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Haroon Moghul, MLI, and Apologists: Enough is Enough

Haroon Moghul, MLI, and Apologists: Enough is Enough

My first question as I read Haroon Moghul’s blog about participating in the Muslim Leadership Initiative in Israel is: who are you?

Forty-four members of my family were murdered in cold blood in Palestine and I’m still trying to figure out how that has anything to do with you.

I’m a Palestinian American. I’ve been very outspoken about my family’s survival of the Deir Yassin massacre. Even though I am the granddaughter of Nakba survivors, I still do not feel comfortable or morally justified speaking on behalf of Palestinians living under Israel’s military occupation. Even though I am the daughter of a Palestinian refugee who was born in Palestine and never stepped foot in it again, I recognize my privilege far removed from the deadly and inhumane conditions to which Palestinians are subjected everyday. I will use every breath I have to speak out against and raise awareness of such injustices, but I refuse to inflict further violence against my people by silencing their own narrative.

My family history has been marred by massacre at the hands of the same forces that the Shalom Hartman Institute supports, and I still don’t understand how you, Haroon, and your cohorts are engaging on our behalf.

And, yes, that’s exactly what you’re trying to do. You gratuitously declare yourselves Muslim American “leaders” and tokenize your Muslim identity to empower your MLI participation and co-opting of Palestinian voices. Yet, in the same breath you attempt to exempt yourself of any scrutiny by saying you don’t claim to represent us.

The call for the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement came in 2005 from Palestinian civil society — you know, the people actually living under the occupation — almost 60 years into the conflict, given that in those six decades “all forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force Israel to comply with humanitarian law.” Yet, somehow, you and your cohorts pompously believe that you are reinventing the wheel, that you know what’s best for Palestinians more than Palestinians themselves, that you are the ones with the answers — by violating the only effective grassroots movement that has ever succeeded in abolishing apartheid.

Individuals are not institutions. That’s pretty much BDS 101. You broke the boycott not by “communicating” with Israelis, but by engaging with a Zionist organization. You benefitted a free trip. That benefit rode on the backs of an occupied people. They are the ones that this is about. Not you, not your opinions, not your inconsequential chats with Israelis for some vague “foreign policy” work. It’s about occupied Palestinians.

By enjoying an all expense-paid field trip to lands to which Palestinians themselves are denied access, please do not be mistaken that you are, by any means, contributing to Palestinian liberation or doing Palestinians any favors.

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It is not lost on me that I and many other Palestinian Americans are systematically denied access to our own homelands for our social justice work. Our faces and names are found in protest photos and published unpopular opinions in our untimely fight for human rights. We are suffering the consequences — from losing job opportunities to being ostracized in the mainstream. We are the ones subject to humiliating and invasive Israeli interrogation on our own intended Palestine trips, before being sent back into exile in whatever lonely corner of the diaspora we came from.

Your groundbreaking discovery that “some American and Israeli Jews are moving apart” is something you would have learned after just one day on the frontlines of the Palestine movement, where we stand side by side with Jewish allies who risk community reputation and family ties to fight for justice. That is where the future of the relationship between American Muslims and American Jews lies. That is where you’ll find us, while you’re on your privileged escorted trips, damaging the work that we have been tirelessly contributing.

Yes, you got duped. You sold out for travel accommodations. Then you came home and paternalistically blogged some liberal Zionist propaganda in defense of your decision. In that way, the Shalom Hartman Institute got exactly what it paid for. You perpetuated exactly what we warned you about.

If the opinions of actual Palestinians still don’t cut it for you, then it’s hard to ignore that in the case of MLI, the Muslim American community has — for the most part — spoken. I’m not sure of whom or what you and your cohorts deem yourselves to be leaders, but it is certainly not of our community nor the Palestinian cause. Please don’t do us any favors.

