Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saving Israel From Itself

The two-state solution is the only way to guarantee the Jewish state’s long-term security—and our own.
By John J. Mearsheimer


The United States and Israel fundamentally disagree about the need to establish a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. President Obama is committed to a two-state solution, while Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is opposed and has been for many years. To avoid a direct confrontation with Washington, Netanyahu will probably change his rhetoric and talk favorably about two states. But that will not affect Israel’s actions. The never-ending peace process will go on, Israel will continue building settlements, and the Palestinians will remain locked up in a handful of impoverished enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza. Anticipating this outcome, Obama has told Congress to expect a clash with Israel.
This is not a fight Obama is likely to win, even though the United States is more powerful than Israel and most Americans favor creating a Palestinian state and bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a close.
Look at the historical record. Since 1967, every American president has opposed settlement-building in the Occupied Territories. Yet no president has been able to put meaningful pressure on Israel to stop building settlements, much less dismantle them. Perhaps the best evidence of American impotence is what happened during the Oslo peace process in the 1990s. Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements. President Clinton did hardly anything to halt this expansion.
The main reason no president has been able to stop Israel from colonizing the Occupied Territories is the Israel lobby. It is an especially powerful interest group that has pushed the American government to establish a “special relationship” with Israel, which is, as Yitzhak Rabin once said, “beyond compare in modern history.”
The special relationship means Washington gives Israel consistent, almost unconditional diplomatic backing and more foreign aid than any other country. In other words, Israel gets this aid even when it does things that the United States opposes, like building settlements. Furthermore, Israel is rarely criticized by American officials and certainly not by anyone who aspires to high office. Recall what happened earlier this year to Charles Freeman, who was forced to withdraw as head of the National Intelligence Council because he had criticized certain Israeli policies and questioned the merits of the special relationship.
Many hope that Obama will be different from his predecessors and stand up to the lobby. The indications thus far are not encouraging. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama responded to charges that he was “soft” on Israel by pandering to the lobby and publicly praising the special relationship. He was silent during the recent Gaza War—when Israel was being criticized around the world for its brutal assault on that densely populated enclave—and he said nothing when Freeman was forced to quit his administration. Like his predecessors, Obama appears to be no match for the lobby.
Israel’s supporters in the United States often claim that the special relationship is not due to the lobby’s influence. The American people, they argue, identify closely with Israel and put significant pressure on their leaders to support it generously and unconditionally. But there is abundant evidence showing that this is not true. Recent polls indicate that over 70 percent of Americans think that the U.S. should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and only 47 percent of Americans think that Israel’s influence in the world is “mainly positive.” Moreover, 60 percent of Americans have said that the United States should withhold aid to Israel if it resists pressure to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
In short, a clear majority of Americans do not favor the special relationship and would back Obama if he leaned on Israel to accept a Palestinian state. The lobby, however, would surely side with Israel and pressure the White House to back off. Given the lobby’s track record—as well as Obama’s—it is difficult to imagine him not caving.
Israel’s supporters defend the special relationship because they believe it is an unalloyed good for both countries. In essence, they think that the two countries’ interests are synonymous, and whatever Israel deems good for Israel is good for the United States. From their perspective, there is no need for Israel to change its behavior on any major policy issue, especially on matters relating to the Palestinians.
But they are wrong. Israel’s interests, like any other country’s interests, are not always the same as America’s. Thus it makes little sense for Washington to back Israel no matter what it does because sometimes there will be circumstances in which the two countries’ interests clash. For example, it probably made good sense for Israel to acquire nuclear weapons in the 1960s, since it lives in a dangerous neighborhood and a nuclear arsenal is the ultimate deterrent. But a nuclear-armed Israel was not in the American national interest.
Both countries would be much better off if the Obama administration treated Israel the way it treats other democracies, such as Britain, France, Germany, and India. In practice, this would mean backing Israel when its actions are consistent with American interests. But when they are not, Washington would distance itself from Jerusalem and use its considerable leverage to change Israeli behavior.
The United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East and has a serious terrorism problem in good part because of its unconditional support for Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories. Backing Israel at almost every turn also makes it harder for Washington to get open support from moderate Arab states, even when dealing with common threats like Iran.
