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HAMAS Wins Historic Election, What's Next?

The Free Muslim Coalition applauds President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and his FATAH party for respecting the results of democracy in light of their substantial losses to the radical Islamic group, HAMAS.

HAMAS has won a surprise victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Early results give Hamas 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, with the ruling Fatah party trailing with 43 seats. On top of the seats taken by Hamas and Fatah, the 13 remaining seats went to smaller parties and independents, four of whom were backed by Hamas.

This is the first time in modern Arab history that a ruling party gracefully accepts its losses. The Palestinian people have become the most democratic people in the entire Arab and Muslim world and this is a cause for celebration.

However, HAMAS' win poses serious questions to the future of the Palestinian/Israeli peace talks. At present, Israel is saying it will not deal with HAMAS and HAMAS has said that it will not deal with Israel.

So what's next?

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei of Fatah has offered to resign, and some in FATAH has said they will not join HAMAS in a coalition government. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah party, says he remains committed to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. Mr Abbas will now have to discuss with Hamas the formation of a new government and the appointment of a prime minister.

The Free Muslims Coalition, while disappointed with the election results, believe that all sides must respect the wishes of the Palestinian people. The main issue for internal Palestinian politics and the international community is to make sure that HAMAS does not try to create a theocratic "Islamic State" or change the rules that brought them to power as Iran had done after the Islamic revolution. If HAMAS tries to change election rules where only people with an Islamic ideology can enter elections in the future then the entire world should boycott and suspend all aid to a HAMAS led government.

In the mean time, the world and in particular the Arab and Muslim countries must reach out to HAMAS and convince them to drop the violence and help lead the Palestinians to peace and prosperity. The world should not boycott HAMAS without giving them a chance to do the right thing by pursing a non-violent approach to solving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Attacking HAMAS at this point may only strengthen their hold on Palestinian hearts and minds. HAMAS will now have to put their utopian rhetoric into action. If they don't bring peace and economic prosperity to Palestine, it is unlikely that the majority of Palestinians will again vote for them in the future.

Posted January 26, 2006 by Kamal Nawash

Solving the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

No issue has the same global impact as the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. During the cold war, the United States and the Soviet Union twice raised their security alerts and aggressively challenged each other over this conflict. The oil embargo of the 1970s was inspired by the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Numerous militants, terrorist groups and governments around the world which seek legitimacy place the Palestinian/Israeli conflict at the forefront of their agenda. And while the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is not the cause of terrorism, solving this conflict may transform the political landscape of the entire Middle East and expose the various agendas of numerous violent groups who leach on this conflict to win the hearts and minds of emotional and unsuspecting people.

Because of the global impact of this conflict, the entire world must do all it can to bring peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. Towards that end the Free Muslims propose the following:

Today there are three solutions to this conflict. The Israelis and Palestinians can kill each other; they can separate by creating two separate nations; or they can create one nation made up of two people. Presently, the only solution being discussed is a two state solution. This solution is based on separating both people into two separate and sovereign nations. While the Free Muslims support any solution that brings final peace to both Israelis and Palestinians, we believe there are serious problems with the two state solution that may not bring long term peace to both people.

During the Clinton administration, the Palestinians and Israelis spent nearly ten years trying to hammer out a deal based on the two state solution. That peace process ended in total failure. Immediately after the failure of that peace process, Israelis and Palestinians blamed each other for the failure; and the rest of the world took side with either the Palestinians or the Israelis.

However, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are to blame for the failure of the Clinton era peace talks which were based on the "Oslo agreement." What caused the failure of the peace talks maybe the solution it self rather than the parties. The consequences of creating two separate nations by dividing Israel and Palestine were and still are difficult pills to swallow for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is a fact that both Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine. The sooner the Palestinians and Israelis understand this reality the sooner they can solve their conflict.

From the point of view of many Israelis, the two state solution is difficult because they would have to give up their religious and historical attachments to the West Bank and Gaza which they call Judea and Samaria. Many Israelis simply cannot fathom giving up the West Bank and Gaza and maybe they should not have to. From the point of view of the Palestinians, the two states solution is difficult because they have historical, religious and emotional attachments not only to the West Bank and Gaza but also to Israel which they call the lands of 1948 after the year they lost it to present day Israel. These are the facts and realities that the Palestinians and Israelis have to deal with to solve their conflict.

In light of these facts some may think that a solution to this conflict is impossible. Not true. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict can be solved like any other conflict as long as the parties think outside the box and as long as no one uses violence or terrorism to effect political change.

