Tuesday, December 13, 2011


TALK FOR THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES, DECEMBER 7, 2011 - SUNY Nassau Community College on Long Island
Mr. Chair, Mr. President, Members of the Board:
My name is Barry and I am addicted to the truth. I am a professor of English and coordinator of Jewish Studies.
I was raised in an atmosphere which had zero tolerance for lies and hypocrisy and maximum distrust of power.   You see, we lived in a period of great tension in which J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director, told us school children that there were communists among us and they looked just like you and me.  But the message was redundant and unnecessary since we already knew that: they were our friends and relatives.  And they suffered for their beliefs.
What, you may ask, would create this atmosphere of vigilance on all sides, those who tenaciously supported the existing order as well as those who tenaciously clung to the vision that that order would be overthrown to be replaced by pure economic and social democracy, a classless society?
The answer is that we took two different messages from the war which had ended just before our childhood, WWII.  Those on the right gathered that the threat from Hitler had been the general threat of totalitarianism everywhere, of Big Brother, and that we were therefore obligated to eternal vigilance against the totalitarianism of our day, no matter what the cost.  But those on the left ascertained that Hitler had come to power in the traditional capitalist manner:  manipulating the buying public, buying cheap and selling dear.  They focused on his method of using nationalism, ‚Äúservice,‚Äù and ‚Äúduty‚Äù to the Homeland to justify setting classes against one another and sparking a crusade against ‚Äúracial inferiors‚Äù which ultimately led to the genocide known as the Holocaust.
Hitler became the paradigm for all monstrous evil.  But one thing all of us caught the gist of:  Hitler demanded and got total control over the means of communication. [NOTE: AT THIS POINT I WAS ORDERED TO STOP SPEAKING AND SIT DOWN.]  In his regime the media were reduced to puppetry; they were tamed parrots of the state, of the SS, of the Nazi Party.  As for those who disagreed, they were quickly eliminated first by being objectified and then by being executed.  The first step was the muzzling of free speech; all else followed.  As Heinrich Heine had said a century earlier, ‚Äúwhere they burn books now they will someday burn people.‚Äù  And so it was!
Members of the Board, we see the same first step being taken by the administration you have hired and rehired,the muzzling of today‚Äôs organ of free speech, email.  Pres. Astrab tells us that the argumentative and unreasonable interchanges on the campus intranet are somehow connected with threatening and even criminal activity.  Alas, absent any substantive proof, we can only view this explanation as an excuse for shutting us down, as the Reichstag fire was an excuse, as the staged Polish attack on the German border post was an excuse.  And most of us now know that the ‚ÄúSaint‚Äù Oskar Schindler was the businessman who provided the props for the ‚ÄúPolish attack‚Äù escapade, which led immediately to the greatest war in history.  Corporate greed, unless and until put aside in favor of humanity, can lead to this!
But threats to our basic liberties do not have to pass through Hollywood central casting.   Those who seek to muzzle free and open discussion of the issues vital to our professional, personal, and civic lives do not have to dress in black or brown and wear swastika armbands.    They can wear suits and speak the language of American corporate business.  But when they act to cut our tongues out, the result is the same as if they had been wearing the swastika and giving the stiff-arm salute!
Thank you,  Members of the Board.  You saluted the American flag before starting your session, the flag that stands for freedom of thought, speech, press, and peaceful assembly.  I know you will agree that these sacredrights should be upheld, by any means necessary!    I salute them!  I hope that you do too! 
Barry Fruchter

Friday, December 2, 2011

No freedom in the land of false prophets

I ask, how can the Jewish state find freedom as occupier?
Two occupations have eaten Israel where mosques burn and a faux Museum
Sits on desecrated Muslim tombs. They call it Museum of Tolerance, I call it
Muslim cleansing, killer of those deemed inferior.
False prophets, destroyer of 800.000 olive and citrus plants, subjugation.
Collective abuse, fishermen attacked likes vermin by Israeli killer boats.
Apartheid! Word we dare not whisper, write or speak.
Condemned by true believers, the Zionist story makes one shudder.
I’ve heard the racist words before, when Jews were driven from their homes and vilified.
Now I hear it all again from a big Rabbi contender for The Jewish Heroes competition.
Asked how Jews should treat their neighbors he said:
“The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way. Destroy the holy sites,
Kill men, women children and cattle.”
I remember another time, “No Jews Allowed.” Germany nearly succeeded.
Now false prophets decree Arabs not allowed, a Zionist story.
No Palestinians to live life with dignity for “We” are the chosen people.
It’s written in the Old Testament.
Lillian Rosengarten 11/29/11

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The necessary elimination of Israeli democracy


Published 08:20 25.11.11 Latest update 08:20 25.11.11

The necessary elimination of Israeli democracy
Haaretz publisher and owner Amos Schocken says there is a difference between the apartheid of South Africa and what is happening in Israel and in the territories, but there are also similarities.

