Strong Female Congresswoman Challenged For Being Honest, Anti-Muslim Bias in Democratic Party

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar made public a concern this week during a congressional hearing that has caused an uproar within the Democratic caucus. The incident underscores the bias within the elected class in Washington towards views that need to be heard but too often are marginalized.

It was during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Monday, when Omar, a Muslim woman elected from Minnesota, asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about an International Criminal Court probe of allegations against both the Taliban and the U.S. in Afghanistan and by Hamas and Israel in the most recent Middle East conflict.

Omar later shared the exchange in a tweet that read: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

Late last night a dozen of her caucus colleagues put out a late-night statement criticizing her for comparing war crimes in the fashion she did. In response, Omar called her fellow House Democrats’ reaction ‘shameful’,

She is correct.

I find it lamentable that one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress needs to feel that her views and perspectives on issues which she has every right to speak out about, are to be curtailed and shaped so as to mollify the larger group. She has every right to express facts, lodge questions, foster dialogue, and seek analysis over war crimes as much as the Baptists and Catholics from all points of this nation do.

Calling out the abuses and addressing the headlines from the Middle East–whether they always make this nation’s front pages of newspapers or not–is essential. Omar is doing her work with diligence when making the comparisons and asking the questions.

Israel Apartheid Showcased In Editorial Cartoons

Not for the first time does this blog speak to the issue of proportionality when it comes to the massive airstrikes unleashed by Israel. The pounding of Gaza, such a confined area, packed with poorly protected people has led to a death toll, as reported this morning in a front-page story in The New York Times, 20 times as high as that caused by Hamas. In Gaza over 1,200 people have been injured. Nearly 200 have been killed.

The international press has reported in-depth on the carnage in this latest decades-long struggle. The editorial cartoonists have perhaps caught the moment best with the following journalism. The drawings are determined to make the point. You know you have an international conscience if these hit a nerve. Taking land in war and through an immoral settlement policy is not a good way to win respect or peace.

Ten Members Of Family Killed, Eight Were Children

An orphaned baby is brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after it was injured in an Israeli airstrike, which destroyed a 3-story house and killed ten members of the child’s family.

Today Israeli bomb hit a home in the Gaza refugee camp. The house where a family had gathered to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

A baby (pictured) was brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City for treatment after being injured in that airstrike, which destroyed a 3-story house and killed 10 members of the child’s family, including eight children who were located in the al-Shati refugee camp.

At least 20 other Palestinians were wounded after several nearby houses were damaged in the airstrike.

In addition, for those readers who claim to honor laws and international norms let’s start by enforcing UN Resolution 242 stating Israel must withdraw from occupied lands. The over-reach and lack of proportionality from Israel make me sick.

Let me cut to the core here. Palestinian aggression, if one wants to argue that point, could be contained rather than the wholesale murder which is now taking place. Netenyahu, however, needs to distract from his crimes. Israel has already this week attacked the most revered mosque in the world, murdered children, and lynched innocent civilians, along with now attacking news offices such as Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

Of course, that last group was going to be targeted as Israel can not abide honest and free coverage of their war crimes. Israel wants to kill Palestinians without press coverage.

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Same Worn Language As Biden Makes Terrible Statement Regarding Israeli Actions

Israel continues to make for casualties and destruction in the Middle East. If the headlines over the years were not about warring for more land then they were about the undermining of rights and dignity of Palestinians. All this has been going on so long that as a teenager I was reading and learning of these actions in history classes. That was over four decades ago!

This morning I awoke to learn of the latest over-reach and lack of proportionality from Israel.

The high-rise housing the AP and other media outlets were bombed by Israeli military.

About an hour after that nation’s military ordered people to evacuate a bombing strike destroyed the building housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera offices. Must try to stop those reporters from showing the horror of the Israeli military in Gaza!

I would mention that the building also housed residential apartments, but that would not be news. Israeli military efforts aimed at the average person in Gaza, after all, is a policy more than an exception. Meanwhile a senior advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a hard-right corrupt politician told NPR that Hamas military intelligence used the building, but provided “no evidence to back the claim,” according to NPR reporter Daniel Estrin.

Well of course there was no evidence, just as there was no evidence in 1939 of atrocities in western Polish towns concerning Germans being victimized. But Hitler still created the mania for press coverage and that narrative resulted in his massive invasion. While it is imperative for the press to push hard upon the events now taking place in Gaza and demand facts, history shows that the worst elements will always obfuscate and lie.

This is why it is imperative for President Joe Biden to step away from the same language and pabulum used by other administrations when Israel uses its military hardware supplied by the United States in their efforts to strike at humanity. It is essential that Biden not get caught up in the same downward spiral that results when failure to stand with Palestinians makes the White House nothing more than an Israeli puppet.

But that did not happen.