View Comments (22)
  • Why is it a privilege to be in the diaspora – You have no access to your own homeland. This narrative of authenticity of Palestinianness follows a settler colonial logic whereby anyone removed (forcibly) from the land has less right to determine the struggle for Palestine? Sure you can say you dont live the everydays of military occupation but its a disservice to frame those that do as having more right to determine the future of palestine than those in the shatat.

    • its not a privilege in the sense of an honor, it is meaning, as a Palestinian living in diaspora, I have certain advantages in life that those in Palestine do not have. I wake up in my bed in America…I do not face check points on my way to work, I have a degree of freedom, I have electricity and clean running water 24/7, I have reliable health care in comparison, I have the ability to obtain an education without enduring bombs, I have the ability to work, support myself and my family etc …most of those living in Palestine do not have these privileges ….so while I suffer, my suffering is very different.

      • but perhaps this has to do with your class & education, no ? – many working class Palestinians – like other working class people of color in the US- are subject to US racism & discrimination. But anyway this isn’t the point, you didn’t say that as a privileged individual, you framed it as though being in the Shatat is in itself a privilege – is that true for the experience of Palestinians in Yarmouk or even for many in Chicago? To paint a broad stroke about Palestinian experiences in the Shatat does a disservice because there are a wide range of experiences – & not experiencing particular types of Israeli oppression by virtue of being outside their physical reach doesn’t preclude any Palestinian from having a right to determine Palestinian liberation and their futures – as much of a right as those Palestinians who remain inside historic Palestine.

  • Israel is surrounded by islamic savages, look at ISIS, Hamas, Boko Haram, Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban, Hezbollah, Al Nusra, Al Shabab,Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, etcetera, to see the true nature of islam (pbuh).

        • The verbal expression of peace upon someone is not supposed to be tainted by malevolent sarcasm. Apparently, you’re the one with the nasty things to say.

          And don’t victimize the powerful. Israel is a savage. Israel has broken dozens, if not hundreds, of international laws without remorse or apology. Israel has sanctioned, oppressed, stolen, and destroyed Palestine.

          And those cute little groups you mentioned are inflicting more pain among Muslims (with the exception of Hamas, an activist group in my opinion) than Israelis. Bring statistics. Bring facts. You have none.

          There is simply no threat to Israel. They are acting out of their own violent notions. And, thus, attracting some expected anger from the community they target. They take that anger, project it to the public, and victimize themselves.

          It seems you are the savage here. Educate yourself, please.

          • cute little groups ?

            I guess you’re living in the US ?
            Countries in the ME dont see them as cute little groups , ah omg, cute little groups , you are creative.
            Nearly all islamic countries in the ME are putting a lot of effort in fighting these groups.
            KSA stopped supporting them a few years ago, now they are fighting them. Other Gulf countries too, except Qatar maybe. Iraq and Syria are battling their cute little groups.
            Egypt, you know about Egypt destroying Gaza tunnels and destroying a few thousand homes along the Gaza border?
            Many Egyptians soldiers and policeman died already in fighting islamic extremism.

        • Fact: Israel stole Palestinian land.
          Fact: Israelis are mostly Europeans who have ethnically cleansed Palestine and occupied it
          Fact: Israel routinely kills Palestinian children

          • FACT: Israelis are also largely refugees from Arab countries. Their brethren took them in, unlike Palestinian refugees who were left homeless by their brethren.

  • Brilliant. Said everything I was thinking. I rally consider the community to have spoken on this issue. Not sure why MLI participants want to keep trying to defend an obviously immoral program.

  • I think this article misses Haroon’s point. I don’t agree with MLI at all, but his main point is that this is a way to engage in foreign policy without being othered/alienated. He still supports BDS.

    MLI has a clear agenda: to make Muslims sympathetic to Israel’s cause. It is toxic. But someone can – theoretically – go through the experience without getting burned. I believe Haroon is trying to point that out.


