Tag Archives: Terrorism

The terrorist is unmasked

The world’s fear of terrorism and terrorists has been misplaced for far too long.

COVID-19 may be our wake-up call that we need to move beyond.

•  Beyond our stigmatization of the “other”.

•  Beyond our demonization of what we don’t understand.

•  Beyond our obsession to protect ourselves from “those people”.

I can point to many examples of our fear of terrorism, and I suspect you can too.  Just a few to show how widespread this virus of fear has spread.

•  Before I traveled to Gaza in 2012, a spiritual leader in my community warned me not to mention “Hamas” out loud when I was in Gaza; she feared for my safety.

•  The estimated U.S. military spending between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 will be $934 billion. Military spending is the second-largest item in the U.S. federal budget after Social Security.  A false security that misleads and distorts reality.

•  Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang points out the racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Asian Americans related to the Coronavirus; attacks based on an ugly fear of the “other.”

Homeland-Security-Advisory-System•  Although we no longer see the color-coded terror alerts, the U.S. Government maintains the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative, a joint collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and law enforcement partners. The Department of Homeland Security offers security resources for businesses and communities, as well as a link to leave tips of suspicious terror activity online. 

jerusalem_light_rail•  And Israelis live in a state of perpetual fear of the “terrorists” in the West Bank and Gaza, so much so that every aspect of their lives is governed by their fear — from the checkpoints, to the Iron Dome, to riding on public transport.(It goes without saying that Palestinians live in fear as well, the difference between both is a topic for another blog post, but I’ll summarize by saying that the Israelis have succeeded in labeling Palestinians, and particularly Hamas, as “terrorists,” while the Palestinians have failed in convincing most of the international community that Israelis are “terrorists”.)

NOW, a genuine terrorist has emerged.


Lora with mask

COVID-19 is not a person, place or imagined enemy. It is real, and it doesn’t play favorites. Azzam, Taha and Reuven are just as likely to fall victim as Zuhal, Saamia and Lora. False notions of comfort and protection are . . . false. So this is the lesson I’m slowly digesting during my self-imposed isolation at home.



Your fear is my fear. Your future is my future. Your dreams are my dreams.  I care about you as I care about myself.  And I know a new path is opening up to a new world for all of us.













Filed under COVID-19, Spiritual - Religion


The U.S. placed Hamas on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in October 1997. Since Hamas came to power in the Gaza Strip (2005-2006), the U.S. and Israel have clamped a suffocating siege on the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

I suppose the hope (more like wishful thinking) was that the ordinary people on the street would feel the brutal impacts of the siege and rise up and overthrow Hamas. If that’s really the strategic thinking of Israeli and American counter-terrorism “experts”, they have been proven wrong. So their fall back position has been extrajudicial killings (targeting Hamas in their cars and homes) and murdering innocent civilians (AKA collateral damage).


As someone who has met members of Hamas, shared meals with Hamas, accepted shelter in their homes, and toured the destruction following Israel’s bombing in November 2012 with Hamas leaders, I have a more nuanced understanding of what defines a terrorist.  (More about Hamas in a future blog post).

I recently learned that the U.S. State Department added extremist Jewish settlers and groups who commit “Price tag” attacks in its annual report on terrorism.

“Price tag” attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement) expanded into Israel from the West Bank in 2013. The Israeli government formed a new unit of the national police designated specifically to investigate these crimes in both Israel and the West Bank and in June the Security Cabinet authorized the Ministry of Defense to classify groups that perpetrated “price tag” attacks as “illegal associations,” which allowed security authorities greater leeway in collecting information on and seizing the property of groups, and of their members, that perpetrated “price tag” attacks. Incidents included:
  • In July, gravestones in a Christian Orthodox cemetery in Jaffa were vandalized with the words “revenge” and “price tag.” Price tag graffiti was also found on a residential building near the cemetery.
  • In August, the Beit Jamal Monastery near Jerusalem was firebombed and spray-painted with the words “death to the Gentiles” and other slogans.

This is a new and significant development. I wonder what push back State Department officials are feeling from AIPAC. It certainly hasn’t received attention in the mainstream press, even as the violence perpetrated by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank intensifies. The murder of 16-year-old Mohammad Aby Khdair is the most recent example.

I’ve known for some time that terrorism is in the eye of the beholder. Labels are too simplistic and, in this case, too provocative to be very helpful, but I’m pleased that the U.S. government is officially recognizing the terror perpetrated by extremist settlers in the West Bank.

1 Comment

Filed under Israel, Settlers, US Policy

Terrorism is in the eye of the beholder

The explosion at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946 killed 91 people.  The attack was carried out by the right-wing Zionist underground organization Irgun. The target was the British administrative headquarters in a wing of the hotel.

King David Hotel in Jerusalem

King David Hotel in Jerusalem

Did the attackers warn the British to evacuate?  Irgun says “Yes!”  The British say “No!”   Lora asks “does a warning absolve terrorists of their sin?”

In November 2012, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bombed the Gaza Strip for 8 days, terrorizing men, women and children, but they typically sent warnings to the occupants to evacuate their homes.  See here.  Did their warnings absolve these terrorists of their sins?