Israel’s backers often maintain that American support for Israel had nothing to do with 9/11, but this claim is simply not true. Consider the motivations of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, whom the 9/11 Commission describes as the “principle architect of the attacks.” According to the commission, “KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” Numerous independent accounts have also documented that Osama bin Laden has been deeply concerned about the Palestinian situation since he was young, and the 9/11 Commission reports that he wanted the attackers to strike Congress, which he saw as the most important source of support for Israel in the United States. The commission also tells us that bin Laden twice wanted to move the date of the attacks forward because of events involving Israel—even though doing so would have increased the risk of failure.
In short, there is little hope of ending America’s terrorism problem and improving its standing in the Middle East if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved. That will only happen if there is a two-state solution, and that will only occur if the United States puts pressure on Israel.
The special relationship has become a liability for Israel as well. No country has ever pursued a flawless foreign policy, yet the lobby makes it impossible for American leaders to criticize Israel when it does something foolish. Think of the 2006 Lebanon War, when Washington backed Israel to the hilt while it employed a strategy that was, as most Israelis now recognize, boneheaded. The United States would have been a better friend had it pressured Israel to come up with a smarter response or pressed for a quick ceasefire. But that is not how the special relationship works. It is hard to see how this situation makes good sense for Israel.
So how should the Obama administration react to Netanyahu’s opposition to a Palestinian state? The key to understanding this vital issue is to consider two questions. First, what does Israel’s future look like in the absence of a two-state solution? In other words, where is Israel headed if Netanyahu gets his way? Second, what are the likely consequences for America, Israel, and the Palestinians?
Given present circumstances, there are three possible alternatives if the Palestinians do not get their own state, all of which involve creating a “greater Israel”—an Israel that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza, or all of what was once called Mandatory Palestine.
In the first scenario, greater Israel would become a democratic binational state in which Palestinians and Jews enjoy equal political rights. This solution has been suggested by a handful of Jews and a growing number of Palestinians. It means abandoning the original Zionist vision of a Jewish state, however, since the Palestinians would eventually outnumber the Jews in greater Israel. Uri Avnery, a prominent Israeli journalist and peace activist, is surely correct when he says, “There is no chance at all that the Jewish public will agree, in this generation or the next, to live as a minority in a state dominated by an Arab majority.” Israel’s supporters in America would also have virtually no interest in this outcome.
Second, Israel could expel most of the Palestinians from greater Israel, thereby preserving its Jewish character through an overt act of ethnic cleansing. This seems unlikely, not just because it would be a crime against humanity, but also because there are about 5.5 million Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and they would put up fierce resistance if Israel tried to expel them from their homes.
Still, there are good reasons to worry that Israel might adopt this solution as the demographic balance shifts and concerns about the survival of the Jewish state intensifiy. It is apparent from public-opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views about Palestinians, and the recent Gaza War made clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians. A century of conflict and four decades of occupation will do that to a people. Furthermore, a substantial number of Israeli Jews—40 percent or more—believe that the Arab citizens of Israel should be “encouraged” to leave by the government. Indeed, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni recently said that if there were a two-state solution, she expected Israel’s Palestinian citizens to leave and settle in the new Palestinian state.
The final and most likely alternative is some form of apartheid, whereby Israel increases its control over the Occupied Territories, but allows the Palestinians limited autonomy in a set of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves. Israelis and their American supporters invariably bristle at the comparison to white rule in South Africa, but that is their future if they create a greater Israel while denying full political rights to an Arab population that will soon outnumber the Jewish population in the entirety of the land. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert said as much when he proclaimed that if “the two-state solution collapses,” Israel will “face a South-African-style struggle.” He went so far as to argue, “as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” Other Israelis, as well as Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu, have warned that continuing the occupation will turn Israel into an apartheid state.
These three outcomes are the only alternatives to a two-state solution, and each would be disastrous for the Jewish state. Apartheid is not a viable long-term solution because the Palestinians will continue to resist until they achieve independence. Their resistance will force Israel to escalate the same repressive policies that have already cost significant blood and treasure, encouraged political corruption, and badly tarnished the nation’s global image. More importantly, there would be little support and much opposition to an apartheid state in the West, especially in the United States, where democracy is venerated and segregation is condemned. This is why Olmert said that going down the apartheid road would be suicidal for Israel.
But bringing democracy to greater Israel would also mean the end of the Jewish state because the more numerous Palestinians would dominate its politics. That leaves ethnic cleansing, which would certainly keep Israel Jewish. That murderous strategy, however, would do enormous damage to Israel’s moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the diaspora, and its international standing. Israel and its supporters would be treated harshly by history. No genuine friend of Israel could support such a heinous course of action.
