Brief Respone to Star Parker's Criticism of "When the Levees Broke"
Star Parker's editorial on "When the Levees Broke" deserves a lengthy response, but I'm writing this brief statement to encourage readers to view this documentary and follow the story of the Gulf Coast.
Star Parker's editorial entitled "Of Katrina, lies and Spike Lee's videotape" unfairly attacks Spike Lee's outstanding documentary When the Levees Broke. Upon the collapse of the levees on August 29, 2005, the local and state governments did not have the means to save people trapped in their homes and to provide assistance to those who managed to escape the flood to the Superdome, the Convention Center or overpasses. On September 3rd, the military began to provide effective assistance, but the delay in response cost lives and created suffering. This alone makes the federal government worthy of criticism.
Ms. Parker falsely accuses the documentary of not acknowledging the $700 million private citizens donated. With approximately 200,000 families displaced, that amounts to $3,500 per family, assuming there are no administrative costs. Insurance claims from the Gulf Coast region are approximately $70 billion, most of which insurance companies will not pay. The situation is larger than private charity can handle.
The documentary shows the neglect of the people of the Gulf Coast in the year since the storm. This is a reflection of the federal government's misplaced priorities. This administration and Congress have done everything in their power to subsidize the energy, pharmaceutical and weapons industries. Do we really believe that the Army Corps of Engineers's efforts would remain under funded if the 9th Ward was filled with Exxon facilities instead of working class people?
This documentary asks whether we want to rebuild New Orleans as a residential, culturally-vibrant city guarded by adequate, Dutch-quality dams and levees or allow private developers to develop these areas commercially and then use their money to influence the federal government to fund storm-protection systems as corporate welfare.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
"By the declining star. Your companion is not in error nor has he gone astray. He does not speak out of his own desire. It is a revelations which has been revealed to him and taught to him by the Great Mighty One, the Strong One who appeared on the uppermost horizon. He then came nearer and nearer, until he was as close to Him as the distance of two bows, or even less. He revealed to Allah's servant whatever He wanted. His (Muhammad's) heart did not lie to him about what his eyes had seen. Will you then argue with him about what he saw? He certainly saw Him during his other ascent to the Lote‑tree near which is Paradise. When the tree was covered with a covering, (Muhammad's) eyes did not deceive him, nor did they lead him to falsehood. He certainly saw the greatest (signs) of the existence of his Lord.
During the Me'raj, an Angel taught the following supplication and instructed to recite it during the Morning and the Evening:
"O' Allah! I appeal for relief from my oppression through Your pardon, and I appeal for relief from my sins through Your forgiveness, and I appeal for relief from my own insignificance through your Everlasting Countenance which will never cease to exist. "
From Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 18, p. 329-330, Bab 3 - Ithbaat al-Mi`raaj wa ma`anaahu wa kayfiyyatuhu wa sifatuhu wa ma jaraa feehi wa wasf al-buraaq, Hadith 34.
As narrated by Imam Ali, the blessed Messenger said: "On the Night of my Ascension, I asked Allah: "What action is dearest to you?" ... The Lord of Majesty replied: ...
"O Ahmad, be close to the poor and keep your distance from tyrants! Let your affection be for the Hereafter!"
(For complete hadith see, Irshad by Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi - pg. 457)
While I don't agree with everything in this article, I think it is worth reading this popular secular Pakistani journalist, to get a glimpse of how things have changed in the past month and a half...
"Islam has many faces in the world today: the face of compromise, defeatism and collaboration, the Islam of the Excellencies who preside over the destinies of the Muslim world, autocrats at home and American satellites abroad. The Muslim masses have had enough of these cardboard figures. There is then the Islam of Hasan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, the Islam that stands for justice and resistance."
Faith knows no religious boundaries
By Ayaz Amir
WITH its victory over Israel — a sampling of the Israeli press providing ample acknowledgement of this victory and ample evidence of the gloom into which Israel has been plunged — Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, now take their place among the immortals.
To go no further back than the 20th century, Hezbollah now takes its place with — to name but a few — the defenders of Gallipoli, Stalingrad and Leningrad; the German army while retreating from Russia (even in retreat the Germans fought superbly), the People’s Liberation Army during the Long March, Fidel’s guerrillas during the Cuban revolution, the Vietcong and Vietminh during the war against the United States and the Israeli army in the 1967 war when it brought the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria to their knees in six days.
It must have felt great to be an Israeli in 1967. That war changed, it almost seemed eternally, the strategic calculus in the Middle East. After the second Lebanese war, Hezbollah can lay claim to changing the strategic equation. The myth of Israeli invincibility lies shattered while American arrogance and folly have been dealt a severe blow. American influence in the region stands degraded.
The god of war, as we have already noted, makes no distinction between different faiths. Enough for him if commitment to one’s cause is sincere and wholehearted. And it helps if the cause is also just. “Brute force bereft of reason,” as Horace warned long ago, “falls by its own weight. Power with counsel temper’d even the gods make greater. But might which in its soul is bent on all impiety, they hate.”
