.

As if the first piece wasn't sufficiently irresponsible, on January 10th the Register published another of its regular cadre of Israel bashers in the Forum section. Professing to declare President Bush's Middle East trip as form over substance, the thrust of the piece is less about American intent to broker peace in the region than it is the writer's same old, tired, litany of big, bad, oppressive Israel and the injustice-suffering native people that the Register has published so many times before. If anything, it was this editorial that epitomized form over substance.

As always, these writers paint the Israelis solely as the bad guys. I must have missed the part where the writers denounce the daily rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. I must have missed the part where they urge the Palestinians to repudiate the horror of homicide bombings. I must have missed the part where they condemn the drive-by shooting recently of two young Israeli hikers by Palestinians (who, I might add, turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority when they heard the Israelis were about to apprehend them). And, I must have missed, too, the writers advocating release of Israeli soldiers kidnapped and held for ransom in the name of the Palestinian cause.

To the writers who despise Israel so much I have some suggestions. I would remind them that they have many tangible ways to demonstrate their disdain 'Ä' and I encourage their strong consideration. For starters, they can haul out their old Underwoods to type their propaganda. Why? Because they'll need to unplug their computers and toss them out the window in protest of the fact that most of the Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. If that isn't sufficient reason, I'm sure they wouldn't be able to bear to use Pentium NMX Chip technology, the Pentium 4 microprocessor, and the Centrum processor all of which were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel . Imagine their frustration being trapped in a technological stone age knowing that in our contemporary, computer-dependent world they'll have the impossible task of avoiding Israeli technology. One last point, to add insult to injury, before they disconnect for good and give their microprocessors the old heave-ho is to know that the AOL Instant Messenger they use to chat with their friends was developed by young Israelis.

Similarly, the writers will want to start saving their quarters for when they travel. Why? Because they'll have no option but to use pay phones for their communication needs when on the road as cell phone technology was developed in Israel by Motorola. The company has its biggest development center in Israel . In fact, most of the latest technology in mobile phones was developed by Israeli scientists.

Finally, these writers should hope they don't fall ill, but if they do they shouldn't mind a longer recovery 'Ä' if at all. Why? Because Teva, an Israeli pharmaceutical company, is the largest generic drug maker in the world and likely the source of what would be their prescription medication. Speaking of health, I'm not sure they'll want to remember that two Israelis received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research and discovery of one of the human cells most important cyclical processes that will lead the way to DNA repair, control of newly produced proteins, and immune defense systems.

Bottom line: Its time to put a stop to this tedious, unilateral pro-Palestinian pity party and bring some balance to the table.

Edward Berns
North Haven, CT

Qumsiyeh screed, published January 10:


Bush trip a triumph of form over substance

Mazin B. Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh of Orange is a Christian Palestinian-American who served on the faculty of both Duke and Yale universities. He is author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle." Readers may write him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. E-mail:

PRESIDENT Bush's visit to the Middle East this week shows once and for all that status quo lives on under the attempt to validate the old saying that an ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. In this case, the image came seven years too late.

In public appearances, the Bush administration claims it supports the road map for peace. In 2,218 words, that map lacks any mention of human rights and international law.

But even with this shortcoming, it calls for a total freeze on settlement activities, including so-called "natural growth." Israel simply refuses to abide by this. Bush sent a letter to assure Israel that some settlements will be exempt, since they would stay with Israel under any final deal. In so doing, Bush undermined his own "road map." It is not surprising that U.S. policy evolved from describing settlements as illegal to "obstacles" to "unhelpful" and finally to Jewish neighborhoods that will remain part of the Jewish state.

The U.S. government's claimed interest in advancing democracy is recognized around the world as the biggest breeding ground for promoting dictators, violence and terrorism, whether that practiced by individuals or the more deadly state terrorism. For example, Hamas was elected in the occupied Palestinian areas in a vote this administration pushed for. Rather than pressuring Israel to comply with international law - an action that would have truly built up moderate forces in Palestine - Bush chose to pressure the Palestinian Authority to take Hamas on militarily and thus increase the already high antagonism to the United States and its client state of Israel.

Continuing in this policy, when Bush visits Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the city will be under virtual martial law, according to instructions given to Palestinian police. Bush's security detail demanded no visible demonstrations. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, daughter of the terrorist who oversaw the bombing of the King David Hotel, will jovially agree with Bush on fighting "Islamic terrorism." Bush will look out from that same hotel to see a wall that the International Court of Justice ruled illegal.

Many of the U.S. officials accompanying Bush were handpicked from lobbyists and pundits who support Israel, so he will not hear the history of that hotel.

Considering the above, the photo opportunities in Jerusalem will not accomplish any more than they did in Annapolis, not even the hope of a changed policy after Bush leaves office. Thus, the decline in the U.S. ability to influence events around the world is becoming more visible. There is an obvious and more honest route to peace, security and economic prosperity for all: international law and human rights.