This week Biden “condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” and also “conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”

To say that Israel has a right to protect itself is like saying the baboonish bully on the playground has the same right after taking the lunches of other kids. At least 115 Palestinians, including 27 children, and eight Israelis have been killed, officials on both sides have stated. That statement was being made as the Israeli military bombardment of the impoverished Gaza Strip continued.

What I found insulting from the statement offered by the White House this week was the lack of even a mention of Sheikh Jarrah. The neighborhood was not lost on this blog.

The headlines now are catching the attention of many readers but the ills that have been caused from years of tyranny from Israel towards Palestinians also need noting. Israeli restrictions on building permits in East Jerusalem, as just one clear example, have forced Palestinian residents to either leave the city–which they should not need to do– or to build illegal housing and risk demolition.

The fight over Sheikh Jarrah matters as East Jerusalem must never be allowed to be controlled by only Jewish residents. After all, that land is Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967.  Palestinians know that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state. In addition, for those who claim to honor laws and international norms let them start by enforcing UN Resolution 242 stating Israel must withdraw from occupied lands.

For the Biden Administration to join forces with the Zionists who have undermined the rule of law and human decency, again, is nothing short of a dark day for the Palestinians.

And so it goes.

Israel Demonstrates Lack Of Character in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood

My very first post on this blog in July 2007 addressed a Middle East problem, the larger aspect of it that has not been resolved in these 14 years. The recent international headlines testify to that fact. Then it concerned a soldier captured in Israel and taken to Gaza, while now the tensions are rightfully high as Israeli efforts to remove Palestinians from strategic parts of Jerusalem continue.

In 2007 I wrote that Israel through its actions only invites more anger and resentment by Arabs pointedly stating, the harsh reality is that at some point soon America needs to have a stern conversation with Israel.

Israel desires to have complete Jewish control over East Jerusalem. That is, obviously, unacceptable.

Most newspaper readers are now aware of a single Jerusalem neighborhood that is central to the larger thrust by the current right-wing movement in Israel to again marginalize and damage the lives of Palestinians. As the news was being reported late this afternoon Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, had fired rockets at Jerusalem. Then Israeli airstrikes left at least 20 Palestinians, including nine children, dead.

That offense followed Israeli soldiers raiding and actually launching grenades inside the Aqsa mosque. Let me put that in the most basic and clear context I can. That site is the Islamic world’s equivalent to the Vatican. That is the level of behavior that Israel now engages in, and somehow think the world will accept.

One word, again, sums up the actions by Israel.

Proportionality.

And with that word comes mine from over a decade ago. Israel through its actions only invites more anger and resentment by Arabs.

What Israeli government officials are allowing to happen in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem is appalling, immoral, heartless, soulless, and without anything other than pure meanness as a guiding force. Homes, families, children, pets, lives, aspirations, and plans for the future are being tossed aside as Jewish residents eye the homes and property of Palestinians. Hmmm…what does that sound like from the pages of history? Is it any wonder that many support Hamas and their threats to respond to Israeli provocations in Jerusalem?

The headlines now are catching the attention of many readers but the ills that have been caused from years of tyranny from Israel towards Palestinians also need noting. Israeli restrictions on building permits in East Jerusalem, as just one clear example, have forced Palestinian residents to either leave the city–which they should not need to do– or to build illegal housing and risk demolition.  See, I do not think that is how a ‘Godly ordained” country should act.

The Israeli occupation has been a decades-long cancer that has crippled and severely damaged the long-term interests of the rightful residents of the land–the Palestinians. To remedy, in part the behavior of the right-wing government in Israel there should be a severe cutting in the US taxpayer funding of the regime. While that will not happen due to the control of the Israeli lobby, the truth remains that nation has been a constant ache to everyone since 1967 and their wars aimed to take over lands they did not own.

That source of trouble is now front and center as it inflicts damage on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The world stands with the men, women, and children who live there. And should be able to continue to do so.

And so it goes.

British Military Incompetence In WWI

Duplicity and arrogance, along with a healthy dose of racism seeps out of the pages of Scott Anderson’s finely written book as it hones in on Britain’s military and diplomatic efforts in WWI. Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East  is the type of book any reader of history will devour with pleasure.

At the center of it all was Lawrence himself. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in Syria; by 1917 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions. Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed.

As this passage underscores T.E Lawrence knew what ineptitude looked like from his own country’s actions and behavior.

William Yale And T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence Of Arabia)

(I could be writing about the shameful antics of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson but am really deep into a slice of history from over 100 years ago. Besides Johnson will undoubtedly do something equally embarrassing tomorrow.)

The topic of the Middle East, Ottoman Empire, and WWI has caught my attention these past weeks. With the book Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson comes the additional research I undertake, as with any topic that piques my interest.

There are four main characters that frame the book, with the most troubling being the ‘whisper-throated’ German diplomat Curt Prüfer. The intriguing American William Yale is one many can relate to other than how he treated his dad as the older man faced financial hardships. But his desire to see the world and explore it for Standard Oil allows for a carefree adventurous side that we all can identify with.

