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The FBI’s War on Fake Terrorism

[Masjid al-Ikhlas, Newburgh, NY. Image by Daniel Case.]

As part of the effort to prevent terrorist attacks, the FBI has a program in which agents recruit undercover informants who then “listen” for developing terror plots. Two new reports show how this preventative program has run amok, possibly entrapping vulnerable people to justify its own existence. Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that most US terrorism prosecutions are “an illusion” created by the authorities. The groundbreaking HRW report was released just after the premiere of a new Al Jazeera documentary, The Informants, which illustrates the human cost of this massive program. This follows yet another report, this one from the New York University School of Law’s ...

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Video: When Media Coverage Of Gaza And Israel Becomes The Story

  When it comes to news about Israel and Palestine, the media coverage itself often becomes the story. For AJ+ Labs, host Dena Takruri looks at where the US media got it wrong and how social media is keeping the mainstream accountable.  

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A Practical Solution for Iraq

[Image from progressivecynic.wordpress.com]

The rise of ISIS and the declaration of a Caliphate that controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria signals a moment of exceptional danger not only for Iraq and its future existence as a state, but for US national interests. The United States has sacrificed life and limb and invested billions of dollars to save Iraq from dictatorship and help its people build a thriving democracy. Mistakes were made for sure, but our intentions and objectives were always clear: to stabilize and democratize the region. President Obama’s craven policies and his withdrawal from Iraq have squandered the credit and political capital the US held in Iraq and the region. Sending advisors and ...

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Nobel Peace Laureates Slam Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth for Refusal to Cut Ties to U.S. Government

[47th Munich Security Conference 2011: Kenneth Roth, Director, Human Rights Watch. Image by Harald Dettenborn.]

[In a May 12 letter, two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and over 100 scholars, journalists and human rights activists called on Human Rights Watch to close its revolving door to the U.S. government. On June 3, HRW published a response from executive director Kenneth Roth on its website, arguing that their “concern is misplaced.” In a June 11 debate on Democracy Now!, HRW Counsel and Spokesman Reed Brody similarly rejected their recommendations. Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel join fellow signatories Richard Falk (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories from 2008-14) and Hans von Sponeck (UN Assistant ...

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The Perils of American Muslim Politics

[President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an Iftar dinner. Image from U.S. Embassy, Jakarta/Flickr.]

This Ramadan, many American Muslim leaders are anxiously awaiting to hear whether they have made the cut for the annual White House Iftar. An invitation to this iftar, as with similar events the State Department and the Pentagon hold, serves to symbolize recognition in the halls of American power and a degree of success for those Muslims who have sought active engagement within the political arena. Rewarded by a chance to break their fast with President Obama, they have been formally recognized as leaders in a fraught religious community. Representing a variety of civic, political, religious, cultural, and educational institutions and initiatives, these are individuals ...

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The Military-Literary Complex

[Navy Reserve Cmdr. Kathleen Toomey Jabs autographs a copy of Operation Homecoming; image from Defense.gov]

Poetry cannot serve as an emotional bandage for the blood and guts of warfare; such an industry is doomed to dishonor the dead as well as the living. — Yusef Komunyakaa Not so long ago, American corporate media willingly accepted a set of new conditions and limitations in exchange for the privilege of reporting on the frontlines of Iraq, such as they existed. The military bed was a place of censorship, where reports underwent military review prior to publication. But more importantly, the failures of the bed were ones of sympathy and lack: by focusing on one story—the story of an all-volunteer American army—embedded journalism failed to report on the experiences of ...

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Letter Concerning LA City Council Threats to Student Free Speech

[Logo of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle Eastern Studies Association. Image from http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/committees/academic-freedom/]

[The following open letter was issued by theCommittee on Academic Freedom of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA)] July 1, 2014 Bob Blumenfield  councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org  Mike Bonin  councilmember.bonin@lacity.org Joe Buscaino  councildistrict15@lacity.org Gilbert Cedillo  councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org Mitchell Englander  councilmember.englander@lacity.org Felipe Fuentes  councilmember.fuentes@lacity.org Jose Huizar  councilmember.huizar@lacity.org Paul Koretz  paul.koretz@lacity.org Paul Krekorian  councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org Tom ...

