Archive for February 15, 2015

Why Muslim Lives Don’t Matter

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Al-Jazeera English

Why Muslim Lives Don’t Matter

In Chapel Hill shootings, Muslim identity eclipsed the three victims’ American-ness.

Nida Allam, a senior at North Carolina State University, rests her head on Asheen Allam, during a vigil for three people who were killed at a condominium near UNC-Chapel Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Craig Stephen Hicks appeared in court Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder in the deaths Tuesday of Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. (Photo: AP/The News & Observer, Al Drago)

Irrespective of what rallying cries, signs or adapted hashtags proclaim, Muslim lives in America don’t matter. The aftermath of the murder of the three American students in Chapel Hill, and the broader context that spurred it, reconfirms this brutal truth.

The three victims – Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were killed at approximately 5:11pm on Tuesday. The identity of the killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was revealed roughly seven hours later.

Despite the release of these facts, and probative evidence that the executions were likely a hate crime, national media outlets remained silent. History affirms that a reversal of racial and religious identities – an Arab and Muslim culprit and white victims – would have spurred immediate media attention, on a national and global scale. However, given that Barakat and the Abu-Salha sisters were Arab and Muslim, the media lagged to cover the story.

In addition to media devaluation of Muslim lives, state-sponsored government policies targeting Muslim Americans affirm the conflation of Muslim identity with a terrorist threat. Institutional policy, in the form of state surveillance, profiling and counter-radicalisations programming, tie Muslim identity to suspicion and subversion, which emboldens the hate-fuelled violence inflicted by private citizens, like Hicks.

Between media misrepresentation and neglect, and systematic state surveillance and suppression of Muslims, the facts in the US lead to the undeniable conclusion that Muslim lives don’t matter.

‘Muslim villains’

It is perhaps fantasy to expect the same outlets that repeatedly misrepresent Muslims to pivot swiftly and rush to cover their victimhood. The Charlie Hebdo attack in early January, and the string of crises involving Muslim culprits before it, affirms the assessment that “Muslim lives are only newsworthy when they are behind a gun. Not in front of it.”

However, the “three victims were American citizens” sympathisers cried. Or, “upward-bound students with bright futures, and pristine records”. Two of them, Deah and Yusor, were newlyweds, only four weeks separated from their wedding. A life together, with kids and a white picket fence, was in their horizon.

Neither citizenship nor conventional measures of American achievements insulated the victims from hate. They were Muslims. That marker mattered most. Muslim identity trumped, and very likely for Hicks, eclipsed the three victims’ American-ness

.Their religion mattered most for US media outlets as well, who lagged to cover the story.

CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC finally released stories of the murders Wednesday morning: More than 12 hours after the three young adults’ lives were taken leaving Muslims to wonder: If the victims were white and non-Muslims, and the culprit Muslim, would mainstream media outlets be so slow to respond and report?

No. Muslims lives only matter when they’re villains. Not victims. This is reaffirmed by news story after news story, and distorted accounts that tab “parking disputes” instead of hate as the primary motives of murder.

When state policy drives micro-violence

State-run programming targeting Muslims marks members of that demographic as presumptively suspicious. NSA surveillance and counter-extremism programming, PATRIOT and Suspicious Activity Reporting strategies, are shaped within government walls. But these policies also shape stereotypes and spur violence far beyond them.

This comprehensive programming, which is both synchronised and expanding, is built upon age-old perceptions of Muslims as “enemy combatants”, “national security risks”, and “unassimilable”.

Past laws that restricted the naturalisation of Muslims were built upon racist and Orientalist tropes. However, state policies that profile and persecute today are still based on these very baselines.

In addition to enabling discriminatory state tactics, anti-Muslim laws and programming sanction widely held stereotypes of Muslims as violent and unruly, threatening and anti-American. By endorsing these stereotypes, this network of anti-Muslim laws and programming embolden private citizens, like Hicks, to take justice into their own hands.

It would be a misnomer to single out anti-Muslim laws and policies as spurring Islamophobic and anti-Arab culture. Rather, it pronounces this already existing psychosis, which is magnified by slanted news coverage and cinematic misrepresentations,illustrated vividly in films such as American Sniper.

However, these laws and programmes are not the products of a Hollywood studio. Nor are they delivered by a CNN or Fox News anchor. They are shaped and enacted by statesman within the hollowed halls of government. Affixing per se vilification of “Muslim Americans” with the state seal of approval that stirs Islamophobia on the ground, and spurs unspeakable violence atop it.

From the vantage point of the state, Muslims lives matter when they are subjects of surveillance, or targets of counter-extremism; not direct, or indirect, victims of these policies.

Taking on hate 

Media lags and state laws vividly reveal that Muslims lives don’t matter. However, Muslim Americans cannot afford to stand idly by.

From California to New York, Michigan to Florida, citizens are coming together with their local communities to not only mourn the lives tragically lost on Tuesday, but to coordinate plans to counter government profiling, private discrimination and violence, and their nefarious intersection.

If halls of American power echo, time and again, that Muslim lives don’t matter, the strongest rebuttal must come from Muslim Americans themselves. A rebuttal that goes beyond rallying cries, signs and hashtags. And proclaimed through sustained action, and en mass mobilisation against halls of power that systematically strip Muslims lives of value.

Nadia El-Zein Tonova

Nadia El-Zein Tonova is director of the National Network of Arab American Communities, and the Take On Hate Initiative.

Khaled Beydoun

Khaled A. Beydoun is a faculty member at the UCLA School of Law where he focuses on immigration law, criminal law, critical race theory, and legal history. Follow him on Twitter @khaledbeydoun.

