Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Newt Gingrich lauds ‘Jerusalem Day’ extremists

Jun 13, 2011

Alex Kane

Newt Gingrich’s speech yesterday to the Republican Jewish Coalition was standard right-wing boilerplate intended to appeal to Republican Jewish donors and hardcore Christian Zionists. But notably and disturbingly, Gingrich lauded the throngs of Jews who danced through the streets of occupied Jerusalem earlier this month to celebrate what they call the “reunification” of Jerusalem.

Here’s Gingrich (my emphasis added):

It was on this Feast of Shavuot 44 years ago, in June of 1967, a mere six days after the Old City of Jerusalem had been reunited in the Six Day War, that for the first time in almost 2,000 years, Jewish people were once again able to visit the Western Wall and walk the streets of the Old City as citizens of a sovereign Jewish nation.

Hours before dawn that day, thousands upon thousands of Jews gathered at the Zion gate to await entry into the Old City.

At 4 a.m., the crowds were finally allowed to stream into east Jerusalem — the first time Jews had been allowed to carry out a pilgrimage to the Western Wall, as members of a Jewish nation, celebrating a Jewish festival — since the pilgrimages to the Temple 2,000 years earlier.

As the sun rose over the Old City, a total of more than 200,000 Jews made their way through the city streets to a site that today remains the heart of a people, a religion, and a nation.

Each year the Festival is celebrated in a similar fashion, by a pedestrian pilgrimage through the streets of Jerusalem to the Western Wall.

It is a pilgrimage of which generations of Jews could only dream, and signifies the unbroken connection between the identity of the Jewish people and the land of Israel that has existed not for mere decades, but for thousands of years.

During this last week, today’s generation of Jews made a similar pilgrimage through the streets of Jerusalem, knowing that the freedom that allows them to visit their holiest sites is more endangered at this moment in history than at any time since that Shavuot morning four and a half decades ago.

Leave aside the whitewashed talk about the 1967 war, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were made refugees. The most significant aspect of Gingrich’s speech is his wink and a nod to the Jerusalem Day revelers who marched through occupied Palestinian parts of the city and chanted, “Butcher the Arabs” while Israeli police protected them in early June. See these video above and here to see what the “pilgrimage through the streets of Jerusalem” was really about. Gingrich is lauding state-supported violence and racism directed against the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.

The political reasons for the tacit support of the ethnic cleansing project in Jerusalem is clear. Right-wing Jewish donors–including Democratic Party donors–and Christian Zionists insist that Israel hold on to Jerusalem as the state’s eternal capital. The speech also allows Gingrich to shore up his Arabophobic and Islamophobic credentials as the Republican Party primary heats up. But let’s be clear: Gingrich is playing with real fire when he lauds those Israelis who openly incite for the killings of Arabs.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Some thoughts on the fake gay blogger from Damascus….

Jun 13, 2011


Amina Araf was never as interesting to Arabs on the internet as she was to Westerners who are always looking for Arabs that they can identify with.  For Americans it’s easier to see some humanity in a lesbian blogger who writes about making out in airports in the Middle East with her partner than with an Arab woman who might be covered head to toe.  It’s a part of our sensationalist culture, we want to support people who we perceive as pushing the envelope and a woman who defies norms and traditions and does things out in the open that no straight couple would ever dream of doing is the right kind of edginess that Americans are willing to stand behind, even if it’s not exactly the type of attention that gays in the Middle East are looking for.

They want to be accepted as part of the fabric of the Arab world, they aren’t trying to turn their societies into something they’re not.  It was dangerous for the LGBT movement in the Arab world for this man to create a storyline about gay Arabs that included erotica and risky behavior such as making out in public, anyone paying attention to that would think that those are the intentions of Arab gays.  Though gay rights is an issue in the Middle East, it certainly is not the most important one and it certainly doesn’t trump any of the other issues in Syria or anywhere else right now.
Last month I posted a video about an Arab lawyer who was slapped across the face by an Israeli police officer simply because she dared address him and ask a question.  At the time I said that no feminist Jewish women or Israeli Jewish women’s rights organizations would speak up for that woman.  I said that nobody would demand his immediate resignation and that he would not be punished in any way for his violence against women, because, apparently Israeli society isn’t bothered much by violence against Arab women if it’s done by Jews. No one in the MSM picked this story up, no one in the MSM wants to talk about women’s rights unless it fits into their preconceived notions of what the Middle East is like.  It is somehow only OK to discuss the plight of Arab women if it is Arab men that are doing the subjugation–and if there is no immediate story to be told, as with Amina Araf, then it is invented.