Given this grim situation, it is not surprising that a significant number of Israelis have moved abroad and many others would leave if they could. There are somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million Israeli Jews living outside the country, many of whom are unlikely to return. Since 2007, emigration has been outpacing immigration in Israel. According to scholars John Mueller and Ian Lustick, “a recent survey indicates that only 69 percent of Jewish Israelis say they want to stay in the country, and a 2007 poll finds that one-quarter of Israelis are considering leaving, including almost half of all young people.” They report, “in another survey, 44 percent of Israelis say they would be ready to leave if they could find a better standard of living elsewhere,” and “over 100,000 Israelis have acquired European passports.” These figures are a bad omen for Israel.
This discussion of where Israel is heading raises the obvious question: would it not be in Israel’s best interests for President Obama to put significant pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution? In fact, would it not have been better for Israel if the United States had long ago stopped it from building settlements and instead helped create a Palestinian state? One wonders what future the opponents of a two-state solution envision for greater Israel, for it is hard to see a favorable outcome if the Palestinians do not get their own state. This is not to say that two states living side by side represents an ideal outcome for either side; it is simply better than the alternatives.
Finally, denying the Palestinians their own state is not in the lobby’s interest, and not just because of the consequences for Israel. Over the past two decades, the case for backing Israel—no matter what it does—has become a tough sell in the United States, especially on college campuses. Younger Jews appear to be more willing to criticize Israel than their elders. Americans of all persuasions are becoming increasingly aware of what Israel did to the Palestinians in 1948 and what it has been doing in the Occupied Territories since 1967. Consequently, Israel no longer looks like the victim; it looks like the victimizer, and a ruthless one at that. This situation is sure to get worse if Israel turns itself into an apartheid state in full view of the world.
Because Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians will be increasingly hard to defend, the lobby will have to rely more than ever on threats and intimidation. Facts and reason are not effective weapons when trying to justify an apartheid state. Given the growing awareness of the lobby’s activities—thanks mainly to the Internet—its actions are already being scrutinized in ways they were not in the past. In other words, it has become difficult for the lobby to wield its influence without leaving fingerprints, and greater recognition of its role is likely to trigger greater resentment. Its torpedoing of the Freeman appointment, which was widely discussed in the blogosphere and eventually by the mainstream media, is a case in point. The lobby’s behavior will become more heavy-handed and transparent, which runs the risk of angering large numbers of Americans, including many Jews. It would be much easier for the lobby to defend Israel if it lived alongside a Palestinian state.
President Obama would like to change the situation because he understands that a two-state solution would be good for America, good for Israel, and good for the Palestinians. But Netanyahu seems determined to thwart his efforts. Who is likely to win this fight?
As things stand, Obama has little chance of prevailing, mainly because the lobby’s key institutions will side with Israel, and the American president shows little sign of being willing to take on the lobby. Other factors also weigh against him. There are about 480,000 settlers and a huge infrastructure of roads and settlements in the West Bank. Given that the political center of gravity in Israel has shifted sharply to the right over time, it is hard to imagine any Israeli government having the political will, much less the ability, to dismantle a substantial portion of that enormous enterprise. Consider that a February 2009 poll found that 59 percent of Israelis opposed a Palestinian state; only 32 percent supported it.
Nor is there much sympathy for the two-state solution in the American Jewish community. A 2007 survey found that only 46 percent of Jews in this county favored the establishment of a Palestinian state, probably because 82 percent of those surveyed believed that “the goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.” A 2008 J Street poll showed more support for the two-state solution (78 percent) but also revealed substantial opposition to dismantling Israeli settlements and making East Jerusalem part of Palestine. Those reservations, coupled with deep-seated fears of Palestinian motives, will help the lobby’s hardliners make their case. Of course, Christian Zionists will adamantly oppose the two-state solution: they want Israel to control every square millimeter of Palestine because they believe that will facilitate Christ’s Second Coming.
Obama’s only hope—and it is a slim one—is that a substantial part of the American Jewish community will come to understand Olmert’s warning that Israel will become like white-ruled South Africa if there is no two-state solution. More American Jews need to understand that Israel is in serious peril and that the situation is likely to get worse, not better. Obama would be acting as Israel’s friend if he put pressure on both sides to reach a settlement. If there is no agreement, Israel faces a grim future, and it will become very difficult to defend Israel. In short, more Jewish-Americans need to recognize that it is in their interest to champion the two-state solution.
If that does not happen, Obama will be unable to get tough with Israel. There will be even more trouble ahead for Israel, the United States, and especially the Palestinians.
__________________________________________
John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

