At today’s Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference at the | 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. attendees remarked that this was the best conference thus far. They believe the conference will encourage reporters to cover both sides of Middle East affairs. To watch the program, fast forward to 20 minutes in via the Youtube video.
The speakers appear in order of the program posted on Israellobbyandamericanpolicy.org , where you also will find edited video footage and transcripts. Mondoweiss has already posted the first in-depth article on the conference. Additionally, statistically significant polling results presented by conference co-host IRmep’s Director Grant F. Smith show that Americans oppose many of AIPAC’s core programs.
Let your members of Congress know how the majority feels as they prepare to receive scores of AIPAC supporters urging funding for these unpopular programs.
Three new rounds of illegal settlement construction were announced by Israel in January. On Jan. 22, the government announced plans for 566 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. On Jan. 24, plans for 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank were announced. On Jan. 31, approval was given for 3,000 additional housing units in the West Bank. The Trump administration declined to condemn the announcements and David Friedman, President Trump’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, formerly served as president of a group that raises funds for settlements.
So far 137 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were demolished by Israeli forces in January. According to figures from the United Nations, the demolitions have displaced 237 people, including 134 children. These demolitions build upon the 1,093 Palestinian structures that Israel destroyed last year—the highest number since the U.N. began keeping records in 2009.
Two people—an Israeli Bedouin and an Israeli police officer—were killed in clashes on Jan. 18 after Israeli officials entered the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran with demolition orders. Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Ayman Odeh was injured and hospitalized after being hit by a foam-tipped bullet during the clashes. Israel regularly demolishes Bedouin villages it does not recognize to build new towns for Jewish Israelis only.
20-year-old Israeli Sgt. Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by an Israeli court in early January. In March 2016, Azaria was filmed fatally shooting a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Azaria’s conviction was a rare moment of justice for Palestinians, as IDF soldiers rarely face severe consequences for crimes committed against Palestinians.
In six months, the amount of time Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas has been suspended from the Knesset after he was caught allegedly smuggling cell phones, SIM cards and documents to prisoners convicted of terrorism. Ghattas will still be permitted to vote during his suspension.
56 percent of Americans oppose moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a January poll conducted by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. President Donald Trump seemed poised to announce the move within his first week in office, but has since put any such announcement on hold.
31 percent of Democrats polled by the Pew Research Center in January said they sympathize more with Palestine than with Israel. 33 percent of respondents said they sympathize more with Israel. These findings mark the first time in Pew Research history that Democrats are as likely to sympathize with Palestinians as they are with Israelis. The poll found that Republican support for Israel remains strong.
342 members of the House of Representatives—233 Republicans and 109 Democrats—voted in favor of a resolution objecting to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israel’s ongoing settlement enterprise. President Barack Obama refused to veto the resolution in December, thereby allowing the resolution to pass and leading to criticism from pro-Israel groups in the U.S.
41 men remain at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, after former President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison. Obama transferred 18 men from the facility in January—10 to Oman, 5 to Saudi Arabia and 3 to the UAE. During his eight years in office he transferred 197 detainees from the facility.
26,172 bombs were dropped in seven countries by the United States in 2016, according to an estimate conducted by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. The vast majority of bombs were dropped in Syria (12,192) and Iraq (12,095). The remainder was dropped in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. “This estimate is undoubtedly low,” Zenko points out, “considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, and a single ‘strike,’ according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions.”
Three U.S. drone strikes were carried out in Yemen in January, reportedly killing between 6 and 13 militants, according to data complied by New America. Two of the strikes were authorized by President Donald Trump. According to the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. conducted 526 counter-terror strikes (most of them drone strikes) during President Obama’s tenure in office. The U.S. government estimates 64 to 117 civilians were killed in the strikes, though independent estimates put this number much higher. This official data does not include strikes in areas of “active hostilities,” including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is believed U.S. drone strikes have been particularly devastating to civilians.
30 Yemenis, most of them civilians, were killed on Jan. 29 when U.S. commandos carried out a raid targeting al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen. Among those killed in the first military raid authorized by President Trump was 8-year-old American citizen Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was extrajudicially killed by a drone strike in October 2011 and whose 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed in a drone strike two weeks later. An American service member was also killed in the January raid, which the president described as “successful.”
1,000 Yemeni children die every week from preventable diseases, according to UNICEF. An estimated 2.2 million children in the poor, war-torn nation suffer from malnutrition, according to the agency.
