Israeli-Palestinian Economic Coexistence Benefits Palestinians According to Panel


Israelis and Palestinians work for economic coexistence in the West Bank as BDS fights their efforts from overseas, which was the topic of discussion at a panel held at CSI.

Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Activist, and Erez Zadok, Fund Manager for Aviv Peace Impact-Impact, visited CSI on March 31,2016 to educate students on the benefits of Israeli-Palestinian economic coexistence and the challenges it has been facing.  According to NPR, the main coalition trying to move Israeli companies out of the West Bank is BDS. These efforts by BDS hinders the work of people like Zadok, who invest in West Bank companies and try to build peace through economic relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.

Zadok explained that economic coexistence in the West Bank benefits the Palestinians.

“I found out there are 50,000 Palestinians working for Israeli companies in the West Bank,” said Zadok.”These 50,000 Palestinians make five times more than the Palestinians that work in Palestinian factories.”

Zadok met with SodaStream and toured the factory that was in the West Bank.

“The factory was in a small village in Jerusalem. Among the 1,000 people who work there, half of them were Palestinians, half of them were Israelis and of the Israelis, part of them were Arab, and part of them were Jews,” said Zadok.”When I asked the CEO of SodaStream what do you do he said ‘Well, we make peace, and we also make soda.'”

Zadok further explained he didn’t understand BDS’s attacks against SodaStream, a company that had a factory in the West Bank and employed Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and Arabs.

“I was amazed when I knew BDS was going was going after this company,” Zadok said. “You should think such a company should get a reward that it would want to make peace in this land.”

Eid pointed out that BDS is not in Palestine, but only exists in Europe and America.

“The Palestinians are much more aware of their situation than any other organization located in the USA, Europe or elsewhere,” said Eid. “Such an organization like BDS is not only trying to cause damage to the Israeli economy but also to the Palestinians.”

According to Eid, Palestinians in Palestine don’t know what BDS is nor do they support the movement’s ideology because it doesn’t benefit them.

Zadok pointed out that when BDS pressures companies to move out of the West Bank, in the end, it is the Palestinians that lose jobs, and Israelis are hired instead.  According to the Jerusalem Post, the BDS movement has not had the devastating impact on Israel’s economy it hoped to have. Israel’s trade to places such as Asia has improved. According to Zadok, though BDS tries to pressure companies to leave the West Bank, most have stayed. SodaStream finally moved out of the West Bank due to needing a larger factory, not because of BDS.

Zadok says even though Palestinians are attacking Israelis every day on the street in the workplace  e gets the same benefits, pay, and respect therefore building bridges and no one fights.  Palestinians have knives and other sharp tools at factories and attack no one, but knife attacks from     Palestinians and Arab‐Israelis happen frequently on the street in Isreal. According to the Jewish Press in September- October 2015 there were 48 stabbing attacks in Israel as part of the “stabbing intifada.” None of these incidents happened in factories.

“One thing that bothers me the most about BDS is that unwillingness to admit that there is a  Jewish or  Israeli narrative to this conflict,” said Amy Posner, Executive director at Hillel of College of Staten Island.  “So when you don’t admit that someone else has a narrative you can’t come up with some sort of cooperation.”

I came to the realization that Islam just wasn’t for me

I have been thinking about it for a while, but today I decided to leave Islam. Why? Because when I say I believe in something I am putting my name behind it. And I could no longer put my name behind something that I had many doubts in.

Let’s begin with what attracted me to Islam. I was originally an Evangelical Christian. I then realized that the concept of the Trinity no longer made sense. I started doubting that God had a son, or that we are simply forgiven because “God’s son died on the cross for our sins.” This concept stopped sounding reasonable to me and the idea that God rewards and punishes rather than just forgiving made more sense to me. I liked the idea that Allah held me accountable. I was also attracted to the structure of Islam. I liked all the rules. In Islam, there seemed to be a reason for everything. Every rule and regulation had an explanation as to why it was written. So that is what originally  attracted me to Islam.

What drove me away from Islam is this. First of all, Muhammed received his revelation from an angel, the angel Gabriel. The whole Quran and much of Muhammed’s other messages are based on his communication with this angel.  Now, if you look at the Quran, much of it is Torah and Bible stories just retold and rewritten with a different twist. Muslims are told to believe that the Torah and Bible are fictional even though the people who wrote it were there because an angel thousands of years later sent messages to Muhammed saying the story is different. And if you look at Muhammed’s retelling of ancient Jewish and Christian stories, through the angel Gabriel according to him, you see that all his retelling works in his favor. Also, there is some archeological and historical evidence for these Bible and Torah stories but none for Muhammed’s version of the story. I am not saying all Biblical texts are 100% accurate on their telling of ancient tales, but some facts are historical facts that unless you are Muslim are highly agreed upon. One example of this would be the fact that Jesus was crucified, and he was Jewish. Islam claims, according to Muhammed and the Quran, that Jesus was not crucified, Judas was instead. The Quran also claims that Jesus was Muslim, not Jewish.