BALANCING BETWEEN JIHAD AND SEEKING KNOWLEDGE - ABU YAHYA AL LIBI



Return of the Crusaders Part 1 of 4

Netanyahu Likely to Back Two-State Solution During Washington Visit

The following is from Fox News:

JERUSALEM -- Israel's defense minister said Saturday he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will endorse the creation of a Palestinian state during his upcoming meeting with President Obama in Washington.

But sources close to the Israeli government told FOX News that Netanyahu will first seek assurances from Obama that neighboring Arab nations will back the weak Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas in concessions for peace.

Netanyahu's government was encouraged by Vice President Joe Biden's speech to the American Israel Political Affairs Committee in which he said one of the clear responsibilities the Arab states have is to support the Palestinian Authority's effort to govern on the West Bank, "develop and reform its institutions, help the people of Gaza work toward returning to Gaza."

The endorsement would be a significant shift for the Israeli leader, who has made clear in the past that he does not think the Palestinians are ready to rule themselves. But that position has put him at odds with long-standing U.S. policy that supports Palestinian statehood as the cornerstone of Mideast peace efforts.

"I think and believe that Netanyahu will tell Obama this government is prepared to go for a political process that will result in two nations living side by side in peace and mutual respect," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 TV on Saturday.

Barak said he thought an agreement with the Palestinians could be achieved within three years.

But Palestinian independence hasn't been the only contentious issue between Netanyahu and Israel's closest and most important ally. The Obama administration's efforts to open dialogue with Syria and Iran have also rattled the Israelis.

Netanyahu has hinted he would be prepared to take military action against Iran to stop it from developing nuclear weapons -- something Vice President Biden has said would be "ill-advised." Israeli and foreign media reported this week that CIA Director Leon Panetta secretly visited Israel earlier this month and asked for advance warning of any military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

If the Israeli leader does endorse a Palestinian state, he will almost certainly want something in return from Obama -- a tougher line on reining in Iran.

Netanyahu doesn't believe Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is peaceful and sees Iran as the crux of the Mideast's problems, with its nuclear ambitions, military arsenal and anti-Israel proxies, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. He traveled to Egypt and Jordan this week to try to rally Arab support against Iran.

That approach is at odds with Washington's, which sees movement toward Palestinian statehood as key to pressuring Tehran to keep its nuclear program peaceful.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pointedly made that linkage last month.

"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts," she said.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said earlier this month the U.S. was preparing a new "combined approach" to the Middle East that will aim for a comprehensive peace among Israelis, Palestinians and the broader Arab world based on a two-state solution.

Obama could lay out his vision in a June 4 speech on U.S. relations with the Muslim world that he plans to deliver from Egypt.

Even if Netanyahu pays lip service to a Palestinian state, it won't be easy for his hawkish government to make the leap to sweeping concessions such as freezing Jewish settlement in the West Bank and sharing the holy city of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has said the old formula of trading land for peace has been unsuccessful. He has suggested focusing instead on building up the Palestinian economy and security services loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

But Netanyahu has acknowledged neither track is a substitute for political negotiations. And on trips to Egypt and Jordan last week, he said he wanted to quickly renew talks with Palestinians that stalled last year without any breakthrough.

Aides say he favors giving Palestinians the powers to govern themselves but minus the powers that could threaten Israel -- establishing an army, making treaties with states including Iran, importing heavy weapons, or controlling air space close to Israel's international airport.

Meanwhile, the prospects for Netanyahu announcing in Washington a resumption of peace negotiations on the Syrian track seem dim. Last year, Turkey mediated indirect talks between the enemies. Syria halted them over the Gaza war.

On Friday, Syrian President Bashar Assad said his country was interested in resuming indirect talks but does not see the new Israeli government as a good partner. Syria is demanding Israel cede all the Golan Heights, territory captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.

"When we have a specific vision and when there is a partner, then we can speak about a date to resume peace talks," Assad said.

But just days ago, Netanyahu said Israel would not leave the Golan.

FOX News' Major Garrett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

AUDIO in Preperation for Weekly Discussion in Paltalk room due to Start 5-22-09

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pepe Escobar - Obama and Osama - McChrystal Clear

Taliban Retain control of parts of SWAT

Pakistanis get brief window to flee fighting

The following is from CNN:

(CNN) -- Pakistani civilians were given a brief window on Friday to flee the ongoing fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in the country's north, according to military officials.

The Pakistan army is trying to push the Taliban away from regions within the troubled Swat Valley.

A curfew was relaxed until 2 p.m. local time Friday in Kabal, Kanju and Mingora -- in the Swat Valley -- and in Malakand Agency, which is a separate district.

The government provided an estimated 150 vehicles to evacuate people, as private cars are not allowed to enter Mingora.

The Taliban have been concentrating forces there -- digging trenches, laying mines, taking positions on rooftops, according to strategic expert Reva Bhalla of Stratfor, a firm that describes itself as a global intelligence company.

"The Taliban are concentrating forces in Mingora -- digging trenches, laying mines, taking positions on rooftops," said Bhalla.

"It is not clear if the Pakistani military is trained and even equipped to go into a situation like that," she said, adding that even the United States military "would have to think twice" about such an offensive.

She estimates there are 5,000 Taliban fighters in the area.

"The question is: Are they going to try to stand and fight, or try to regroup?" she asked.

With a government offensive against the Taliban nearly three weeks old, a spokesman for Pakistan's army said the military intends to drive the Taliban out of the contested area.