With books of this type, I have google search working as the pages turn. There are often so many spokes of the wheel to explore. That’s how I found this.

At this point in his privileged life his dad lost all his money in the Panic of 1907. With little prospects, young Bill Yale took whatever job he could get to pay for his tuition. In 1913, while working as an oil drilling roustabout in Oklahoma, he was accepted into Standard Oil’s Foreign Service School. After three months of training he was sent to the Middle East. There he was to pretend he was a wealthy playboy on a vacation through the deserts of Syria. In truth, he was secretly looking for unknown oil deposits. Soon he knew all the major players in the Middle East in his role as a bridge-playing womanizer in Jerusalem. In time, he succeeded in acquiring for Standard Oil the rights to drill for oil on a half-million acres of potentially rich sites.

Among the first people he met in Syria was T. E. Lawrence, the man who would later be remembered as Lawrence of Arabia. In time, they developed a close friendship based on the common bond of being the same age and living through the horrors of war. Soon, they both began to wear flowing Arab robes and sandals as their everyday garb. In 1914, Yale also met, and fell in love with socialite Edith Hanna, the niece of the American presidential kingmaker Sen. Mark Hanna, who was on a tour of the holy land. She had grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, but had moved to England in 1913. The start of the First World War in 1914 separated them for the next four years. She returned to London where she was a volunteer nurse caring for blinded soldiers. Their love letters had to be sneaked back and forth through neutral Switzerland.

During the war, Bill volunteered with the American Army but was instead was ordered by the State Department to report to General Sir Edmund Allenby’s headquarters, the British officer in charge of forces in Egypt. He would be America’s only special agent in the Middle East and his spying reports were eagerly read by the State Department and President Wilson. He, like Lawrence, had become very pro-Arab and anti-imperialistic.

After the war President Wilson appointed Yale to the Paris Peace Conference and King-Crane Commission set up to decide the division of the former Turkish Empire in the Middle East. Yale knew the Arab leaders trusted America and would eagerly accept temporary control by the U.S. until they could form their own stable governments.

Unfortunately, everything Yale and Lawrence proposed was ignored by the gray-headed diplomats from Britain and France. These imperialists reneged on the promises they had made during the war and took over Lebanon, Syria, the Palestine, and Egypt creating much hatred toward the West. If Yale and Lawrence had prevailed the world today might be significantly more peaceful.

“Lawrence In Arabia” Latest Attempt For Understanding Absurdity Of WWI

One of the most absurd chapters of world history is the events leading up to and during WWI. One can have the facts and chronological order of events, know the leaders and military playbooks, and still walk away without understanding how the picayune and narrow-minded tiffs and slights emerged so that in Europe bloody trench warfare will kill millions.

It is ridiculous, but true, to state that bureaucratic fumblings, spies of every kind, along with heroes and villains galore can be studied and examined, and still the loss of 40 million people, in a war that never needed to happen, can still not be fully understood. How the Middle East had a most tortured outcome due to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was crafted with betrayal along with a zeal to obfuscate at every comma, can be read about but the sheer gall of it is so stunning it seems hardly believable.

What happened between 1914-17, along with the events leading up to the bloodshed and mockery of common-sense is something I wade into from time to time. The senseless loss of so much life over the most illogical of reasons is a mystery that just demands an understanding. After decades of reading books in pursuit of wrapping my mind around the events, it comes down to the realization that perhaps there is no understanding to be had. It was just pure lunacy.

During the pandemic, I landed on some books about the war which intrigued me, three of them from the Middle East perspective, a region I love to learn more about from history. The author of Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East stood out to me from his work in the New York Times. Scott Anderson is a veteran war correspondent who has reported from Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Sudan, Bosnia, El Salvador, and many other strife-torn countries. He brings the view of the region to life as we follow T. E. Lawrence the man and intellect as opposed to the legend. It needs noting the book is not a biography of Lawrence, but a story of the war as it encompasses the land of the Ottoman Empire.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement was a bullet point in my high school class but as with almost every point of history, the details of each story are where the intrigue and wonder lies. Sir Mark Syke surely spun about in his grave several times as Anderson wrote, re-wrote, and edited the chapter where his shameless actions are laid bare. Not for the first time, of course, does his actions rankle me as he is central to so much of the history that has followed. But the pointed and pithy way of Anderson’s writing about him in this book does make for clenched hands on the covers.

If there is an upside to staying home while adhering to medical advice as we work to stem the spread of the virus it is that attempts can be made again to learn something more about what seemingly cannot be answered.

Why did WWI happen? I will certainly not be bored with the reads and will gain new insight. But at the end of the books, the fact will remain the most base reasons led to the most outrageous loss of life. One of the most absurd chapters of world history….