For the Sin Committed Praying as a Jew Saving American From Jews

A clip of the show was posted to YouTube on September 9, where it has received almost 400,000 views so far.

“The operation behind this film appears to be extreme Egyptian Copts who want to discredit the Morsi government and create a provocation,” journalist Max Blumenthal told Al Jazeera.

“They oppose the revolution and are aligned with Christian right groups who have an apocalyptic, theocratic agenda and who are inciting against Muslim-Americans,” Blumenthal said, adding, “They put Muslims in the US in danger, they put Copts in Egypt in danger, and they’re putting US diplomats in danger.”

YouTube clip blocked

The Afghan government on Wednesday temporarily blocked YouTube in an effort to discourage people from watching the clip. YouTube also blocked the video in Egypt, agency reports said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the company said: “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions.

“This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere.

“This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries.

“Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in [Tuesday’s] attack in Libya.”

Observers say Google has grown more averse to removing videos. After its 2006 acquisition of YouTube, it was accused of censorship in several high-profile controversies.

“They’re squeezed on all sides,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the New America Foundation. “But because of pressure from a lot of people who feel they made the wrong decisions, they now generally err on the side of keeping things up.”

In recent years, Google has used technology to filter out videos in certain countries to comply with local regulations.

No, no, to Israel! No, no to America!” thousands shouted in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad. “‘Yes, yes for Messenger of God.”Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty in 30 years.

‘Desert Warrior’

The trailer for the film – which itself is so far unavailable to the public – portrays Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womaniser, and depicts him having sex. The entire film has only been shown once in public, at a theatre in Hollywood, said the source who identified himself as “Bacile”.

He also explained he made the film because “after 9/11 everybody should be in front of the judge”, AP reported. “Even Jesus, even Muhammad.”

The Democratic Party’s 11th hour move at their national convention this week to reintroduce language in the party platform that refers to the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital upset Palestinians and human rights activists, but it should not have surprised them.

Neither of this country’s two major political parties has taken concrete steps in recent years to support the Palestinian push for statehood. This formal, albeit symbolic, declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is likely another step backwards — and actually contradicts the official position of the U.S. government, which is that the city’s status should be determined in a negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. The political status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in any potential peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, with both sides asserting that the holy city is their capital.

To be sure, Democrats have steered clear of the kind of incendiary comments uttered by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who implied while on a fundraising trip to Israel in July that Palestinians were culturally inferior, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said last December that Palestinians are an “invented people”. (“I am here, born here, and my ID says I am from Bethlehem,” Ibrahim Shomali, a Catholic Priest in Bethlehem in the West Bank, said in response to Gingrich’s provocative claim.)

But the party of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama is no mantle bearer, either, for the Palestinian cause. New York Democratic Congressman Steve Israel introduced a bill last year that would deny “Foreign Military Financing program assistance to countries that vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state.” Meanwhile, Rep. Howard Berman, ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “should the Palestinians pursue their unilateralist course, the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual assistance that we have given them in recent years, will likely be terminated.”

Israel and Berman aren’t rogue voices of their party, either. While still Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi insisted that the conflict is about “the fundamental right of Israel to exist” and that it is “absolute nonsense” to claim it has anything do to with the Israeli occupation. Furthermore, it appears that this week’s order to call Jerusalem the Israeli capital came from President Obama himself — likely in an effort to win Jewish-American votes and prevent a Republican attack.

By standing exclusively on the side of Israel — whose illegal occupation of the West Bank has choked economic progress, political development and the path to statehood — Democrats have served to further dehumanize Palestinians, a people whom American politicians, the mainstream media and electorate too often view as, at best, foreign and, at worst, dangerous. Are we disoriented by our nation’s unconditional support for the Jewish state, and perhaps still blinded by the trauma and anti-Arab hysteria wrought by the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

In order to give Palestinians a face, and to shed light on their struggles living under occupation, I co-produced a documentary with filmmaker Aaron Dennis titled The People and the Olive, which premiers next week in Traverse City, Michigan, and will appear at upcoming film festivals in Boston and Chicago. The documentary follows this past February’s Run Across Palestine, an effort by the Michigan-based nonprofit On the Ground, which works to support sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. The Run featured six U.S. ultra-marathoners who ran 129 miles in five days across the West Bank while replanting uprooted olive trees in farming villages and illuminating the struggles of Palestinian farmers.

