‘Je suis Charlie’? ‘Je suis Ahmed Merabet’! – Food for thought from SFoP – Scottish Friends of Palestine

Dear All

Our thoughts are with all those whose friends or family members have lost their lives or been injured in recent terrorist attacks. Violence is always wrong, no matter how or where.
It was impressive to see leaders of churches and heads of state coming together in Paris yesterday, along with some one million people standing up for freedom of speech yesterday.

The family of Ahmed Merabet, one of two Muslim police officers slain by the terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, made an impressive, moving, heart-rending call on everyone not to go down the route of revenge:

Find below some comments circulated earlier today by SFoP – Scottish Friends of Palestine. They certainly give pause for thought…

The SFoP Secretary writes on Monday, 12 January 2015:

My thanks to those SFoP members who provided such positive and encouraging comments with regard to SFoP’s letter in the SEJ – Scottish Educational Journal. Out of all the replies received I have chosen to pass on the undernoted reply from one of our French members, resident in France, together with associated reports which reached my Inbox:

What about the false flag operation which we have just had (and the rubbish will continue…) in France? I am not the only one NOT to succumb to “Charlie frenzy”: see article by Mazin Qumsiyeh of Academics for Justice (also copied below).
Freedom of the press is not allowing a weekly which claimed from its inception in 1968 to be “stupid and nasty” (“bête et méchant”) to continue producing nasty caricatures of Mohamed, Christ, Moses (“Charlie Hebdo” is not at all like “Private Eye”), but letting the French mainline press journalists tell the truth, express disagreement with government foreign policy, and criticize some countries which get away with murder….
When Israel was killing and maiming right, left and centre in Gaza, peaceful demonstrations in France were actually forbidden by Law, but now for a false flag operation, the whole world is joining into being “Charlies”. It’s a joke. Even those who are mocked by that mag, the Pope included, are allowing themselves to be conned.
I am so angry.
What a way to launch into a New Year!
Best Wishes, nevertheless, of Health and Vigour to continue your good work.

Mazin Qumsiyeh article in Counterpunch, 9-11 January 2015: 

Let Us Plant Hope

Je Suis Ahmed Merabet

How many media outlets bothered to tell us that the injured French policeman executed by terrorists on the pavement was a Muslim French policeman by the name of Ahmed Merabet. These terrorists seemed like professionally trained maybe by a state intelligence service and yet “conveniently” forgot an identity card in the get-away car and are killed not apprehended.

The timing of this incident was suspicious. First it came a week after France voted in the UN Security Council to end the Israeli occupation that started in 1967 (i.e. with a sub minimal demand supported by International law). Second, the terror attack happened just after the Israeli government said their largest number of immigrants in 2014 came from France and they want more colonial settlers.

What came to mind is the bombing of Jewish community centers in Baghdad in the 1950’s that helped recruit needed Jews for Israeli colonial activities. In that case it was exposed to be a Mossad operation. We also recall the Lavon affair (Israeli bombings of American and British interests in Cairo blaming it on Egyptian nationals). Whether this was yet another false flag operation or by rogue terrorists not left alive to be questioned, Zionists are milking it to the best of their (very large) media abilities and they talk endlessly about Muslims and Islam. When Jewish terrorists like Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon committed crimes, they was merely “deluded renegades” (but who became prime ministers of Israel).

Why not call those in Paris also “deluded renegades”? But more importantly what are lessons to draw from all this?

I and many people around the globe work daily to challenge fundamentalism/ extremism (be it cloaked in Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish or other cloak). We try to bring these deluded racist humans into reality. The best way is via positive action with insistence on human rights and international law EVERYWHERE. Freedom of speech is critical. The biggest enemy for all of us is fear (the opposite of love) that suppresses freedom of speech and makes for compliant “customers” rather than involved citizens.

Our biggest ally is hope which springs from being at peace in our own hearts. It allows us to transform the world (not fight it).

