Dani al-Armani


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This image really captures my identity.

I do think it visually symbolizes who I am – half Armenian half Arab – Syrian.

My heritage includes Palestinian, Italian too. Perhaps there is more European blood from my father’s side – but nonetheless, that side of my family is vehemently Armenian. About as homogeneously Armenian as the ethnic group itself.

Culturally we are influenced by Christianity, Philosophy, Secularism, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam.

One day I hope to visit Yerevan, my original home. Perhaps then I can built a modest home with my family, and create hip-hop, musical masterpieces eternally from there!

God bless Armenia and my people. I only pray we can one day meet again. I also pray you may understand my struggles, and how being half Muslim, ostracized me even further from my Armenian roots. But the truth is that the genocide produced this reality.

Still deep in my heart I know Armenians have no qualm with Islam.

There are extremes everywhere, but for the vast majority, there is harmony. Remember, in its conflict against Azerbaijan, a Shia muslim country, Iran, the world’s biggest Shia muslim country, stands with Armenia, a Christian nation, out of principle.

Furthermore, Armenians have no qualms with Islam or Turks – rather they wish for historical atrocities and political justices to be recognized and initiated. Was this not healthier for Germany in the long run?

I do love my Syrian-Arab heritage too, equally. That is precisely why this picture evokes my emotions so well. I believe in tenants of Islam too; as well as the narrative. I do believe in many cases though, like all religions, it has been distorted.

Perhaps one day we shall all meet and I may share my unique, perhaps twisted, conception of religion which has become my faith, thanks to my Syrian mother, and Syrian-Armenian father. I dedicate this to them, my grandfather Yervant, the bright and shining genius of our family whom I look up to and aspire to be like. I also dedicate this to the fallen souls of the Armenian Genocide who shall never be forgotten, ever. Finally, I dedicate this to my other home, Syria, which is in utter catastrophe and destruction. God be with you all.

With love,

the son of KRIKOR & al Ghaib,

Dani al-Armani.

In America, they call me Danny K!

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What Is Terrorism?


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It has been difficult to form a concise definition of terrorism due to the emotions and political weight carried by the term. But since September 11th, 2001, the term has been used more frequently than before, both inside and outside political science, though sometimes perhaps incorrectly. Lumping tactics, attackers and fear together to define terrorism has been a disservice to the field of political science (Tilly 2004).

It is precisely this which causes bias in the literature and in society when assessing terrorism. Defining terrorism as a tactic reveals that it can and often is practiced by states and insurgents equally.

The more descriptive features, its psychological effect, organizational structure and ideological motive are not as distinct because other military tactics are arguably similar in this regard. The most distinct feature appears to be thetarget of terrorism. That civilian, or non-military (often political figures) populations are targeted, and not military units, is what makes this distinct in nature (Kydd & Walter 2006). This challenges the common perception of terrorism as a new phenomenon as well as one that is practiced only by random and scattered networks with unachievable objectives (Chaliand & Blin 2007). Furthermore, it allows analysts to place terror incidents within the contexts of international politics, instead of isolating them. More recently, the literature has focused heavily on the connection between Islamic radicalism and terrorism, but this ignores the vast instances of terrorism conducted by non-state actors as well as attacks motivated by irreligious purposes, in history and today.

States themselves against their own people or foreign civilians. Focusing on Islamic radicalism ignores the white supremacist network of terrorism, the nationalist spectrum of terrorism, and so forth. It also ignores the countless times in history that the Islamic World has suffered from the specter of terrorism. It could be argued that the US bomb on Japan in 1945 was a form of state terrorism, or that Israel’s disproportionate attack on Gaza in 2014 was a form of state terrorism. Furthermore, early attacks on Palestinians by Jewish militias were forms of terror, such as the Deir Yassin Massacre. This bias normalizes the perspective that Islam is inherently barbaric; and furthermore distracts from the more significant variables that cause violence in the Islamic world; foreign interventionism – which often manifests as state terror.

References:

Andrew Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, “The Strategies of Terrorism,” International Security, Summer 2006.

Charles Tilly. Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists. Sociological Theory, 2004. 22(1), 5-13.

Gerrard Chaliand & Arnaud Blin. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to al Qaeda. University of California Press. 2007.

Why Bernie Sanders hasn’t captured ALL of our hearts


The hypocrisy would be appalling were it not so functional: the biggest impediment to both the reform of Islam and peace in the Middle East that Americans have the ability to remove is our support for a militant Jewish ideology that few Arabs and Muslims have ever accepted.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that US policy in Palestine was part of the reason for the attacks, but that analysis was whittled down to a few sentences– even as the head of the commission said that the Iraq war was launched to protect Israel. (And Condi Rice said the war would provide “strategic relief” to Israel and Colin Powell said it was dreamed up by the Zionist thinktank the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs).

