Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Articles from Vol. 32, No. 9, December

AIFC's Ellie Ommani Speaks in Des Moines
Ellie Ommani, co-founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), spoke at the Fire Station in Des Moines on Sept. 20 about recent developments in Iran."Sanctions are killers of the average person and the biggest complaint [that most Iranians...
Ambitious Celebration of Palestinian Culture Showcases a Proud National Identity
"A Celebration of Palestinian Culture" was the title of a week of exhibitions, films and dance performances expressing the unique achievements of a people who, over the millennia, have identified themselves as Philistines/Palestinians. Artists were showcased...
American Muslim Alliance Holds Policy Forum
The American Muslim Alliance Foundation (AMA-Foundation) held a quarterly policy forum on Oct. 9 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC. Among the speakers at the event, moderated by Imam Mahdi Bray, AMA's national director, were former Attorney...
An Arab Counterpoint Is Urgently Needed
About 100 years ago, Britain and France joined forces-and for a while with Russia-in eliminating the Ottoman Empire, which had been in occupation of the Arab world for hundreds of years, and decided to partition the vast region into their own colonies...
Arab Americans Demand Answers in 1985 Slaying of Alex Odeh
There's little mystery to the murder of Alex Odeh, the West Coast regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, on Oct. 11, 1985 in Santa Ana, CA. Investigators know who committed the crime, how and why. The only mystery is why...
Assessing Jordan's Economy
Jordanian Minister of Finance Umayya Salah Toukan and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ibrahim Saif assessed Jordan's economy at an Oct. 10 roundtable discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East...
Bright Stars of Bethlehem Festival Brings Palestinian Art, Culture to San Francisco
"Why an art festival in San Francisco?" Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, co-founder and president of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, asked the crowd at San Francisco State University on Sept. 28. "The answer is very easy, because when people think of Palestine, they...
Critiquing U.S. Aid to the Middle East
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation of North America co-hosted a Sept. 26 panel discussion at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill to release their annual publication, "The Federal Budget and Appropriations...
Does the ICC Have a Future Role in the Middle East?
On Oct. 12, the African Union (AU) demanded that sitting African heads of state be immune from prosecution for international crimes. The AU also called for a deferral of the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta by the International Criminal Court...
Don't Hold Your Breath: Blockbuster Movies Hollywood Will Never Make
For more than 30 years, the Washington Report has been alone in covering the impact of pro-Israel lobbying and Zionism on the United States. As a researcher, I've often followed up on stories published decades ago, seeking new insights and leads through...
Drone Victims Testify in Congress
One year ago in October, Rafiq ur Rehman's children were gathering okra in a field in Pakistan with their 67-year-old grandmother, Mammana Bibi, a midwife from a remote village in North Waziristan. A loud buzzing noise quickly grew louder, and a U.S....
Egypt's Future Assessed at American University in Cairo Reception
The American University in Cairo (AUC) held an alumni reception Oct. 10 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. During the event, AUC president Lisa Anderson and Prof. Khaled Fahmy, chair of AUC's history department,...
Europe's Top Diplomat Catherine Ashton Discusses the Middle East
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, appeared at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC on Sept. 30 to offer her take on the Middle East's many diplomatic...
"Faith in Freedom" Is Theme of CAIR Banquet
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held its 19th annual fund-raising banquet on Sept. 28 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, VA. Master of Ceremonies Gadeir Abbas, a staffattorney at CAIR's national headquarters, welcomed nearly...
Flynt and Hillary Leverett's New Book Offers Alternative View of Iran
Flynt and Hillary Leverett, co-authors of the new book Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, discussed the importance of improving relations between the U.S. and Iran at Georgetown University's Prince...
Fouzi El-Asmar (1937-2013): Poet of the Palestinian Liberation Struggle
Renowned Palestinian poet, author, journalist and activist Fouzi El-Asmar died near his home in Bethesda, Maryland on Sept. 19, three weeks after the death of his wife, Maria T. El-Asmar. Both had been suffering from failing health in recent years. Fouzi...
Gaza's Paralysis of Lines
They wind through Gaza's autumn streets, lines of waiting men and women. A young man wearing pajamas, behind him a thin elderly man wearing a white jalabiya, in front of a young mother holding the hands of her two children and an elderly woman, toothless,...