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Quick Thoughts: Lisa Hajjar on Guantanamo Bay and High Seas Detention

[The five 9/11 defendants in the Guantánamo military commission, June 2014. Artwork by Janet Hamlin.]

[Jadaliyya Co-Editor Lisa Hajjar recently returned from her fifth visit to the US naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States has maintained a military prison facility since 2002. Below she provides her impressions and analysis of the current state of military trials.] Jadaliyya (J): You recently visited Guantánamo to report on the military commission proceedings. What is the state of the cases currently on trial? Lisa Hajjar (LH): In the 9/11 case, there are five defendants, including self-declared “mastermind” of the terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM). In the USS Cole case, there is one defendant, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, ...

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Quick Thoughts: Trita Parsi on the Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

[Image courtesy of trend.az/]

[The November 2013 Joint Plan of Action concluded between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United States, UK) in Geneva, committed the parties to concluding a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by 20 July. Jadaliyya asked Trita Parsi, who has written and commented widely on these talks, for his assessment of where they stand]:
 Jadaliyya (J): What are the main obstacles to Iran and the P5+1 meeting the July deadline for a comprehensive agreement? Trita Parsi (TP): There are numerous issues that still divide the two sides. The most difficult one appears to be the size of the Iranian enrichment program. The United States wants to see a ...

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Presbyterian General Assembly Votes to Divest from Israeli Occupation

[The following press release was issued by US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on 20 June 2014.] Following a ten year process, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted 310 to 303 to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard as a result of the companies’ involvement in the Israeli military occupation.  This historic move came roughly two weeks after the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church -- the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States -- decided to sell off all stocks in private security company G4S due to company’s supplying of equipment used ...

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Letter to Obama Administration on Egyptian State Violations of Human Rights

[Stop the Anti-Protest Law. Image artwork by Aboud and poster courtesy of MENA Solidarity Network]

In an unprecedented statement, over forty senior academics including more than a dozen former presidents of the most important professional association for scholars of the Arab and larger Muslim world, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), have signed a letter to US President Obama and Secretary State John Kerry calling for the Administration to demand the immediate release of blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and other political detainees in Egypt, for Egyptian officials to suspend the protest law of 2013 and end the repression of free speech rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and international law, and end the regime of violence, including torture and extra ...

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Gezi Platform NYC & GEZIniyoruz First Year Summary (Video)

[Gezi Platform NYC logo.]

Over the course of the past year, Gezi Platform NYC and GEZIniyoruz Network stood in solidarity with our friends in Turkey for our shared struggle against the oppressive neo-liberal police state that has been taking root under the AKP rule. We rose up in unison, we talked in unison, we recalled in unison, and we demanded in unison. Our resistance will continue in unison, as we know that people united will never be defeated. Together, we will!

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The Informants: Manufacturing Terror

On the surface, the scene unfolds without any hint of intrigue. A young Muslim convert named Darren Griffin meets fellow congregants at a local mosque in northwest Ohio. In addition to sharing the same faith as his new friends, they enjoy similar interests: watching sports, playing video games, working out at the local gym, and discussing international affairs. Except the scene ends tragically with a string of arrests, a national media frenzy, and self-congratulation among federal officials claiming to ...

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Solidarity with Guantanamo Bay & Palestine: An Open Letter Calling on the Boycott of the White House Iftar

[The following open letter was originally published by Falling Walls Initiative.] “Hardship is the only language used here. Anybody who is able to die will be able to achieve happiness for himself. He has no other hope except that. The requirement is to announce the end and challenge the self love for life and the soul that insists to end it all and leave this life, which is no longer called life, instead has become death and renewable torture. Ending it is a mercy and a happiness for the soul. With ...

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HRW's Pro-Israel Partisanship on 'Protective Edge'

[The following post was originally published on Just World News.] The NYC-based organization Human Rights Watch, which has grown increasingly closer to the US government over the years, has sunk to a new low in the kneejerk response it published July 9, to Israel's deadly 'Operation Protective Edge'. See how. Where What Helena Cobban Comment ...

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No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory

[In view of Israel's assertions that its current attacks on the Gaza Strip are an exercise in legitimate self-defense, Jadaliyya re-posts an analysis of this claim by Co-Editor Noura Erakat initially published in 2012.]   On the fourth day of Israel's most recent onslaught against Gaza's Palestinian population, President Barack Obama declared, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” In an echo of Israeli officials, he sought to frame ...