And this blog– for which the Iraq war was the core issue– began after my brother told me that he had demonstrated against the Vietnam War but his Jewish newspaper said this war might be good for Israel; and this blog got pushed out the door at the New York Observer, then the Nation Institute.

Bernie Sanders and I both opposed the Iraq war. Most American Jews opposed that war. But Sanders’s assertion that there is a war for the soul of Islam is hollow, cheap and condescending so long as he and the mainstream Jewish community continue to suppress the war for the soul of Judaism.

That war is happening all around us in the margins; but the west will not be able to rid the earth of ISIS and the radical Islamism that we are told is not Islam (believe me, I can’t wait for their demise) till we conduct a similar scathing inventory of Jewish political beliefs.

Yesterday James North and I wrote here that we’re not monocausal; even if there was justice in Palestine it would not end Islamist violence. I stand by that point. But the ultimate question is the one Bernie Sanders raised last night, What can we do to end the religious element of the conflicts in the Middle East? And the answer is that Jews must end their support for Zionism, which has turned out to be religious, fascistic and militant, and is fueling rage across the Middle East and further.

How long can Jews not have this conversation? Hannah Arendt wrote in 1944 that opposition to Zionism drew on great understandings: the “realization of the fatal, utopian hyperbole of the demand for a Jewish commonwealth and a rejection of the idea of making all Jewish politics in Palestine dependent on the protection of great powers.”

It was an American problem then and it’s an American problem now. We have set aside our own secular values when it comes to the Middle East. We should stop lecturing Muslims about their backward ideas till we reckon with our own.

– See more at: Mondoweiss

The Deer Hunter Russian Roulette Scene


One of my favorite scenes from the movie. The Vietnam War, a contentious issue of debate, remains a stain on US history. Despite being portrayed as a containment of communism, the US invasion proved not only disastrous, but to carry its own agenda, the suppression of national sovereignty.

This same phenomenon occurred in Afghanistan, when the US funded the mujahadin of Afghanistan to combat communism. The premise of containing communism was quickly overshadowed by a new specter of foreign oppression, western capitalism.

Guess Who?


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They rushed him. Threw a black bag over his head. His cigarette was left burning on the brick plaza floor.

Hours later his eyes open. The abducted gentleman has regained consciousness.

He can barely make out what he sees.

It looks like three men, all dressed in black garb.

One of them men was clearly saying something. Loud. He was shouting in a foreign language. It wasn’t something he could recognize.

The man continued shouting, as if making demands.

“He will not understand you better if you raise your voice,” one the others suddenly said in english, while chuckling.

At that moment the three men exited the room. There were no windows. The steel door slammed shut. The abducted gentleman was left alone. The bruises on his face and his fatigue knocked him back into a trance.

It wasn’t long after until one of the men returned. This time he was dressed normally. Formally, actually, in suit and tie. The abducted man was awake, and quickly realized the man before him looked nothing as he did before.

“Where am I?” shouted the abducted man?

“Speak when you are spoken to,” ordered the captive’s watcher. “Now tell me. It seems you are an avid writer and journalist on the internet.”

At this point, the abducted man, chained to his chair, began to realize what exactly might be going on. Still, he had no idea in whose hands he was in, why and where.

“Now you see. You can walk out of here and healthy man. As if nothing ever happened, under one condition.”

“Who are you?”

“SILENCE!”

A few moments passed as the two men gazed at each other in the cold steel vault without a blink.

“We want you to stop writing about specific issues related to our interests, specifically about politics in the Middle East.”

“Are you a terrorist? This is against my rights. Are you an American?”

“We would like for you to end your activism regarding the rights of the Palestinians as it is threatening American & British interests in the region. If you do not comply, we will do everything in our efforts to completely disenfranchise you from society; deem you an maniac; broadcast your image across all US media as a terrorist & dangerous criminal. All of course, if you do not abide by our simple request.”

“What of the Arabs? What of the rights of the Palestinians? The world can be at peace without its occupation.”

“Sir, we have endured trials for centuries. We were persecuted, disenfranchised and murdered by the millions. We have no home. We are hated everywhere. We have America & Russia by the balls. We have the muslim world by the neck. Stop your propaganda.”

The End.

Secularizing the Conversation on the Occupation of Palestine


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Secularizing the conversation on the Palestinian genocide, actually threatens the pro-Israeli argument. It has to. Israel, by nature, is a religious entity — despite efforts by any spokesperson to suggest otherwise.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict between Palestinian nationalism & international occupation, deems Israel a theocratic apartheid-state.

Secularization, by nature, requires religious & cultural diversity, egalitarianism and in contrast, rejects elitism, exclusivism & bigotry.