Seven years after being jailed for leaking American military and diplomatic documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Chelsea Manning had her sentence commuted by President Obama on Jan. 17. Manning’s leaks led to a greater public critique of U.S. military action in the Middle East. Manning is set to be released on May 17, after originally being scheduled for release in 2045.
1,363 civilians were killed in violence in Iraq in January, according to Iraq Body Count.
64 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran, according to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation in late December.
82-year-old Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died of a heart attack on Jan. 8 in Tajrish, Iran. The two-time president and former chairman of the Assembly of Experts was one of the most influential politicians in Iran. A leader of the 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani was a mentor to current President Hassan Rouhani and used his power to give greater legitimacy to more “moderate” forces within Iran.
About the Washington Report
The Washington Report is published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information on U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed without charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Tomorrow January 31, 2017, the American Humanist Association will host briefings in both the US House and Senate to educate legislators and their staff about the importance of protecting the Johnson Amendment, a piece of legislation that prevents religious organizations from violating the separation of church and state by endorsing political candidates. The US House briefing will be held at 11:30am, and the US Senate briefing will be held at1:30pm.
WHERE: The US House briefing will be held at Cannon 340, and the US Senate briefing will be held at Russell 485, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
The briefing will feature experts on the topics of religious freedom and campaign finance, including: Policy Counsel Jennifer Ahearn of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Executive Director Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and Political Action Committee Coordinator Ron Millar of the Freethought Equality Fund. American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and American Humanist Association Development and Communications Director Maggie Ardiente will also be in attendance.
Arepeal of the Johnson Amendment, which was passed in 1954 to protect the separation of church and state by prohibiting religious and other non-profit organizations from engaging in political activity, including endorsing and funding political candidates would be devastating. Already, a bill has been introduced in this session of Congress, HR 172, which would overturn the Johnson Amendment. The American Humanist Association, as well as other church-state separation groups and organizations for campaign finance reform, are concerned that without the Johnson Amendment, churches and other religious organizations could funnel anonymous, tax-deductible donations to candidates who promise to carry out their religious practices into policy.
About the American Humanist Association
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
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Pope Francis is touring the Americas and it’s truly a remarkable moment in history. The Pope being here in the United States is moving not just from a religious perspective but also from a humanity perspective. Today Pope Francis gave an incredibly moving speech to Congress , touching on so many political and social issues which matter to the people more than ever. We admire his courage to tell us to act now because we cannot wait for the next generations to solve the problems we face today. If we wait, tomorrow may never come. You can read Pope Francis’ powerful speech to congress from the full remarks. He is like no other Pope we have seen in years. Pope Francis stands for social good and justice. He connects science with religion and you can read Why the Pope’s embrace of science matters for more details on his reasons.
When we saw U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in tears being in the presence of the Pope, we could not judge. Having someone speak of the word of God in a way which inspires us to act is absolutely remarkable. America needed this visit from the Pope as we have become divided by class, education, race and religion. We need brotherhood. We don’t need a first and 2nd class within our communities. We believe God sent the Pope to the Americas for a reason. Even with the Pope being here, our spirits are moving. Go out and do something amazing for the people. Be one together. Be one with God. Prayer can change things just as much as collaboration. May God bless the Pope and all of us in our day-to-day living.
Thank you Pope Francis for your moving words and God’s blessing upon us all. We pray for you Pope Francis and all of humanity.
As someone who took up Middle East studies and policies, Ben Carson has valid points why it would not be the best idea to advocate for a Muslim President. Why? Islamic Law and public policy in the United States clash too much and following core ideas of a set religious practice, not just Islam, is hard to break away from. Even with Ben Carson, who mentions his Christian faith at times, does not really complement the progressive policies we hope for America in the long-run. He doesn’t support gay rights and Carson is pretty reserved when it comes to women’s rights and other major issues.
His argument is not about someone being Muslim. The argument is about the mentality behind the ideology. There are so many layers to Islamic Law and in the Middle East there is no such thing as separation of church and state.
With that said, a modern Muslim has every right to run for the presidency, but if the said person cannot separate church from state when it comes to decision-making, we are going to have problems strengthening progressive policies in the United States. This goes for any religious person. People are too sensitive, especially when it comes to religious beliefs.
And no Ben Carson is not our top choice for President. We don’t agree with half of the things coming out of his mouth, but there is reasoning behind his statement on this specific topic. In a progressive society, Islamic traditions are old ways of thinking and don’t live up to modern efforts and initiatives of equality, including women rights and gay rights.