In light of the attachments that both parties have for the same territory, the solution is not in separating but in coming closer together. Many Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree that the land they call Israel/Palestine is indivisible. Thus, the solution lies in keeping the land that Israelis and Palestinians call home as one nation while at the same time providing each side with the security and the individuality the parties would have if they had their own separate nations.

What is being proposed here is a Two State-One Nation solution based on equality, freedom and civil rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. The idea behind this solution is that there will be two sovereign states similar to New York and New Jersey that together make one nation similar to the United States of America. However, rather than being a federation it would be a confederation. The main difference between a federation and a confederation is that the states in a confederacy have much more sovereignty than in a federation.

What is being proposed here is not entirely new. What is new about the two state-one nation solution is that it achieves the benefits of being one united nation while reserving for both Israelis and Palestinians the security and independence of being two separate nations.

To illustrate this point further, note that after occupying the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel could have annexed and integrated those territories into Israel by providing the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. However, Israel did not do this and instead chose to treat the West Bank and Gaza as if they were part of Israel physically without providing the Palestinians in those territories with citizenship, political rights or civilian rule. Among the reasons Israel did not integrate the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel is because Israelis were afraid of a demographic problem. The Israelis feared that if they gave the Palestinians equality, political and civil rights that the Palestinians may one day out number the Israelis and vote Israel out of existence. While we understand this concern by Israelis, those Israelis who fear giving the Palestinians equality and civil rights assume that they cannot give the Palestinians equality and at the same time have a Jewish state. This is a false assumption. The territory that includes Israel and Palestine can be one nation where the Palestinians have equality, political and civil rights and at the same time be a safe heaven for Jews from all over the world.

This can be done by creating a confederation of two states united by a federal type government with limited powers. The country can be called the United States of Israel and Palestine. While both states should have the right to limit immigration and migration within their borders, the principles of the nation should be based on the free movement of labor and people. To the extent that Israelis move to Palestine and Palestinians to Israel, we can avoid the demographic consequences of the migration by having their votes count in their respective state regardless of where they live. This approach will totally avoid the demographic fear that Israelis have by making certain that migration of people does not dilute the political power of Jews or Palestinians in their local and state politics.

As to the national government, Israel and Palestine shall each contribute 50% to the national parliament regardless of their populations. With this solution, the Israelis do not have to fear political dilution from potential demographic changes and the Palestinians do not have to fear political dilution from the Israelis.

As to the President or Prime Minister of the national government of the United States of Israel and Palestine, they should be elected by the national parliament. Being that the parliament is divided 50/50 no Palestinian or Israeli can win without support from parliamentarians of the other side. This will guarantee that no Palestinian or Israeli extremist can become president of the United States of Israel and Palestine.

Initially, the national government should have limited powers similar to the United States government in the early days of the Union. As time progresses and both Israelis and Palestinians feel more comfortable with each other, they may chose to give the confederation more authority. In essence the early days of the national government of the United States of Israel and Palestine should resemble an entity more like the European Union than the U.S. federal government.

On economic matters, Israel and Palestine shall act as one nation with no exception. They shall have the same currency, no tariffs and complete free trade. The early days of the national government or confederation shall be to bring jobs and economic prosperity to both Israelis and Palestinians. This should be an easy task. A peaceful Israel and Palestine acting as one nation would be a gold mine the likes of which the world has never seen. A nation that is the birth place of western civilization and immensely revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, religious tourism alone will guarantee a healthy economy in perpetuity.

However, the economy will have more than tourism to secure its prosperity. A nation of Palestinians and Israelis at peace with their neighbors shall have unlimited opportunities. The technical know-how of Israel, the available capital in the Arab world and a geography that is at the intersection of three continents can produce an economic power house that is second to none on a per capita basis. Moreover, a peaceful nation made up of Palestine and Israel at peace with their neighbors will not only bring economic prosperity to that nation but also to the entire Middle East.

This solution may not be perfect. However, this proposed solution may be the only solution that will give the Palestinians and Israelis most of what they want while at the same time allows both people to keep their individual identity and live as one nation. Moreover, with this solution, Jerusalem becomes a non-issue and borders become less relevant. This solution will basically take Israelis and Palestinians back to the time before the first intifada (uprising) began in 1987 with the only difference being that the Palestinians will have rights and equality that they never had under the occupation. As proof that this solution can work is the fact that Israel has one million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and they are not demonstrating, throwing rocks or blowing themselves up. Why is this? The only difference between Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is that one group has freedom, political and civil rights while the other has nothing. Israel did not recognize the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza as citizens. They were put under military rule, and they were segregated in everyway.