In the words of a wise friend (Chris R): “If evil is explained as anything other than the fruit of a distracted mind, distracted by its own choice, you divide the human race into the good and evil, and politics is impossible ….. We cannot give up on anybody … The alternative–giving up on someone–that’s racism, for one thing, and it’s never justified.” [And I might add is a dead end road for humanity].

Our thoughts are with the victims’ families including the family of Ahmed Merabet.
Let us plant hope, love, and kindness in our hearts.



Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. He is director of the main clinical cytogenetics laboratory and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Institute for Biodiversity Research.
Omar writes:
The terror that struck Paris lately is to be condemned, unreservedly and unconditionally, in the strongest terms by any decent human being, in my opinion.
But to stop there without any mention of France’s own history of terrorism and genocide would be really hypocritical, to say the least. It would also be quite racist, in fact, as it assumes that terrorism against non-whites — whether perpetrated today by Israel and the US or in the past by Britain, France, Germany and a whole lot of European nations in Africa, Asia, the Americas and in Europe itself — is a mere “problem,” a sad chapter of history that “we all” should forget and forgive, while simultaneously regarding terrorism against “whites” as unforgivable crimes. Of course non-whites were also killed in the French attacks.
The heinous terror practiced by colonial France in Algeria and many other colonies for many decades needs to be as strongly condemned, if not more, given the sheer size of the genocidal crimes. The fact that to date France refuses to take responsibility for its colonial crimes against humanity makes the French establishment’s hypocrisy even more blatant.
Black lives matter!
Brown lives matter, too!
All lives matter, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or any other human attribute.
Ethically speaking, the terror of the oppressors cannot and should never justify counter-terror by those who are oppressed. And it is always, by definition, the oppressors who initiate violence and terror.
As Paulo Freire writes,

‘Any situation in which “A” objectively exploits “B” or hinders his self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with the individual’s ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human. With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something objective whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior of violence to establish their subjugation.

‘Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail others as persons — not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized.’

Finally, those who are deeply involved in state terrorism, like Israeli leaders, who are jumping on the band wagon and desperately trying to use the terrorist crimes in France to further promote Islamophobia and endear Israel to French and westerners’ hearts are beyond opportunistic; they are effectively saying that their own terrorism against the brown — and therefore lesser human — Lebanese and Palestinians, especially in Gaza, is justifiable and not comparable to the crimes in France.
Joe Sacco’s brilliant cartoon below says almost everything I wanted to say about the terror attack in France. I hope you’ll find it enlightening.