By Amos Schocken

Speaking in the Knesset in January 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, "Iran is in the initial stages of an effort to acquire nonconventional capability in general, and nuclear capability in particular. Our assessment is that Iran today has the appropriate manpower and sufficient resources to acquire nuclear arms within 10 years. Together with others in the international community, we are monitoring Iran's nuclear activity. They are not concealing the fact that the possibility that Iran will possess nuclear weapons is worrisome, and this is one of the reasons that we must take advantage of the window of opportunity and advance toward peace."

At that time, Israel had a strategy - which began to be implemented in the Oslo accords, put an end to the priority granted the settlement project and aimed to improve the treatment of Israel's Arab citizens.

If things had gone differently, the Iran issue might look different today. However, as it turned out, the Oslo strategy collided with another, stronger ideology: the ideology of Gush Emunim [Bloc of the Faithful*], which since the 1970s, apart from the Oslo period and the time of the withdrawal from Gaza, has established the concrete basis for the actions of Israel's governments. Even governments that were ostensibly far removed from the Gush Emunim strategy implemented it in practice. Ehud Barak boasted that, in contrast to other prime ministers, he did not return territory to the Palestinians - and there's no need to point out once again the increase in the number of settlers during his tenure. The government of Ehud Olmert, which declared its intention to move toward a policy of hitkansut (or "convergence," another name for what Ariel Sharon termed "disengagement" ) in Judea and Samaria, held talks with senior Palestinians on an agreement but did not stop the settlement enterprise, which conflicts with the possibility of any agreement.

The strategy that follows from the ideology of Gush Emunim is clear and simple: It perceives of the Six-Day War as the continuation of the War of Independence, both in terms of seizure of territory, and in its impact on the Palestinian population. According to this strategy, the occupation boundaries of the Six-Day War are the borders that Israel must set for itself. And with regard to the Palestinians living in that territory - those who did not flee or were not expelled - they must be subjected to a harsh regime that will encourage their flight, eventuate in their expulsion, deprive them of their rights, and bring about a situation in which those who remain will not be even second-class citizens, and their fate will be of interest to no one. They will be like the Palestinian refugees of the War of Independence; that is their desired status. As for those who are not refugees, an attempt should be made to turn them into "absentees." Unlike the Palestinians who remained in Israel after the War of Independence, the Palestinians in the territories should not receive Israeli citizenship, owing to their large number, but then this, too, should be of interest to no one.

The ideology of Gush Emunim springs from religious, not political motivations. It holds that Israel is for the Jews, and it is not only the Palestinians in the territories who are irrelevant: Israel's Palestinian citizens are also exposed to discrimination with regard to their civil rights and the revocation of their citizenship.

This is a strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid. It ignores judicial aspects of territorial ownership and shuns human rights and the guarantees of equality enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence. It is a strategy of unlimited patience; what is important is the unrelenting progress toward the goal. At the same time, it is a strategy that does not pass up any opportunity that comes its way, such as the composition of the present Knesset and the unclear positions of the prime minister.

The term "apartheid" refers to the undemocratic system of discriminating between the rights of the whites and the blacks, which once existed in South Africa. Even though there is a difference between the apartheid that was practiced there and what is happening in the territories, there are also some points of resemblance. There are two population groups in one region, one of which possesses all the rights and protections, while the other is deprived of rights and is ruled by the first group. This is a flagrantly undemocratic situation.

Since the Six-Day War, there has been no other group in Israel with the ideological resilience of Gush Emunim, and it is not surprising that many politicians have viewed that ideology as a means for realizing personal political ambitions. Zevulun Hammer, who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of the National Religious Party, and Ariel Sharon, who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of Likud, were only two of many. Now Avigdor Lieberman, too, is following this path, but there were and are others, such as the late Hanan Porat, for whom the realization of this ideology was and remains the purpose of their political activity.

This ideology views the creation of an Israeli apartheid regime as a necessary tool for its realization. It has no difficulty with illegal actions and with outright criminality, because it rests on mega-laws that it has adopted and that have no connection with the laws of the state, and because it rests on a perverted interpretation of Judaism. It has scored crucial successes. Even when actions inspired by the Gush Emunim ideology conflict with the will of the government, they still quickly win the backing of the government. The fact that the government is effectively a tool of Gush Emunim and its successors is apparent to everyone who has dealings with the settlers, creating a situation of force multiplication.

This ideology has enjoyed immense success in the United States, of all places. President George H.W. Bush was able to block financial guarantees to Israel because of the settlements established by the government of Yitzhak Shamir (who said lying was permissible to realize the Gush Emunim ideology. Was Benjamin Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan University speech a lie of this kind? ). Now, though, candidates for the Republican Party's presidential nomination are competing among themselves over which of them supports Israel and the occupation more forcefully. Any of them who adopt the approach of the first President Bush will likely put an end to their candidacy.

Whatever the reason for this state of affairs - the large number of evangelicals affiliated with the Republican party, the problematic nature of the West's relations with Islam, or the power of the Jewish lobby, which is totally addicted to the Gush Emunim ideology - the result is clear: It is not easy, and may be impossible, for an American president to adopt an activist policy against Israeli apartheid.

