Up to 1400 Arab journalists rally to defend Zayed Center

August 19, 2003

CONTENTS

1. “Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge” (Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, August 19, 2003)
2. “Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League’s prime think tank” (Al Bawaba, August 18, 2003)
3. “America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity” (Khilafah.com, August 19, 2003)


UAE CLOSES ARAB LEAGUE’S PRIME THINK TANK

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s dispatch UAE closes Zayed Center (‘Harvard and the Holocaust’ Follow-up) and should be read in conjunction with it.

I attach three items from the Arab media with summaries first:

1. “Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge” (Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, August 19, 2003). “The Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-up (ZICCF) has strongly rejected accusations of being anti-American or anti-Semitic as pressure builds up to have its activities frozen. As pressure by Jewish organisations continued to build against the Abu Dhabi-based Centre which commenced operations in 1999, hundreds of Arab journalists expressed their sympathy and solidarity in joint letters sent to ZICCF this week. ZICCF officials said yesterday they had received solidarity signatures from more than 160 Arab journalists this week and expected the number to climb to 1,400 today.” (Please note that Yigal Carmon, who is mentioned in this article, is the head of Memri, as well as being a subscriber to this email list.)

2. “Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League’s prime think tank” (Al Bawaba, August 18, 2003). Unlike the article above, this piece from the moderate Arab publication Al bawaba, does at least cite some of the objectionable anti-Semitic statements by the Zayed Center of the kind I mentioned in my dispatch of yesterday, although Al bawaba still insists in putting the word antisemitism in quotes.

3. “America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity” (Khilafah.com, August 19, 2003). On an entirely separate note, I attach an item today from this Moslem website, for information purposes only. The author writes: “... For a tiny duration there was a minute degree of commonality between the plight of the Iraqis and those of NYC. In real terms their two predicaments were wholly dissimilar. Millions of Iraqis have been deprived of fuel, electricity and water for months. Under occupations there is also little or no prospect of this situation changing. The temperature in Iraq in August soared to 50C (122F). There is no respite or solace to be found in air-conditioning, fans and refrigeration.”



FULL ARTICLES

ZAYED CENTRE REJECTS ANTI-SEMITISM CHARGE

Zayed Centre rejects anti-Semitism charge
Abu Dhabi
By Nadim Kawach, Bureau Chief
Gulf News
August 19, 2003

The Zayed International Centre for Coordination and Follow-up (ZICCF) has strongly rejected accusations of being anti-American or anti-Semitic as pressure builds up to have its activities frozen.

As pressure by Jewish organisations in the United States and other countries continued to build against the Abu Dhabi-based Centre which commenced operations in 1999, hundreds of Arab journalists expressed their sympathy and solidarity in joint letters sent to ZICCF this week.

ZICCF officials said yesterday they had received solidarity signatures from more than 160 Arab journalists this week and expected the number to climb to 1,400 today.

"Pressure is building up against the Centre but support is also building up," said Mohammed Khalifa Al Murar, director general.

The signature letters, obtained by Gulf News yesterday, denounced what they described as a "systematic smear campaign by Zionist circles in the United States and Britain against the Zayed Centre because of its distinct cultural and civilised role."

"Such distinct activities have enabled the Centre through well-known scholars to influence the world in understanding the just cause of our nation, on top of which is the plight of the Palestinian people who have been expelled from their homes and lived in diaspora for more than 50 years," said the letters, sent by journalists from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the U.S.

"We strongly condemn this unfair campaign and appeal for UAE President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, for Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the ZICCF, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa to ensure the Centre continues playing this important role in defending our national causes. Resistance is not only by the gun as words are sometimes more effective… as evident in the campaign against ZICCF."

ZICCF was set up under a decree by Sheikh Zayed in line with a proposal by an Arab League symposium to create a regional mechanism to follow up and promote Arab causes abroad, and strengthen inter-Arab relations in political, economic, cultural and social fields.

The project was then endorsed by the Arab League Council which groups the foreign ministers of member states to become an affiliate of the Cairo-based League.