"The whole resolve of the government and the military is to once and for all finish the Taliban from the Valley of Swat," Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN's Reza Sayah.

The Pakistani military is trying to push the Taliban away from the heavily forested and mountainous regions of the Swat district toward the south, so the army can encircle the militants, Bhalla added.

According to the chief minister of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, some 1.5 million people have been displaced by 10 months of fighting between the military and Taliban militants along its border with Afghanistan.

The number of people at the Yar Hussain displaced-persons camp in Swabi district is expected to reach 2 million, Amir Haider Hoti said. The military announced earlier this week the number was 1.3 million.

The huge refugee camps that the conflict is creating could be "the perfect recruiting grounds for the Taliban to prey on," Bhalla said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations' top official on refugees told CNN Thursday the world must launch a "massive international effort" to care for the refugees, or it will be "absolutely impossible" to provide for them.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in a speech to parliament Thursday, called the refugee crisis a massive and unprecedented predicament. "They are our own people and their children are my children," Gilani said.

Report: CIA Chief Warned Israel Not to Bomb Iran in Secret Visit

The following is from Fox News:

The director of the CIA was recently sent on a secret mission to Israel to warn its leaders not to launch a surprise attack on Iran without notifying the U.S. Administration, the Times of London reported on Thursday.

FOX News could not immediately confirm the report.

As Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, prepares to visit Washington, it emerged on Wednesday that Leon Panetta went to Israel two weeks ago. He sought assurances from Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister, that their hawkish new government would not attack Iran without alerting Washington.

Concerns have been rising that Netanyahu could launch a strike on Tehran’s atomic program, in the same way that Israel hit Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in 1981. Israel has been preparing for such an eventuality. It has carried out long-distance maneuvers and is due to hold its largest civil defense drills this summer. The country’s leaders reportedly told Panetta that they did not "intend to surprise the U.S. on Iran."

Netanyahu will leave for Washington this weekend. He will meet Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and Obama, whom he will try to convince of the need for tougher action against Iran. Obama favors trying to engage Tehran, but his efforts have been received coolly by President Ahmadinejad.

The Israeli leader is expected to insist that the U.S. stays focused on Iran, rather than tackling stalled talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has held meetings with Arab leaders this week, including President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. Both Sunni leaders share Israel’s fears of a resurgent Shia Iran.

Click to read the full story from the Times of London.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Doctors, More Engineers....

All praise is due to Allah, the Magnificent, and the Omnipotent. Peace & blessings on the noble Prophet Muhammed, his family, and his companions.
As to what follows;

“We need doctors, we need engineers to advance ourselves & improve our current state of humiliation”.

The above quote is not from a book of history, rather these words were uttered in a Mosque in front of a jammah of Muslims who had gathered for their jummah prayer.

The khutba was dedicated to presenting a solution to the Muslims for our current sad state of affairs all over the world. I observed as many in the jammah nodded affirmatively and accepted the provided solution as the answer to all the ills faced by the Muslims. The khateeb had given them the revolutionary missing answer.

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Yes, Muslims are humiliated. Yes, we are oppressed & tortured.

So, what is the solution? More doctors and more engineers according to this khateeb.

Such a mind set is a direct result of the failure of the Ulema to fulfill their responsibilities. The scholars of the Ummah today much like the khateeb on this particular Friday have failed to rightly guide the Muslims back to roots of our deen. There is a key message in the following hadith in regards to the Ulema and the scholars of Islam;
“A man came to Abu Darda (ra) while he was in Damascus. Abu Darda asked him, “What has brought you here my brother?” He replied, “A hadith which you relate from the Prophet (saw).” Abu Darda asked, “Have you come for some worldly need?” He replied, “No.” “You have come only to seek this hadith?” He replied, “Yes.” Abu Darda then said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say:

"Whoever treads a path due to which he seeks knowledge, Allah will make him tread one of the paths towards Paradise. The angels lower their wings out of contentment for the seeker of knowledge; the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth, even the fish in the depths of the sea ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the virtue of the moon on the night when it is full, over all of the stars. Indeed, the scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, and the prophets do not leave behind dinar nor dirham, but rather, they leave behind knowledge. So whoever takes it, has acquired an abundant portion" (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi).
Dear brothers and sisters, the solution is certainly NOT more doctors & engineers. We are not lacking in any of those fields. In fact, as you will see below, inshAllah, the Ummah is churning out doctors & engineers like an industry on an annual basis & majority of them are not contributing positively to our problems. A $200 donation check does not count towards a “will cut it” sacrifice done in the name of Islam. And this is exactly what our doctors & engineers do at the end of the day. The masajid's raise their voices for donations for parking lost expansions to tarring of the roofs and out come the purses. Sure sadaqa is a halal ibadah, but it will not cure the illnesses of this Ummah.