Hasbara Threats Fail in Iowa City
Threats and harassment from hasbara (Israeli propaganda) operatives across the U.S. and around the world in late September failed to intimidate Nebraska human rights activist Katie Huerter, organizers with People for Justice in Palestine (PJP), administrators...
Have the Moroccan Protests Failed?
George Washington University's Project on Middle East Political Science held an event at the Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC on Oct. 10 to discuss the Moroccan opposition movement. GWU professor Marc Lynch moderated the discussion,...
HCEF Conference Assesses Future of the Holy Land
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) held its annual conference Oct. 19 at the Washington Marriott in downtown Washington, DC. Throughout the day, participants enjoyed discussions on such issues as Arab Christians, the future of the peace...
In Rejecting Security Council Seat, Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Realpolitik
On the surface, Saudi Arabia's decision to refuse its Security Council seat is as idiosyncratic as one would expect from a monarchy. Diplomats view a seat at the Security Council as the apogee of their careers, so foreign ministries tend to take elections...
Is a Nuclear Deal with Iran on the Horizon?
Following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's late September visit to the United Nations in New York, there has been much hope that Iran and the West are moving toward a political rapprochement. The historic phone conversation between Rouhani and President...
Israeli Conference Examines Palestinian Right-And Ways-F Return
In October the first international conference of its kind staged in Israel not only addressed the theoretical right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, but examined practical measures for implementing that right.The two-day...
Israel Reacts to EU Sanctions with Charges of Anti-Semitism, Comparisons to Nazis
Under guidelines adopted by the executive European Commission in June, Israeli "entities" operating in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem will not be eligible for future European Union (EU) grants, prizes or loans. In response, the Israeli government...
Jenin Freedom Theatre Performs Athol Fugard's "The Island" in New York
Athol Fugard's 1973 prize-winning play "The Island," about two black political prisoners in apartheid South Africa, needed no alterations to fit the Palestinian condition. The only concession in the Jenin Freedom Theatre's superb production was the Hebrew...
Jewish Israelis at Home and Abroad
Israeli Nationality RejectedIsrael is almost certainly the only country that deceives the global community every time one of its citizens crosses an international border. It does so because the passports it issues contain a fiction.When a border official...
Knesset Member Decries Israel's Subjugation of Palestinians
Speaking on Sept. 30 at the J-Street conference in Washington, DC, liberal Knesset member Zehava Galon lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his complicity in Israel's occupation of Palestine.Netanyahu gives "lip service" to the peace...
Kosovo-An Update
Each of the former Yugoslavia's six republics has became an internationally recognized state. Kosovo, however, was an "autonomous province" of Serbia. Its route toward independence has been a difficult one, but a recent internationally brokered agreement...
Limited Congressional Reaction to Efforts to Reduce U.S.-Iran Tensions
The remarkable efforts by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to inject a tone of reasonableness into U.S.-Iranian relations culminated in his late September address to the U.N. General Assembly. This was followed by a week of intensive diplomatic exchanges...
MEI Panel Stresses "Trade, Not Aid" for Pakistan and Afghanistan
The Middle East Institute (MEI) held a discussion titled "Assessing the Past, Informing the Future: U.S. Aid Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan," at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on Sept. 19. The panel was held in anticipation...
Memorial Service Celebrates Life and Achievements of Helen Thomas
The family of trailblazing Arab-American journalist Helen Thomas held a standing-room-only memorial service attended by hundreds of friends and admirers in the ballroom of the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Oct. 5. Thomas' niece, former WOOD-TV...
Merits of Two-State Solution Discussed
Members of New York City's Columbia University community witnessed an open conversation Sept. 16 on the merits of the two-state solution. The event, sponsored by the university's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, was entitled "The Israeli-Palestinian...
Najla Said Shares Insights from Looking for Palestine
Award-winning playwright Najla Said discussed growing up with-and without-her famous father at the Palestine Center's thought-provoking "2013 Edward Said Memorial Lecture" on Oct. 2 in Washington, DC. Ten years after her father's death, Said reflected...
New TV Series Tells "Arab American Stories"
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and WHUT/Howard University Television co-hosted a special event at WHUT's Washington, DC studio on Sept. 15 to introduce the new 13-part series "Arab American Stories." Jefferi K. Lee, general manager...
Obituaries
Seamus Heaney, 74, Irish poet, playwright, translator and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, died Aug. 30 in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up Roman Catholic in Northern Ireland and frequently alluded to "the troubles" in his poetry and prose....