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المسألة السّورية: سؤال المصير والمستقبل: الحراك الشعبي في سورية

‫الحراك الشعبي في سورية 1ـ الحراك الشعبي السّوري ، الّذي بدأ في النّصف الثّاني من آذار (مارس) 2011 تحوّل تدريجياً ، وقبل أن يتصلّب عوده، وتترسخ قاعدته الشّعبية، ويتحقق استقلاله عن القوى والمؤثرات الخارجية، تحوّل، بعد بضعة أشهر، عن النهج السّلمي إلى حرب متعدّدة الصّفات ومن نوع جديد لم تألفه المنطقة، شاركت فيه أطراف عربية وإقليمية ودولية عديدة. وهكذا غُطي على الأهداف الداخلية للحراك (الحرية والكرامة والعدالة)، ثمَ أزيحت تدريجياً لصالح أهداف هذه الأطراف التي لعبت دور المموّل والمسلّح والموجَه والمخطّط، ...

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O.I.L. Monthly Edition (June 2014)

 [This is a monthly archive of pieces written by Jadaliyya contributors and editors on the Occupations, Interventions, and Law (O.I.L.) Page. It also includes material published on other platforms that editors deemed pertinent to post as they provide diverse depictions of O.I.L.-related topics. The pieces reflect the level of critical analysis and diversity that Jadaliyya strives for, but the views are solely the ones of their authors. If you are interested in contributing to Jadaliyya, send us your ...

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Sun Ra in Egypt, 1971

Sun Ra in Egypt, 1971 By Tom Bogaert May - June 2014 Medrar for Contemporary Art, Cairo   This art project by Tom Bogaert takes as its starting point Sun Ra's 1971 visit to Egypt. The legendary American jazz pioneer, mystic, poet, and philosopher was born as Herman Poole Blount, but changed his name to Le Sony'r Ra after a visionary experience led him to believe that he came from the planet Saturn. From then on, Sun Ra was fascinated by both outer space and ancient Egypt. Incorporating the ...

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Details and Statements On Federal Court Dismissing All Charges Against Sami Al-Arian

[The following statement was issued by Sami Al-Arian's attorney, Jonathan Turley, on 27 June 2014. Below it is a short statement by Al-Arian's family that was included at the end of Turley's statement.] Statemeny by Jonathan Turley It is with a great sense of relief and thankfulness that I can now report that all charges have been dropped against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Minutes ago, United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The ...

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NPR Interviews Jadaliyya Co-Editor Elliott Colla on ISIS and the Media

In this interview with NPR's Brooke Gladstone, Jadaliyya Co-Editor Elliott Colla discusses his essay "Watching ISIS on TV." Colla does a reading from his essay in which he describes his Iraqi in-laws reflecting on their country's frenzied televisions channels' coverage of the conflict. In the second part of the show, Colla offers his commentary about the deregulation of Iraq's media after the US invasion, the fragmentation and polarization of the public, and the entrenchment of ...

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Deciphering the Escalation of Sectarian Violence in Iraq: An Interview with Nida Alahmad

With the escalation of sectarian conflict in Iraq, the country's future has become the topic of the day for analysts and pundits alike. Until recently, making American media and Middle East watchers remember Iraq was an uphill battle. But now, with the advances of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, low and behold, interest in Iraq and its intricate geographical boundaries along sectarian lines has heightened and the conflict is once again front and center in the media. Shahram Aghamir ...

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Comparing American and Israeli Ways of War

Over the last few years, Israel and Palestine have become major topics of interest and debate for scholars who do American Studies. This is evident in burgeoning comparative analyses of settler colonialisms, militarized borders, intersections of racialization and revolutionary politics, and cultural productions that emanate from or speak to the issue of diaspora, to name a few. Here, I share some thoughts about the comparative work that I do on Israel’s and America’s ways of war. I contend that Israel ...

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Still in Bed

Now that ISIS is rattling across Iraq's provinces, we can expect the cheerleaders of US military intervention to return to the podium. Some will say that military actions need to be backed up with political pressure. Some will say this is what we get for not 'finishing the job'. Others will suggest, in a hushed and wise tone, that limited continued US military presence would have helped (and might still help). Others will repeat an absurd claim, floated by the likes of John McCain and others back in ...

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