Another thing that drove me away from Islam is it is deeply antisemitic. Let me list just a few Quran Surahs and Hadiths that show this. There are many others also.:

[2.113] And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ.

[4.160] Wherefore for the iniquity of those who are Jews did We disallow to them the good things which had been made lawful for them and for their hindering many (people) from Allah’s way

[5.78] Those who disbelieved from among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and Isa, son of Marium; this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit.

[6.146] And to those who were Jews We made unlawful every animal having claws, and of oxen and sheep We made unlawful to them the fat of both, except such as was on their backs or the entrails or what was mixed with bones: this was a punishment We gave them on account of their rebellion, and We are surely Truthful.

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. related by al-Bukhari and Muslim

Abu Musa’ reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your rescue from Hell-Fire. Sahih Muslim 37:6665

Now, I could bring up a list of things I disagree with in Islam. I don’t agree with polygamy or some other rulings in Islam, but I think this stuff isn’t as significant as the things I have listed. The bottom line is one doesn’t have to practice polygamy to be Muslim or follow every rule or tradition to be a practicing Muslim (at least I don’t think so and it would be very hard because there are so many.) But how can you subscribe to a religion that seems to be based on fiction rather than fact and is clearly spitting out hate towards another group. And all of this hateful dogma was spit out by Muhammed spoke to him by an “angel”. Would an angel say such things?

Something to think about.



We Shouldn’t Let Politics Divide Us


I have been having posts like this show up all over my newsfeed as I scroll through Facebook. People are throwing away their friends over Donald Trump. My question when seeing these posts is, is Donald Trump or any other political issue worth losing a friend over? Shouldn’t we just agree to disagree?


When I see this post this is how I respond:

“You should unfriend me. I might vote for him. It depends on who is running against him. Just a note.I never unfriend anyone because they feel differently than me. I am Republican. I don’t unfriend Democrats. I am pro-Israel. I don’t unfriend pro-Palestinians, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. It is called maturity.”

After one Facebook friend got that response from me, he graciously said I accept your views, and I am not going to unfriend you. Another Facebook friend who is also my classmate at school decided enough was enough she stated “Also most instances I don’t unfriend someone when there is a difference of opinion. But in regards to this election and other things you mentioned in your comments there aren’t any exception to me.” She not only unfriended me but she blocked me. I was very troubled by this because we were friends. And I thought to myself that our friendship has probably now ended.

So after this experience, I decided to write this blog to try to express that political differences aren’t worth losing a friend over. We shouldn’t let politics divide us. If you can find other things you have in common with the person and look beyond your differences with Trump or other political issues, then that is what is important. I understand if someone is always arguing with you or trying to push their opinion on you maybe you might want to avoid them.  But if that is not an issue, having particular political views shouldn’t be a requirement for friendship. In the end, it is important to be a person who builds bridges, not builds walls.



What It Means to be a Yelper to me

“Yelp gives me a voice so I can help you make a better choice.”

As a Yelper:

I write factual, unbiased reviews. I try to include photographs if possible. I try  to include information on the products from the business, the environment in the business, and the price range. The facts about the business are as important as my opinion is. So I try to include information about the business that isn’t just my viewpoint.

As a Yelper:

I interact with businesses. Sometimes that means just getting a compliment from them. And sometimes that means giving them a second chance. Bosmat Flowers and India House Restaurant are two businesses that thanked me for my reviews. Chocolatte apologized for my experience at their business. I ended up visiting Chocolatte again, seeing their improvements, updating my review, and becoming a regular customer. I now  go there about twice a week. So in the end, sometimes it does pay off for business owners to interact with Yelpers.

As a Yelper :

I feel we represent a community that holds businesses accountable. Even though some are skeptical of Yelp. I think most people reviewing on Yelp are giving their honest opinions. If you are looking for a Middle Eastern restaurant, a dry cleaner, a clothing store or anything else it is always good to know what others experienced when they went to the business. Yelp gives a voice for people to share their experiences. I always use Yelp when I look for a business. And I base if I go there on reviews and ratings.


