Hana Shalabi: Palestinian non-violence and global indifference

By: Richard Falk, Al Jazeera

No sooner had Khader Adnan ended his life-threatening 66-day hunger strike than new urgent concerns were voiced for Hana Shalabi, another West Bank hunger striker now without food for more than 33 days. Both strikes were directed against the abusive use of administrative detention by Israeli occupying military forces, protesting both the practice of internment without charges or trial and the degrading and physically harsh treatment administered during the arrest, interrogation, and detention process.

The case of Hana Shalabi should move even the hard-hearted. She seems a young, tender and normal woman who is a member of Islamic Jihad but is dedicated to her family, hopes for marriage, and simple pleasures of shopping.


 Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike

She had previously been held in administrative detention at the HaSharon prison in Israel for a 30 month period between 2009 and 2011, being released in the prisoner exchange that freed 1,027 Palestinians and the lone Israeli soldier captive, Corporal Gilad Shalit. Since her release, she has been trying to recover from the deep sense of estrangement she experienced in prison, and has rarely left her home or the company of her family. As she was returning to normality, she was re-arrested in an abusive manner, which allegedly included a strip-search by a male soldier.

Beginnings of a strike

On February 16, 2012, the day her administrative detention was renewed, Hana indicated her resolve to start a hunger strike to protest her own treatment and to demand an end to the practice of administrative detention – under which people are arrested and imprisoned without charge. A practice now relied upon by Israel to hold at least 309 Palestinians in prison.

Hana’s parents have been denied visitation rights, she has been placed in solitary confinement, and her health has deteriorated to the point of concern for her life. According to her lawyer, Raed Mahameed, Hana Shalabi was examined by a doctor from Physicians for Human Rights and the doctor said that “she suffers from a low heartbeat rate, low blood sugar, loss of weight, weakness in muscles, yellowing of the eyes and high levels of salt in the blood which [has] affected her kidneys, causing her pain in her sides, especially the left side, as well as pain in chest bones.”

Physicians for Human Rights said that Shalabi cannot sleep because of pain; she also suffers dizziness and blurred and occasional loss of vision. Ms Shalabi told Mahameed that she took salt last week, but refused to take any more and is living on two litres of water a day.

Impressively, her parents have committed themselves to a hunger strike for as long as their daughter remains under administrative detention. Her mother, Badia Shalabi, has said that even to see food makes her cry – considering the suffering of her daughter. Her father has likewise made a global appeal to save the life of his child.

Despite frequent mentoring to Palestinians by liberals in the West to rely on nonviolent tactics of resistance, these extraordinary hunger strikes (Palestinian human rights group Adameer recently tweeted that it was aware of 24 such hunger strikers) have been met with silence or indifference in both Israel and the West.

Israeli authorities crudely declare that undertaking a hunger strike is a voluntary action for which they take no responsibility, and that the striker alone is responsible if any harm results. There is also not a hint that Palestinian grievances about administrative detention will even be considered, much less acted upon. Such hard-heartedness in the face of such sacrificial bravery is a sure sign that Israel is not ready for a sustainable and just peace with Palestinians.

The story of Hana Shalabi, like that of Khader Adnan before, is, in my opinion, a remarkable example of a struggle that’s completely nonviolent towards one’s surroundings. It is the last protest a prisoner can make, and I find it brave and inspiring.

– Yael Maron, Physicians for Human Rights

The UN also disappoints those who believe in its ideals. It has not raised its voice even to take notice of Hana Shalabi’s plight or of Israel’s accountability. I share the view of Khitam Saafin, Chairwoman of The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees: “The UN must be responsible for the whole of violations that are going on against our people. These prisoners are war prisoners, not security prisoners, not criminals. They are freedom fighters for their rights.”

The sad yet noble situation of Hana Shalabi is also well expressed by Yael Maron, a spokesperson for the NGO, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: “The story of Hana Shalabi, like that of Khader Adnan before, is, in my opinion, a remarkable example of a struggle that’s completely nonviolent towards one’s surroundings. It is the last protest a prisoner can make, and I find it brave and inspiring.”

