Our role in the struggle for Palestine Part 2

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Sha'ban 19, 1433 2012-07-09

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

The Palestinian issue of course is a no brainer. The Palestinians have been illegally and immorally expelled from their homes. About seven million of them expelled from their homes and about three million of them dispersed in their own homeland with the dire economic conditions that they are in (and) the nasty demographic designs that the Israeli Zionists have on the Palestinian population. In many parts of the world there have been organisations and even individual efforts to try to support, as much as possible, these Palestinians and the adverse conditions that they are in. I can go into a lot of details about the many issues that pertain to the Palestinian issue but I’ll leave that for a free flow of ideas. At this point what concerns me what can be done? I mean we who share the same ideas and the same passions towards the Palestinians should begin to think of what can be done besides and outside the verbal support for the Palestinians in the sense of proclaiming the Palestinian issue or in the sense of verbalising on the Palestinian issue through lectures and presentations, calling the media and all of this. What can be actually done to try to send into the public domain waves of consciousness about the Palestinian issue. Here are some of my rudimentary thoughts about it.

Of course all of you know of the BDS Movement and how they are trying to bring some type of pressure on businesses that support the Israeli entity. This is commendable- there’s no doubt about it- because they’ve stepped out of the domain of rhetoric and they’re trying to do something about it. In the United States there are certain business ventures that are known to be strong supporters of the Israelis and there are other business ventures that are in a low-key position in supporting the Israelis and some of the activists in the BDS Movement have tried their best to bring to the attention of the consumers who go to these places that they are supporting occupation, they are supporting injustice, they are supporting racism, they are supporting a government that has broken international laws and all of this. They actually try to convince the consumers to stop purchasing any product that helps the Israeli economy. Truth be said- that is a commendable effort and we don’t know how far this has gone. We don’t know if the Israelis are crying “Uncle” because of this. We sort of doubt it but nevertheless it has an impact on the Israelis. Obviously the Israelis don’t want to express how efforts like this dent the Israeli economy. One of the most sensitive issue in Israeli circles is the money issue as we hope everyone here knows. Anything that takes away from the Israeli pocket or the Israeli check account or the Israeli budget is going to hurt them where they feel it the most. If we wanted to put our heads and thoughts together, what could be done along these lines in real terms and in a legal way- no one is going to break any laws, no one is going to go rampant and become in one way or another an odd ball in doing what they are doing- to try and have people think and do something towards supporting the Palestinians. As you know the Palestinians are living in very very awkward conditions- whether they are living outside Palestine- their homeland or whether they are inside their homeland. One of the things that I thought, (and I just expressed this out loud), and it’s nothing against the law is to identify (Israeli economy supporters). There is a site that is called www.inminds.com. If you go to this site it will detail for you all of the businesses such as corporations or manufacturers or agriculturalists etc. etc. that support the Israeli economy. So let’s say you or others can identify in let’s say the Johannesburg area, (you can extend this into the larger South African context but let’s take this on a smaller scale), but let’s say in the Johannesburg you can identify ten businesses that are contributing to the agony of the Palestinians and to the racism of the Israelis, (then) once they are identified, (I’m not sure if these exist in South Africa but I’m sure you’ve heard the names), one of them in Starbucks Coffee, another one is McDonalds, another one is Estee Lauder, another one is, (and I don’t know if they have), Codipo. It’s one of these very big hardware stores that you go buy plumbing, electrical items for construction. Along these lines and as I said, if you refer to that website you’ll see all of these businesses. They’ve done a fantastic job at zeroing-in on these Capitalist ventures. (I’ll just throw the question out there and you can come back at me maybe during the inter-discussion after this), but would it be against the law to post… You can agree on the wording of a sign that can be placed in front of this business along with imagery