For example, traditional Muslim men would never allow women to make critical decisions in any leadership role, especially not in politics. It’s a very reserved, highly sensitive community and religion cannot be compared to race. It’s a whole different ball game. Race is just a distinguish of complexion; religion is a mentality, an ideology.
Take a look at Islamic states and you will see failed social systems as well as political systems. Even when people vote for Christian Presidents in the United States, they seek someone respectful of all walks of life and not someone who will impede communication when policy doesn’t harmonize with their religious perspectives. They seek a leader who is not passive aggressive. In all honesty, Islamic law promotes passive aggressive tactics, gender inequality and condemns capitalism. America is about capitalist principles, wants to advance gender equality and western culture is about directness. These truth statements are not to offend Muslims around the world. We have peers and friends who are Muslim and even been in intimate interactions with Muslims,but Islamic ideology does not pan out well with U.S. Public Policy if church and state do not go separate. The United States needs a president who can stand for modern reforms and initiatives which advance true Democracy. We don’t see this happening with a true Muslim President but someday perhaps the ideology will harmonize with the policies we hope to stand for in a progressive American society.
*** Note this blog has supported the Arab Spring and other initiatives in Middle East human rights and social progression. The opinion is not to offend those of Islamic faith. ***
ISIS are the thugs and the jackassery of the International community. This terrorist group is truly what I hate about humanity – evil, senseless and selfish. Muslims are no better than any body else. Christians are no better than any body else. Jews are no better than any body else. No body on this planet should believe their ideas and values are so superior to the world that he/she has the right to impose cruelty on those that are different from them. Whether you agree or disagree the world is what we make it. All the problems we have on this planet are manmade problems. We are both the problem and the solution.
Journalist James Foley is executed. Children are beheaded by ISIS. Women are raped . Having no respect for human life is not fearless, only cowards cruelly murder people and degrade human life.
Cowards cover their faces when they harm others. I want to make myself clear that Muslims who believe that ISIS stands for a powerful Islamic State, a unified Arab World, you are living under an illusion.
No great leadership comes from a place of evil and cruelty. I refuse to bite my tongue about this issue or any humanity crisis.
I urge people to not give this cowardly, ungodly ISIS group any power – not through fear or respect. They are pitiful.
These terrorists are evil cowards, wannabe warriors of God but at the end of the day they are spineless thugs that want their 15 minutes of fame.
ISIS doesn’t impress the Western world with murders. They don’t impress the Arab World. They don’t impress the East. They don’t impress God.
Do not fear this terrorist group. Stand together. Forget feeling you are better than someone else because of your religious affiliation. Forget feeling you are better than someone else because of your salary. Forget feeling better than someone else because of the color of your skin. You are not better than anyone else on this planet. None of us deserve mistreatment or feeling worthless based on our beliefs or values. Don’t give ISIS the power to spread hate. Let us use our common values to stand against terrorism and truly create a world we can proudly call a welcoming home to all walks of life, not just some.
Don’t let James Foley die in vain. Don’t forget the beheaded children. Don’t turn a blind eye to the raped women.Stand for something. Don’t be a coward.
Picking at every imperfection of your life will always cloud the beauty of your life. Don’t pick or you’ll find yourself at the end of life regretting that you wasted so much time picking at the scabs of your life that you forgot to live a well lived life.
1 in 3 people under the age of 30 don’t believe in God. Unfortunately that number is growing. It’s not my best times that made me a believer. It was my worse times where I wanted to give up or just got tired of life where something in me said God is here & God will take care of me. People let me down but something in the universe always made me feel I’m not completely alone. There’s plenty of times I’ve felt alone with people but it’s when I’m just with me & just reflecting on snippets of nature I feel most at peace. At that time I feel I belong to something. Strange but true.
Although I appreciate every wonderful event in my life & give all the thanks to God about these blessings, it’s at my darkest hours I feel God is here. God is real. It was those times I wanted to give up but something in my soul said Don’t . There have been times I was simply tried of life but again my soul told me there’s work to do & it wasn’t the work for man. God is always present. If we ask for help or guidance… God will make a way in life & death. That faith has made me stronger than I have ever been. I like to think it’s God in me… I’m an instrument of God. This hits to core to me as the seasons are changing. My life season is changing once again. I don’t what’s ahead but I put my trust & faith in God. It’s the first time that faith & that faith alone has been enough for me.