Spiritual collapse

To engage in an open-ended hunger strike, especially for a person who is not in a leadership role, requires a deep and abiding dedication to right a perceived wrong of the greatest gravity. It is physically painful and dangerous to bodily health, as well as being psychologically demanding in the extreme. It presupposes the strongest of wills, and usually arises, as in these instances, from a sense that any lesser form of resistance has proved futile, exhibiting a long record of failure. In the end, this unconditional hunger strike is an appeal to the conscience and humanity of the other, and a desperate call to all of us, to understand better the cartography of abuse that abusive imprisonment entails – which can only be pervasively humiliating for a religiously oriented young Islamic woman. To risk life and health in this way without harming or even threatening the oppressor is to turn terrorism against the innocent on its head. It is potentially to sacrifice one’s life to make an appeal of last resort, an appeal that transcends normal law and politics, and demands our response.

We can only fervently hope and pray that Hana Shalabi’s heroic path of resistance will end with her release and the complete restoration of her health. For Israel’s own moral well-being, it is time – really, long past time – to renounce reliance on administrative detention and, to do more than this, to end forthwith its varied crimes of occupation. At this point the only possible way to do this is to withdraw unconditionally behind the 1967 borders, and to start peace negotiations from such an altered position of acknowledged wrongdoing without asking or expecting any reciprocal gesture from the Palestinian side. In the present atmosphere, it is politically unimaginable that Israeli leaders will heed such a call, but it is morally unimaginable that Israel will survive its impending spiritual collapse if it does not quickly learn to do so.

In the meantime, we who are beyond these zones of occupation, abuse, and imprisonment, must do more than stand and watch as this tragic drama plays itself out. We need to do all we can to strengthen the demands of Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi – and all who act in solidarity with them – for the immediate release of all Palestinians currently held in administrative detention, for an end to detention without charge, and to abusive arrests in the middle of the night.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008).

He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

Zimbabwe: Do All Muslims Represent Islam?



Muslims, are very popular in the media nowadays. Worldwide debates rage about various topics that invariably involve Muslims. Almost continuous media exposure means that there is hardly a person left in the world that has not read or seen something about Islam or Muslims, or both.

In addition, most people have an opinion. Many base their opinions on misconceptions or misunderstandings about Islam. Many base their opinions on the actions or words of people who call themselves Muslims but actually have very little knowledge about their religion.

Thankfully, many base their opinions on sound knowledge and research. However, in a media saturated century it is only fair to ask the question, do all Muslims represent Islam?

I thought it to be the appropriate moment especially this time when Muslims are celebrating the birth anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad to show how the Holy Prophet lived and interacted with followers of other divine revealed religions such Christianity.

Prophet Muhammad was described as a “Mercy for all the Worlds”, as God said in the Quran: “We have sent you as a mercy for all the worlds.” (Quran 21:107)

The recipients of this quality were not limited to just the Muslim nation, but also extended to non-Muslims, some of who spent all their effort trying to harm the Prophet and his mission. This mercy and forgiveness is clearly demonstrated by the Prophet who never took revenge on anyone for personal reasons and always forgave even his staunch enemies.

The Arabian Peninsula during the time of the Prophet was a region in which various faiths were present. There were Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, polytheists, and others not affiliated with any religion.

Looking into the life of the Prophet, one may draw many examples that portray the high level of tolerance shown to people of other faiths. At times the Prophet would permit Christians to conduct their prayers in the Mosque. Islam is a religion revealed by God for the benefit of humankind and it wholeheartedly forbids harming innocent people in any way.

This includes their bodies, wealth, or honour.

Islam teaches Muslims to treat everybody, no matter their religion, ethnicity, colour or social status, with respect and kindness. Islam forbids oppression and safeguards rights and it commands the Muslims to live in peace and harmony and uphold justice even towards one’s enemies and even in times of war.

When Islam is called the religion of peace it is meant literally. Islam comes from the root word “sa-la-ma”, as do the words Muslim (one who follows the message of Islam) and which among many meanings also denotes peace, security, safety and implies submission and surrender to Almighty God.

Peace and security are inherent in the submission to the One God. The Quran was revealed for all of humankind and Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to all humankind. Each person is entitled to sustenance, shelter, and security and if some are denied their God given rights, it is the responsibility of the rest of humankind, to restore those rights, not blatantly take them away.

