The Okra News

The Hajj Apology Letter —A Complete Cop Out from Actually Apologizing

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Sep 252014

The Hajj Apology Letter —A Complete Cop Out from Actually Apologizing

An Op-Ed Piece by Hammada El-Mahsen



Hajj emailI tried to avoid it because it made me cringe. But there it was again on my Facebook newsfeed, the same time as it was last year. There were half a dozen. All of them had the same cliché melodramatic voice of pity laced with a solemn request for forgiveness. I like to call them the ‘apology letters’; posts from scores of Muslims who seek to repent before they embark on the annual pilgrimage, the Hajj.

The letters come in many packages. Some provide compositions with polished English and grammar to demonstrate a more serious tone. Others simply write a few sentences expressing regret and bitterness towards others—these are the ones that are done usually prior to boarding the plane which will take them to Saudi Arabia and eventually, Mecca. But they all deliver a rather cold and impartial objective. A few years ago I asked a friend what made him send such a formal letter through a social media outlet just before he left for Hajj. He said it was convenient. There’s nothing to it. Simply draft a post, review it for grammar and shoot it out to f friends who are led to believe that the act of sending a memo so “heartfelt” would be satisfactory for those recipients that apparently felt hurt at some point in their lives by the sender. It’s a great little setup.

Repentance is a big deal in Islam. It’s practically required that you reconcile, resolve any ill-feeling towards a family member or friend especially before you partake in Hajj. Common sense would lead us to believe that a process of actually meeting the party(s) who you had an altercation with would be beneficial in reconciling any grievable differences. Perhaps a phone call would suffice if a face-to-face was out of the question due to say, wide geographical separation; even an email directly to the source would be a step up. But a default letter made out to the public asking for forgiveness? Are you serious?

It seems as if Facebook, Twitter and Google have carved out their own niche, by making a rather earnest act, which is without a doubt, very tough but courageous thing to do, into nothing more than avoiding the dirty work. Conversely, maybe people are perfectly fine receiving a notice from a ‘frenemy.’ They could treat it as admirable and go along their day knowing well that they were provided an apology shared with another 300 people, many of who never even had a problem with the author. It could also be that these recipients will be doing the very same thing when they decide to attend Hajj.

I suppose it’s a defense mechanism. Saying you’re sorry takes a lot of balls. Everyone assumes its easy, until they have to do it. The worse the situation, the harder it is to say I was wrong. But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Who decided to go on auto-pilot by mass mailing an apology letter? And how is this in anyway being remorseful? War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy once said, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.” In other words, it’s easy to convey a feeling of remorse allow others to assume that we are channeling sorrow while we rejoice in their appreciation for conducting an act of dignity. But nothing has been done to truly alleviate the weight. If a friend had problems with you, why would they think that a letter directed at no one could serve as a solution?

We’re all so tuned in with the online world that nowadays, much like texting, it’s not about the message, so much that it’s about a message.  It has no substance, just a point. It’s accepted for intention rather than a possible means to an end. Society changes as we move forward. What we did last year seems antiquated. We don’t normally follow things long enough in the fast pace world to cherish the moment. We surrender to future. But that doesn’t mean we relinquish our principles and even moreso, our ethics. Don’t get me wrong. It would be lovely to go through life by mitigating our relationship conflicts from a distance. The artificial use of technology substitutes for emotional reality. We quell our innermost fear by providing it with a placebo that tells it to take it easy and that there is a way out of here. Most ominously, we’re interpreting what we are supposed to do and making it “convenient.”

Okra readers let us know your thought: Would you ask for forgiveness by sending out a mass Facebook post before you went on Hajj?  Or is it not cool?


Sep 182014
Title picture


By the Okra News Staff


Title pictureAs the world turns its attention, yet again, to the Middle East with the rise of Al-Qaeda’s little brother, ISIS as the new rebels in town, America and Hollywood are possibly getting ready for the next chapter in fighting the Muslim world with tons of scripts and screenplays to produce movies that will frighten moviegoers and all those influenced by entertainment with no substance. Islam bashing has become a part of cinematic tradition in the United States. Ever since Rudolph Valentino’s 1921 role in The Sheikh, Islamaphobia and “Arabploitation” much like Blaxploitation, Hollywood has had a steady hand in denigrating Muslims. It’s probably less in recent years and in some circumstances such as Zero Dark Thirty, it’s worked on the balance. But let’s not think we’re over the hump. We can expect more. In the meantime, let’s pause for a moment and give a toast to all those movies, some good and bad, which could have done it right, but blew it. Here’s the Top 10.


Babel (2006) Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu—


I wish this film hadn’t made it into the top 10. Maybe if we substituted Navy Seals, the Delta Force or some Chuck Norris movie, it would have eluded the embarrassment. But that would be too easy. Babel, which stars Brat Pitt, and Cate Blanchette, focuses on four very interesting and interrelated stories. Themes include government involvement, love, family and abandonment. As a whole, the screenplay stands on very prominent legs which capture the characters, the plots, and cinematography with stylish grandeur. It did after all win a Golden Globe, for Best Picture Motion-Drama. However, the intimate relationship between an Arab boy and his sister probably left an American audience with a bad taste in their mouth.  The writers didn’t have to take it there. The “there” won’t be revealed; but it’s enough to make most Muslims and Arabs angry yet another caricature had to be added to the barbaric and crude inventory of Muslim imagery.


The Mummy (1999) Directed by Stephen Sommers

the mummy

a poor man’s version to Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Mummy is lame. Of course it went on to gross $416 million at the box office. Based on the usual gimmicks which gets people interested on the Middle East, Egyptology and mummies, the film is a formulaic hunt- for-the golden treasure script filled with heroes, villains, adventurous mythical cities, and…well you know where I’m going with this spiel. Sadly, with all the elements of surprise The Mummy uses to accentuate the excitement, what’s not surprising is the portrayal of Muslims. A warrior, protective and ready to kill, the Arab character, Ardeth Bay never disappoints to uphold the standards of violence and death by keeping it real.