To summarize, the Free Muslims are asking the Palestinians to reach out to their Israeli and Jewish partners and say the following:

"We understand why the state of Israel is important to you. We are fully aware of the persecution that Jews suffered throughout history and the necessity of having a safe heaven for Jews. We also understand that Jews have historical and religious ties to Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Jew shall have the right to move to Israel and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome Jews to visit and to reside in the West Bank and Gaza. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, what we want is freedom, liberty and equality for the Palestinians. Will you meet us half way?"

The Free Muslims are also asking Israelis and Jews to reach out to their Palestinians Partners and say the following:

"We understand why Palestine is important to you. We are fully aware of the suffering the Palestinians have experience over the last 100 years and the necessity of having a safe haven for Palestinians. We also understand that Palestinians have historical and religious ties to Israel/Palestine. We believe that every Palestinian shall have the right to move to Palestine and become a citizen immediately. We also welcome the Palestinians to visit and to reside in Israel. We want the Palestinians and Israelis to live together as neighbors, friends and countrymen. In return, what we want is permanent security, liberty, equality and the total freedom to be Jews. Will you meet us half way?"

Posted January 25, 2006 by Kamal Nawash

Should the U.S. Control Illegal Immigration?

THE Senate is currently debating the most far reaching immigration amnesty in more than a generation.

The immigration "reform" bill is supported by an unlikely coalition of powerful special interest groups that includes the largest Latino advocacy groups, business lobbies, labor Unions and immigration lawyers among others. On the other hand, the amnesty is opposed by an increasingly vocal Americans population who are frustrated with the flood of illegal aliens who are rapidly changing their communities; lowering wages for blue collar workers, African Americans and putting enormous pressure on local and state governments to educate and provide healthcare and other services for illegal aliens.

So is the immigration reform bill good for America? And must reform include a path to citizenship?

Before answering these questions, one should consider the motivation of those who favor an amnesty and a path to citizenship. The most vocal opponents of controlling illegal immigration are Latino organizations. This is no surprise. Most American Latino organizations have an established history of reflexively opposing any measure that controls unlawful immigration. Opposition to controlling illegal immigration has become so politically charged that those who call for control of illegal immigration are considered racist and intolerant.
In addition to Latin American groups, both Political parties have resisted controlling illegal immigration. Advocates argue that Democrats support an amnesty and a path to citizenship because immigrants are more likely to become Democrats and thus strengthening the Democratic Party. As to Republicans, advocates argue that Republicans law makers generally oppose controlling illegal immigration because a key constituent, the business community, wants cheap labor.
Another major group that is working hard for the amnesty is labor unions. For the last 20 years, labor unions have experienced declining numbers and influence in the United States. Labor unions hope to reverse their decline with illegal workers.

And last but not least, immigration lawyers also support an amnesty and a path to citizenship. There is no surprise here as immigration lawyers stand to make a fortune.

Clearly, even a superficial analysis of the groups who favor an amnesty reveals that those groups have self-serving narrow interests that may not be in the best interest of the United States. The United States has an open porous border with Mexico where thousands of people cross illegally every month. If thousands are able to cross the border without detection, how difficult would it be for terrorists to cross the Mexican border? If thousands of people are smuggling drugs from the U.S./Mexican border, how difficult would it be to smuggle explosives?

Now, let's consider the argument that legalizing illegal aliens will reduce illegal immigration. This argument has been made by many important figures including, President George W. Bush, President Clinton, President Reagan, Senator McCain, Senator Kennedy among others. It is puzzling that politicians and special interest groups continue to make this argument when EVERY past amnesty and program that legalized illegal aliens actually increased illegal immigration.

For Example, the most recent amnesty was authorized in 2001 under President Clinton. The Clinton era amnesty allowed illegal aliens to adjust their status in the United States if they found a qualified sponsor such as an employer. After the expiration of the amnesty in April 2001, hundreds of thousand of people crossed the border illegally on a chance that the U.S. will again offer an Amnesty or some other tool that pardons illegal aliens.

Finally, many employers have replaced African Americans with illegal aliens. There is nothing to indicate that those African Americans have taken better jobs. One wonders what those African Americans are doing now. Are they unemployed?

In conclusion, the United States may have need for immigration reform but it has to be narrowly tailored to the needs of the country. If the United States needs additional workers in a particular industry, it is possible to achieve this goal with a narrowly tailored program that does not include a path to citizenship. Currently, the United States issues numerous non-immigrant work visas which do not provide a path to citizenship such as H1B visas. This being the case, it is puzzling why so many groups insist on a path to citizenship when it is not necessary?

Posted January 01, 2006 by Kamal Nawash