Legalizing the illegal

Because of its inherent illegality, at least in democratic terms, an apartheid regime cannot allow opposition and criticism. The Gush Emunim ideology is obliged to eliminate the latter, and to prevent every effort to block its activity, even if that activity is illegal and even criminal, meant to maintain apartheid. The illegal activity needs to be made legal, whether by amending laws or by changing their judicial interpretation - such things have occurred before, in other places and at other times.

Against this background, we are now seeing the campaign of legislation against, and the unbridled slandering of the Supreme Court, against human rights organizations and against the press, as well as the so-called boycott law, which is aimed at preventing the possibility of dealing with Israeli apartheid in the way South African apartheid was dealt with. It is against this same background that legislation has been submitted that is directed against the Arab citizens in Israel, such as the Loyalty Law and the proposal for a "Basic Law of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People." It is against this background that a campaign of incitement and intimidation is being waged against the necessary and justified critique being voiced by members of academia.

The Supreme Court, which permitted the settlement project and effectively collaborated with the Gush Emunim ideology, has now become an obstacle that needs to be removed - in the eyes of those who still adhere to that ideology - primarily because the court refuses to recognize the possibility of settling on privately owned Palestinian land and did not overturn the government decision to evacuate the settlements in the Gaza Strip. Because the land belongs to the Jews by divine decree and history (from this perspective, there are similarities between Gush Emunim and Hamas ), there is no choice but to elect to the Supreme Court justices who live on Palestinian land, possibly private land, and those who understand that there is no such thing as "land under private Palestinian ownership."

Similarly, this line of thinking goes, the Supreme Court's interpretation of human rights laws also requires its elimination in its present format. Judgments such as those relating to the Kaadan family (allowing an Arab family to build a home in a Jewish community ); the selling of Jewish National Fund land to Arab citizens of Israel; the amendment to the Citizenship Law (no ruling has yet been handed down, but there seems to be a possibility that a majority of justices will rule it illegal ); the opening of a highway to Palestinian traffic - all these rulings conflict with essential elements in Gush Emunim ideology: the discrimination between Jews and Palestinians (in Israel and the territories ) and the deprivation of the Palestinians' rights, which transform them into second-class people, absentees or, best of all, refugees.

Does an Israel of this kind have a future? Over and beyond the question of whether Jewish morality and the Jewish experience allow such circumstances to exist, it is clear that this is a flagrantly unstable and even dangerous situation. It is a situation that will prevent Israel from fully realizing its vast potential, a situation of living by the sword - a sword that could be a third intifada, the collapse of peace with Egypt and a confrontation with a nuclear Iran. Yitzhak Rabin understood that.

(*)Gush Emunim
Gush Emunim ( Block [of the] faithful) is an Israeli messianic and political movement committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria). The movement sprang out of the conquests of the Six-Day War in 1967, though it was not formally established as an organization until 1974, in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. It encouraged Jewish settlement of the land Judaism maintains God gave to the Jewish people, according to the Torah.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To the Editor:

Are the Jewish State of Israel and the American Jews who blindly support Israel contributing to the rise in anti-semitism (recently reported by the Anti-Defamation League)? It is sometimes difficult, even for those of us who are Jewish, to make a clear distinction between Israel and Jewishness. It is, after all, not simply Israel, but it is the "Jewish" State of Israel. Israel's behavior is brutal; engaging in land theft, assassination, torture, and human rights violations. Israel's behavior is belligerent; establishing aggressive, illegal settlements, and refusing to negotiate. Israel's behavior is bellicose; threatening to attack Iran (while Israel maintains 200--400 nuclear warheads in it's own arsenal). Clearly, world opinion expressed through the UN rejects and condemns Israel's illegal and immoral behavior. Unfortunately, many American Jews and organizations continue to support Israel's self-destructive path towards delegitimization, isolation, and potential extinction. With American Jews cheerleading Israel's flagrant violations of human rights and thuggish suppression of Palestinians and those who would help Palestinians (like the Freedom Boats to Gaza) is it any wonder that the specter of ugly and dangerous anti-semitism and anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise?

Eli Kassirer

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Letter to a friend

I absolutely saw no antisemitism in the Freedom Plaza "Stop the Machine" occupation and actions in Washington DC or in the Occupy Wall Street actions Saturday in NYC. I certainly would have been appalled had I witnessed any.  I have absolutely zero tolerance for that kind of shit, as do my friends and colleagues in progressive causes.

I became aware yesterday, however, of a conservative link http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/wall-street-protests-antisemitism/2011/10/18/id/414817?s=al&promo_code=D48A-1 documenting some instances of antisemitism with the Occupy movements around the country. Some of the instances featured in that link are indeed troublesome--even disgusting (harassing a Jewish person, for example), but I personally saw nothing of the sort.