John Whitbeck wrote [on Sunday, 11 January 2014]:
‘As most of my distinguished recipients are aware, I live in Paris. Indeed, it has been the center of my life since 1976. I love Paris, and I love France.
‘I have until now hesitated to circulate any articles or thoughts on the recent bloody events in France, in part because my own thoughts have been in flux. However, as the initial shock-induced groupthink has moderated and more thoughtful and nuanced articles and views have started to appear, I will now share my own thoughts.
‘It goes without saying – or SHOULD go without saying – that ALL massacres of innocents are horrible and unjustifiable.
‘However, a brief AP article in the weekend edition of the International New York Times reports that, on the same day that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were assassinated, “as many as 2,000 people were killed” by Boko Haram in Baga, a town on the Nigerian border with Chad, and that “most of the victims were children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when the insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at residents.”
‘Few people on the planet can be unaware that 20 people (including the three killers) have been killed in and around Paris this week. Few people even among my distinguished recipients will be aware that up to one hundred times as many people have been killed in Baga this week.
‘Huge numbers of non-Western, non-Christian and non-Jewish people are being slaughtered every day in many countries around the world, by their fellow Muslims, by Westerners, by Christians, by Jews and by atheists. Such deaths are so common and routine that they constitute a barely newsworthy journalistic yawn.
‘In Paris this week, a relatively limited number of atheists (the cartoonists), Christians, Jews and, yes, two Muslims were killed by Muslims seeking revenge for the insults and humiliations which they perceived to have been inflicted on their prophet, their religion and their co-religionists – not because of any more general hostility to “freedom of the press” or “freedom of expression” – the cartoonists would not have been targeted by their killers had they confined their insults to Christians and Jews – or to the proclaimed values of Western civilization.
‘This was a rare event, hence newsworthy (indeed, especially newsworthy since journalists were targeted) and shocking.
‘It is also undeniable that, at least in most Western, Christian and Jewish eyes, Western, Christian and Jewish lives are infinitely more valuable and important than non-Western, non-Christian and non-Jewish lives.
‘This afternoon, over a million people, including President François Hollande and nearly 50 foreign leaders, have marched in the streets of Paris. So far as I am aware, no one has been marching anywhere to honor those killed in Baga.
‘There has been much homage paid in recent days to “freedom of the press” and “freedom of expression” in France. These are noble concepts. However, consciously and gratuitously provoking others, particularly marginalized minorities, by insulting them, their human dignity and their most deeply held beliefs does not strike me as an exercise of freedom of expression at its most noble, humane or constructive level.
‘One may wonder what it means to proclaim “Je suis Charlie” or “Nous sommes tous Charlie”, as people are doing all round the world. All atheists? All Islamophobes? All equal-opportunity insulters of all religions, all believers and all people of power and prominence? Are they declaring that they are FOR some values or AGAINST some people? Time will tell. One must hope for the best.
‘In light of my intense interest in justice for the Palestinian people, I am aware of several instances in recent years in which “freedom of expression” in France has been revealed to be distinctly subjective and discriminatory:
‘1. On several occasions, Palestine solidarity and BDS activists have been prosecuted for the crime of “inciting discrimination and racial hatred” for publicly advocating a consumer boycott of Israeli products.
‘2. The current French prime minister, Manuel Valls, banned a show by the hugely popular stand-up comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala on the grounds that portions of the show offended Jews. (Dieudonné, like the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, is an equal-opportunity insulter, but, while they were most famous for insulting the Prophet Mohammed, Islam and Muslims, he has attracted most media attention and criticism for insulting Jews.)
‘3. During the Gaza massacres this past summer, Mr. Valls banned a demonstration in Paris in sympathy and solidarity with the people of Gaza.
‘4. Needless to say (although one hesitates to mention it), no one would dare to suggest publicly that any aspect of the received wisdom regarding the Holocaust might possibly be less than 100% historically accurate and correct. Doing so would produce not simply social ostracism but prosecution for the crime of “denial”.
‘One may hope that the shock of this week’s events will lead to more, rather than less, freedom of expression in France, ideally of a less discriminatory, more consistent and more constructive and non-insulting-for-the-sake-of-insulting nature.
‘I was alarmed this week to see a front page of Le Monde headlined “FRANCE’S SEPTEMBER 11”. I hope and trust that France will not, like the United States after 9/11, go berserk, transforming its former democracy into a fear-driven surveillance state with strong totalitarian tendencies, lashing out at perceived enemies at home and abroad and thereby creating more enemies and greater hatred directed toward it and its people. (The Kouachi brothers, responsible for the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, had previously attributed their personal radicalization to the American torture and humiliation program at [the US operated] Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.)
‘In this context, I cannot help recalling (and retransmitting below) the concluding paragraphs of the long-form version of my December 2001 op-ed article on the use and abuse of the word “terrorism”, which was published in the spring of 2002 by Global Dialogue (Nicosia), Politica Exterior (Madrid), International (Vienna) and the Pugwash Newsletter (the semiannual magazine of the Council of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995) and which remains posted in full on a website of the U.S. Democratic Party (www.democrats.com/view.cfm?id=9520):
‘“If the world is to avoid a descent into anarchy, in which the only rule is ‘might makes right’, every ‘retaliation’ provokes a ‘counter-retaliation’ and a genuine ‘war of civilizations’ is ignited, the world – and particularly the United States – must recognize that “terrorism” is simply a word, a subjective epithet, not an objective reality and certainly not an excuse to suspend all the rules of international law, domestic civil liberties and fundamental fairness which have, until now, made at least some parts of our planet decent places to live.
‘“The world – and particularly the United States – must also recognize that, in a world filled with injustice, violent outbursts by those hoping desperately for a better life or simply seeking to strike a blow against injustice or their tormentors before they die can never be eradicated. At best, the frequency and gravity of such outbursts can be diminished by seeking to alleviate (rather than to aggravate) the injustices and humiliations that give rise to them, by more consistent and universal application of the fundamental religious principle to ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’ and of the fundamental principle of the founding fathers of American democracy that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, by treating all people (even one’s enemies) as human beings entitled to basic human rights and by striving to offer hope and human dignity to the miserable millions who have neither. A single-minded focus on increased military, ‘security’ and ‘counter-terrorism’ programs and spending will almost certainly prove counter-productive to its declared objective, diminishing both security and the quality of life not only for the poor, the weak and the oppressed but also for the rich, the strong and the oppressors.
‘“The trend since September 11 has been to aggravate, rather than to alleviate, the very problems which fueled the sense of humiliation and hatred behind that day’s attacks. However, it is not inevitable that this trend must continue – unless, of course, men and women of good will, compassion and ethical values, who share a well-founded fear as to where the world is heading and can see clearly that there must be, and is, a better way, permit themselves to be terrorized into silence.”
As might be expected, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been in Paris for today’s march, has sought to turn this week’s events in France to his own advantage. He has lectured Western leaders that “the terror of Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and Al-Qaida” won’t end “unless the West fights it physically, rather than fighting its false arguments” and has told French Jews that Israel is their country and that they will be welcomed if they choose to emigrate there.
‘I also presume that it is at his initiative that the four Jews who died Friday evening are to be buried together in Jerusalem on Tuesday. At a time when the French nation is trying to come together around the principle that all French citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs or non-beliefs, are first and foremost French, I find this initiative, suggesting as it does that French Jews are first and foremost Jews (or even Israelis) and only secondarily French, profoundly counter-constructive.’