of how the Israelis mis-treat the Palestinians. It could be an Israeli who’s armed with a rifle and some weapons and the Israeli could be in motion hitting a Palestinian child or a Palestinian woman or a Palestinian elder. The picture is worth a thousand words. You’ll have a picture and next to it you’ll have a thought out expressed statement for any consumer to see. Look- first of all you’re not invading anyone’s privacy; you’re not obstructing anyone’s way. You’re doing this totally in a very legal sense. Here in South Africa you have an advantage- you’ve gone through Apartheid; people here know first hand and fresh hand what racism is. It can resonate over here because a Palestinian can appear to be as a lower class or the oppressed class and the Israeli appears to be as the oppressing class or the Boer class or whatever you want to call it. No one necessarily will have to say a word. You don’t have to say a word. You can just stand there by that sign and if they themselves want to open up, then this is a very good opportunity to begin to open up a mass education with the public about the Palestinian issue. Of course, it’s going to take a little more thinking out. You’re going to have to allocate certain times that certain individuals can volunteer- that’s all we need. We’re not talking about a high budget thing. We’re speaking a very expressive photo and a paragraph statement- what’s that going to cost you? I mean let’s be frank- R100 (or) R500, (something in that area). It’s not something that’s going to break anyone’s budget. If this is done at let’s say major businesses here in South Africa by a committed core of people, (you can also answer me when I pose this question), I don’t know what the governments reaction will be to something like that on the political level? On the legal level, as we said, no one’s breaking any laws right? So no one is going to come up to me and say “you’re under arrest.” What am I doing? The second this is you might think does this need a license? I don’t know- I don’t live here so I can’t say. Generally speaking, in the United States, a person has the right to express themselves politically in public as long as there’s no disturbance of the peace. In as far as this idea is concerned, I don’t think there’s going to be any disturbance of the peace. How does anyone disturb the peace? But I don’t know if the laws here are similar to the laws in the United States. You may want to consult with someone who is in the (legal fraternity). (This should fall within the freedom of expression) is what I think. So you’re standing there and I think you will, if you can stay the course of several months or a year, begin to win over a very serious public opinion. Remember- it has to be high traffic. You don’t want to spend your time in let’s say there’s a couple hundred people going in and out of this place during the course of the day. You know- it’s not really very effective. You want this type of thing to take place where there are thousands if not tens of thousands of people who can see and observe all of this- high traffic areas. That is one thing that can be thought out and can be done. Obviously we’re talking about places where pro-Zionists go and I think the first one’s who are going to be very irritated and upset with this are going to be these Zionists types and you have to brace yourself for some negative comments like “what are you doing?! Get the hell out of here. They might use foul language and all of this stuff. OK- let it blow with the wind. So what? Sticks and stones will break my bones but bad words won’t hurt me so let them express themselves. But besides them, I think the average person will (be affected) and this has the potential of growing and growing and growing. This needs a core, it needs an organization. This has to be done with a master mind. It can’t just be done individually by someone who says “I went out there and did it so what are the results?!” There may be some people who want to contribute to alleviating the suffering. I don’t know the price of a cup of coffee is over here- is it R5 or R10? (I’m just guessing- let’s say it’s R5). You can say: “instead of spending R5 for a cup of coffee to support what you see, would you not rather spend it to alleviate oppression and racism?” It could resonate to a person. It also depends on the choice of the imagery that you want to project for these people. This can be done at some of these places that I mentioned and I’m sure there’s much more because the Zionist types that are influential and they have very big businesses around and this in a sense if it picks up is going to cause them to try to rally against you i.e. “what’s this looney doing with this sign” some big wig will say to his corporate workers and he’ll try to motion certain things to happen and you get something going. I don’t know and no one can predict what the results can be but we are only expected to do our part and this is one of these.