I will say that a couple of the instances on that link that are labeled antisemitism I would not label such: support for Palestinians in the West Bank or in Gaza, support for the flotillas to Gaza, denunciations of aggressive, expansionistic Israeli Zionist policies (such as the expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and/or the demolition of Palestinian homes). I believe it is possible to denounce such inhuman policies, to be very critical of the Zionist project, without being antisemitic. (I refer you to an interview with a former Israeli Minister of Education for insights about the glib accusations of antisemitism in http://flagindistress.com/2011/09/former-israeli-minister-of-education-shulamit-aloni-discusses-how-to-use-the-charge-of-antisemitism/>http://flagindistress.com/2011/09/former-israeli-minister-of-education-shulamit-aloni-discusses-how-to-use-the-charge-of-antisemitism

I am deeply troubled by the clearly antisemitic instances featured in the conservative newsmax link in my second paragraph, and I would like to know more about it. What have you seen that led you to write your note about the "number of anti-Semites"? Though I have not seen such ugly things myself, I do not doubt their possibility. That said, I have my suspicions when or if the source of these accusations are Fox News or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or other such.

I was part of an action at the Air and Space Museum in DC where a provocateur stirred up trouble (pushing a museum guard), making it seem that we are not as nonviolent as we claim. I've heard of several other cases of provocateurs (a la Andrew Breitbart) infiltrating us. I would not be surprised (and, of course, would be relieved) if the truly antisemitic instances were actually acts of provocateurs.

That said, I acknowledge that we Wall Street Occupation protestors might very well attract ugly "allies" in our ranks. I recently unfriended a Facebook "friend" in Egypt (whose comments about the plight of the Palestinians I had liked) after I learned that a "book" he called his inspiration was the fraudulent and forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The original clip of the Minister of Education interview had comments that were disgusting (such as that Hitler didn't finish the job), and I had to find a way to put the very valid interview on my blog without attaching those comments. If ever I encounter any such an "ally," I will be sure to confront him or her.

I lend my support to a local group dedicated to inform people about the Palestinian plight and to counter the overly weighted support our country gives to Israeli policies right-or-wrong: the Middle East Crisis Response http://www.mideastcrisis.org, and I hope you don't mind that I have copied our correspondence with some of my friends in that group. Perhaps they have some insights into this problem of attracting ugly "allies" or of the complete story behind reports of antisemitism.

Thanks for your note and for your valid concerns, Annie. Please keep me posted with documentation about incidents that truly besmirch our good cause.

Your friend,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza

To the Editor:

For many years Israel has intentionally been creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel denies this but the suffering has been documented by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency), CARE, SAVE the CHILDREN (UK) and others. Many people living in Gaza have no electricity, medicine, food or water. Over the years the mass destruction, death and suffering inflicted by Israel upon the captive population of Gaza would not have been possible without US weaponry and US foreign aid (paid for by your tax dollars). In the West Bank of Palestine house demolitions, land theft, and attacks by Israeli Defense Forces occur regularly.

Israel and her supporters do not want this ugly truth (or others) to be exposed and carefully manipulate politicians at home and abroad, like successfully pressuring the Greek government to scuttle the humanitarian Freedom Flotilla before it set sail to Gaza. Unfortunately, Israelís callous and brutal behavior and apartheid policies towards the destitute and disenfranchised Palestinians are causing much of the world to question the legitimacy of the state of Israel. For long term peace and stability Israel must cease her inhumane and self-destructive policies and embrace a course which will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to "stay human."

Eli Kassirer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What issues are we missing?

Dear editor:

The articles in the Woodstock Times are more and more feeling like a kind of PR for our local Chambers of Commerce-- (pumping up the Playhouse and Shandaken's eateries in the last issue for example.)  Why can't we expect some authentic journalism in our weekly paper?  We already know Woodstock's radio station is doing "international" rock muzak and couldn't give a hoot about anything of consequence in our area.

However up the road there exist some pretty impressive journalism models.  There are two new radio stations (WIOX Roxbury and WGXC in Catskill/Hudson) which take their communities quite seriously.  The Catskill Mountain News is doing world class research into local issues covering the local environment with responsible reporting in depth.

What issues are we missing? Well, fracking for one. Does anyone in Woodstock want to know the status of local leases and the position of the DEC and the NYS forestry service? Or what about our local legislators?  What is their position on fracking?  The New York Times took fracking quite seriously with extensive FOIA work and a comprehensive look at the economics of what some have called the "Enron of the environment".  And how about Round Up?  Recent reports indicate that the ubiquitous herbicide has caused birth defects and cancer in lab animals.  Why is it being sprayed copiously next to the tourist rail tracks and our state highways-- often just a few inches away from reservoir feeder streams.

And there is real international news in which Woodstockers are a crucial element.  This story has made headlines from China to Paris to Johannesburg. The US Boat to Gaza was organized by Woodstock citizens.  Three of our neighbors have put their lives on the line to stand up for justice in the Middle East:  Richard Levy, NIck Abramson and Gail Miller have been on the boat and have been active in the actions with include hunger strikes and attempts to run the blockade enforced by Greek officials doing the bidding of Israel and the U.S.  Woodstock and Saugerties residents Jane Hirshman, Laurie Arbeiter and Helaine Meisler are key support persons in Greece for this action.