The land of the Muslims, from Egypt to Pakistan is littered with Universities, Colleges, and Technical Institutions that provide education on all levels of academia.

Briefly...

Egypt :
18 Public Universities, 28 Private Universities.
Ain Shams University
Founded in 1947, The Faculty of Medicine serves more than 6000 undergraduate students over the 6 years of undergraduate teaching, and more than 1500 post-graduate students (Diplomas, Master of Science in medicine & Medical Doctorate) in various academic and clinical departments.

Pakistan :
56 Public Universities, 63 Private Universities
University of Engineering and Technology
Established 1921, some of the disciplines offered are, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering ,Mechatronics & Control Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, etc. Undergraduates: 4400, Postgraduates: 1600.

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I hope we get the necessary idea from the above. I hope we realize that not only do we have enough doctors & engineers in the Ummah, in fact we have a surplus. Just visit the Arab nations in the Khaleej and you will find every hospital packed with imported doctors from Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, etc. Yes, they are working in professions that could easily be served by a kuffar. And in that case indeed we must have Muslims in those fields. However, no pack of doctors or engineers can ever stand before a tyrant & be successful in defeating his armed enforcers. Today the Ummah has placed all its hopes & aspirations in the professions that only serve the individual having little or no impact on uplifting the oppression of the Muslims.

I don't want to sound stereotypical here, but ask a parent from the Asian sub-continent regarding the profession his son/daughter is pursuing, the most common response is either “doctor!”-this or “engineer”-that. I'll take it a step further and say that if you ask the same parents what they hope for in a future bride/bridegroom, the frequently mentioned “expectation” (because it sometimes sounds like a requirement”) is “doctor” or “engineer”. I cannot recall a single instance when a prospective wife or husband was selected by the parents based on his or her piety. This is a malignant disease which requires much serious thought and attention.

Enough doctors & engineers, ya muslimoon! If we want to lift this Ummah from the depths that it has fallen into and advance it forward, then we must not follow the advice of those who are slaves of their desires, the misguided scholars. Those who cannot utter a word without first considering the likes & dislikes of the mosque's committee members or their tyrant King. Instead, our true ulema are those who without hesitation would make the same supreme sacrifices or noble Prophet(saw) made.

Ultimately, we must all understand that,
“History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its loft edifice except with skulls, Honor and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses. Empires, distinguished peoples, states and societies cannot be established except with examples. Indeed those who think that they can change reality, or change societies, without blood, sacrifices and invalids, without pure, innocent souls, then they do not understand the essence of this Deen and they do not know the method of the best of the Messengers (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

(Sheikh Abdullah Azzam - Martyrs: The Building Blocks of Nations)

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And Allah knows best.

Pakistan 'shells Taliban bases'

The following is from Al Jazeera:

Pakistan's military has continued its offensive against Taliban fighters in the country's northwest, amid reports that the US has for the first time shared data from its unmanned drones with Islamabad.

The army shelled suspected Taliban bases in the districts of Swat and Lower Dir on Thursday, marking the 18th successive day of attacks by the military in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP).

"Militant hideouts were targeted in Dir and Swat and many of their hideouts were destroyed in mountains," a security official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

Another military official said troops were 16km from Swat's main town of Mingora, where Taliban fighters are in control.

The military has released a video showing the bombing of what it calls Taliban targets.

At least 834,000 civilians from the Swat and Buner districts are registered as displaced persons with the United Nations after leaving their homes to escape the fighting.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told Al Jazeera that the scale of the refugee crisis is overwhelming.

"Pakistan has no capacity to deal with these people and to provide them with the basic needs they require. The Pakistani people are in need of massive humanitarian support from the international community," he said from the Swabi refugee camp on Thursday.

"If you look at the movement [of people from the war zone], it is indeed the biggest movement in present times. Massive humanitarian support is required or else there will be a humanitarian disaster."

Buner 'emptied'

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday that it had entered Buner, one of the NWFP districts most affected by the conflict.

"You can see the scars of recent fighting," Bart Janssens, the ICRC's health co-ordinator in Pakistan, said.

"There is no more electricity or clean drinking water. Most shops are closed. Goods on the market are scarce. The streets feel empty. The district is rapidly being emptied of its inhabitants."

The Pakistani military has up to 15,000 troops in place against about 4,000 Taliban fighters in the northwest of the country.

At least 750 suspected Taliban fighters and 33 troops have died in military operations in Lower Dir, Buner and Swat since April 26th, the military says.

The military onslaught comes after increasing pressure by the US government to take a stronger line against the Taliban.