Obama Leaks Israeli Nuke Violation Doc Before Bibi Visit



Are “Brer Barak” and “Vlad the Fox” having the last laugh?


… by  Gordon Duff,  VT Sr. Editor


Rumors abound that President Obama ordered the release of documents citing a 25 year coverup by the United States that allowed Israel to conduct not only nuclear espionage and openly sell nuclear weapons technology, but be underwritten by $86 billion in illegal American aid in the process.

The rumors state that upon receiving evidence of US and Israeli complicity in the 9/11 attacks, both detailed satellite and signals intelligence, supplied by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama ordered the documents released.

Only a week after Pravda published an extremely controversial story citing US complicity along with unnamed “proxies” in staging the 9/11 attacks, the US has released a bombshell.

The US has been sitting on a 1987 report, still heavily censored, citing Reagan/Bush complicity in passing on nuclear secrets to Israel allowing their development of thermonuclear weapons.

At the time of the report, VT editor, Colonel James Hanke, was the ranking US military official in Israel and was tasked with gathering intelligence on Israel’s nuclear program.

Soon afterward, VT editor Jeff Smith, a nuclear weapons specialist and physicist, joined the IAEA and began investigations of nuclear proliferation activities on behalf of Israel and other nations done in concert with AIPAC and Victor Bout’s arms smuggling operations.

Now, just prior to the highly controversial and politically charged visit to the US by the Likudist ruler of Israel, Netanyahu, the Obama Justice Department settles the lawsuit that was withholding key information damaging not only to Israel but that directly threatens US aid to that nation as well.

The report, Critial Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations, cites Israel as being in broad violation of nuclear non-proliferation laws:

“The Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards,” Smith wrote.

“The Glenn Amendment of 1977 calls for an end to U.S. foreign aid to countries that import nuclear reprocessing technology.”

President Putin has become increasingly concerned at Israel’s stepped up assistance to ISIS including the downing of a Syrian Mig 21 today, between the city of Daraa and ISIS supply routes through the border conjunction between Israel, Syria and Jordan.

It is believed that ISIS jihadists and weapons are landed on, according to well placed sources, carefully marked highways inside Israel.

These roads, designated as landing strips, are blocked off to allow landing of C130 aircraft.  The same aircraft fly to Libya to pick up weapons and fighters, dropping personnel for infiltration through Jordan and then take off, to resupply ISIS fighters outside Kobani and Kirkuk.

From Russia Today:

Conceding to a federal lawsuit, the US government agreed to release a 1987 Defense Department report detailing US assistance to Israel in its development of a hydrogen bomb, which skirted international standards.

The 386-page report, Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations,” likens top Israeli nuclear facilities to the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories that were key in the development of US nuclear weaponry.

Israelis are “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,” said the report, the release of which comes before Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech in front of the US Congress in which he will oppose any deal that allows Iran’s legal nuclear program to persist.

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“I am struck by the degree of cooperation on specialized war making devices between Israel and the US,” Roger Mattson, a formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission’s technical staff,said of the report, according to Courthouse News.

The report’s release earlier this week was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act request made three years ago by Grant Smith, director of the Washington think tank Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Smith filed a lawsuit in September in order to compel the Pentagon to substantially address the request.

“It’s our basic position that in 1987 the Department of Defense discovered that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, detailed it and then has covered it up for 25 years in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments, costing taxpayers $86 billion,” Smith said during a hearing in late 2014 before Judge Tanya Chutkan in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

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Smith described in his federal court complaint how those federal laws were violated by the US in the midst of Israel’s budding nuclear program.

“The Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards,” Smith wrote.

“The Glenn Amendment of 1977 calls for an end to U.S. foreign aid to countries that import nuclear reprocessing technology.”

In November, Judge Chutkan asked government lawyers resistant to the report’s release why it had taken years for the government to prepare the report for public consumption.

“I’d like to know what is taking so long for a 386-page document. The document was located some time ago,” Chutkan said, according to Courthouse News Service.

“I’ve reviewed my share of documents in my career. It should not take that long to review that document and decide what needs to be redacted.”

image from the report “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations

image from the report “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”

The government’s representatives in the case — Special Assistant US Attorney Laura Jennings and Defense Department counsel Mark Herrington — initially said confidentiality agreements required a “line by line” review of the Defense Department’s report. They later shifted, arguing that its release is optional and not mandatory, as “diplomatic relations dictate that DoD seeks Israel’s review.”

Smith and the US agreed that the government would redact sections of the report on NATO countries, though the passages on Israel remain intact.

“The capability of SOREQ [Soreq Nuclear Research Center] to support SDIO [Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, or “Star Wars”] and nuclear technologies is almost an exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories,” said the report, written by the Institute for Defense Analysis for the Department of Defense.

“SOREQ and Dimona/Beer Sheva facilities are the equivalent of our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories…[and have] the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication.”

The report’s authors Edwin Townsley and Clarence Robinson found that Israel to had Category 1 capability regarding its anti-tactical ballistic missile and “Star Wars” weapons programs.

“As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. [w]as in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,” the report said. “It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs.”

In a statement on the report’s release, Smith said Thursday, “Informal and Freedom of Information Act release of such information is rare. Under two known gag orders — punishable by imprisonment — U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned address before the US Congress was controversially arranged by Republican leadership without consultation of congressional Democrats or the White House.

The speech will occur weeks before Netanyahu will seek reelection, and is to center around his opposition to any agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, a deal the US — while levying heavy sanctions on Tehran — has pursued despite protests from its preeminent ally in the Middle East, Israel.

Tehran’s nuclear program is legal under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Israel is one of the few United Nations members that is not a signatory.