There is no community of this size in the United States that has sent so many people in the defense of Palestinian rights. And this is not newsworthy?

For shame,
DeeDee Halleck

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Local video: Why 9/11?

This video was shot by Greg DeSylva, local activist living in Rhinebeck, NY.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Imagine yourself driving to work

Imagine yourself driving to work, and instead of the quick 10, 20, 30, or even hour long commute, it took you several hours. Often you aren’t able to make it to work because you have to pass through checkpoints where security has the right to arbitrarily deny you passage.  Imagine yourself as a college student unable to complete your education because you can’t get to school on a regular basis because of these same checkpoints.  Imagine that you or a loved one has a medical emergency, and you or your loved one dies because you aren't allowed through the checkpoint.  Imagine yet again, being a farmer who has a truck of produce to sell and you can’t because you have had to sit for hours at the checkpoint and your harvest has rotted in the heat of the day.  Or imagine yourself as another farmer who always had easy access to your fields, but now you have to walk hours to get to an opening in a separation wall that has been built.  Often, after you have walked for hours, you get to an opening and it has been arbitrarily closed for the day, and you have to go back home, unable to tend your land.  How would these situations thwart and affect your physical and mental health, the ability to live a full life, and your society as a whole?  These are some of the hardships faced on a daily basis by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.  The ability to lead  a life - go to school or work, farm your land, even visit family in another town, are civil rights that have all been strictly curtailed and denied to Palestinians by the Israeli government.  A government supported by our government and  our tax dollars despite flagrant violations of human rights and international laws.

Alison Francis

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To the Editor:

Most Americans want millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. We want universal health care, affordable education and housing, Social Security, and Medicare. Americans want clean renewable energy and safe, healthy food. We want freedom and liberty. We donít want endless wars, hydro-fracking, bailouts of big banks, or fat cat lobbyists dictating government policy. Reliable surveys support all of the above statements.

What do we get? Tax cuts for the rich and gaping tax loopholes for corporations. Skyrocketing health costs and 40 million without health insurance. Foreclosures galore and attacks on Social Security and Medicare. We get endless wars bankrupting us fiscally and morally. We get oil spills, nuclear leaks, GMO frankenstein foods, fracking, drilling and extreme weather from climate change. We are spied upon, lied to, frisked at airports, and subject to assassination by Presidential decree because of the so called ìwar on terror.î

We canít have what we want because the USA is an occupied territory. It is occupied by a military/industrial/corporate ìpower eliteî which is driven by radical greed and an insatiable appetite for profits and power. An occupied people never get what they want. Just ask the Palestinians.

The Palestinian people have been occupied militarily by Israel for decades. There are lots of things the Palestinians want; like enough food, water, electricity, and fuel to survive from day to day. They would like their stolen land and homes back, and to be free from attacks, abuse and daily humiliation by the Israeli Defense Forces and violent Jewish settlers. Palestinians want their freedom and many Israelis support this. Nearly the entire world wants this (look at the UN votes critical of Israel). So why canít they get what they want?

For the same reason we canít! The same powerful interests that stifle the true aspirations of the American people are working to maintain the status quo in Palestine/Israel. The $3 Billion dollars of US taxpayer money that goes to Israel each year is one way our military/ industrial complex exerts influence over the Middle East. The tentacles of occupation are crushing all of us in a death grip from which we must all struggle to break free.

Eli Kassirer New Paltz, NY

Friday, April 1, 2011

Packaging the Revolution: Muslims' Communications Lessons Post 9/11

Packaging the Revolution: Muslims' Communications Lessons Post 9/11
ZMag April 2011

By Jacqueline O'Rourke

Almost two months into what is being packaged as the "Arab" revolution, the international community is struggling to counteract the messages of an historical communication success for predominantly Muslim communities. Both the protests in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate a media savvy on the part of a new generation of Muslims, which clearly has learned lessons of the past decade when it comes to positioning any protest originating in Muslim majority communities. All attempts, by both Arab dictators and early attempts by American and European media, to label the revolution "Islamic" have failed, thanks to the youth who initiated the movement. This generation grew up in the rhetoric of the "war on terror" and are familiar with the tenuous categorization of "good" and "bad" Muslims - the" bad" ones being responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the "good" ones being anxious to disassociate themselves from the "bad" ones. These young people are aware that the binary of traditional Orientalism - Islam versus the West - has been replaced by a new binary of "good" and "bad" Muslims and that the "good" Muslims, represent liberalism, moderation and compatibility of Islam with Western modernity. They are well aware that throughout periods of high alert, Islam and Muslims are routinely denigrated and stereotyped as enemies of freedom and civilization, victimized as potential holders of a threatening ideology, and even tortured to satiate the public need for perceived security. They also know that diverse players, from neo-cons to liberals to leftists, fragment Islam into convenient differentiations between various "types" of Muslims: the progressives, moderates, fundamentalists, neo-fundamentalists, and jihadists. They have lived in a world where simply being Muslim has become a highly contentious and visibly political stance. And even more important than all of these lessons, they know that the binary between "good" and "bad" Muslim is highly unstable and that the objectives of "good" Muslims are often quickly appropriated for both neo-liberal imperialist and leftist agendas. What they must be careful to remember, however, a lesson etched in recent Arab history, is that an ally today can become an enemy tomorrow.