Throughout history, this has been the winning formula: force tied to reason and justice, and, of course, tenacity, imagination and boldness. L’audace: fortune favours the audacious.
In the last hundred years the Muslim world has produced only two outstanding politico-military figures: Mustafa Kemal and Hasan Nasrallah, the one almost irreligious, the other steeped in the spirit of Islam. (Although it is another matter that Turkey today enjoys extremely close relations with Israel, an aspect of Turkish policy incomprehensible to most Muslims.)
In short, to each his/her own faith. The only condition is it must be made of the purest material.
Christians who have fought some of the most terrible wars in history — the two world wars being largely intra-Christian conflicts — of necessity cast their faith in Christian terms just as the Samurai does it his own way and the Vietcong rode on the wings of nationalism when they took on the might of the US.
It is therefore only natural for a Muslim to express his/her faith in Islamic terms. The very first thing whispered into the ear of the new-born Muslim child, whether in a religious household or one where religious rituals are not all that strictly observed, is the sound of the azaan, the call to prayer.
Just as the names of the apostles have a special significance for Christians, the names, say, of Omar and Ali, caliphs of Islam, are wired in a special way into the consciousness of a Muslim. When we are in pain we invoke Allah’s name, even those of us otherwise not much given to religious observance.
Hasan Nasrallah’s speeches are peppered with religious references. He invokes God’s help all the time. Hezbollah, however, is not a religious sect. It is a political organisation the central tenets of whose ideology are intensely and purely political. What does Hezbollah seek? Social justice for the people of Lebanon — which means schools, hospitals and the right to a decent life — and freedom from foreign domination, in this case Israeli and American domination.
It does not seek the establishment of a theocratic state, which is one reason why its support amongst the Lebanese population transcends and goes far beyond the bounds of the Shia community.
Robert Pape, author of a well-received book on “terrorism”, says in the Guardian, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, Hezbollah is principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. At first, it consisted of a small number of Shias supported by Iran. But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israel’s occupation, Hezbollah, never tight-knit, expanded into an umbrella organisation that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims.”
Hezbollah conducted a campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986, including the famous bombing which killed about 280 American Marines and got the Americans scurrying out of Lebanon. There were 41 such bombings in all. Researching for his book, Pape says he was shocked to find that “only eight (of the bombers) were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a woman secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.”
“What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared,” he concludes, “was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation.” (I have said above that Hezbollah’s ideology is intensely political. In my view, which could be mistaken, resisting foreign occupation is a political aim. In any event, I was trying to draw a distinction between the religious and the political.)
But the justness of a cause means nothing if not accompanied by dedication and commitment. I may be the world’s greatest idealist but of no use to anyone if incapable of action; or if I am guilty of double standards, holding up one yardstick for myself and a different one for others.
About the dedication of Hezbollah’s leadership, suffice it to say that Hasan Nasrallah’s own son died fighting the Israeli army in Lebanon in 1997. An exchange of bodies took place a year later. The late Eqbal Ahmed (who also wrote for this paper) wrote this for the Al-Ahram weekly at the time:
“Sayed Hassan Nasrallah entered the hall in solemn dignity accompanied by Jawad, his teenage son. He stopped before each coffin and offered the Fatiha (the Muslim equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer) until he reached the one marked 13. He beckoned to an aide and spoke to him in a whisper. The aide summoned two workers of the Islamic Health Association, a Hezbollah outfit. They opened the coffin exposing a body wrapped in a white shroud. Sheikh Nasrallah’s eyes closed, his lips trembled as he offered the Fatiha. Slowly, he bent over and tenderly stroked the head of Hadi Nasrallah, his eldest son who was 18 when he died in battle on 13 September (1997). Jawad, the younger son, stood still and pale next to his father. A deep silence fell on the room while (Hasan Nasrallah’s) right hand rested on his son’s chest.”
Is such a leadership easy to defeat? When Israel attacked Lebanon on July 12, Israeli defence minister Amir Peretz said that Hasan Nasrallah would never be able to forget the name of Amir Peretz. More likely it is Peretz who won’t forget Hasan Nasrallah’s name.
Islam has many faces in the world today: the face of compromise, defeatism and collaboration, the Islam of the Excellencies who preside over the destinies of the Muslim world, autocrats at home and American satellites abroad. The Muslim masses have had enough of these cardboard figures. There is then the Islam of Hasan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, the Islam that stands for justice and resistance.
This is not ‘radical’ Islam. When the US is uncomfortable with anything or when something runs counter to its interests, it uses the word ‘radical’ — and now increasingly ‘terrorist’ — to denounce it. This is the true Islam.
Its constituent elements are simple: democracy, that is rule by the people, not by hereditary emir or power-grabbing general; social justice or egalitarianism which means schools, hospitals and equal opportunities for all; and resistance against American domination, either direct as in Iraq or indirect through America’s surrogate, Israel.
This is the true path and Hezbollah has held up the torch to it. Not for a long time has the Islamic world been stirred by such profound feelings.