Response to article concerning me full of lies and false accusations from Students for Justice in Palestine

An article was written against me by Yarah Shabana at Queens college. It contains slander from the Brooklyn College Chapter President of The Students for Justice in Palestine, Sarah Aly. The article in its entirety is below. I have released a very simple statement in response to it. I have chosen to not give an answer to all the false statements in this article because there are just so many. So I have simply said this:

This article just shows the kind of organization the SJP is when they have to resort to personal attacks and lies to “defend themselves” against the truth about their organization. Again their true colors have shown. As for this paper and the author, it is sad that a CUNY college paper is used to attack and defame another CUNY student.

Queens College asked me to outline my complaints about the article. Here are my complaints about the article from that email:

I believe that student publications shouldn’t be used to smear or defame other students. I believe when a colllege newspaper which is representing the college publishs something like this it represents the college badly. I do not know the writer or Sarah Aly (President of the Brooklyn College Chapter of The Students for Justice in Palestine) . But I feel both targeted me.

Aly made several false statements against me.

“She complained that the prayer room on campus was ‘too Muslim.’ [She] forced Muslim students to clear the room of prayer rugs and Qurans, while Bibles and other religious items were left alone. She has also been known to harass CSI’s chapter of SJP in person and online,” Aly said.

Aly added Karshan did not get along with Muslim students and caused problems with SJP chapters too.”

First of all, I wrote an article in the Banner about the prayer room. 

I said the prayer room should be more interfaith. I DO NOT have to power to make anyone remove prayer rugs or Qurans. Only Student Life can do that. And it was already Student Life’s policy that the items be kept away so the room be a neutral space so that all faiths feel comfortable. 
Second, I have never harrassed the SJP on campus. I have watched two events.But I never appproached them or commented. They have approached me and I avoided conflict and just politely turned down the material they offered. Third, I have no contact with them online. I use the hashtag #StudentsforJusticeinPalestine. But I never contact Students for Justice in Palestine EVER online or comment on their pages or posts. 
Fourth, the accusation that I don’t get along with Muslim students is false. Aly neither goes to my school nor can she speak for the whole Muslim population at CSI.

I also want to make a point about this statement :

“CUNY absolutely may not shut down SJP because some New Yorkers disagree with the group’s message supporting justice for Palestinians. To do so would violate the First Amendment,” Sainath said.”

It is false.

If you look at the comments on the petition people didn’t sign it because they had a problem with Palestine or Palestinians. They signed it because they had a problem with the antisemitism, harrrassment and bullying of the SJP.

petition :

Do you think The Knight News was wrong for printing the article “Petition to Ban Students for Justice in Palestine”?
They have been controlling the comments on their website but they can’t control the reviews on their Facebook page. Post a review of Knight News on Facebook and let your voice be heard.


Petition made to ban Students for Justice in Palestine

“More than 5,000 people signed a petition, started last November, to ban Students for Justice in Palestine chapters in CUNY.

Andrea Karshan, a student at the College of Staten Island, started the petition after members at different campuses chanted allegedly anti-Semitic comments at Jewish students during the Million Student March in November. One sign called for CUNY to divest from “Israeli apartheid.”

SJP began in 1993 at the University of California at Berkeley. Since then, there are chapters across the country, including at CUNY colleges. The organization is controversial for criticizing Israel’s presence in Palestine. One tactic it uses is BDS, which means boycott, divest and sanctions.

Karshan declined questions from The Knight News, but wrote an article on her blog defending the petition. She described the backlash from students and the support she received too.

“I don’t regret starting the petition,” she wrote. “It was something that needed to be done. Our voices needed to be heard.”

Karshan worked at The Banner newspaper when she created the petition. But she was dismissed by the Editor-in-Chief. After a new one was appointed, she returned.

The Banner newspaper sent a statement to The Knight News explaining why removing her was wrong.

“While it was not right for Andrea to become a part of the story she was reporting on, the editors handled the situation appropriately by taking her off the assignment,” it reads. “Her dismissal was quite literally against the Banner’s constitution as we’re obliged to be a welcoming place to all students at the College of Staten Island, no matter their beliefs or convictions.”

But Sarah Aly, president of the SJP chapter at Brooklyn College, said Karshan’s petition cannot work.

“There is no way that these demonstrations actually can be used to suspend any SJPs,” Aly said. “The CUNY-wide demonstration was organized by NYC SJP, which is an off-campus organization not tied to a campus.”

Aly added Karshan did not get along with Muslim students and caused problems with SJP chapters too.

“She complained that the prayer room on campus was ‘too Muslim.’ [She] forced Muslim students to clear the room of prayer rugs and Qurans, while Bibles and other religious items were left alone. She has also been known to harass CSI’s chapter of SJP in person and online,” Aly said.

CUNY Chancellor James Milliken said, in response to the allegations, that the remarks were not suitable and denounced them.

“While we will always embrace this openness to many voices, intolerant, hateful and bigoted speech, while it may be legally protected, is anathema to our values,” he said. “Those voices,” stop rather than encourage the dialogue and real debate that makes us stronger.”