The Taliban on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to provincial leaders in Pakistan, with a spokesman for the group telling Al Jazeera that the officials must resign or else their families would be targeted.

Drone co-operation

In another development, reports in the US media say that the Pentagon has shared with Islamabad surveillance data gathered from drones flying over Pakistani territory.

But "it is not clear" whether that co-operation will continue, the New York Times reported.

Pakistan has in recent months stated its opposition to US drone overflights. Bombs launched from drones have been responsible for the deaths of at least 390 people in Pakistan, many of them civilians, since August 2008.

Islamabad has called the drone overflights and bombing runs a violation of its territorial sovereignty.

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, said on Wednesday that he had asked Washington for "ownership" of US drones carrying out attacks on its territory.

Islamabad was "negotiating terms" with Washington over the use of the drones, he said, after talks with Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, in London.


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Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama's turnabout set off immediate reactions from bloggers, both liberals who decried that he was buckling to political pressure and conservatives who agreed with the decision but said it proved the president was a flip-flopper.

The White House had said last month it would not oppose the release of dozens of photos from military investigations of alleged misconduct. But American commanders in the war zones expressed deep concern about fresh damage the photos might do, especially as the U.S. tries to wind down the Iraq war and step up operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

When photos emerged in 2004 from the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, showing grinning American soldiers posing with detainees — some of the prisoners naked, some being held on leashes — the pictures caused a huge anti-American backlash around the globe, particularly in the Muslim world.

Obama, realizing how high emotions run on detainee treatment during the Bush administration and now, made it a point to personally explain his change of heart, stopping to address TV cameras late in the day as he left the White House for a flight to Arizona.

He said the photos had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals." Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken."

The Pentagon conducted 200 investigations into alleged abuse connected with the photos that are now in question. The administration did not provide an immediate accounting of how they turned out.

"This is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action," Obama said of the photos. "In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

The Justice Department immediately filed a notice with the court of its new position on the release, including that it was considering an appeal with the Supreme Court. The government has until June 9 to do so.

Obama said, "I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

Still, he said he had made it newly clear: "Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated."

The effort to keep the photos from becoming public represented for many a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.

As such, it invited criticism from the more liberal segments of the Democratic Party, which want a full accounting — and even redress — for what they see as the misdeeds of the Bush administration.

"The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency and accountability," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, who had argued and won the case in question before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. "It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name."

Human Rights Watch called the decision a blow to transparency and accountability.

One Huffington Post blogger called the decision "a terrible mistake" and declared that Obama had buckled under pressure from former Vice President Dick Cheney.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans welcomed the change, however. A military group also said it was relieved.

"These photos represent isolated incidents where the offending servicemen and women have already been prosecuted," said Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United.

The reactions were a reverse of what happened after Obama's decision last month to voluntarily release documents that detailed brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects. Those also came out in response to an ACLU lawsuit, and his decision then brought harsh and still-continuing criticism from Republicans.

This time he's kicking the decision back into court, where his administration still may be forced into releasing the photos.

Indeed, there is some evidence that the administration has little case left.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president instructed administration lawyers to challenge the photos' release based on national security implications. He said the argument was not used before in "the most effective" way.

But the Bush administration already argued against the release on national security grounds — and lost.

"It is plainly insufficient to claim that releasing documents could reasonably be expected to endanger some unspecified member of a group so vast as to encompass all United States troops, coalition forces, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan," the three-judge appeals panel wrote in September 2008.

The Justice Department concluded after that that further appeal would probably be fruitless, and last month, Gibbs said the administration felt "compelled" to act on that conclusion. Thus, the administration assured a federal judge that it would turn over the material by May 28, including one batch of 21 photos and another of 23 images. The government also told the judge it was "processing for release a substantial number of other images," for a total expected to be in the hundreds.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday that Obama always felt uncomfortable with that outcome and pressed his team to find other recourse. After first believing all avenues were shut, they concluded there were other options — both in the amount of time left and the legal arguments — and that led to the decision the White House announced, Emanuel said.

But the lower court also has already rejected another argument the president and his spokesman made, that the photos add little of value to the public's understanding of the issue. "This contention disregards FOIA's central purpose of furthering governmental accountability," the appeals court panel concluded in the same decision.

Obama's own Jan. 21 memorandum on honoring the Freedom of Information Act also takes a different line. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," it said.

The president informed Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, of his decision during a White House meeting on Tuesday.

Gen. David Petraeus, the senior commander for both wars, had also weighed in against the release, as had Gen. David McKiernan, the outgoing top general in Afghanistan.

