Morocco Refuses To Normalize Ties With Israel

The Prime Minister issued a rejection of any relations with Israel.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani has rejected any normalization of relations with Israel, Reuters reports.

El Otmani told his Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) that “we refuse any normalization with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people.”

This follows the recent announcement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel’s deal to normalize ties. Following this announcement there was speculation as to whether or not any other Arab countries would do the same. 

Morocco, however, has made it clear they will not normalize ties with Israel. 

According to Reuters Morocco has been in support of a “two-state solution” with East Jerusalem as a capital of a Palestinian state. 

In 1993, Morocco and Israel commenced low level ties after a peace deal called the Oslo Records was reached. However in 2000, Rabat, the capital of Morocco, suspended relations with Israel after the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising.

READ MORE: Meet Free Palestine, The Palestinian Ranked Top 100 In Super Smash Bros. Melee

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

By

Syeda Khaula Saad
Art - Ameena Muhammad

 

There is a lot of shame embedded into the upbringing of Muslim women. Through patriarchal cultural practices that have been passed down and mistaken for “words of Allah,” we are raised to be shrunken. And oftentimes it isn’t until we’re sitting in the midst of our adulthood desperately trying to unlearn the feelings of disgust we feel toward ourselves that we realize how heavy the weight of misogyny has become. And it starts off young. 

We are often taught that the foremost “confirmation” of our womanhood is the first red droplets we see on our underwear at the beginning of puberty — this moment, known as menarche, signals the start of menstruation. At meager ages of 11, 12, 13, we are told “You’re a woman now!” and the first reasoning? Your body has the ability to bear children. But rather than celebrate it, it’s met with secrecy. We are told to disguise cramps as “stomachaches,” to sneak pads into our pockets as we go to restrooms, and to do anything to avoid letting men in our homes become even slightly conscious that we are menstruating. In Muslim households we are drilled with the idea that we are “impure” in the eyes of Allah and that we should steer clear of the men in the house entirely. But Middle Eastern Studies Program and Political Science adjunct professor and chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University Atiya Aftab says these views come from culture, not religion. 

“A menstruating woman is not seen as dirty or lesser due her menstruating status,” Aftab tells Muslim.co. “In Islam, menstruation is not seen in any way as a divine punishment.” She explains that these interpretations have been morphed from religious traditions surrounding the status of a menstruating woman. For example, a woman on her period is exempted from fasting during the month of Ramadan (though she is expected to make up the fasts at a later time) and she is also exempted from the obligatory five daily prayers. While this is often pointed at as a justification to regard menstruating women as “impure” or “dirty,” Aftab feels differently. 

“In the case of fasting, it is a hardship for a menstruating woman to abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk,” she says. “Hydration, nutrition, and possibly medication [is] needed.” Therefore, the same mercy that is given to those who are sick is extended to menstruating women. “With respect to prayer, it is required that a person who is engaged in the daily formal prayer must be in a state of ritual purity (wudu/ghusl),” Aftab explains. “A person who is bleeding — male or female — is not a ritual state of purity.” So, it is not the fact that the blood is coming out from the vagina that makes a woman unable to pray, but the fact that she is bleeding at all. 

So why are menstruating women so taboo in many Muslim households?  Most of the feelings in regard to menstruating women date back to pre-Islamic culture, Aftab explains. “Men would refuse to go near their wives, eat or drink with their wives, or sleep in the same bed when they were menstruating,” she says. And it wasn’t just Muslim households where this was occurring.

Negative feelings toward menstruation exist in Jewish households as well, where followers believed that even those who touched a menstruating woman would be deemed unclean. These same stigmas persist even today in many Asian cultures including in India, Pakistan, Japan, and Indonesia. 

But despite these negative generalizations about menstruation, many of the ones that exist in regard to Islam are more cultural than they are religious. In fact, Aftab says it is reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told his companions that, regarding their wives, husbands should “Do everything with her except for sexual intercourse.” (Muslim; ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari). 

In fact, Aftab recalls a beautiful story regarding the Prophet (PBUH) and his wife, Aisha.

Aisha related that: “The Prophet would recline on my lap while I was menstruating and he would read the Quran.” (Bukhari). And the Prophet and his wife Aisha shared the same drinking vessel while she was menstruating. Aisha stated: “I would drink while menstruating, then pass the vessel to the Prophet. He would place his mouth on the (same) place as my mouth and drink…” 

“The actions of the Prophet demonstrated that a menstruating woman was not impure or dirty and was fully capable of engaging in aspects of normal life in the following tradition,” Aftab says. In the same story, Aisha reported that: “The Messenger of God said to me, ‘Get me the prayer mat from the prayer area.’ I replied, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Verily, your menstruation is not in your hand.’” (Muslim). If the wife of the Prophet had no issues expressing that she was menstruating, why do we encourage girls to hide their periods from their fathers, brothers, and eventually husbands?