This communication strategy of the youth movement began with a conscious decision to articulate a revolution by Muslim masses in secular language, contrary to various movements which pre-dated it which often expressed secular political ambitions in religious language. By positing the uprisings as revolutions rather than jihad, Muslims are demonstrating that to be Muslim does not necessarily mean to aspire to live in a theocratic state. They are also demonstrating, however, that being Muslim is actually an impetus to rise up against oppression which can be articulated in the indigenous vocabulary and lived experience of millions of Muslims across the region. This new communications plan is a direct attempt to create a counter-narrative to the predominant one which has dominated Western discourse for the past decade. That narrative runs roughly like this: The Muslims are jealous of the freedom and technological advantages of the West. Their society has been in decline after their scientific advances of medieval Europe. Instead, they try to use the West's technology against itself. Whether airplanes, viruses, or chemicals, Muslims have appropriated science for the purposes of terrorism. Consider for example Thomas Friedman's post 9/11 assertion that

"äterrorists can hijack Boeing planes, but in the spiritless monolithic societies they want to build, they could never produce them. The terrorists can exploit the U.S. - made Internet but in their suffocated world of one God, one truth, one way, one leader, they could never invent it" (Longitudes and Attitudes 46).

These days, however, even Friedman's tune has changed slightly as he writes admirably of the insatiable spirit of youth who have used social networking to inspire a revolution. At the same time, there is something ominous in this admiration which is exemplified in Friedman's recent New York Times op-ed in which he poses the major challenge to youth is to deconstruct the meta- narrative of the region, which he argues, of course, is false:
"That narrative says: 'The Arabs and Muslims are victims of an imperialist-Zionist conspiracy aided by reactionary regimes in the Arab world. It has as its goal keeping the Arabs and Muslims backward in order to exploit their oil riches and prevent them from becoming as strong as they used to be in the Middle Ages - because that is dangerous for Israel and Western interests.'

"Today that meta-narrative is embraced across the Arab-Muslim political spectrum, from the secular left to the Islamic right. Deconstructing that story, and rebuilding a post-1979 alternative story based on responsibility, modernization, Islamic reformation and cross-cultural dialogue, is this generation's challenge. I think it can happen, but it will require the success of the democratizing self-government movements in Iran and Iraq. That would spawn a whole new story".

The ominous echo in Friedman's analysis is his contention that this meta-narrative is paranoid and should be replaced by a mantra of neo-liberal ideology, which, conveniently, will not challenge American and Israeli interests.

Likewise,the left has been particularly euphoric with the youthful secular messaging of the "Arab" revolution and is hopeful that it can be appropriated to universally invigorate the left. For example,Hardt and Negri, in a recent article in The Guardian, place hope that the Arab revolutions will be this generation's Latin American struggle, as " a laboratory of political experimentation", a kind of "ideological house-cleaning, sweeping away the racist conceptions of a clash of civilizations that consign Arab politics to the past". They argue:
"This is a threshold through which neoliberalism cannot pass and capitalism is put to question. And Islamic rule is completely inadequate to meet these needs. Here insurrection touches on not only the equilibriums of North Africa and the Middle East but also the global system of economic governance".

Hardt and Negri are right to note that the revolutions rejuvenate some basic principles of the left which had been discarded as outdated: principles of justice and universalism and popular power, but they ignore that these principles which they praise are the very foundations of Islam itself, the cultural foundation from which these revolutions are being generated. This nostalgia to migrate the nature of the revolution into a communist agenda betrays a need, not to understand how Islamic societies harbor the same instincts toward social justice as the left, but to leave Islam out of any serious inquiry into both the reason behind the revolution and the future of its achievement.

Slavoj Zizek is, perhaps, a noted exception, though his ideas on Islam are often inconsistent. Zizek's Iraq: the Borrowed Kettle, which Zizek admits is not a book about Iraq, was reminiscent of Baudrillard's The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. In fact, Zizek used Iraq to elaborate his Lacanian theories, while in his post 9/11 Welcome to the Desert of the Real, he saw an opportunity for radical Islam to be articulated into a socialist project:
"This means the choice for Muslims is not either Islamo fascist fundamentalism or the painful process of Islamic Protestantism which would make Islam compatible with modernization. There is a third option, which has already been tried - Islamic socialism. The proper politically attitude is to emphasize, with symptomatic insistence, how the terrorist attacks have nothing to do with real Islam, that great and sublime religion- would it not be more appropriate to recognize Islam's resistance to modernization? And, rather than bemoaning the fact that Islam, of all the great religions, is the most resistant to modernization, we should, rather, conceive of this resistance as an open chance, as "undecidable": this resistance does not necessarily lead to Islamo fascism, it could also be articulated into a socialist project. Precisely because Islam harbors the "worst" potentials of the Fascist answer to our present predicament, it could also turn out to be the site for the "best" (133-4).