Other People's Mail
Remembering Edward SaidTo The Guardian, Sept. 23, 2013Today marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Edward Said, the renowned U.S. academic and author of Orientalism, the groundbreaking critique of Western colonialism. Jerusalem-born Dr. Said fought...
Palestinian Child Prisoners
Brad Parker and Ivan Karakashian discussed the systematic ill-treatment that Palestinian children endure within the Israeli military detention system, during a Sept. 30 presentation at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC. The speakers work in the...
Powerful Films Present Truths Ignored by the Mainstream Media
Recent years have seen numerous high-quality films on Israel's occupation of Palestine. To explore the impact of these films, J-Street held a Sept. 29 panel discussion titled "Can Films Change the Conversation About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?"...
Publishers' Page
Peace Talks Continue.We're not hearing much about ongoing secret Middle East peace talks, except for prophecies of doom from Zionists or neocons happy with the status quo, or friends of Palestine who fear Palestinian leaders will give up too much. Supporters...
Research Center in Istanbul Promotes Islamic History, Art and Culture
Once home to Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909), Istanbul's Yildiz Palace is today the headquarters of the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA). Under the leadership of Director General Dr. Halit Eren since 2005, the Center...
St John Eye Hospital Screening Program Helps Save Sight of Thousands
Diabetes has become a pandemic disease, with the World Health Organization predicting that developing economies will sustain 80 percent of all new cases in the first quarter of this century.In the occupied Palestinian territories, the prevalence of Diabetes...
Syria Conflict Casts Shadow over Malaysian Shi'i
Events in the Middle East often have an impact on Muslims elsewhere, and that is true of the civil war in Syria. Perceptions of the conflict as one between a Shi'i-dominated regime and a Sunni Muslim majority have contributed to an increased intolerance...
The Descenders
Those who are interested in the history of the Crusades ask themselves: what brought about the Crusaders' downfall? Looking at the remnants of their proud fortresses all over the country, we wonder.The traditional answer is: their defeat in the battle...
The Humanitarian Crisis for Palestinians in Lebanon and Gaza
The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) teamed up for an Oct. 10 discussion at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC about the humanitarian crisis faced by Palestinian refugees in Gaza and Lebanon...
The Nation-Building Role of Palestinian Youth in the Diaspora
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation Conference featured a panel on the role of Palestinian youth in the diaspora. The panelists were three young Palestinian-Americans who had attended an HCEF "Know Thy Heritage (KTH)"-sponsored trip to Palestine:...
Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354
By James Rumford, Houghton Mifflin Books, 2001, paperback, 40 pp. List:$7.99; AET:$5.50Born in 14th century Morocco, Ibn Battuta embarked on a journey at the young age of 21 that took 29 years to complete and spanned more than three times the equatorial...
Tunisia: Divided and Dissatisfied with Ennahda
The Middle East Institute held a panel discussion nearby, at the more spacious Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, titled "Tunisia:Divided and Dissatisfied with Ennahda," on Oct. 8. Arab American Institute founder James Zogby discussed...
Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!
Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Alik Arzoumanian, Two Lions, 2012, paperback, 32 pp. List:$7.99; AET:$6.Palestinian folklorists Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana first captured the ageless folktale of "Tunjur Tunjur" in their invaluable...
Unheard Voices: Civil Society Perspectives on Peace Negotiations
OneVoice Israel (OVI) executive director Tal Harris and OneVoice Palestine (OVP) executive director Samer Makhlouf participated in an Oct. 2 panel discussion hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington,...
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation's Organizers' Conference
A diverse coalition of activists and intellectuals led panel discussions at the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation's 12th annual National Organizers' conference, which took place at George Mason University's Arlington, VA campus from Sept. 20...
Virginia Arab Americans Hold 25th Anniversary Candidates Night
The Arab American Democratic Caucus and the Arab American Republican Caucus co-hosted their 25th annual Northern Virginia Candidates Night Sept. 29, at the Marriott Hotel in Tyson's Corner, VA. Co-chair Saba Shami welcomed Northern Virginia's Arab-American...
Washington's Unseen Partner in Negotiations with Iran
When delegates from Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany met in Geneva on Oct. 15 to discuss Iran's nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was a powerful, if invisible, presence at the table. For...
What More Can Be Done about the Humanitarian Crisis in Syria?
Dr. Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, discussed the challenges of the humanitarian crisis in Syria at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute and Middle East Task...
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