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No path to the watering place remains; join BDS

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“He said: ‘Here is a she-camel: she has a right of watering, and ye have a right of watering, (severally) on a day appointed.’” (Qur’an 26:155)

fedwa wazwaz
I enjoy the Qu’ran passage above, because it helps us know what to look for when we’re examining oppression.

There are many dangerous forms of oppression that come from physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional forms of abuse. At times, when we’re trying to resolve a conflict, we look only at who is committing the violence in the last five cases that stirred our interest.

As we know, numbers and statistics can be used to lie, and an underinformed mass or crowd can be used as a tool to excite and rationalize all sorts of violence and oppression against the violent other.

I have argued in the past that peace is defined by the presence of healthy boundaries. What do I mean by healthy boundaries? Healthy boundaries allow people a path to the watering place: to live, to grow, to build, to dream, and to nurture.

Do these boundaries exist in Gaza or in the Occupied Territories? Let us stop asking who is committing the violence and ask a more fundamental question: Do Palestinians have a right and a path to the watering place?

Let us first shine a light on Gaza and visit and share this page:  Gaza BlackOut

Below is a past article, edited slightly. The obstacles mentioned have not only continued, but the numbers of settlements and means to inhibit the growth of Palestinians has increased, including the threatening Palestinians with a ‘Shoah’ or Holocaust if they resist apartheid.

I share this piece to answer one question that I began this piece with – which is do Palestinians have a path to the watering place?

Read the rest of this entry

Boycotts are a form of free speech

By Nigel Parry, Engage Minnesota

“Boycotts are a form of free political expression and free speech. They are a peaceful way of making your voice heard in a situation where no one is listening.”

nigel

Dear Representatives Bud Nornes and Chris Swedzinski,

The HF 400 Israel Boycott Bill you have introduced is a bizarre piece of legislation, actually forcing Minnesotans to support a state that routinely and grossly defies international humanitarian law, and which is conducting the longest military occupation in history.

I lived in the Palestinian West Bank for 4 years before I came to America in 1998, and let me tell you it is a shameful thing to live in a country in which you regularly get to see children gunned down (always outside of stone throwing range, i.e. no self-defence excuse is valid), massive bombardments and displacements of already battered civilian populations, and straight-up racist land theft.

Israel’s parliament most recently voted to legalize the confiscation of Palestinian homes to give them to Israeli Jews. This level of naked racism is the opposite of what America stands for.

Trump’s current Muslim ban affects 213 million people in the seven listed countries. That’s without counting the people from those countries who live amongst us, now scared to leave the country in case they can’t return.

The Statue of Liberty is weeping as you turn away people trying to flee from war. You don’t target entire races or religions or ethno-nationalist populations to fight terror. That is obviously going to have the opposite effect.

The United States itself boycotts several regimes, and not only boycotts, but actually has sanctions against other countries, e.g Iran. The only reason that Apartheid was banished from South Africa was because of boycotts. That’s why the US itself boycotts and sanctions countries—because it works.

Boycotts are a form of free political expression and free speech. They are a peaceful way of making your voice heard in a situation where no one is listening. What you are proposing is nothing less than Minnesotan state control of Minnesotan people’s consciences. This is the opposite of what any state or federal body should be doing. It is utterly contrary to the First Amendment.

Instead of writing laws to pander to a foreign regime that cares nothing about international law or human life, perhaps you could instead remind the Israel lobbyists that urged you to pass this absolutely shameful and embarrassing piece of legislation to actually make peace with the Palestinians.

Of course, you must be aware that Israel has all the power in this situation, with the fifth most powerful army in the world, an army utterly free of moral constraint, and merrily funded to the tune of $3.2 billion a year of US taxpayers’ dollars, about to increase to $3.8 billion annually. It’s a first world country folks, it doesn’t need any charity, let alone that giant military basket of death it regularly dips into. Israel isn’t threatened. It is the threat. You have this entirely backwards.

All you do when you silence people, with measures like this, is encourage them to stop talking and start fighting. Blessed are the peacemakers, not the war mongers, nor those who pander to oppressive regimes.

Your responsibility is to the people of Minnesota first. Stop pandering to Israel, remove this Constitution-defying legislation from the table, and act to reign in the Frankenstein monster we have done so much to create.