Since it was created, the Centre has hosted hundreds of Arab, Muslim and Western scholars and intellects who covered a wide range of issues, including economy, politics, defence, education, culture, security and other matters. The Centre has also organised scores of seminars and conferences on a variety of topics.

"The Centre is here to stay and it will," Murar said. "You should know that it is an Arab League organisation and it is up to the Arab League to decide on its fate… but I can tell you that it is a permanent issue on the agenda of the Foreign Ministers."

Bold views presented by those scholars who spoke out against injustice and oppression against the Palestinian people and criticised the countries which blindly support Israel have triggered a hostile campaign by Jewish organisations worldwide.

The campaign is spearheaded by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Jewish organisation that monitors the Middle East and and other regions for any publications and activities it deems as anti-Semitic.

Last year, Colonel Yigal Carmon, the institute's president, went to U.S. Congress to complain about ZICCF and present allegations that it is fomenting anti-Semitic views. The institute, which has branches in Britain, Israel and other countries, has also issued several statements against ZICCF calling for its boycott and closure.

But ZICCF rebuffed such claims and asserted that it is against all terrorism and all forms of racism and hatred directed at any ethnic or religious group.

"First, the Zayed Centre reiterates that it does not condone, nor does it 'sponsor or distribute', anti-Semitic or anti-U.S. literature of any kind. On the contrary, the Zayed Centre unequivocally condemns and opposes all forms of racism and hatred directed at any ethnic, gender, religious, or national group, including anti-Semitism," it said.

"Second, the Zayed Centre does not engage in disseminating anti-American literature. Indeed, since its inception in 1999, the Centre has hosted numerous American speakers who have discussed the special bilateral relationship that binds the UAE and the U.S."

It said Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of State James Baker, the President's brother Neal Bush, CIA Director Admiral Stansfield Turner, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State Ed Djerejian and many American academics and diplomats are but a few of the illustrious list of mainstream speakers who have taken part in the lively and constructive dialogue for which the Centre has become widely known.

"The Zayed Centre does not harbour an anti-American attitude as claimed by MEMRI propaganda. On the contrary, American citizens and officials are among the Centre's most frequent visitors.

"Former Ambassador to the UAE Ted Kattouf has spoken twice at the Centre, so has the acting chief of mission who followed him in office. Although she has not yet spoken at ZICCF, current U.S. Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba has paid a courtesy visit to the Centre and met with its Executive Director.

"The Zayed Centre is not in the business of censoring questions raised by independent reporters during lectures nor pre-clearing answers given to these questions by guest speakers.

"As an independent, non-partisan, non-profitable organisation seeking to bridge the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, MEMRI should know that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right protected by many constitutions and international agreements and conventions. Difference of opinion in a free society does not justify censorship."

The statement said that since its founding, the Zayed Centre has hosted literally hundreds of guest speakers, including several heads of state and other prominent political, religious, academic, corporate, and social figures from various parts of the world.

"These speakers were given the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them and to the world community in an environment characterised by total openness and intellectual freedom, as is the custom at all serious think tanks.

"The Centre's record in this regard speaks for itself. Any objective researcher may examine for himself or herself the substance of the Centre's more than 500 lecturers to ascertain for themselves that the Zayed Centre does not advocate an anti-American agenda, and, more importantly, does not condone any form of anti-Semitism or racism," it said.

"The mission of the Zayed Centre is clear and consistent with the vision of tolerance articulated by His Highness President Sheikh Zayed; and it remains committed to encourage free and open dialogue, without any constraints or restrictions, about serious issues that are vital to the region and to all of mankind."

 

FOLLOWING US, JEWISH CRITICISM: UAE CLOSES ARAB LEAGUE’S PRIME THINK TANK

Following US, Jewish criticism: UAE closes Arab League's prime think tank
Al Bawaba
August 18, 2003

The UAE is closing down a think-tank that Israel and Jewish bodies accused of promoting anti-Americanism and "anti-Semitism."