Therefore when atrocities that defy belief and defy the teachings of Islam are committed, it is important to remember that not all Muslims represent Islam.

Groups such as the Boko Haram, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabab etc cannot possibly claim to speak or act on behalf of all Muslims. Not all Muslims represent Islam and not all Muslims understand and follow their religion. Culture often dictates action. Knowing this, it becomes essential to recognise that just because a person, a group or country is known as Islamic, does not mean that it is automatically a perfect follower of the laws sent down by God.

To understand and judge this tolerance, one must look into the period in which Islam was a formal state, with the specific laws laid down by the Prophet in accordance with the tenets of religion. Even though one can observe many examples of tolerance shown by the Prophet in the 13 years of his stay in Mecca, one may incorrectly think that it was only due to seeking to raise the profile of the Muslims and the social status of Islam and in general.

The discussion will be limited to the period which commenced with the migration of the Prophet to Medina, and specifically once the constitution was set.

When the Prophet migrated to Medina, he laid laws to ensure harmony and stability in a society which once had been distraught by decades of war, one which must ensure the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Jews, Christians and polytheists. The Prophet laid down a “constitution” which detailed the responsibilities of all parties which resided in Medina, their obligations towards each other, and certain restrictions which were placed on each.

All parties were to obey what was mentioned therein, and any breach of its articles was regarded as an act of treachery. All were considered members and citizens of Medina society regardless of religion, race, or ancestry. Since the upper hand was with the Muslims, the Prophet strictly warned against any maltreatment of people of other faiths.

Individual tribes, who were not Muslims, were allowed to refer to their own religious scriptures and their learned men in regard to their own personal affairs. Each was allowed to practice their beliefs freely without any hindrances, and no acts of provocation would be tolerated.

The Islamic Solution to Stop Domestic Violence

By: Qasim Rashid in HuffPo

Critics incorrectly allege that Islam command’s husband’s to beat their wives, often citing the Quran verse 4:34. Unfortunately, like any Muslim man who harms his wife, critics miss the keen wisdom in verse 4:34 that actively pre-empts domestic violence.

In Virginia, I provide pro bono legal support to victims of domestic and sexual violence. Virtually all of our clients are female. Every nine seconds — nearly 10,000 victims daily — a woman in the United States is abused. In America, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rape — combined. Would those who blame Islam for domestic violence also blame Christianity every nine seconds?

Before addressing this question, consider Dr. James Q. Wilson’s perspective — America’s pre-eminent social scientist. He cites the medical fact that the part of the brain that stimulates anger and aggression is larger in men than in women. Likewise, the part of the brain that restrains anger is smaller in men than in women. Simply put, men are far more prone to violence and far less capable of self-restraint than women.

But this is not a “cop out” argument. Part of the problem is that our laws only punish men after the violence has already occurred. We implement educational and rehabilitation programs to decrease and diminish other illnesses, allowing the individual to function in society without harm to him or herself or to others. Likewise, stopping domestic violence means acting to eliminate even initial infractions.

Pre-emptive deterrence is the key. And this precisely is the wisdom behind verse 4:34 to decrease and stop violence against women. The verse in its totality describes a process of restraint, anger management and reformation.

The verse begins by defining a family unit, holding the husband accountable as the household’s guardian and provider. This obligation gives him certain authority, privileges and a requirement of magnanimity — but never the right to employ domestic violence. The verse then urges women to also act virtuously, and protect the family unit by cooperating with their husband, listening to him in all good things and to not publicize private family matters.

Next, verse 4:34 employs the process of anger management, reformation and reconciliation. This process may only be employed after a wife has initially and deliberately undermined or attempted to destroy the family, as indicated by the words, “as for those on whose part you fear disobedience.” But “disobedience” does not mean any random disagreement a wife may have with her husband. Arabic lexicon provides the correct understanding as that of a wife who has deserted her husband altogether or has unjustly attempted to destroy the family. Once a wife deliberately engages in this form of behavior, then the Quran describes a process to peacefully reconcile the dispute.