This plea for a type of Islamic socialism remains consistent in Zizek's work on the Arab revolution, from his opinion editorial in The Guardian to his recent appearance on Riz Khan's show on Al Jazeera. Ironically the country where so called Islamic socialism has been tried, Libya under Gaddafi's Green Book program, is now very much under attack.

In fact, the discussion which took place on Riz Khan's Al Jazeera show, where both Tariq Ramadan and Slavoj Zizek offered their insights is representative of the lenses being used to interpret this revolution and steer it away from the reality that it is a revolution by Muslims, but not necessarily Islamists. Ramadan carefully argued that the revolution is not ideologically inspired and that the we must be cognizant of the reality that Western power wants changes in the region which at the same time enables the global situation to remain the same. Ramadan confronted head on the concerns about the involvement of Islamist politics, now that Arab dictators are disappearing, and argued that the fear of a monolithical, radical Islam is merely a guise upon which the West and Israel maintain hegemony over Muslim populations. Using the example of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which he argued is diverse in ideologies, he longingly looked to the example of Turkey, not Iran, where Islamism and political life has been successfully integrated, be it, under the eye of very watchful military. ?i?ek used the occasion to comment on universalism, and expressed his admiration of the Arabs who he argued truly understand democracy much better than does the West. Echoing his argument in Welcome to the Desert of the Real, and not responding to Ramadan's contention of the diversity contained under the umbrella of Islamist politics, he claimed that the choices open to the revolution are not just "Muslim fundamentalist Islam" or liberal democracy, but must include the left and argues for a synthesis of Islamic and leftist ideologies. Unfortunately, however, ?i?ek's well-intentioned conclusions betray similar biases to those that lurk in Friedman's neo-liberalism: that is that the Arab revolution must speak the language of the West - whether it be the left for ?i?ek or the ideology of liberalism for Friedman. The reality is, right now, the revolution is speaking many languages, as it contains diverse aspirations. It is speaking the language of universalism, which is neither left nor neo-liberal, but at the very foundation of pluralistic Muslim societies.

Perhaps what Friedman and ?i?ek fail to mention, and Ramadan merely hints at, is that the silence of Islamists of various stripes has helped the revolution immensely. That doesn't mean, however, that the Muslim social structure of the societies under upheaval is not related to the revolution itself. The struggle against injustice is the root of Muslim civil life and the young revolutionaries have been raised in this tradition where five pillars organize both social and spiritual life. The first pillar is to worship no God, but God and to recognize Muhammad as his messenger. This pillar, when applied to a contemporary reality, puts spiritual life and equality of all people as a first priority over the striving for global capital and Western liberalism. To place more attention on the material at the expense of the good of the whole community is against the major principle of tawheed in Islam, which always places God as the priority. Further, this very first pillar, by recognizing the role of revelation in the acquisition of knowledge, challenges one of the major contentions of the Western metaphysical tradition - that knowledge is secular, learned in the world, only, not transcendental. The recognition of the validity of both secular and transcendental knowledge poses a major philosophical challenge to this paradigm. The second and third pillars of daily prayers and fasting, also focus social life on the spiritualand identification with the poor and the dispossessed. The fourth pillar of zakat, institutes a system for the distribution of community wealth. The fifth pillar, the hajj, is a spiritual and politically symbolic ritual of the equality of all human beings, regardless of race or gender.

This rather rudimentary description of how basic pillars of Islam are related to an agenda for economic, social, and political equality, as well as the right of self governance, demonstrates how these pillars are present in the spirit of the contemporary revolution. The point is that the revolutionaries have been socialized in this Islamic context and thus they are articulating this context. The revolution does not need to turn to theprinciples of secular liberalism or the left to express its vision. The roots of the revolution are in Muslim societies and as such contain the roots of Islam which are now being articulated to Western audiences through action, in a manner which has been impossible over the past decade under the oppression of the "war on terror". If traditional Islamic political ideology belongs to the last generation, then the living Islam belongs to the present. The youth's success has been their remarkable ability to package this living tradition in a secular language. The revolution is ending the monopoly that the conservative Islamists have had over dissent, and this fresh articulation is from within a living Muslim tradition, which is secular, leftist and Muslim, all at once. There is hope that this new political space will be fertile ground for moving beyond simplistic divisions of 'religious' versus 'secular', another misnomer in understanding the politics of the region.

