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Mohammed Assaf speaks out against illegal occupation, and threat to Al Aqsa mosque

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As pressure continues to build for an international protection force to intervene over the Israeli escalation of attacks at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf has called for international intervention to quell the violence. In London last week promoting the new biographical film about him, ‘Ya Tair Ya Tayer‘ (in English, The Idol) Assaf, along with his new fiancée Palestinian television host Lina Qishawi, used the opportunity to appeal to the international community to “step in and take concrete action.”

French-Algerian journalist Nabila Ramdani of Middle East Monitor interviewed Mohammed Assaf: “Superstar Palestinian singer using biopic promotional tour to call for ‘end to the violence’ in his homeland and for ‘international community to intervene.”

‘The violence is horrendous, and we are both [Assaf and Qishawi] calling for it to stop,’ said Assaf. ‘We are urging the international community, including the United Nations (UN), to step in and take concrete action.

‘Words of condemnation are not enough. Illegal Israeli occupation is the primary reason for the regular fighting’, said the singer, who is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Palestine.

Assaf said he deplored all forms of violence, and particularly fatalities, but described the horrific spiral as the ‘result of oppressive policies and a blanket ban on all Palestinian dissent.’

‘People have reached breaking point because they’re subjugated. This is because of the apartheid regime, the continuous expansion of illegal settlements, the outlawed demolition of Palestinian homes and farms and the daily humiliation at checkpoints.

‘It’s also because of the constant military offensives, persecutions and lack of hope, and the routine extra-judicial killings and unauthorised detentions, including that of children,’ he said.

‘Palestinians are taking action because of these terrible injustices. This is not new, but things are getting worse, and increased repression, including collective punishment, only leads to more trouble. All Palestinians want is to be a free, independent people, and to live with dignity.’

…..‘Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and Palestinians won’t allow any attempt to turn it into a Jewish Temple and Judaise Jerusalem’, said Assaf.

In the last week, Palestinian leaders have called for an international protection force for the Al Aqsa mosque. The proposal has been rejected out of hand by Israel’s U.N. ambassador. Yet it has been reported that France will submit a Security Council resolution for such a force.

Assaf has continually used his celebrity to highlight Palestinian suffering. Plus he’s repeatedly addressed the Judaisation of the land because he’s “fighting for a cause“. However this was a particularly high profile and star studded event given it was his first public appearance with Qishawi and the film’s UK opening. (The film is directed by Hany Abu-Assad, who has twice been nominated for an Oscar.) Qishawi also addressed Palestinian conditions with reporter Ramdani:

She said she was ‘particularly distressed by the number of children being killed,’ and told of her horror at the story of Rahaf Hassan, a three-year-old girl who died alongside her pregnant mother, Noor, during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza last Sunday.

Calling Rahaf a ‘little angel’, Lina said she had been moved to tears by an online video that showed the child’s corpse being hugged and kissed by her inconsolable father.

Lina added that ‘footage of rubble and devastation in Gaza’ shown in The Idol ‘summed up the ongoing situation.’

There is one scene that evokes the haunting images of the four boys playing football on a beach last summer before being blown to pieces by Israeli ordnance.

It’s long past time our politicians and global leaders take a good look at the status quo at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem (video from 2013). Two years later – same thing. It’s been normalized thanks to the international community doing nothing. It’s the “new normal“. Since when is storming a place of worship and attacking worshipers in order to provide fanatical settlers a heavily armed police escort into the Noble Sanctuary an acceptable “status quo”?

Make no mistake, this has noting to do with “religious freedom for Jews” and everything to do with “Liberating the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation“.  The status quo has already changed, everyone knows it, and yet our public officials are forced to publicly eat their words. Why? International intervention is long past overdue, and we need to demand it.


About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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9 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    October 21, 2015, 3:49 pm

    I was planning on contributing something insightful and supportive, but I think I’ll just ogle Assaf instead.

    • annie
      October 21, 2015, 5:45 pm

      yeah, believe me, it’s my challenge too. ;)

      • oldgeezer
        October 21, 2015, 6:54 pm

        Oh…. women…. :)

      • just
        October 21, 2015, 7:28 pm

        heh. oldgeezer, you can “ogle”, too!

        They’re both gorgeous and passionate Palestinians, working for the good of their fellow men, women and children. Real patriots of Palestine.

        Thank you, Annie.

        All Palestinians need international protection from the Occupiers.

        So does Al- Aqsa.

      • oldgeezer
        October 21, 2015, 8:05 pm


        Oh I did lol. A very handsome couple.

        And yes Palestine and Palestinians both need and deserve protection.

        Even if there was a legitimate argument against that protection the zionists abhor even the thought of observers. Their only fear is that they would not be able to oppress and murder with impugnity. The world could no longer overlook the vile nature of the regime.

      • Mooser
        October 21, 2015, 10:47 pm

        “Oh…. women…. :)”

        Jeepers-creepers, where you get those peepers?Walaa Ghussein.