How many real Arab women have been thrown in jail by the Israelis for being political activists and fighting for the cause of the masses and not just one small group within the population?  When did they ever get the attention that the West was so willing to pour on a woman just because they could identify with her because of her sexuality?  Can anyone name a single Palestinian woman who is rotting away in an Israeli prison?  Anyone?

Here’s more by the Angry Arab on the stupidity and damage of what Tom Macmaster has done:

When the White Man poses as the Native “girl”, As’ad Abukhalil

The admission by Tom Macmaster that he was the man behind the blog “a gay girl in Damascus” should not end the conversation.  I thank may friends and readers who kept on investigating this case until it was cracked, but the primary credit goes to Electronic Intifada.  This story is bothersome on so many levels, but i was even more upset when I read Macmaster’s remarks to the Guardian in which he criticizes Western media coverage of the Middle East and even took a shot at Orientalism.  Macmaster should know that he is worse than a classical Orientalist (and clearly does not possess the knowledge, erudition, and rigor of classical Orientalist).

This man is delusional and racist: he took it upon himself to fabricate an identity of a native “girl” (I mean, is there anything more Orientalist than the White Man of the West posing as a Damascene “girl” and writing on her own behalf?  Is there anything more racist, sexist, patronizing, and offensive?)  Macmaster does not know what he has done and he has the chutzpah of writing this:  “While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground.”  What did he mean by that?  He basically is saying–if I now pose as the racist White Man in the West for a second, and I don’t mind taking that license from somebody posing for a long time as a lesbian “girl” and even exposing and communicating with many in the gay and lesbian community in Syria and the Arab world–that while he lied and fabricated but that his lies and fabrications are true and accurate.  He really sounds delusional and is divorced from reality.

This is the White Man privilege, which permits MacMaster to lie and fabricate and to arrogantly claim that his lies and fabrications are not inaccurate.  This mentality behind the creation of this identity is the same one that was around during colonial times.  The natives can’t speak for themselves: that they have to be represented by the White Man who can best explain them to the West.  Beyond all that, Macmaster damaged the efforts of well-meaning and sincere Syrian dissidents (I am not talking about the lousy Ikhwan or Khaddam or Ma’mun Humsi or Rif`at Asad or other pro-Saudi tools): this scandal is a great help to the propaganda of the Syrian regime.  Macmaster should not only apologize to the readers of the blog: he owes a bigger apology to the people of the Middle East and to gays and lesbians in the region, and even to Middle Eastern studies. This is a smug and arrogant and delusional White Man.  I bet he hears voices in his head: probably the voices of Lord Cromer.

‘Washington Times’ yanks Weiner-married-Muslim-agenda piece

Jun 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

This just in,The Washington Times has pulled its crazy Eleana Benador piece about Anthony Weiner being “married to a Muslim agenda” because he married Huma Abedin. But the piece is still cited on the Times home page as the most-read piece at the site, even though the link goes nowhere. Thanks to Salon’s Justin Elliott, who reports that the piece is under “review.”

Shareholders to Caterpillar: ‘our product has become Israel’s weapon of choice for ethnic cleansing and potentially even war crimes’

Jun 13, 2011

Russ Greenleaf

640px IDF D9R pic001

Zionist Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer with cage armor and FN MAG 7.62mm machinegun. (Photo: MathKnight and Zachi Evenor via Wikimedia Commons)

This speech was given to the Caterpillar Corporation’s CEO, their board of directors, and top management at the annual Caterpillar shareholder’s meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 8, 2011.

The speech was given on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace, which had purchased shares of Caterpillar stock so we could offer a shareholder proposal and make a speech in support of it.

Our shareholder proposal urged Caterpillar to review its policies related to human rights and to conform more fully with international human rights standards. Our proposal was endorsed many shareholders, including the Catholic Sisters of Loretto, and a coalition of other religious organizations. The proposal can be read at this link (PDF, look for Proposal 11):

Although our proposal did not pass, it received 21% of the votes, which is considered a high number for a proposal that was opposed by the company management.

Caterpillar shareholder speech in favor of Proposal 11

By Russ Greenleaf, on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace

June 8, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas

Hi. I’m Russ Greenleaf, a shareholder with Jewish Voice for Peace and a coalition of religious organizations, speaking in favor of Proposal 11.

I am Jewish. I am not anti-Israel. I have friends in Israel, and I want what’s best for them.

Caterpillar’s sale of D9 bulldozers to Israel is not good for Israel or for Caterpillar’s reputation. Israel’s routine use of those D9’s to destroy the homes of innocent Palestinian’s is making Israel a pariah in the world and destroying any chance for peace.