One critical reality is that this revolution is not only a revolution against Arab dictators, but a revolution against the humiliation Muslims have been facing in the post 9/11 global landscape. In other words, the Arab/Muslim people are not just enraged with political, social and economic oppression, they are also angry with their rulers' complicity with imperialism, particularly American and Israeli. In short, the revolution has erupted from Muslim societies as a result of internal oppression and as a response to political, economic and cultural imperialism, with which the post 9/11 youth are intricately familiar. In this regard, the international community must get the message that this revolution is as much against its hypocritical and condescending manner of dealing with Muslim societies as it is against Mubarak, Ben Ali or Gaddafi.

When the international community issued its response on February 28th to the violence in Libya, from the vantage point of the politically savvy Arab masses, its hypocrisy, once again, became obvious. While American warships prepare to enforce a no fly zone, as of yet announced but seemingly inevitable, freeze Gaddafi's assets and impose an arms embargo on Libya, a few days earlier this same American government vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution, voted on by 14 out of 15 members, to make Israeli settlements illegal. After the horrendous and condemned Operation Cast Lead on Gaza in 2009 and the attack on the fictional "humanitarian terrorists" of the Mavi Mamara in 2010, the memory of "international" inaction to violent suppression of human rights and dignity in the region is still very much alive. This is not to mention, of course, the ongoing violations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the now transparent subservience of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United States and Israel as evidenced in the Palestine papers. The Arab and Muslim masses are accustomed to such hypocrisy: one rule for Israel and another for all others, but this time the situation is even more precarious.

In a unipolar world where America manipulates the umbrellas of NATO and the UN to fabricate an "international" consensus, the Arab revolution is in danger of being co-opted and appropriated for the goals of global capital and American "security". Talks of the necessity of humanitarian aid and access of humanitarian workers to Libya, the installment of their presence in Tunisia and Egypt, are warning signs for a region well accustomed to the connection between humanitarianism and following military intervention. The memory of the simultaneous dropping of food baskets and bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan is fresh in the minds of the activists on the streets, who are asserting, unequivocally from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, that while they welcome diplomatic support, they do not wish military intervention in their struggles. The United States is well aware of this, of course, and although a slow learner, has no doubt learned some lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hence, it is catapulting the European Union and the United Nations to the forefront as the key messengers of international humanitarian concern. What the Americans have learned from Iraq particularly, is not to go it alone, but to use the umbrella of "international" outrage at human rights to secure its intervention in a revolution which could threaten its control over oil resources and its military supremacy in the region. The argument it has used for the past 50 years that Israel is the only outpost of democracy in a dark, medieval Muslim heartland is now being radically deconstructed as the Arab masses demonstrate not only their desire for democracy, but also their willingness to break from neo-colonial rule. It is the latter, of course, which is problematic for the Americans, the European Union and the Israelis.

The recent diplomatic flurry, and the impending imposition of a no fly zone on Libya is an attempt to ensure that Western interests are not subverted by too much anti imperialist sentiment. And this will be the turning point of the revolution. Tunisians, Egyptians, Yemenis, Bahrainis, Libyans, and certainly yet others to come forward, are simply fed up with having their resources raped for the benefit of the North and selected locals who trade their nations' resources for the embellishment of their own personal power. They are fed up with being treated as perpetual Muslim infants who cannot grasp the adult complexities of concepts such as liberalism, leftism, or democracy. Meanwhile the United Nations, the EU and the Americans are all singing in the same choir, claiming to welcome and even champion these popular democratic movements, expecting that the Arabs will be amnesiac to the reality that they have supported these dictators for over 40 years, and that wretched memory of Muslim persecution, particularly over the past decade, will magically disappear.

The Arab masses, which now include not only the youth but opposition figures, rebels, peasants, the cosmopolitan middle class and others, are well aware of the international politics at play as well as the impending world economic crisis of historic proportions. They are not only ousting their leaders, but demanding accountability for the corruption, and simultaneously challenging the success of global capital - a world economy that has been organized to benefit the few at the expense of the many. And they are also spearheading a social and cultural revolution, organizing across class and ideology from within their own indigenous Muslim social fabric which provides the universality of such an enabling mobilization.

This is why Libya has become the frontline of this dual battle against internal dictators and imperialism. Gaddafi provides the international community the opportunity, under the guise of a hypocritical concern for humanitarianism, to intervene in a challenge to American hegemony throughout the Arab region. And it is evident that the Muslim majorities of Libya, and across the Middle East and North Africa, have learned a painful lesson over the past decade- a lesson in communication, a valuable lesson in employing the West's own language of secularism to frame its aspirations. The revolution may have been started by media savvy youth who led the way in framing the argument in a secular, liberal or leftist, narrative understandable to the accepted discourse of the West. It will be carried forward, however, by Muslim societies which have truly come of age in giving birth to a new political space that the entire world is watching being born.

Jacqueline O'Rourke is a consultant in research and communications who lives in Doha, Qatar. She has written academic materials for language acquisition, recently published a book of poetry and is currently awaiting the publication of her PhD thesis titled Representing Violence: Jihad, Theory, Fiction. She can be reached at jacmaryor@...