Military commanders' concerns were most intense with respect to Afghanistan. The release would coincide with the spring thaw that usually heralds the year's toughest fighting there — and as thousands of new U.S. troops head into Afghanistan's volatile south.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he had once held the view that it might be best to "go through the pain once" and release a large batch of images now, since so many are at issue in multiple lawsuits. But he — and the president — changed their minds when Odierno and McKiernan expressed "very great worry that release of these photographs will cost American lives," Gates said before the House Armed Services Committee.

"That's all it took for me," Gates said.

Anti-Qaeda leader and son killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD - A bomb fixed under the car of an anti-Qaeda militia leader in Iraq killed both him and his young son west of Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.

“Abu Ahmed al-Zobaie was killed at midday in a public marketplace in Abu Ghraib by a bomb stuck to his car,” police major Hatef Mohammed told AFP, adding that Zobaie’s “young” son had also died in the blast.

Abu Ghraib, on the outskirts of the capital some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the city centre, was a bastion of an anti-US Sunni Arab insurrection before fighters there turned their backs on their Al-Qaeda allies.

In late 2006 local tribes and former insurgents began to side with the American military to drive out the Islamist extremists.

These militias, known as Sahwa or Awakening, played a crucial role in ousting Al-Qaeda from its former strongholds, but they have also long had icy relations with the Shiite-led government.

Targeted by Al-Qaeda, Sahwa members are also subject to detention by government forces, raising fears among the paramilitary groups that they are being persecuted.

Dozens of Sawha members have been arrested in recent months, and have been warned by the government they have no immunity from the law.

Abu Ghraib is better known as the location for the prison built by the British in the 1960s. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, it was notorious for torture and execution with an estimated 4,000 detainees dying there.

The complex gained further post-invasion notoriety with the publication of graphic pictures of abuse of Iraqi inmates by their American jailers.

That incident drew international opprobrium on the US-led occupation of Iraq that began in March 2003.

Ron Paul - U.S. is helong the Taliban

EXCLUSIVE - List of 140 Afghan dead includes 93 children

KABUL (Reuters) – Ninety-three children and 25 adult women are among a list of 140 names of Afghans who villagers say were killed in a battle and U.S. air strikes last week, causing a crisis between Washington and its Afghan allies.

The list, obtained by Reuters, bears the endorsement of seven senior provincial and central government officials, including an Afghan two-star general who headed a task force dispatched by the government to investigate the incident.

Titled "list of the martyrs of the bombardment of Bala Boluk district ofFarah Province", it includes the name, age and father's name of each alleged victim.

The youngest was listed as 8-day-old baby Sayed Musa, son of Sayed Adam. Fifty-three victims were girls under the age of 18, and 40 were boys. Only 22 were men 18 or older.

The U.S. military continues to dispute the toll and a military spokesman said some of the names could be fake.

The dispute over the number of dead has worsened tension between Washington and Kabul, despite apologiesPresident Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made during a visit to Washington byPresident Hamid Karzai last week.

The Afghan government has endorsed the list, and Karzai went on U.S. television to call for an end to all U.S. air strikes, only to be rebuffed by Washington. Afghan officials say the issue helps insurgents by turning the public against foreign forces.

Since last year, U.S. officials adopted new procedures for investigations of civilian casualties designed to ensure their statements agree with those of the Afghan government.

Nevertheless, Washington has continued to dispute the death toll. U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian said villagers had an incentive to invent names of dead relatives in the hope of collecting compensation.

U.S. SAYS NO PROOF

"Well I could give you 140 names too. The problem is there is no evidence of that number of graves ... Are those real people? Did they ever actually exist? I can give you a list of 53 girls names with their ages," he said "There are no birth certificates and there are no death certificates."

"Conditions exist that encourage exaggeration," Julian added.

"If you say that the Taliban killed your family you'd get nothing. If you say the Americans killed your family, you might get assistance, whether they existed or not."

Julian said investigators had been shown 26 individual graves at the site and one mass grave, which he said was not large enough to contain so many bodies. He estimated the overall toll could not exceed 80.

Because of cultural sensitivity, there were no plans to dig up the graves to determine how many were buried inside, he said.

The U.S. military blames the Taliban for causing the deaths deliberately by herding civilians into houses it knew would be targeted by U.S. troops sent to rescue Afghan police and soldiers from an ambush. It also says the Taliban may have killed some of the villagers with grenades.

"Don't forget about who is responsible for this whole thing. This was a deliberate plan to create human sacrifices and then blame us," Julian said.

Karzai told CNN last week that Washington needs to rely on other tactics besides air strikes when it is facingTaliban fighters in villages where civilians might be present.

"The air strikes are not acceptable," Karzai said. "Terrorism is not in Afghan villages, not in Afghan homes. And you cannot defeat terrorists by air strikes."

But White House National Security Advisor James Jones said on Sunday that U.S. forces need air power to protect themselves: "We can't fight with one hand tied behind our back."