If you answer in the affirmative in either case, then I advise all terrorists of any stripe (Hamas, Hezbollah, Zionists) to simply issue warnings before the attack.  Then wash your hands of any sins.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hamas, Israel Defense Forces, Video

“Material assistance to terrorism”

I came to Gaza in September to teach environmental engineering students about climate change.  In two weeks, I will be leaving Gaza and I’m feeling very sad.

I have made many new friends; experienced Israeli bombardment for 8 days in November; and witnessed the human suffering, physical destruction and the environmental damage in this conflict zone.   This summer I plan to write about it all.  InshAllah!

During my time in Gaza I have met with government officials who are interested in learning about the challenges they face in this new era of climate change.  Some responded that “Allah will take care of it.”  I guess those people are the climate deniers, like the ones we have in the USA.

Others said that “the Israeli occupation and siege force us to look at more immediate crises.  How can we turn our attention to climate change?”  And some have ideas about the next steps (adaptation to climate change) that they should take to prepare their citizens for what is surely coming.

Gaza is in the cross-hairs of three major crises, any one of which would be devastating, but combined, they are unimaginable.

(1) The dire consequences of occupation and a multi-year economic, political and cultural siege that has no end in sight.

(2) The enormous environmental threats — water and air pollution at the top of the list.

(3) Climate change!

It doesn’t seem fair that 1.7 million Palestinians caught in the world’s largest open air prison should have to even think about climate change.

But life isn’t fair.

And now on my return to the States, I wonder if I’ll be greeted at the airport by my family or by federal agents.

And what rights will I have if the federal agents detain me?

You think I’m crazy?    Read this current interview with Noam Chomsky about the erosion of our civil rights.

[Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project] was a law group that was giving legal advice to groups on the terrorist list, which in itself has no moral or legal justification; it’s an abomination. But if you look at the way it’s been used, it becomes even more abhorrent (Nelson Mandela was on it until a couple of years ago.) And the wording of the colloquy is broad enough that it could very well mean that if, say, you meet with someone in a terrorist group and advise them to turn to nonviolent means, then that’s material assistance to terrorism. I’ve met with people who are on the list and will continue to do so, and Obama wants to criminalize that, which is a plain attack on freedom of speech. I just don’t understand why he’s doing it.

If an American meets with officials in Gaza, undoubtedly Hamas officials, to discuss climate change, is she providing “material assistance to terrorism“?

I’ll tell you who is materially assisting terrorism!  American taxpayers who are funding the Israeli occupation to the tune of $3 billion each year.

In any case, I know I’m in good company.  Noam Chomsky visited Gaza last November days before the bombardment and met with Hamas officials.

If my blog posts are interrupted for more than a week, call media and tell them to check Quantanamo.   That’s probably where you’ll find me.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Gaza, Hamas, Occupation, US Policy

Boston Marathon Bombing

Acts of terrorism bring out the humanity of average citizens as well as the press releases from opportunistic politicians.

A number of Palestinians in Gaza have shared their feelings of sadness with me over the senseless acts of terrorism in Boston. I heard from an employee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an employee at the water utility authority, an employee at the university, an engineer, a student studying English and a taxi driver.   Each spontaneously offered their sympathy with me as an American visiting their community.

Among the world leaders who expressed their condolences to President Obama were Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli President Peres, and Egyptian President Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party:

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) categorically rejects as intolerable the bombings committed in the U.S. city of Boston. The FJP offers heartfelt sympathies and solemn condolences to the American people and the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.

Islamic Sharia (law), accepted by the FJP as a framework of reference, strongly condemns attacks on civilians and terrorizing innocent people, regardless of their religion, race, color or sex.

The heinous attacks in Boston today highlight the need for the international community to unite in order to achieve justice and a decent life for all peoples and communities to ensure non-recurrence of such violent and tragic crimes.

I read and reread this nonsensical message from the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who offered his sympathy to the families of the victims, but I still can’t understand the connection he makes with the violence in Syria, Somalia and elsewhere.

The Israel News Agency published this piece “Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah Celebrate Boston Terror Attack” which is just as nonsensical as the tirade from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jerusalem, Israel — April 15, 2013 … Shortly after terror bombs exploded and murdered over 12 people at the Boston Marathon, members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were reported to be dancing in the streets of Gaza, handing out candies to passerbys.

Now that I have lived in Gaza for nearly five months among Palestinians of all political affiliations, I can confidently say that the Israel News Agency is spewing nonsense that is nothing more than pro-Israel propaganda (hasbara) designed to link terrorism and Palestinians in the minds of Americans and the western audience, and it’s pure crap. Unfortunately, I fear many Americans are gullible.

President Obama makes clear in this video that we don’t know who carried out this “heinous and cowardly act” — whether it was foreign or domestic, an act of a group or an individual.

Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes, every ethnic group, and all political persuasions.  But to use the suffering and grief of recent victims of terrorism to further a political agenda, as the Israel News Agency did, is reprehensible.

1 Comment

Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, People, Video