Sincerely,

Nigel Parry can be reached via https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigelparrydesign

There is a hearing on criminalizing BDS.  Contact your Representatives:
Date: Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. Tuesday,
Place: Senate Building, 95 University AVE W, 55155

Senate File 247: “Israel Boycott”
This is the Senate Committee on State Government Finance and Policy and Elections.

Committee Chair Mary Kiffmeyer, R, District #30, representing Big Lake, Elk River, Otsego.
Mark Koran, R, #32, Cambridge, Isanti, Lindstrom, Rush City
Jim Carlson, DFL, #51, Eagan
John Jasinski, R, #24, Faribault, Owatonna
Susan Kent, DFL, Woodbury, southern Maplewood
Carolyn Laine, DFL, #41, Columbia Heights, Fridley, St. Anthony
Carla Nelson, R, #26, Rochester
Scott Newman, R, #18, Hutchinson, Glencoe, Litchfield
Ann Rest, DFL, #45, New Hope, Cyrstal, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Plymouth
Torrey Westrom, R, #12, Morris, Sauk Centre, Gleenwood, Breckenridge

 

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St. Paul Foundation’s ‘Facing Race’ Honors CAIR-MN’s Former Civil Rights Director

By Engage Minnesota

The Facing Race Ambassador Award is an annual award made by the Saint Paul Foundation to celebrate and honor the leadership of individuals working toward racial equity. The Facing Race anti-racism initiative seeks to create a racially equitable community in which everyone feels safe, valued and respected. Highlighting the valuable work of award recipients and honorees inspires discussion, dialogue and action around critical issues of race and racism.

This year’s Ambassador Awards celebration was held at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Paul on April 23, 2012.

This year, the St. Paul Foundation recognized Taneeza Islam, Esq, former Civil Rights Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota (CAIR-MN) with an honorable mention.

Taneeza worked full-time at the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, but also dedicated her spare time to volunteer for CAIR-MN. Since March 2008 to December 2011, Taneeza accrued over 3,000 hours of service to this community through CAIR-MN.  For Taneeza, it is not just about working with the Muslim community to know their rights but about building bridges with members of the great Minnesota community, who are directly interacting with Muslim populations in Minnesota: employers, care givers, educational institutions, and the media—a “two way street.”

“Stereotypes and misinformation are the foundations of inequity in all arenas. Those who believe in misinformation as fact usually do not take the extra steps to figure out if what they are learning is accurate. Therefore, it becomes an individual’s burden – or motivation – to break through that misinformation.”- Taneeza Islam

This is the third time CAIR-MN has been recognized by the St. Paul Foundation Facing Race Awards for efforts in combating racism, encouraging dialogue and striving for racial equity.

CAIR-MN is the state’s only Muslim civil rights advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Since its founding in 2007, CAIR-MN has become a force in protecting civil rights and empowering Minnesota Muslims through free legal assistance, advocacy and education. In the last year alone, CAIR-MN assisted over 400 crime victims and facilitated the resolution of 121 cases of religious discrimination. CAIR-MN’s work is striving to end racism and creating a racially equitable society. Get involved today! To learn more about CAIR-MN, visit www.cairmn.com


Tunisia’s revolution wasn’t televised

By Lolla Mohammed Nur, The Minnesota Daily

Two weeks ago, most University of Minnesota students were probably busy enjoying their long-awaited winter breaks and gripped by the tragic shooting in Arizona.

So it’s no surprise that most students didn’t hear about Tunisia’s revolution when it began brewing last month.

But had the first successful Arab revolt in the past generation occurred at any other time, we would have probably still missed it because of the small amount of media attention outside Arab and Francophone countries.

Read the rest of Lolla’s article here.

Local Human Rights Award Recognizes Interfaith Work

By Autif Sayyed, American Muslim Community Center

Eden Prairie Human Rights Award
Representatives from the three churches
and Saleem Adam of American Muslim Community
Center, second from left.

On May 20, the City of Eden Prairie honored American Muslim Community Center (AMCC) and three churches–Eden Prairie United Methodist Church, Pax Christi Catholic Community and Prairie Lutheran Church–with its annual Human Rights Award. The award was in recognition of our participation in planning and executing the Interfaith Worship Service Program in 2006 and 2007. These events brought together hundreds of people of different faiths to celebrate the commonalities held by all and to promote peace, tolerance, and awareness.

The AMCC strives to create an inclusive community spirit through its activities and programs. We have achieved this by embracing diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. The reasoning behind this approach is very simple. Read the rest of this entry

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