  2. just
    October 21, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Well, well, well:

    “Entire House Jewish Caucus Blasts UNESCO on Temple Mount Vote

    Jewish lawmakers condemn claim that Israel is responsible for surge in violent attacks; Jewish groups call decision ‘offensive and a distortion of history.’

    All 19 Jewish House lawmakers slammed UNESCO … charging Israel with changing the status quo at a Jerusalem holy site.

    “The continued false allegations against Israel as having violated the status quo at the Temple Mount, which is under the custodianship of Jordan and the Wakf Muslim religious trust, and blaming Israel for the surge in violent attacks, must be condemned,” said the statement Wednesday signed by the 18 Jewish Democrats and one Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural arm, on Wednesday approved a resolution saying that Israel is altering the status quo on the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al Sharif, which is holy to Muslims and Jews.

    The “status quo,” in place since Israel captured the site in the 1967 Six-Day War, bans Jews from worship on the mount, but allows them to visit. Jews may pray at the adjacent Western Wall.

    In recent weeks, violence has increased as reports circulated among Palestinians that Israel was set to allow Jewish worship on the mount, and even remove its mosques — charges that Israeli leaders vehemently deny.

    “Such accusations have been perpetrated by the Palestinian leadership to incite continued violence, and the resulting attacks targeting Israeli civilians in recent weeks are an outrage,” the lawmakers’ statement said. “There is zero justification for such acts of terrorism, and the world cannot remain silent and certainly must not take actions that could add to the false and inflammatory incitement of violence.”

    The statement notably united Jewish lawmakers on both sides of the bitter fight over the summer over the Iran nuclear deal. It included lawmakers with close ties to right-wing pro-Israel groups like Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and those who have openly criticized Israel in recent years and are close to J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby, like Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

    UNESCO’s executive committee voted 26-6 on the resolution advanced by six Arab countries, with 25 abstentions, on behalf of the Palestinians. The United States led the dissenters. A proposal to label the Western Wall as a Muslim holy site was removed prior to the vote, which also designated Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as Muslim sites to be part of a Palestinian state. Both sites are also holy to Jews.

    “As Jewish Members of the United States House of Representatives, we believe strongly in respecting the religious history and protecting the religious freedoms of Muslims, Jews, and Christians,” the statement said.

    “That means respecting the claims of both Jews and Muslims to holy sites which have significance for both religions,” it said. “Designating Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as exclusively Muslim sites is dismissive of other religious traditions, and the continued refusal to show any respect or recognition for the legitimacy of Jewish existence in the ancient Jewish homeland once again demonstrates a central obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

    The Conference of the Presidents of Major American Organizations also joined the condemnation, calling the decision “offensive and a distortion of history.”

    “This will only add to the tensions in the region and appear to reward those engaged in violence,” the organization said in a statement. “Such actions will not just hurt Israel, but every country facing the challenge of terrorism and extremism.””

    read more:

    Yay, UNESCO.

    (Too bad about the US leading the “dissenters”~ always complicit in the crimes of Israel. It’s positively shameful and criminal, imho.)

    • just
      October 21, 2015, 9:19 pm

      In other good news:

      ‘AP – Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is being sued in the U.S. over his nation’s deadly raid of six Turkish boats trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010, an event that still affects relations between Turkey and Israel.

      The Turkish parents of 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, among nine killed in the raid, sued Barak in federal court in Los Angeles on Oct. 16, claiming unlawful death and torture. Barak, Israel’s defense minister at the time of the raid, was served with the papers Tuesday after he gave a speech near Los Angeles.

      The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles couldn’t immediately provide a contact for Barak, who is still in the area.

      Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, based in Jerusalem, said in a statement that the lawsuit “is yet another attempt to abuse otherwise legitimate legal tools for the cynical, political purpose of attacking the State of Israel.”

      “We are confident that the United States will not lend its hand to such abuse,” said Nahshon, who does not speak for Barak. …

      … Attorneys for Dogan’s parents said Wednesday that they have been pursuing Barak for years to serve him with litigation, coming closest in France in 2010.

      “It’s been an ongoing process ever since this happened to get accountability,” said Rodney Dixon, a London-based attorney in Los Angeles for the litigation. “It’s a major breakthrough.”

      Dan Stormer, a Los Angeles attorney also working on the case, said Barak is a “war criminal who led a massacre,” and that Dogan’s family deserves justice.

      Dogan’s parents have an uphill battle with the litigation, said Douglass Cassel, who teaches international human rights law and international criminal law at the University of Notre Dame.

      “All down the line, the hurdles are daunting,” said Cassel, especially because a 2013 Supreme Court ruling imposed limits on the ability of foreigners to use American courts to seek accountability and monetary damages for human rights abuses.

      The case also could be thrown out for political reasons, and Barak may qualify for immunity, Cassel said.”

      read more:

      May this be the first of many Israeli criminals brought to justice…

    • Boomer
      October 21, 2015, 10:08 pm

      re “It’s positively shameful and criminal, imho.”

      Indeed it is, and merely the most recent of far too many instances.

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