Amnesty International says, and I quote:

House demolitions usually are carried out without warning, often at night, and the occupants are given little or no time to leave their homes. Often the only warning they get is the rumbling of the Israeli army’s Caterpillar bulldozers. They barely have time to flee as the bulldozers tear down the walls of their homes.

Sometimes they are buried alive under the rubble.

An Israeli newspaper reported that an Israeli army D9 dozer operator said, and I quote:

I had no mercy for anybody. I would erase anyone with the D9. They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I came, but I gave no one a chance. I didn’t wait. I didn’t give one blow and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible.

Ladies and gentlemen these are very serious human rights violations, and they happen again and again — with our knowledge.

The Israeli army says, quote: “The D9 is a strategic weapon here.”

Fellow shareholders, our product has become Israel’s weapon of choice for ethnic cleansing and potentially even war crimes. Israel knows it, and the world knows it. Yet our management buries its head in the sand when dealing with human rights.  They say, quote:

“It is not clear what is meant by the Company’s ‘policies related to human rights.’ “

That is exactly why we need proposal 11 – a call to review Caterpillar’s policies related to human rights and to conform more fully with human rights standards.

In the video we just saw, a Caterpillar representative said, “Our brand – our name – has high expectations. I think we should exceed high expectations.”

Caterpillar makes very little money from selling these military D9’s to Israel, but the cost to Caterpillar’s reputation is enormous, and escalating. It’s time to call a halt. Passing proposal 11 is a very modest first step in that direction. It’s long overdue.

I move proposal 11. Please vote for it. Thank you.

‘NYT’ characterizes ’48 ethnic cleansing as ‘evacuation’

Jun 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Some good history in the New York Times. Joshua Hammer first visits the village of Abu Ghosh outside Jerusalem

The Muslim town has maintained close ties to Israel’s Jews, who arrive here en masse for weekend brunch, especially in spring and summer…. Abu Ghosh sat out the 1948 war, when Arab gunmen used the surrounding hills to ambush convoys bringing supplies to besieged Jerusalem….Today, the town is one of the only surviving Muslim villages in the area.

I’ve been to Abu Ghosh, and the simple question the town raises is, What’s so demographically upsetting about Palestinians living in Israel? Of course the Times doesn’t touch that angle. Then Hammer goes on to Ein Karem.

During the war of 1948, 300 Arab guerrilla fighters from Ein Karem, with support from Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian troops, battled Jewish soldiers and ambushed convoys on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road. After the April 1948 massacre by Jewish paramilitary forces of 120 Arab civilians in the nearby village of Deir Yassin, Ein Karem was evacuated, and resettled by Israelis. The Muslims are all gone now, and as I wandered through the village, one of the few to survive the 1948 war with most of its buildings intact, I was keenly aware of Ein Karem’s controversial past and couldn’t help but notice that there was no mention — in tourist guides or signs at historic sites — of the Arab evacuations.

Wingnuts focus on Weiner’s marriage to Muslim

Jun 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

Max Blumenthal says neocon crazies are horning in on Anthony Weiner’s marriage to a Muslim, Huma Abedin. One of them is the PR maven Eleana Benador:

Writing in the Washington Times, (the last time I picked up that paper was probably when I was working on my report about the white nationalist cabal that was running its newsroom at the time), Benador portrays Weiner’s marriage to Huma Abedin as an Alinskyite union between a leftist (read: self-hating commie) Jew and a taqiyyah-practicing Muslim who are conspiring to put the United States under the control of Shariah law:

“When looking broadly at the Anthony Weiner–Huma Abedin union, we have to wonder if the coupling of a Jewish American man and a Muslim woman of her pedigree was fostered by love or by a socialist political agenda”…

Also at the Washington Times, Eric Golub, a professional nobody who says he “only dates Republican Jewish women” (unsurprisingly, he is also an Andrew Breitbart blogger), claims that Weiner hates Jewish women. Golub goes on to compare Weiner’s marriage to the Holocaust, writing that Weiner and other Jews who marry non-Jews are doing “what Hitler failed to do.”

Update: This post originally identified Abedin as Arab-American. I’m told she’s of Pakistani background, though she

speaks Arabic. Thanks to Parsa Sajid.

