Monday, September 27, 2010

Oct. 25 Why the ME is a global focal point. Prof. Barry Rubin at Drake University


October 7: "What it means to be an American Muslim" at Drake University


You are invited to join in a discussion at Drake University on


"What it means to be an American Muslim"


Featured panelists include:


Luai Amro President, Islamic Cultural Center of Des Moines


Bill Aossey President, Midamar Corporation


Abdirizak Bihi Somali Community Activist and Social Worker


Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD)



Moderator: Mahmoud Hamad, Ph.D.,  Assistant Professor,  Politics Department, Drake University



Thursday, October 7, 2010

7:00 p.m. -8:30 p.m.


Drake University - Sheslow Auditorium




American Islamic Forum for Democracy





Sponsored by Stanley Richards Revocable Trust

For more information please call Stanley Richards at 515.282.4218


Thursday, September 23, 2010

[excerpts] Remarks of President Barack Obama's Address to the Un...


Excerpts relate to the President's remarks about the war on terrorism,
Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Remarks of President Barack Obama-As Prepared for Delivery [Remarks may
have deviated from the speech as prepared for delivery]
Address to the United Nations General Assembly September 23, 2010

Men, women and children have been murdered by extremists from
Casablanca to London; from Jalalabad to Jakarta.

Now let me be clear once more: the United States and the international
community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door
remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But
the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible
commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear


Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states,
Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as
part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.
We have travelled a winding road over the last twelve months, with few
peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have
pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in
Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that
Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too
divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides
will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some
say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for
talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure,
peace is simply not possible.

But consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached,
Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with
their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security
that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to
co-existence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More
blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our
differences, instead of our common humanity.

I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each
of us must choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with
the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier
this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the
Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I came
here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both people
to live in peace, security, and dignity." President Abbas said, "We
will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to
ensure these negotiations achieve their cause."

These words must be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders
have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is
difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians - and the
world - to rally behind the goal that these leaders share. We know
there will be tests along the way, and that one is fast approaching.
Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and
improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well
known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also
believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for
the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time
to build the trust - and provide the time - for substantial progress to
be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it
doesn't slip away.

Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a
responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of
Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires
an independent Palestine - one that allows the Palestinian people to
live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of
the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian
people will be won only through peaceful means - including genuine
reconciliation with a secure Israel.

Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But
these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on
to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it
real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises
Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help
the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and - in so
doing - help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state.
And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop
trying to tear Israel down.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange
land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel's
existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign
state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be
clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will only
be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts
to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian
people - the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is
injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas -
who stands up for his people in front of the world - is far greater
than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution.
And we can come back here, next year, as we have for the last sixty,
and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of
grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower
the forces of rejectionism and hate. We can waste more time by carrying
forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian
child achieve a better life. We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different - that this time we
will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics
stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the
young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the
young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket
fire. This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that
lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem's soil as
sacred. This time we should reach for what's best within ourselves. If
we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that
will lead to a new member of the United Nations - an independent,
sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Debka: Today's Middle East negotiations

A headline review of today's news from

Before leaving Sharm el-Sheikh, Netanyahu, Abbas, Clinton met again
after first round of talks ended in 40 minutes

* Mitchell: Extending West Bank building moratorium makes sense, but it
is a sensitive political issue in Israel

* We have asked Abbas for steps to promote continuation of talks

* First, Netanyahu talked to Clinton, Abbas to Mubarak

* Fifteen Israeli cabinet ministers plus Knesset Speaker publish open
letter against moratorium

* Hamas military chief Al Jabry says only fire will exorcize conflict
with Israel

* Palestinian state must extend from "Sea to Jordan"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pipes: It's wrong to target all Muslims

Daniel Pipes call upon those who oppose Islamism (al-Qaeda, Hamas ) to
avoid targeting all Muslims. It's wrong and indefensible to target all
Muslims. //Mark Finkelstein

Pipes states:

" I have one concern:[some of those who oppose Islamism are taking on
an] increasing anti-Islamic tone. Misled by the Islamists' insistence
that there can be no such thing as "moderate Islam," my allies often
fail to distinguish between Islam (a faith) and Islamism (a radical
utopian ideology aiming to implement Islamic laws in their totality).
This amounts not just to an intellectual error but a policy dead-end.
Targeting all Muslims conflicts with basic Western notions, lumps
friends with foes, and ignores the inescapable fact that Muslims alone
can offer an antidote to Islamism. As I often note, radical Islam is
the problem and moderate Islam is the solution [to defeating Islamism.]"


Friday, September 3, 2010

Viewpoints on Peace expressed by two ambassadors

Israel's Ambassador to the United States,  Michael Oren, expressed optimism in the peace talks.
In an opinion editorial, he writes:   Is there any reason for optimism?

Indeed, there is. For the first time in history, most Arab leaders view a Middle Eastern state other than Israel - Iran - as their major enemy. The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is strong, stable and deeply committed to resolving the conflict based on two states for two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian. In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is working to restore law, order and economic prosperity while similarly pledging to pursue the two-state solution. And President Barack Obama has placed achieving peace at the top of his foreign policy agenda. Never before, perhaps, have conditions been so conducive for a breakthrough.