SFoP wrote on Friday, 9 January 2015:

SFoP submitted an article arguing for BDS [– Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions], which was published in the [April 2014] edition of the Scottish Educational Journal (SEJ), the journal of the teachers’ union, the EIS [– Educational Institute of Scotland]. This was at the request of the EIS following a successful motion at their 2013 AGM that the EIS should publicise an earlier decision to adopt the Palestinian call on BDS [– Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions].As with the article on Children in Chains, also printed in the SEJ [in Dec 2012, pp22/23], the boycott article [Hugh Humphries, ‘The Choice to Force Change’, SEJ April 2014, pp16/17] attracted the attention of a certain Sheila Gold. Ms Gold seems to have taken on the role of challenging every article sympathetic to the rights of the Palestinian people. However, perhaps we should be grateful to the likes of Ms Gold, no matter how misguided she may be – it always gives a second opportunity to make your point to a largley fresh audience.

[Our] reply to Ms Gold was sent on your behalf to the SEJ – Scottish Educational Journal and printed [on p28] in the December edition.


About Oban Concern for Palestine

. . . supporting people in Palestine and Israel who oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Oban Concern for Palestine are a group of Argyll residents who share an interest in Palestine, a friendship with its people and a deep concern for their welfare. And, for the sake of Israel, we want to encourage the government of Israel to comply with international law. Oban Concern for Palestine believe that the oppression of the Palestinian people is a grave wrong, that the government of Israel is in violation of international law, and that we have a duty to speak up and do what we can to bring it to an end. We welcome new members and supporters. For more information, please contact obanconcern4palestine AT gmail DOT com • +44 7747 300 062 • Oban Concern for Palestine, c/o Stronchriach, Rowan Road, Oban, Argyll, PA34 5TY, UK
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