"You don’t give a damn. You don’t even know about the Palestinian families. You don’t even know that they exist. Tell me the name of one member of the seven members of the same family slaughtered on the beach in Gaza by an Israeli warship.
You don’t even know their names, but you know the name of every Israeli soldier who has been taken prisoner in this conflict. Because you believe, whether you know it or not, that Israeli blood is more valuable than the blood of Lebanese of Palestinians. That’s the truth, and the discerning of your viewers already know it." (George Galloway)
"What cowardice, to bomb a shelter with women and children... But in all honesty, they (the imperialists) are all condemned. From the depths of the souls of the people a force will emerge that will end imperialism, and their lackeys. " President Hugo Chavez
This Saturday, August 12th there will be, inshallah, major demonstrations against the Fascist Zionist terror attacks on Palestine and Lebanon - in Washington D.C. (empire capital) Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Click here to learn more.
Today, Rajab 13th, is the birthday of Imam Ali (AS)
man kuntu mawlahu fa `Aliyyun mawlahu
“Whoever I am the master (mawla) of, Ali is also the master of.” (The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him and his family)
"My advice to you is to be conscious of Allah and steadfast in your religion. Do not yearn for the world, and do not be seduced by it. Do not resent anything you have missed in it. Proclaim the truth; work for the next world. Oppose the oppressor and support the oppressed." (Imam Ali (AS))
A barrage of "Israeli" propaganda is flooding the commercial airwaves around the world.
For those of us living within the borders of the primary supplier of arms to the Zionists - it is important to find alternative sources for our news.
Too much of CNN/FOX et al. can be seriously detrimental to your health and well being.
Here are a few recommended on-line audio/visiual sources that folks can view and/or listen to - I could only find one English language source that I can whole heartedly recommend. There are others, but I did not want to make a very large list, and focused only on a few I found to be clear headed in their politics. You can add other links in the comments section, please only audio/visual sources that can be viewed online.
Flashpoints is a radio news show that is produced five days a week at the Berkeley based radio station KPFA. The hour long show includes daily reports from south Lebanon and Palestine - with superb analyses and investigative reporting. Archives of the shows are available for streaming and download (mp3 format). A must daily listen. (English)
Tele Sur covers movements, and struggles from around the world - especially South American movements. The station has also been giving wide coverage to the current "israeli" attacks on Lebanon, including analyses and interviews direct from the region. (Spanish)
Venezolana de Television is the Venezuelan government TV station. Recently, President Hugo Chavez withdrew the Venezuelan ambassador from "Israel" as a protest against the continued zionist agression against Palestine and Lebanon. The station has regular features on Lebanon, and Palestine and takes a strong anti-imperialist stand. (Spanish, on their web site, click on "senal en vivo" to watch online)
Direct from Lebanon you can listen to inteviews, watch images of the war, and listen to Qur'an and duas. The "israelis" have attempted to bomb, jam, interrupt this station daily since the zionists began their war of agression - but the station has stayed on air. Click here to view. (Arabic)
Condemning an entire nation & two Abrahamic faiths
I hate writing on Arab-Israeli issues. I’m a Pakistani-born Aussie who thinks carving out a state based on ethno-religious identity is pretty cool, especially given we “Pakis” had a 9-month head-start on Israel.
But prominent Australian Jewish leader Isi Leibler’s letter to the Review section of The Weekend Australian (August 5-6 2006) made me sick in the stomach. The letter defends Leibler’s thesis (published some months back in the Jerusalem Post) that Palestinians today are no better than Germans were during the Nazi period.
Leibler claims Palestinian society’s “central pillars – culture, religion and education – have been based on the worship of death and the sanctification of the murder of Jews”. It’s hard to imagine a worse time for a prominent Jewish leader to make such inflammatory remarks.
One Catholic member of the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims some 6% of Palestinians are Christians. Their influence in Palestinian politics and culture far outweighs their numbers. Palestinian (indeed all forms of) Christianity insists salvation is based on belief in the resurrected Christ, a far cry from teaching followers to worship death.
Muslims also don’t worship death. The Prophet Muhammad taught the first to enter hell would be one who died a martyr’s death simply to earn a martyr’s reputation. Suicide is strictly forbidden, and Sydney tabloid columnist Piers Akerman still hasn’t answered my e-mail from 12 months back in which I ask him to produce Koran’s verses mentioning the martyr’s 72 heavenly virgins.
Nor is anti-Semitism a central feature of either faith-community, notwithstanding what the words of Sheik Hilali or Mel Gibson might otherwise suggest.
The first education minister of the democratically elected PA government was Dr Hanan Ashrawi, a practising Anglican and recipient of the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize. Leibler accuses the PA of developing a curriculum that “has brainwashed an entire generation towards accepting the murder of Jews as a supreme religious and national objective.”
So we have a prominent Jewish leader casting murderous aspersions on an entire nation and on two major faiths. If this is how Mr Leibler wants to build bridges for Aussie Jews in Aussie Christian and Muslim communities, he’d best stay in Jerusalem.