The People and the Olive explores these central questions: What do olive trees mean to Palestinian farmers? Olives are their livelihood, their source of sustenance and the way they root themselves, historically and spiritually, to the land. But Palestinians are denied access to nearly 30 percent of their beloved olive trees in the West Bank as they struggle to live under Israeli military occupation. How do they persevere? And what should the international community understand about Palestinian olive farmers, who love their land and harvest it every season to feed their families — just as farmers across the world do?

“They planted so we ate. Now we plant so they eat,” Palestine Fair Trade Association founder Nasser Abufarha expressed a local proverb. “Past generations planted these trees that we’re eating from and are supporting our lives, and we plant trees for our future generations to support their lives.”

The new moon of the month of Av this past July was my first time praying in Jerusalem with theWomen of the Wall. It was a quiet time, compared to the month before, when two women were detained for wearing prayer shawls. Then, on the New Moon of Elul (Aug. 19) four women were arrested for the crime of wearing prayer shawls that the police, acting as arbiters of fashion, decided were too manly. The Women of the Wall accompanied them to the police station, where they prayed in solidarity with the four held inside for hours.

While I have been a supporter and organizer for Women of the Wall since its inception, I am not drawn to pray at the Wall. There is the matter of the Wall being a giant outdoor gender-segregated right-wing Orthodox synagogue. There is the status of the place. Is it a holy site or the major attraction of a Holy Land theme park? There was the distraction dodge endless request for alms.

Still, I have cast my fate with Women of the Wall for a simple reason: I believe Jewish women have the same rights as Jewish men to pray at Israel’s holy sites.

I took my students in the Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel to demonstrate that Jews who live outside of Israel can help the young nation with wisdom we have gleaned about democracy, equal rights and feminism. The students could decide if they supported the goals of Women of the Wall: to pray aloud as a group, wear prayer shawls and read from the Torah.

My colleagues asked about security. I explained that police are there to keep the women safe by keeping an eye on those who choose to cry out hatefully as the women pray. Acting as religious arbiters, the police also decide if and when the women will be harassed and arrested. They decide what kinds of prayer shawls are permitted or forbidden, and they decide whom they will tell to wrap her prayer shawl around her neck as a muffler.

Our group assembled in the very back of the women’s section of the Wall. The prayer leader, wearing a traditional tallit, was nestled tightly into the middle of the group. I saw that all women wearing untraditional tallitot as shawls drew no attention form the police. The psalms of Hallel were sung exuberantly, and I was surprised that the police did not hear this as a transgression. Eventually, when the police spotted one of the women wearing a tallit with blue stripes, they mimed tying it in a knot around the neck, saying this would be their last warning. Seeing their strangling gesture, she complied. All the time, a police officer was videotaping us; I could hardly stop thinking about the kind of constant surveillance Foucault has written about, in which the power of the state, through a constant gaze, disciplines the bodies of its citizens.

We processed to Robinson’s arch all along singing, a sad parade of exile. I thought of the ancient Rabbi Yochannan Ben Zakkai, who sustained Jewish learning after the destruction of the Temple when his students carried him in a casket outside of Jerusalem. We were joined by the men of our group who had stood behind or had stationed themselves just over the mechitza (divider between men and women). They reported that the police had dealt with the man who shouted out that the Women of the Wall were worse than the Amalakite enemy, and with the men who claimed that it was the rabbi of the Wall who had instructed them to curse the women.

One of the women just arrested was wearing the white — that is, untraditional — tallit she wore in her home synagogue for daily prayer; the arrest blindsided her. She and the others were charged with “Disturbing the public peace according to regulation 201 A4 of the Israeli legal code, the punishment for which is six months in prison, and the violation of regulation 287A by performing a religious act that ‘offends the feelings of others.'” The punishment for the second crime is up to two years in prison.

When I first became involved with Women of the Wall, I had wondered if my daughters could celebrate their bat mitzvahs at the Wall. That was not possible. I have a granddaughter now; will it be legal for her to pray and read Torah at the Wall when she comes of age? I can be optimistic about that possibility if young people take up the cause.

On the Facebook page of Women of the Wall, someone new to the groups’ decades-long perseverance asked if “this” — the criminalization of women who pray as Jews do — has been contested. Yes. it has been contested since the late 1980s when Women first came together with a Torah scroll to pray there.

One of my students, Sophie, wrote me after the arrests: “I was planning to write a piece for my blog on my experience in Israel encountering sexism/women’s rights activism, and really want to include something about these arrests in my article. I think it is really important for people to know about and I want to spread the word in any way I can.” Her words were heartening.

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