Why I fell so hard for ‘A Gay Girl in Damascus’ (and why the hoax makes me angry and conservative)

Jun 13, 2011

Philip Weiss

One of my touchstone moments for understanding the relations of the US and the Arab world was an exchange at a crowded outdoor restaurant five years ago in Aleppo, Syria. My wife and I were out to dinner with someone we’d met there and grown to like, a Tunisian woman who worked in Dubai. Very modern. And we were talking all about American policy in the region when I said to her, “Hey what’s the deal with the role of women in the Arab world?” She said in a quiet voice, “Let’s talk about this when we get back to the hotel.”

I was surprised that she felt a need to censor herself in a public place. And then on our way back to the hotel, I thought, Well there are subjects we censor ourselves about publicly in the U.S. I wouldn’t go into a restaurant in New York and launch into the Israel lobby.

Then later I thought, Well, I’m going to deal with the U.S. censorship issues– we gotta fight the powers that be!– and let the Arabs deal with their censorship issues.

And that is why I fell hook line and sinker for A Gay Girl in Damascus. I thought, here at last is the strong voice of an Arab woman openly taking on the oppressive traditions in her society. I am on her side, I celebrate her presence.

I posted from A Gay Girl a few times. I completely bought her story in February that her father had faced down thugs who had come to arrest her, and that he embraced her sexuality at the family’s front door. And when the blog said she had been arrested a week back, I said I was praying for her and urged my government to jump in.

What a fool. Today, thanks to the energies of people like Ali Abunimah, Andy Carvin of NPR, and our contributor Seham, I know that A Gay Girl was a hoax. She was the fabrication of Tom MacMaster, an American writer in Scotland. You can hear him talking on BBC about his confection, an interview in which he doesn’t show much awareness. I think he must be spinning emotionally like Anthony Weiner. Apparently he’s apologized at the Gay Girl site, which I’m allergic to visit right now. On BBC, he explained that people dismissed him when he tried to talk about the issues as an American. So he invented a name to get “real facts and opinions” discussed, the “actual issues.” The facts he provided about Islam are “true.”

I feel angry today that I was punked, and doubly angry that MacMaster played on my credulity about the Arab world. I was the perfect mark. I wanted what Gay Girl was saying to be true: I wanted to believe that an out lesbian woman could be so empowered and vocal inside Syrian society.

And maybe it’s unfair to Syria and all the gay people there, but the fact that a movement person lied to me about a key fact, who he was, in order to tell me a politically-correct story about Syria, well it makes me question the other claims he made. I recoil angrily against his lessons. I think, Why was A Gay Girl so prominent? What are the actual conditions of gay people in that traditional society? Can you be an out lesbian in Damascus and have your sexuality embraced by your family?

I recognize that it was Palestinians in the Diaspora who played an important role in unmasking Gay Girl (Seham and Abunimah) but I am afraid that in recoiling on MacMaster I am thrown back on those impressions of traditional culture that I’ve had in Syria, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Morocco, in Gaza, in Qatar. The overwhelming public presence of men, at the wheels of cars, in restaurants… the comment from an Egyptian woman in public life that it was hard to be married and have a public role in Egypt…. the fact that at New Year’s celebration in Palmyra, Syria, there were only men at the restaurant…. the fact that in Qatar I was told by a man that married men shouldn’t go out publicly with their wives, it was a dishonor… The extent of sexual harassment in Egypt (from anecdote and friends’ reports)…

Yes the blame for my punking goes on MacMaster (and me), but in my rage, I do wonder what the “actual issues” and truth are about women and gays in the Arab countries I’ve visited.

And I would note that when the 92d Street Y held a panel on the Arab spring recently with some wonderful Arab writers, Abdellah Taia and Abdelkader Benali and Rula Jebreal spoke about relishing western freedoms– yes until 9/11 caused Benali to feel afraid in Holland. But bottom line, the west (Europe and the U.S.) is better at free speech and gay rights than the Arab countries I’ve visited.

You can call me an orientalist, and you can say that occupation and ethnic cleansing and massacres and imprisonment are more important issues than gay rights, and you can say that America is still a traditional society in some places, and fine, I won’t quarrel with you. I know I’m seeing surfaces; I’m a universalist in my (gullible) heart; I can tell you that on my last visit to Egypt a covered and apparently-traditional woman I shared a car with through the Sinai on New Year’s 2010 turned out to be a free spirit, who brought me to a sybaritic party on the Red Sea, and I thought I don’t know the half of it. But again: Can an out lesbian be embraced by her family in Syria? I don’t know.

My wise friend James North likes to say that we all have conservative and radical and liberal and militant elements in our political hearts, and different circumstances call on the different aspects, and this fraud calls on the conservative in me. We’re in a global conversation, and I think the east has something to learn from the west about these freedoms.

And I have a lot to learn about the internet.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.