The Prophet (PBUH) has laid a foundation to regard women with utmost respect — and a state of menstruation does not warrant a change in that. The perpetuation of menstruation stigma is hurting Muslim women in irreversible ways. Years after the fact, feelings of anxiousness and shame surrounding our bodies remain. It is up to both women and men to recognize where they might be perpetuating misogynistic practices surrounding women’s bodies and work to fix these mistakes. Menstruating is one of the most natural things that can happen to a woman. By shunning it and teaching girls to keep it a secret, we are teaching them that there is something biologically wrong with them. The outside world is already bent on bringing down the Muslim woman — there is no need to do the same within their own households. 

“Menarche should not be hidden, but celebrated,” Aftab says. 

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here's what this 'peace deal' means for Palestinians.

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here’s what this ‘peace deal’ means for Palestinians.

By

Samer Hassan
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

The leaders of the Zionist government of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal that would normalize relations between the two governments. While the UAE has long maintained quiet relations with Israel, this public deal sets a dangerous precedence for the Middle East: one that says, we don’t care about your human rights track record, because profit and strategic cooperation trumps all.

Israel has shown the world that its efforts to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank were not only met with impunity but ultimately rewarded by a public treaty. One that establishes friendly relations between an autocracy that purports to have Palestinians’ best interest at heart, and a Zionist government that has referred to Palestinians as barbarians and vermin.

Israel has codified its unequal treatment of Palestinians. By building Jewish-only roads in the occupied territories, encircling whole villages inside a net of concrete walls, and systematically imprisoning hundreds of Palestinian children, the Zionist state hammers down all efforts to build a viable Palestinian future. 

According to the United Nations, illegal Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians has skyrocketed by over 70% in 2020 alone. This is a government that has bulldozed Palestinian attempts to build a hospital for COVID-19 patients, maintains over 147 heavily armed checkpoints, and continues to expand its separation wall deep inside Palestinian land. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised this new deal by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.” There is no peace in the Middle East because governments that ally themselves with the West are allowed to murder their inhabitants with impunity while pointing the finger at others that dare to seek justice. 

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, strategically adding, “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu, Bin Zayed, and Donald Trump released a joint statement saying they hoped the “historic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East.”

To a Palestinian like me, this treaty has unequivocally ignored the calls of my people — a call that demands the world hold Israel accountable for its rampant destruction of Palestinian homes, murder of Palestinians who dare to organize, and efforts to label us terrorists and anti-semites when we call out Israel’s racist laws designed to keep us in perpetual poverty and dependency. By using the false narrative that this agreement will bring peace, the UAE signals to the world that it truly does not have the interest of Palestinians at heart. Crown Prince Bin Zayed is now officially complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. 

Middle Eastern governments need to show Israel that its efforts to apply sovereignty over the Occupied West-Bank comes with international consequences like sanctions, not treaties.


Samer Hassan is Palestinian activist who graduated with a degree in Political Science from Columbia University.

Hey Instagram, Taking Down Bella Hadid’s Posts Won’t Make Her Less Palestinian

Instagram Took Down Bella Hadid’s story about Palestine. Her response: a repost with the caption “I am Proud To Be Palestinian <3.”

Hey Instagram, Taking Down Bella Hadid’s Posts Won’t Make Her Less Palestinian

Instagram Took Down Bella Hadid’s story about Palestine. Her response: a repost with the caption “I am Proud To Be Palestinian <3.”

By

Zainab Damji
Photo of Bella Hadid attending a Palestinian rally in 2017.

The Hadids have always been proud of their Palestinian heritage. Whether it’s Gigi sharing her favorite Palestinian food on her Twitter segment of #askgigi or Bella publicizing it in her Instagram bio, they’ve never shied away from embracing their roots. Many suggest that their father, Mohamed Hadid is in large part to thank for that.

Mohamed has been vocal about the importance of his Palestinian identity and sharing that with his children. He was the keynote speaker at the Arab Conference held at Harvard, and shared how significant it is to him that his family remains in touch with their Palestinian culture. “One of my dreams is to have my kids carry the name Palestine with them everywhere they go, because it seems like we are losing that name as we go on,” he shared, according to The National. “We want to make sure my family always carries that on.”