Israel is the only country that gives members of a particular religion, including converts, automatic rights (citizenship, land, homes, subsidies), while denying citizenship to native Christians and Muslims who were ethnically cleansed.

World leaders who are freed from the pressures of the Israel lobby have recognized this system for what it is: apartheid. Israelis use the word hafrada (segregation) to describe their program. Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote: "In our struggle for justice and peace in South Africa, we had to learn to speak and listen to hard truths. ... My visits to the Holy Land remind me so much of South Africa: apartheid is back, complete with the Separation Wall and Bantustans. History, it seems, repeats itself." A growing international movement of boycotts, divestment and sanctions coupled with truth-telling is building. It will succeed as did the cutting of U.S. support for apartheid South Africa.

Israel will then evolve into a democracy with equality for all - Jews, Christians, Muslims and others - that implements international law, including allowing the refugees to return to their homes and lands. This is the only way to allow a functioning Hebrew and Israeli culture to remain while remedying the injustice committed against the native people.

Screed written by Jamilah Rasheed, published January 8:


Shutdown of Muslim charity hurts U.S. cause

By Jamilah Rasheed

Jamilah Rasheed of New Haven is coordinator of the Connecticut Islamic Speakers Bureau. Readers may write her at the New Haven Register. Her email address is

ONE of the fundamentals of Islam is charity. It can be in the form of money, food, clothing or physical assistance.

Prophet Muhammad said even a smile is charity. An individual can contribute to any one person or organization that is meant to alleviate the hardship of those who unable to provide for themselves. Charity is characteristic of all faith-based organizations.

When the Bush administration decided to target Islamic charities, its aim was to shut them down, based on false claims of funding terrorism, because of disdain for Muslims and Islam.

The Holy Land Foundation was one such charity. It was founded in 1989 as the Occupied Land Fund. It had become the largest Islamic charity in the United States. Its main objective was "to find and implement practical solutions for human suffering through humanitarian programs that impact the lives of the disadvantaged, disinherited and displaced peoples suffering from man-made and natural disasters."

Its main recipients were hospitals, schools and food foundations in occupied Palestine. It attempted to offset the inhumane conditions that Palestinians had existed under since their occupation and brutal treatment by the Israeli government.

In 2001, it raised $57 million for the oppressed in the West Bank and Gaza. It was shut down by the Bush administration in December 2001 based on false claims that it was taking donations that were funneled into the hands of terrorists. In truth, the organization was providing financial assistance for orphans and widows who had been systematically terrorized by the Israeli government.

After Sept. 11, the assets of Holy Land Foundation were frozen. After an indictment was handed down in 2004 on 42 counts, the foundation went bankrupt in its effort to defend itself.

The trial on the charges began last July 23 in Dallas. The United States government became an agent for the Israeli government during this trial by bringing in a chief witness who was an Israeli Zionist Shin Bet counterterrorism official, testifying under the pseudonym "Avi." This is the same tactic that was used in the Sami Al-Arian case, in which foreign nationals are brought in as witnesses with emotional testimony for the sole purpose of swaying the jury with fear.

A mistrial was declared Oct. 22. The jury acquitted on some accounts and was deadlocked on the charges of tax violations and providing material support for terrorists. One Texas lawyer who observed the case, Matthew Orwig, said, "this is a message, a two by four in the middle of the forehead" for the government. Millions of tax money was spent to no avail.

It is the third case the government has lost against a Muslim or an Islamic organization.

Sami Al-Arian stills languishes in prison after being acquitted in 2006 of false claims that he helped finance terrorism in Palestine. He even agreed to leave the United States as part of his plea bargain. His work in the United States was to educate the American public about Islam and he spoke directly with then-candidate-for-president George W. Bush in 2000 about the government's use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings against terrorism susupects.

There has been a failed attempt on the part of this administration to justify its willingness to bankrupt this country by saying it is protecting America with its invasion and occupation of countries populated by Muslims. Instead of restricting the millions that are flowing for this unjust war, we succumb to attacking Islamic charities.

By maligning Islam and Muslims and viewing them as suspect in all that is wrong, we only strengthen the terrorism carried out by the state of Israel on the Palestinians, which in turn continues to impoverish those who are in need.


rabbis speak out said...

Do “Christian” Zionists really have Jews and Judaism as their first priority?

related video

Who Founded Israel and for what special Purpose?

primerprez said...

When the Moshiach comes, we can ask him whether it's his first visit; in the meantime, whatever theological motivations Christian Zionists have does not change the fact that they are good friends of Israel and we should welcome their friendship.

In contrast, the Naturai Karta, while misrepresenting themselves as pious Jews, are enemies of the Jewish people who conspire with killers of Jews.

If, G-d forbid, they succeeded in their quest, the would be among the first murdered by their present "friends." They are a disgrace to the Jewish people and to the human race.