An official said the future of the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed International Center for Coordination and Follow-Up – named in honor of UAE President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – will be up to its official sponsor, the Arab League. The UAE has funded and hosted the center since it opened in 1999, The Gulf News reported Monday.

"We are closing down the Zayed Center and ceasing its funding," the official added.

The think-tank was established with the aim of promoting Arab unity and has hosted such speakers as former US vice-president Al Gore and former US secretary of state James Baker.

The Zayed Center was hailed in recent years for its commitment to the environment and awarded cash prizes to renowned international figures, including former US president Carter.

However, the center also published claims that 9/11 attacks was a US plot, hosted a Saudi professor who alleged Jews used human blood to prepare "holiday pastries"; whose executive director said that "The truth is that the Jews are the enemies of all nations" and which released a press statement that declared "The Zionists are the ones who killed the Jews of Europe."

In the past, Mostafa Muhamed, the center's acting deputy director, has said it was neither anti-Semitic nor anti-American, but ready to listen to "any kind of views."

 

AMERICA – A PIT OF DARKNESS WITH OR WITHOUT ELECTRICITY

America – a pit of darkness with or without electricity
Khilafah.com
August 19, 2003

www.khilafah.com/home/category.php?DocumentID=8103&TagID=1

Much of northwest USA and southern Canada lost their bustle last week. 50 million people, of the major cities of New York, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto, were plunged into darkness during a blackout. Traffic lights failed, lifts stopped dead and commuter trains came to a halt. The automated automobile production lines of the motorcity shuddered and seized, leaving half-finished Chevies suspended in mid-air. Even the Ottawa’s “everlasting centennial flame” that has been burning since 1967 spluttered and blew out.

North Americans rely on heating to make the interiors of their buildings feel like the tropics in the winter, and they rely on their air-conditioning to make them feel like Siberia in the summer. This artificial climate controlled country is only maintained by the reliance on electricity. A constant and steady supply has to feed the beast. This insatiable bubble protects Americans form the harshness of the political climate and the harshness of the actual climate that hangs over the world at the moment. Over consumption is not a word in the vocabulary of most Americans. Their government has many means of ensuring that they don’t feel the heat. Controlling the flow of oil from the various sources throughout the globe is one means by which they ensure that native New Yorkers have a steady supply of electricity. This energy is required in the kitchens of Manhattan apartments to grind Brazilian coffee beans whenever the Colombian housemaid flicks the switch on the wall. The PDAs of executives need to be charged to download sports results. The heated hair rollers of the secretaries, to these executives, need to be ready before the morning power-shower.

Whilst millions of North Americans had to go without these necessities, millions of Iraqis suffered a similar fate. I apologies in advance, to anyone who takes offence at my distasteful attempt at irony. So to spell it out; in a very narrow context (electricity supply) and for a tiny duration there was a minute degree of commonality between the plight of the Iraqis and those of NYC. In real terms their two predicaments were wholly dissimilar. Millions of Iraqis have been deprived of fuel, electricity and water for months. Under occupations there is also little or no prospect of this situation changing. The temperature in Iraq in August soared to 50C (122F). There is no respite or solace to be found in air-conditioning, fans and refrigeration.

One of the key fears of many American last week was that the situation in New York would deteriorate into the looting and crime frenzy of the 1977 blackout. Since the American occupation crime has become part and parcel of life in Iraq. The occupying forces do nothing, and even indirectly encourage it.

Over the last few weeks the British have been complaining incessantly about the heat. The continental Europeans have been setting fire to their own tinder dry forests, and the French have been counting how many patients have died in their hospitals as a result of the heat. The Muslims will not shed a tear for them and their condition. Their own leaders won’t, Tony Blair has just been sunning himself in the Caribbean, why should we. We do however show concern about the heat political and otherwise in Iraq and all the other metaphorical hotspots in the Islamic world.

Salim Fredericks
Khilafah.com Journal
22 Jumaad Al-Thani 1424 Hijri
19 August 2003


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.