However, as big of a celebrity family as the Hadids may be—they’re still susceptible to attempts at being silenced, and this time it was none other than Instagram taking down Bella’s story. Bella shared a photo of her father’s passport highlighting his motherland as she captioned it, “My Baba and his birthplace of Palestine.”

As the model released what she thought was a little bit of sentimental family history, Instagram was swift to take the story down and cited that it fell under “graphic violence, hate speech, harassment and bullying, or nudity and sexual activity.”

But alas, as seen before in the past — Bella was not about to remain silent and let that slide. She took to her stories again, publicly calling out Instagram titling her post “A message to me from @Instagram…”

Bella expressed her dismay and anger over Instagram taking down her story where she was just being proud of her father’s birthplace. “Are we not allowed to be Palestinain on Instagram? This, to me, is bullying,” she wrote as part of a larger message. “You can’t erase history by silencing people. It doesn’t work like that.”

The model didn’t stop there and reposted the image on her story once again and wrote “I am proud to be Palestinian <3” in large text. She also added that everyone should remind their parents “of how proud you are of where you come from” and encouraged followers to post where their parents were born.

Hadid reposted several accounts who followed her lead and shared photos of their Palestinian parents’ passports on their stories, along with their history.

This isn’t the first time Bella has been vocal about her support and love for Palestine. In December 2017, Bella took to Instagram to speak out against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Bella etched a long, heartfelt caption in which she said “The TREATMENT of the Palestinian people is unfair, one-sided and should not be tolerated.”

During the same month, Bella also attended a Free Palestine protest in London. According to TeenVogue, Bella was on her way back to her hotel after an event when she saw the protest and decided to join, still dressed in her floor-length deep-red gown and a bold red lip! Pictures of Bella at the protest quickly circulated over social media, with many people showing their support for her.

Bella also frequently reposts informational posts in support of Palestine on her stories, including the most recent topic of discussion: Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank.

With all of that being said, one thing’s for certain—on or off the runway, Bella Hadid is a fierce, powerful woman who’s ready to take on the world.

READ MORE: Muslim Directioners, Rise Up: Gigi Hadid And Zayn Are Having A Child

AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

Ocasio-Cortez’s office says the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned a letter opposing Israel’s annexation proposals of Palestinian land with the backing of a dozen lawmakers and is gathering legislators’ signatures on a letter urging the Trump administration to take steps to block Israel’s planned annexation. A coalition of progressive Democratic politicians, rights groups and Jewish groups are also calling for withholding US military aid to Israel in response to planned annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.

The letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the annexation would “lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state,” and pledges that the lawmakers would work to block future aid to Israel.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office said the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

 “The United States must remain committed to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live with full rights, dignity, and democracy,”  Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other legislators said in the letter.

“We therefore urge you to make clear to the Israeli government that such a move is unacceptable,” they said in the letter. 

“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” the letter also stated.

“Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”

The statement was endorsed by more than 20 advocacy groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and IfNotNow.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives who signed the letter issued statements opposing annexation in strong terms.“I have long believed that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said in a statement. 

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, said the Netanyahu government uses aid “to formalize an apartheid system.” 

“Unilateral annexation is a violation of international law, a violation of Palestinian human rights, and directly counter to American values of democracy and self-determination,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said.

 

Five other letters are circulating in the US Jewish community demanding accountability for the Israeli government and concrete actions by US Jewish institutions if a planned annexation goes forward. Those letters have drawn more than 3,200 signatures, according to IfNotNow, a US Jewish group that opposes the occupation. “It is time to stop holding America’s number one recipient of military funding – Israel – to a lower standard than we hold all other countries, exempting it from consequences when it violates our most basic values,” said Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow.

The letter was condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as harmful to America’s interests before the statement or its signers were finalized.

Netanyahu aims to start the process of annexation by Wednesday, saying he wants to begin annexing West Bank territory in line with President Trump’s plans. But with recent developments and stiff international criticism, it’s uncertain whether Israel will ultimately follow through on the explosive annexation initiative.

READ MORE:  Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Israel plans to annex Palestinian territory as part of its 'peace plan', starting July 1st.

Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and subsequent occupation of their land has been an ongoing tragedy since at least 1948. Now with the latest developments in Israel’s policy of expansion and occupation, this historic land is set to  become even more divided. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring new annexation proposals of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea before the cabinet from 1 July.

So, what is annexation?

Annexation describes when one state unilaterally (without permission of the other) incorporates  neighboring territory from another state into its borders. Annexation is usually considered illegal according to international law.