The first step, anger management, obliges the husband to merely admonish his wife of his concern, essentially encouraging the parties to admit that a problem exists. This forces a man to strictly control himself in hopes that his wife will also incline to reconciliation. Should this fail, the second step is separating beds for up to four months. This act further diminishes the chances of domestic violence, as a man physically separates himself from the emotionally charged situation for an extended period of time. If the wife engaged in an action to which the husband over reacted, then his extended time apart will help him realize the foolishness of his own behavior. Likewise, if the wife indeed engaged in an improper act, then her husband’s separation will encourage her to realize the unreasonableness of her behavior. Either way, this step avoids violence altogether while actively promoting reconciliation.

Employed effectively, these two steps help reconcile the vast majority of domestic disputes. Should the first two steps fail, however, the Quran allows — never commands — men to consider the third step, translated as “to chastise them.” But to understand “chastise” as sanctioning violence ignores the lengthy process employed in the first two steps to eliminate violence, the proper meaning and scope of “chastise,” and the precedent of peaceful reconciliation Prophet Muhammad himself established.

First, it is unmerited to suggest that the Quran requires such extensive lengths to avoid violence, only to ultimately permit it.

Next, Arabic lexicon demonstrates that the word translated “chastise,” i.e. daraba, employs definitions like “to heal,” having nothing to do with violence. While daraba may also mean, “to strike,” the proper scope of “strike” is best understood through Prophet Muhammad’s example. Prophet Muhammad explained that for that man incapable of controlling his anger — the first two required restrictions notwithstanding — any act, such as a “strike,” must heal and “not so much as to leave a mark.”

Elaborating on this, Prophet Muhammad explicitly admonished Muslims, “Do not beat your wives.” He led by example and never struck his wives, therefore demonstrating in word and in deed that Muslim men cannot harm women for any reason.

As an alternative, Islam also encourages arbitration to actively foster reconciliation while reducing and eliminating the chances for domestic violence.

Thus, verse 4:34 describes a human nature-based process of reducing environmental triggers and curbing biological urges. This verse forces men to control their anger, remove themselves from emotionally charged situations that may lead to domestic violence, while admonishing women to also incline towards reconciliation.

As for women who fear harm from their husbands, Islam gives women an even easier path: demand their husbands stop their egregious behavior, or file for divorce. Islam was the first religion and Prophet Muhammad was the first statesman to ensure women had the right to unilaterally divorce. A Muslim man who violates his duties to protect, provide and care for his wife risks losing his wife altogether, while still being liable to provide for her financially. The Quran ensured these protections to women 1,400 years ago. Thus, Muslim men who abuse women do so in spite of the Quran, ignoring the Quran’s required and lengthy pre-emptive methods to peacefully reconcile.

Finally, remember that domestic violence occurs because men let their anger rule their behavior. If the nearly 10,000 American women who are abused daily received the pre-emptive protections that verse 4:34 offers, then how many women would actually be subject to domestic violence at all?

DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future.

Tuesday evening, March 20, 2012

In the midst of brutal violence, 200 brave Muslims and Christians met and discovered communication excellence in their days and evenings together during the 2010 2nd Annual Youth Interfaith Dialogue Conference, in Jos.

This practical evening is to offer — through African film and experience — modern tools of communication for your home, school, business, neighborhood, and global community.

Host Spencer Kapoba Chiimbwe, from Zambia, champions face-to-face, multi-faith, cross-cultural communication excellence as expert resident facilitator and Interfaith Fellow for The Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center. He is Coordinator for the Centre For Conflict Dialogue in New York.

Facilitators Libby and Len Traubman co-founded the 19-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue of San Mateo, California. They have co-produced five films: (1) DIALOGUE AT WASHINGTON HIGH, (2) PEACEMAKERS: Palestinians & Jews Together at Camp, (3) CROSSING LINES IN FRESNO, and (4) ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN: Graduation Day! Since January, 2012, (5) DIALOGUE IN NIGERIA has been requested from 35 nations.

● Sponsors ●

6:30 pm • Educational Exhibits & Networking 7:00 SHARP – 9:00 pm • Film & Participation

Centre for Conflict Dialogue in New York


Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue


Africa Square ~ Harlem

Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Plaza (8th Floor) 163 West 125th Street ~ New York, NY USA


Please RSVP: 646-730-0500 ~ or ~ Spencer@ccdny.org