If you have more connections and more relations with those who are more influential, in other words, there’s a larger budget here that can be utilized. I mean, it would be good too. You know, the Zionists organize trips to Israel that are deeply discounted. I know in the United States they do these very, very deeply discounted trips to Israel. These are basically American pro-Israel Jewish Zionist organizations- they’ll send a college student to Israel for the summer vacation and the student will pay something like $600, everything included- that includes the round trip ticket from the United States and back, it includes lodging over there, it includes all meals, it includes all of the trips back and forth to their religious area to some of their military bases to all of this stuff- that is a deeply discounted trip. Now, if people over here can organize something like that to go to Palestinian areas, (I think), especially in this country there are some Africans or Blacks, (you can use the word you want to use), who have more-or-less been neutralized towards Israeli racism. They’ve got rid of white racism in South Africa in a sense and now they feel that the mission has been is accomplished and so forth and therefore if racism is thousands of miles away it is not their concern. These types, especially if they are in sensitive positions, they can be told “come, let’s visit some Palestinian refugee camps and see how these Palestinians are living and see why they are living like this.” Down the road they will discover, and on the other hand they will be some pro-Palestinian organizations that can help out in this regard will be an eye opener because when many Americans who were very radically pro-Israel from a religious point of view, from a political point of view, from a social point of view and from a racist point of view went over, they saw the conditions there on the ground and they compared what the Israelis were doing and what the Palestinians were suffering from they went back to the United States and had a conversion of hearts. They changed positions in a very radical way. They became pro-Palestinians and anti-Israelis. This is another consideration.

I’m just throwing these ideas out there, obviously they need to be fine tuned, but another thing that can be done is bringing some Palestinians who have been wounded or handicapped by the Israeli military. Bring five or six of them and you will have to select the right time and the right place, (you see, I don’t know this country very well), but if an Israeli Embassy is located in a high traffic area you can have them right there posted and say “look at the results of Israeli aggression or Israeli occupation.” These are live people, these are no longer any photos; some of them have lost their limbs, some of them are disabled for life, some of them are visually and obviously deformed. This type of effort sends a strong signal. Of course, the Israelis will be very irritated by something like this. That’s another thing that can be done.

A third thing that can be done is, (I’m not saying this because we want to copy cat the Israelis or the Yahudis- no; but you know this is what is happening over there), the United States, many Synagogues, (I don’t know if this is the case in Canada too and I don’t know if this is the case in South Africa), but many Synagogues in the United States have a big sign- you can’t miss it. If you are driving by it’s looking you right in the eye and it says “we support Israeli in its struggle for peace.” Now, we can reverse that very easily if in front of Masajid all across the country there can be big poster signs (that) you can’t miss when you are driving saying “we support the Palestinians struggle against racism.” I don’t know if you here in South Africa you have- I’m sorry even though I have been here many times what happens is I come here and I’m involved in programs of speaking just like I’m speaking to you here so I am preparing my thoughts or I’m preparing some presentation and even though I’m riding in a car but I’m internally in myself. I’m not observant of the world around- but if you have on the highways particular these advertisement boards- large, large boards- I know in California in the United States in the Los Angeles area, (I don’t know if you’ve heard this Brother Zafar), someone took out one of these big, big signs. Of course, they pay. I don’t know how much they pay per month or per year for whatever the time period is but it’s not anything outrageous that’s going to cripple your budget. You just have to pay a certain amount of money and you put this big sign up in which these drivers who are passing by on these major highways where there’s going to be ten-thousand drivers a day or fifty-thousand or whatever the case is and they see this big sign and in it, (this is where your brain comes in it), you place a sign that says something against tax dollars (like) in the United States where some of those tax dollars are going to support the Israeli military war effort. It says something along the lines of, (I’m paraphrasing), “no longer US tax dollars for Israeli wars.” It’s one big sign outside one of these major highways in California, outside Los Angeles. After a few weeks the Israelis got so upset with this (that) they went to the person who owns that and said “we want this sign off.” The guy that owns this felt so much pressure so they took the sign off and now there’s a legal issue between those who want the sign up who paid for it and those who want it down and took it down. This means that this is an effective means of communication. It irritates them very much- much more than just a lecture here and there because here’s where you get real coverage because let’s say on average you have ten-thousand motorists on a day who are passing by in a car and in a car could be three or four people. There are thirty-thousand or forty-thousand people who are reading this everyday it’s going to seep in- subliminally the message is going to settle in their minds they’re going to begin to ask themselves. The key to all of this is thinking through or thinking out the public statement that’s going to be put out there. Because South Africa has been through this very long and bitter struggle against racism, the climate is favorable here. It’s not like taking a sign like that out in France or in Britain or even in some parts of the United States. Here, people know what racism is, (I think they know or we would hope so), the elements are working for you- it’s not against you. It just takes the effort to do it.