Palestinians outnumber the populations of Israelis by almost 4 million. Arabs outnumber the Jews. And yet, the State of Israel, which represents the minority population, protected by self-righteous Western colonialists, remains probably the only Middle Eastern country that is part of the 1st world, with flee-flowing goods, access to technology, industry and mobility within the international economic community. The majority, the Palestinian nation, made up largely of Arabs, Armenians, Jews, Muslims & Christians, are left largely disenfranchised from the entire conversation, deeming the State of Israel an apartheid-entity, comparable to South Africa.

Can America, Israel, or any one of the countries in the international community which claim — self-righteously — to be a ‘full-fledged’ democracies put their money where their mouth is? Because I wonder: how can a democracy exist within the confines of a nation-state if it is constantly trading & doing business with corrupt non-democratic states, like Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, Russia & Qatar?

The self-righteous attitude which gives the US (& Europe) the audacity to criticize foreign countries for their “non-democratic values” serves as the premise for imperialism & economic inequality in the world. America’s entire economy thrives off Chinese pseudo-communism. How can we claim to be the democratic police of the world?

In the 21st century we continue to falsely imprison our own citizens, kill & permit racism towards our own people — how can we make this bold claim?

The Republican Party’s unrelenting support for Israel has strangled US foreign policy largely up until the election of President Obama who has to some degree casted a grey cloud over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The rise of ISIS has prompted further inquiry into the role played by US allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Israel in the spread of fundamentalism in the region, which has been exporting itself to the West since the 1970s for the most part. Monarchy is Saudi Arabia is comparable to Israeli-apartheid in Palestine. The Gulf country is largely responsible for rise in pseudo-Islamic terrorism. It is one of the few countries that continues to maintain a behind-the-doors type of agreement with Israel and major world powers, “oil-for-weapons”, as it is called.

It happens to be that jihadis work well with Israel because like Israelis they are paid agents working to serve the cause of colonialism and distortion of reality by associating attacks with religion. In fact terrorists of “Islamist” and “Zionist” persuasion slander both religions. Neither religion, in essence, would endorse irrational violence. The bond between jihadis and Zionists in close, exemplified in the Faisal-Weissman agreement, a formal document which recognizes the Jewish right to existence in mandatory Palestine under a new state called Israel. The extreme version of the Jewish narrative for a return to ancient Israel sits well with many of the Middle East’s despotic monarchs and tyrannical governments — often propped up by Western governments themselves.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict also means that I will place a noticeable effort to avoid referring to the political entity as Israel but rather as the modern, 21st century colonial-outpost of the West & broader imperial global elite. I will refer to groups like Hezbollah as military organizations, and I will make the distinction clear between Hezbollah, an organized nationalistic, military-resistance initiative  versus pseudo-Islamic terrorist networks working for foreign agents such as ISIS, al-Qaeda & al-Nusra. These will be referred to as such so as to prevent the slandering of Islam as well as the legitimization of arbitrary colonialism disguised as “international security initiatives”.

Furthermore I would also like to make the point that the Zionism’s greatest source of support doesn’t come from Jews. Firstly, American Jews are largely disenchanted with Israel. Secondly, the Jewish community in Israel is comparatively minute. So where does the immense support for Zionism come from? The elite must garner support from an ignorant mass. Seeing as how religion and extremist ideology are the best tools for collective sedation and rallying.

Christian-Zionism emanates mainly from the US & parts of the European continent. It is resembles ideologies like fascism, Messianism, Bolshevism, nazism, militant-atheism, anarcho-capitalism & Wahhabism. Based on the common denominator of superiority, these groups reflect one another’s violent intolerance.

A question to the ADL. I applaud what you stand for. Can I ask:

Is it not possible to refrain from associating anti-semitic discrimination of any kind with social activism against apartheid? Are the two not mutually exclusive?

Final thoughts:

The world expects Israel’s desperate search for/protection of a homeland after the horrors of the Holocaust to take precedence over the Palestinians’ right to self-determination…and will make their right to existence more important than Palestine’s. Settlement-expansion does not convince anyone of the possibility of an actual two-state solution (completely delegitimized). Furthermore the religious & post-WWII argument for the existence of a Jewish state still does not provide a moral, logical solution to the problem of Palestinian self-determination & human rights. This suggests a failure on the part of the international community to properly address the Jewish question of state-hood. The religious narrative coupled with history shows that the Jews have been well-established themselves in various nations of prominence for centuries, in Russia, the US, France, the UK, Argentina & Brazil. Pre & Post-Holocaust, the Jews enjoyed affluence, equality & prominence. Why the need for an extended colony if it requires a second holocaust of an entire nation, the Palestinians? Furthermore, the triumph of democracy in the twentieth century over fascism & anti-semitism shows that despite isolated incidents, the West remains a safe haven for semites of all backgrounds.

References:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/02/israelis_and_arabs_contested_history_victims_don_t_have_the_right_to_rewrite.html