      ‘ Please ponder how, as has been clearly explained to Harun and others dozens of times now, you can’t be both for BDS and go on an all-expense-paid trip to Israel, on the tab of an Israeli-government-funded extremist Zionist organization, that is actually advertising your presence as part of its anti-BDS campaign. You want to learn about Judaism, or Zionism? You want to build bridges? Great! There are about a thousand Jewish or pro-Israel organizations just on the east coast that would be happy to partner with you. But then you wouldn’t get your free airplane trip which, along with the free food provided at the Israeli embassy iftar here in DC (which some MLI members also attended, such as Abdullah T. Antepli and others), seems to be just so irresistible to folks. And you wouldn’t get the plaudits of helping to undermine the most effective, non-violent, internationally accepted effort to end Israel’s apartheid policies… which is kind of the point of this whole MLI thing… as the Shalom Hartman Institute actually advertized (see Sana Saeed’s faithwashing article).

    • A reasoned voice has been rare in this whole controversy. Thank you. I feel much the same way as you. Personally, I think a lot of the heat against MLI participants has been vitriolic, tribalistic, and childish.

      And to the author: Haroon doesn’t need to be Palestinian to have a different approach for justice. His government (and yours, I presume you’re American) is tied to the conflict like no other nation. All U.S. citizens, particularly Muslim Americans, have a duty to try to make sense of the moral quagmire that is US-supported Israeli occupation. So his approach is different. So he chose to engage with an educational institution — that’s his perspective of a different approach to boycotting.

      While being a Palestinian makes the conflict more personal for you, all American tax payers have an obligation to address the conflict and realize the injustices against the Palestinians. However, ALL conflicts have two side and if someone legitimately believes that dialogue is a means to achieve justice then that Avenue is a legitimate means to a righteous end. Whether or not it’s effective should be up for a civil debate. MLK had a more Christian pacifist approach, especially compared to Black Panthers. Gandhi, neither German nor Jewish, wrote letters to Hitler. Before any one freaks out I am not tying either of these examples to MLI. These are simply different examples of approaches to oppression from history, but the point is that dialogue involves engaging with an evil power at some level. The level and type of engagement is up for debate. But the spirit of Justice is alive in ALL of these approaches — please don’t forget that in your criticism.

    • He does not support BDS. If he did he would not have participated. BDS is not a pair of shoes you wear one day and not the next, when its convenient to do so. A call for BDS is serious, its guidelines are strict… either you support the call or you don’t. It’s that simple. When you participate in something this vile, this blatantly against BDS you can not longer say you support BDS… unless and until you recognize the wrong you did, the insult you caused, the support you lended to an apartheid system and apologize for it and work against it. (You meaning Haroon, not “you”)