There’s another idea. I suggested this idea to be done in Washington DC. In the United States we have Muslim political prisoners or prisoners of conscience. They’ve done no crime- nothing like that. The government came down on them, accused them of certain things, rigged the books against them and threw some of them in solitary confinement and some of them in general detention. There are many of them but there are five that are sort of pre-dominant. A lot of people know who they are. There’s Shaykh Umar Abd Ar Rahman, there is Roumi Abu Jamaal, there is Jamil Al Amin, there is Aafiyah Siddique and there is Sami Aryaan- these are very well known and so the idea is, (this is another shortcoming because I don’t pay much attention to the buses here), you can put your own poster on the buses in the United States as well as in Britain as well as in other countries. You go and you think it out and then you apply to the authorities- whatever the bus authorities or whoever takes care of this business- and say you want it to be on the bus for, (let’s say), a month or three months. You put it on there- just a very communicative picture that shows the brutality and the savagery and the blood-thirsty Israelis on the one side and the victimized and bloodied and oppressed Palestinians on the other side. There’s plenty of these photos, all you have to do is get them blown up to the size of the bus, put it on there and then below that you can even put a contact. There is room and you can put an e-mail address or a telephone number- however you want to deal with this and people will see this and you will have a communication process beginning. I don’t think that will be against the law either. Why would it? The thing is we thought about this in Washington DC and it was prohibitive, (I can’t remember the cost exactly but it was something like this), because if you wanted to put it on thirty or forty buses for three weeks it would cost somewhere in the area of $400,000 or $500,000. When I saw that figure I said forget about this. I mean it’s way beyond our range but that’s not necessarily the case in many other places because in London the Islamic Human rights Commission, IHRC, picked up the idea and went to their authorities and I think it was about a month or three or for weeks, sixty buses in certain downtown areas in London and it turned out GBP70,000. They were fortunate enough to secure this amount from one person- one very generous gentleman who was willing to pay that and it’s going to be running any day now during the Olympics. They’re having the Olympics and the whole world is going to be converging on London and all of these buses going around. Oh, I didn’t explain what the picture was. The picture is Mandela standing behind these rods indicating he’s in prison or he’s in a cell and he’s looking out and he says “no one is free until Palestine is free” or something to that effect. I don’t know what it would take over here to do something like that but what I wanted to say is that is someone has the commitment, the fortitude, the endurance and the stamina for ideas like these; this is not a simple thing. It’s not a fly by night thing. It’s something that requires a program or something thought out and I’m sure because as I said the climate over here is somewhat supportive. It’s not like the hostilities we encounter in Canada, the United States and Britain. I think it’s different over here. Over here you can take advantage of the ANC and the PAC and all of these who fought against racism and know what racism is. Desmond Tutu wrote a couple of months ago, (I think), a very nice article against twelve-hundred Rabbis in the United States who had somehow come out with a statement saying basically in response to the BDS Movement “divestment from Israel was not in the best relations of the nurturing of Christian/Jewish relationships in these past years.” He said in his article that “this is the most difficult thing that he has written in all of his life. He says he knows that he has many Jewish friends that are going to take issue with him and all of this.” I just want to end it with saying if Desmund Tutu is saying something like that, I’m sure there are other people who feel the same way. He’s been around more and he’s seen the Palestinians suffering so he came out and expressed his conscience. Others who become aware of this will probably do likewise.

Thank you very much for your tuning in for the opportunity of being here with you this evening. We ask Allah to put our actions in front of our words. Many times Muslims just talk-talk and they’re very short on action. We ask Allah to have our actions come before our words and to accept our endeavors and our struggle.

Wa Salaamualaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh

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