No surprise, Prime Minister Netanyahu made things starkly clear, when on May 28 2020  he explained that if his government goes ahead with unilateral annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinian residents would be granted neither citizenship nor equal rights. 

The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967, making it the longest ongoing occupation in modern history. The segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza Strip is a small coastal area bordering Egypt to the south, and the West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area that lies west of the banks of the Jordan River, from where it gets its name. A total of 5 million people occupy these areas.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The Illegal Israeli Settlements:

Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built on Palestinian land. There are between 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; almost half of these settlements are not officially recognized by the state but have been established regardless

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

In 2019, the Trump administration declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were “not necessarily illegal,” a substantial break from decades of US foreign policy.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The latest annexation plans to be confirmed by the Israeli prime minister would pose a serious threat to the Palestinians. The annexation of the Jordan Valley would completely surround the Palestinians with Israeli borders.  Currently, Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley receive 18 times more water on average than Palestinian residents in the West Bank; most Palestinian farmers are not connected to the water grid and have to rely on buying water from tankers. Annexation would mean that Palestinians would be physically cut off from the Jordan River, forcing Palestinians to be without a vital water source. This annexation would also pave the way for more settlements to be built; currently, any new  construction in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defense minister and prime minister which can take months or even years. Following annexation, Israel would consider the Jordan Valley part of its territory and so any construction would become a domestic matter and wouldn’t require such approval.  

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

Palestinian views on this annexation plans:

The Palestinian leadership, along with almost 50 experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, say that annexation would formalize a system of “apartheid” in the West Bank – two peoples ruled by one state in the same space with unequal rights. Now, in a bid to increase international pressure to avert annexation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, including on security. Some also fear that suspension of such agreements, if fully delivered, could result in  a collapse of the PA and potentially lead to chaos in the West Bank. Amid the bitter divisions in Palestinian politics, the militant group Hamas – the main rival of President Abbas’ Fatah movement – could try to capitalize and is warning of a confrontation with Israel. Abbas said annexation would amount to the “destruction” of a future Palestinian state, and suggests accepting current plans make the PA “a bunch of traitors – that we will not be.”

Annexation will make things worse: short-term risks include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf, and, above all, a resurgence of violence that could make the last intifada look mild. It will also destabilize an already volatile region, offering rich opportunities for Iran and Hezbollah, the Islamist militant party in Lebanon, to further exploit and destabilize the region.

And as usual the Palestinian people will suffer directly. Annexation will lead to massive expropriation – the taking of private property by the state – automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories, in addition to the above listed socio-political threats. And the situation in blockaded Gaza, home to two million Palestinians, will undoubtedly worsen.

If annexation of any territory goes ahead it will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions, and  cannot be ignored. Israel should and must face sanctions. Worst of all,  it will signal the failure of what for decades has been rightly seen as the only possible solution to the world’s most divisive conflict – two sovereign states for the two peoples who inhabit the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. And that suggests a future without hope for the Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank

Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank

Ahmed was on his way to pick his sister and mother up from a salon, as it was his sister's wedding day.

Ahmed Erekat was shot dead by Israeli forces at the West Bank checkpoint this Tuesday on his way to pick up his sister from a salon ahead of her wedding that night. 

The Israeli border police said they shot and killed Ahmed Erekat who they say attempted to run over a female officer at a checkpoint in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village east of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police say the officer was “injured lightly”. 

Palestinian officials reject this account of Ahmed’s death and allegations by the Israeli police that Ahmed Erekat had tried to run over an Israeli officer.

Palestinians and human rights groups have accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force, and in this case, opening fire on a car that merely lost control.

Senior Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi says Israel has a “kill first, justify later” policy that they need to be “held accountable for”.

Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney based in the US, is Ahmed’s older cousin. She said in a tweet that the police left Ahmed to bleed for 1.5 hours. 

Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that the director of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Bethlehem confirmed that an Israeli soldier prevented Palestinian medical personnel from approaching Erekat and he was left to bleed.

Erekat’s uncle, Saeb Erekat, said that the police allegation of an attempted car ramming was “impossible”, saying that Ahmed was engaged and due to get married himself very soon.

Noura Erakat said Ahmed was “pressed for time to pick up his sisters, the flowers, and all these other things from Bethlehem, we are 100 percent sure he would never do this. Why would he do this on his sister’s wedding day?”

 

READ MORE: Police Kill 62-Year-Old Ejaz Choudry After Undergoing Schizophrenia Episode In His Apartment