  • Honestly
    the fact that they are Muslims does not matter, it just stabs the knife
    in a bit more is all. The reaction would be just as much if they were
    not Muslims. The fact is that this organization is a direct supporter of
    the Israeli military, and a propaganda machine for Zionism. Zionism is a
    vile system based on a master race theology that invokes racism,
    apartheid, genocide and murder as justifiable ways of dealing with other
    human beings. This system is truly evil. To see an organization pluck
    out, seek out, stalk, and strategically choose up and coming Muslims to
    join them on a trip to Israel is not only heartbreaking but a slap in
    the face to everyone working for justice in this issue. They are not
    going to Palestine, to refugee camps, to mosques that have been bombed,
    and not schools coated with the remnants of nerve gas and are not
    visiting or assisting dying refugees in Gaza…but they are going to
    the pristine, landscaped, protected illegal settlements of Israel. They
    take them there to indoctrinate them with the aims of Zionism, to turn
    them against their own communities. They have never, and will never,
    invite any Arab on this trip. It is all South Asians and other races.
    Why? Because this is a race issue. Inviting an Arab would never work.
    The message is “See we are wonderful Zionists, we like Muslims, we just
    don’t like THESE Muslims, the Arab Muslims, The Palestinian Muslims, but
    you guys? you guys are cool” (forgetting, as always that a serious
    component of Palestinian society is Baha’i, Christian and others) …
    The organization operates in secret, the participants are instructed to
    keep it secret…. and to this day we have no complete list of those who
    participated. Why keep it secret? Why create suspicion, which is haram
    in Islam? Why ignore the cries of your fellow Muslims simply asking for
    answers? When simple, respectful please for an explanation are pointed
    at the participants they respond with vulgar insults, threats, mocking,
    condescension and out right blocking. How is this a community building
    tool? They have done exactly what they goal of this organization was to
    do: cause a rift in the Muslim community. You do not have to ‘support
    Palestine’ just because you are Muslim, it is not a Muslim issue or even
    a religious issue. The media presents it as a religious issue but it is
    far from it. It is a race issue. It has always been a race issue. It
    will always be a race issue. Zionism is a sickness… and to see fellow
    Muslims fall victim to it angers me. I am a Palestinian. As the author I
    was born to a refugee parent and I grew up here in America. Because of
    that I acknowledge that I have a degree of privilege that Palestinians
    living in Palestine do not have. When I would visit my grandparents
    there I recognized this privilege. I have an American Passport. I can do
    almost anything I want, go anywhere I want, skip certain check points,
    use the high way in a fancy rented car etc … they could not do any of
    that. They could not go beyond their neighborhood. There is a certain
    level of respect you have for oppressed people, even if you do not
    support their cause. You do not cross the picket line, you do not work
    against them, you do not assist the enemy. The enemy here is not Jews as
    a whole, it is the state of Israel that operates on a racist ideology
    called Zionism that insists on a master race dominant society. Just like
    apartheid in South Africa…we BOYCOTT DIVEST AND SANCTION those who
    would seek to normalize relations with such a system. Anyone can support
    the Zionist apartheid agenda but that makes them a legit target for
    BDS. There is no longer going to be an acceptance for such policies, of
    murder etc … no more. Israel outright slaughtered nearly 3k people
    last summer while the world watched and clapped … as children fell
    from Zionist bullets. If anyone supports, in any way, that system then
    they deserve to be named, blamed, labeled, call out, sanctioned,
    boycotted, and divested from …from the biggest corporation to the
    loneliest individual.

    • Yes, islam is the reason of the troubles.
      Without the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt there would not have been a Palestinian-Israel conflict.

  • I really don’t understand this criticism. None of the allegations or charges in this article make sense. I don’t think Haroon or any of the MLI participants claim they represent the Palestinians or advocate on behalf of the any particular voice in this conflict. They also do not impose themselves on anyone. They were invited to participate in this visit.

    I’m afraid those who want to criticize MLI better come up with more cogent, substantive, and mature criticism instead of emotional tirades.

  • It is quite sad that someone with so little background in history has a platform to spew your hatred.Oh I forgot, its the evil Zionist who are responsible for all the hatred and death in the arab and muslim world. And even more, the evil Zionists are responsible for 9-11 and global warming too. Look, there is an evil Zionist!!

    Amani, let me suggest that you are a fraud. And let me suggest that by wearing the Hajib, even in the name of religion is also a fraud. You are unfortunately a prisoner in a 7th century cult that reduces women to property.
    and even worse, you misdirect your repressed desires and turn it into hatred against Jews. I suggest you visit Gaza and fully immerse yourself in the misdeeds of your brothers and sisters who have built an empire of hate in cesspool of filth and poverty and ignorance.

    Even better I’d love to debate you in a public forum. Shame on you!

    • Let me remind you that all yours days are numbered especially in the USA, if not in all our Western countries.

      Trump knows that Mossad had organized the perfect ‘CONTROLLED-DEMOLITION’ of the Twin Towers, and of BUILDING 7, which was NOT hit even by a pigeon. Saudis could have NEVER done it, as the Israelis were in-charge of Twin-Towers security, to bring in controlled-demolition charges at 03:00 in the morning..

      Unlike the very foolish Germans, US Military is NOT going to take any prisoners, and neither are the FBI / CIA, and all gun-owing US citizens.

      You Tube

      Kissinger “In 10 Years No More Israel”

      October, 01, 2012

      Cindy Adam

      New York Post, (Jewish)

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