In response to the Chancellor’s comments, Aly said there were Islamophobic remarks and found it troubling that he did not address that. She brought up the New York Police Department’s spying on Muslim students as something he does not comment on.

“This has been the trend recently [where] issues affecting students and faculty of color are being pushed to the side and ignored,” Aly said.

The New York Civil Liberties Union released the NYPD’s handbook on spying on MSAs at CUNY. At Queens College, officers are told to look at online profiles of members and even follow them.

At QC, Aadil Ilyas, an alum, felt the backlash against SJP. He worked to make a chapter at the college.

Ilyas posted a status on Facebook calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a monkey. A Jewish student took a screenshot of his status and gave it to a staff member. Ilyas was told not to make the chapter after this and because the national “negative attention” toward the group.

“I left [the person’s] office in disbelief,” Ilyas said. “I was so angry. I know why I started SJP, and QC is the perfect place to start it.”

But Ilyas said several club leaders supported his decision and starting the chapter.

“I had a presentation to do for SJP [in front of QC officials], since it was a new club, and I did great,” Ilyas said. “They had no choice but to approve it.”

Only the board of trustees can decide to ban SJP, but doing so is illegal, said Radhika Sainath, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal.

“CUNY absolutely may not shut down SJP because some New Yorkers disagree with the group’s message supporting justice for Palestinians. To do so would violate the First Amendment,” Sainath said.”

Petition made to ban Students for Justice in Palestine

Instant Conversions…A wrong practice

Statistics show that 7 out of 10 converts to Islam leave the faith. So why is this so? I believe part of the reason is uninformed, quick conversion decisions. Groups like NYC Grassroots Dawah encourage “instant conversions”.But this practice often has bad consequences in the end.
How can anyone make a major life decision after a 5-minute​ conversation or even an hour talk? This is what NYC Grassroots Dawah encourages. This organization wants people​ off the street with sometimes no prior knowledge of Islam to instantly convert. Take Pamela for example. I don’t know if she had prior knowledge of Islam. Read this post by NYC Grassroots Dawah that is followed by a video on their Facebook page of her instant conversion.

“Sister Pamela was sitting upset about someone by where she is standing in the video. We had a lengthy chat about some core values in life and at the end she decides to accept Islam took her #shahadah. Sister Farzana shared a lot of wisdom with her as well. alhamduliLlah!

Allahu akbar!”

Shouldn’t she first go to a mosque and learn further information before making such a big life decision?

I actually was encouraged by this Dawah organization to give a girl “instant Shahada”. I told her I thought she should first read the Quran and go visit a mosque and learn more. I also told her that I educated myself for several months before converting to make sure it was the right decision for me.

Becoming Muslim is a big decision and commitment. It is not something that should be taken lightly. To keep converts from leaving the faith they need to have a good foundation when they convert. They need to know what they are getting themselves into. They need to be sure this is what they really want to do with their lives.

I am against instant conversions and making any major life decisions in haste. I think we would have a stronger Ummah if converts were more knowledgeable​ in their faith. One is less likely to leave something if they knew what it was when they agreed to join it.

Please encourage those seeking Islam to educate themselves before making that step to becoming Muslims. No one had to be a scholar to be a Muslim. But some basic knowledge and understanding is needed. How can you have faith if you have no understanding of your faith?

Matchmaking at its worst

So my friend who is a Muslim matchmaker has been trying to introduce me to a Muslim man for marriage. He suggested a man to me last week with immigration problems. I immediately turned down the idea. Hopeful for a match, he texted me tonight and said he had an American citizen for me. Could he give him my number he asked. I said sure. I thought to myself, Why not? Couldn’t hurt to try right?
So the man contacts me. Right away before even speaking to me, he leaves a text suggesting we should meet one time for coffee and then pray (Istikharah) and decide on marriage. I was thinking, Hold on wait a minute. So I texted him back and asked him if I could call him. He called me. I told him this:


He agreed. So we were ok on that. Then he told me after talking for a minute that he had four children. The conversation continued, and I told him I didn’t practice polygamy. He right away ended the conversation. I could tell by this behavior that he was still married to his first wife and maybe even had other wives. My matchmaker later confirmed my feelings on this.
I wasn’t surprised but angry at my matchmaker for suggesting him. I had told him strictly no polygamists. But it seems Muslim matchmakers think Muslim women my age (40) are only suitable for polygamist suitors or men with immigration issues. I got news for them: I would rather stay single.
But my friend had a funny reply to give the next polygamist I meet.


So at the end of the day, if we can laugh at these experiences, then I guess everything is ok.