Palestinian Ambassador to Iran, Salah Zawawi, expressed his opinion, as well.
 Tehran, Sept 2, IRNA -- Palestine’s Ambassador to Tehran, Salah Zawawi, said on Thursday:  “With reliance upon Grace of Almighty God and through solidarity of world Muslims, we hope to witness complete eradication of [ Israel] the fabricated regime in due course.”
Comments to

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SF Interfaith Statement for One America


Interfaith Statement for One America

A Call to Action for Deeper Understanding & Mutual Respect

As religious leaders representing people of many faiths in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are deeply troubled by the current wave of bigotry and hate directed at Islam and Muslims in the United States.

We recognize that there is a wide range of strongly held views about the location selected for the Islamic Center in New York near Ground Zero and that disagreement with the decision is not tantamount to attacking a religious group. At the same time, there is a growing pattern of anti-mosque protests and other actions directed at American Muslims in many parts of the country that aim to demonize Islam in the name of protecting America from Muslim radicals and extremists.

We condemn these attempts to vilify an entire religious community and affirm that such bigotry has no place in a nation committed to religious liberty for people of all faiths and none. Fear mongering, scapegoating, and intimidating a religious group does not protect our nation against the real threats that it faces, but rather threatens our pluralistic democracy that is a beacon to those who seek freedom from oppression. As a nation of immigrants, we continue to see our diversity as one of the great strengths of our country.

Well-aware of the long and bloody history of religious conflict in Europe, the framers of the U.S. Constitution were determined to found a nation committed to religious freedom. Thanks to their vision and commitment, religious liberty in America is protected as a precious, fundamental and inalienable right for all people. This right is guaranteed by the first 16 words of the First Amendment to the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

From the beginning of our history, we have struggled as a nation to live up to this founding ideal. The current outbreak of fear and prejudice directed at American Muslims is reminiscent of earlier attacks on Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons and other immigrant communities in America. . Anti-Catholic rallies of the 19th century, for example, warned of "Romanism" taking over America and condemned the Catholic Church as antithetical to American freedom.

Today, we are called once again to speak out against a rising tide of prejudice that threatens the religious freedom of American Muslims and thus undermines religious freedom for us all. Religious liberty is a universal right joined to a universal responsibility to protect that right - not just for ourselves, but for all others. We celebrate that in America we may practice our own faiths in diverse ways that deepen our religious commitment, bridge many of the chasms that divide us, and build doors in the walls that often separate us. We are dedicated to creating a community of mutual respect and common effort for the good of society. This is a salute to America’s legacy and future.

At this difficult time, we ask people of all faiths to take concrete steps to reach out to Muslims and members of other faiths - to host events and joint projects that will build relationships and promote mutual understanding.

We ask all Americans of goodwill to join us in countering this current wave of bigotry and hate by coming together to create our own wave of deeper understanding, mutual respect and common action for the good of all. In this spirit, we commit ourselves to speak and act according to the vision of religious liberty set forth in our Constitution, and urge our fellow citizens to do the same.


Maha Elgenaidi, Islamic Networks Group (ING)

Rabbi Doug Kahn, Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County

Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash

Imam Aladdin El-Bakri, West Valley Muslim Association

Rev. Gerald Sakamoto, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin

Rev. Andrew Kille, Interfaith Space

Imam Tahir Anwar

Zahra Billoo, Council on American Islamic Relations – San Francisco

Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, United Religions Initiative

Agha and Malley: Palestinian leader hard pressed to implement an agreement

Authors argue that because Palestinians lack a strong, legitimate central authority, " Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement," argues Agha and Malley

At Mideast Peace Talks, a Lopsided Table - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (Washington Post)

  • Staggering asymmetries between the Israelis and Palestinians could seriously imperil the talks. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the head of a stable state with the ability to deliver on his commitments. Celebrations of supposed institution-building notwithstanding, Palestinians have no robust central authority. Their territory is divided between the West Bank and Gaza. On their own, Palestinians would find it difficult to implement an agreement.
  • Participation in direct talks was opposed by virtually every Palestinian political organization aside from Fatah, whose support was lethargic. Abbas' decision to come to Washington is viewed skeptically even by those who back him. If Abbas reaches a deal, many will ask in whose name he was bartering away Palestinian rights. If negotiations fail, most will accuse him of once more having been duped. Abbas will be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
  • The demographic threat - the possibility that Arabs soon might outnumber Jews, forcing Israel to choose between remaining Jewish or democratic - is exaggerated. Israel already has separated itself from Gaza. In the future, it could unilaterally relinquish areas of the West Bank, further diminishing prospects of an eventual Arab majority.

    Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St. Antony's College at Oxford University. Robert Malley is Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and was special assistant to the president for Arab-Israeli affairs from 1998 to 2001. 

  • Source:  summary by on Sept. 2, 2010 .  Article from