East is East (1999) Directed by Ayub Khan-Din

east is east

we’ve all had experiences with our own families which would at times be considered dysfunctional and downright nuts. But at the end of the day, we’re still family. East is East takes the drama and insanity only a family can muster and shares it with awkwardness and sadness. Ayub Khan-Din, who happens to be a Muslim apparently didn’t hold back when he wrote and directed the story of a Pakistani Muslim family living in England during the early 70s. Like any coming of age movie this one brings it with all the typical stereotypes you would expect; curious teenagers who are experiencing what the “West” has to offer in terms of society and entertainment while reluctantly accepting to live in very strict household with an ill-tempered father who wants nothing more than his children to follow in his traditional and supposed Islamic footsteps. The screenplay is actually marvelous and definitely shares a certain element which many of us who grew up as first generation can sympathize. But Ayub—come on man. The characters are teetering on the extreme marred with the typical bloated attributes of a Muslim patriarch who his family will love or fear but never both.


Back to the Future (1985) Directed by Robert Zemeckis

BACK TO THE FUTURE  1985 Universal/Steven Spielberg film with  Michael  Fox at right and Christopher Lloyd

to be politically correct, or PC, was a pretty hip phase just before the turn of the century. It meant the views and policies of society had to be careful in order to not offend. Its range hovered from the academics to multi-culturalism and affirmative action down to the implications of a “hate speech”, which didn’t make any sense because if the 1st amendment protects the freedom of speech than why would we need to be politically correct in what we addressed regardless if it was hateful or not?

That being said Back to the Future was not made in the PC era, circa 1991. It was made in the 80s when conservative values reigned supreme and so long as you were rich, white, or both, you could do what you wanted. Evidently, movies from the decade displayed a lack of political accountability at its finest. Back to the Future is no different. It had good guy Michael J. Fox playing the affable Marty McFly who gets accidentally transported back to the 1950s in a Delorean time-machine after his friend and inventor gets attacked then killed by…you guessed it—the radical Arab terrorists. And how do we know this? Because one of the bad guys is wearing a keffiyeh. It’s not so much the scene is condescending towards Arabs although that is a valid argument. But it’s intentional. The writers knew perfectly well an article of clothing closely associated to what Americans perceive as Arabic would help solidify the stereotype. This is a classic family movie I suppose. Its legacy has held firm for close to 30 years and its impact on culture has been preserved. But you can’t help speculate what the impression one scene will always have on kids. It may be a moot point given how the world and perceptions have changed since the movie came out. Then again—1985 isn’t far from the future.


Rules of Engagement (2000) Directed by William Friedkin


The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee summed it up by describing Rules of Engagement as “probably the most racist film ever made against Arabs by Hollywood.” It’s rather upsetting that Friedkin, who directed classics such as The Exorcist and The French Connection, could have contributed to this movie. I would rather believe he was duped. Regardless, the thought of a US Colonel court-martialed for ordering troops to fire in a crowd of Arabs demonstrating at an American embassy only to find out later the Arabs were strapped with guns and ready to attack is ridiculous. It validates the Colonel’s decision to neutralize a group of Arab Muslims because they got wild and killed more marines. Somehow the US military becomes the victim in this circumstance.


Argo (2012) Directed by Ben Affleck—

Argo, film of the week

Ben Affleck is a smart and cool dude. A Boston guy; the kind of guy you could go to a ballgame with, talk and chill. He’s also a pretty decent actor and director. But his 2012 Oscar award winning for best film of the year Argo, based on the CIA rescue attempt of six American nationalists in Tehran during the midst of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis is just blatantly so wrong. Without flagging a spoiler alert for the remaining 10 people in the country who still haven’t seen this yet, the ending is bristling with overbearing Muslim attitude and stereotypes to the point where much of it is simply a fictional turn of events Hollywood injected to get the action pumping. Iranian men are viewed as boorish ogres prone to violence and vendettas with a sadistic hate towards the United States. It’s the finale where the caper gets thick with heart-wrenching agony as the preparation to escape gets underway to the haunting tune of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” The irony is the actual story and what really happened when the Americans made their way through the airport, pass the security and on to the tarmac to board the plane. Watch the movie then read the truth. It’s nothing as it seems.


The Siege (1998) Directed by Edward Zwick

The Siege

just the title makes you realize this is going to be about Muslims. 1998 was a rather volatile year for American foreign relations. In August, American embassies were bombed in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, allegedly by Al-Qaeda which left a few hundred dead. The Siege came out conspicuously a few months later. The story—Arab terrorist sleeper cells attack New York. Terrific. There must be a campaign to take a news-worthy incident of sensational proportion and use it as a springboard for entertainment and political messages.  This movie also provides us with some interfaith dialogue when a character is fatally wounded and recites not only the Our Father prayer but throws in “Inshallah” as good gesture—I think. As its base The Siege is very black and white in terms of understanding and compassion towards different religion and people. There are good guys and bad guys with the latter defined not by their criminal record, but by their ancestral record. It’s a shame this film was as accepting as it was and makes you wonder if Islam is just the latest and greatest threat by an identified ethnic religion America has had to encounter since its independence.


Executive Decision (1996) Directed by Stuart Baird


No raspberry list of horrible movies can be complete unless Executive Decision is in it. Forget the worst movies depicting Muslims and Arabs. This one just sucks. A Greek and Lithuanian play the most feared Arab bad guys, El Sayed Jaffa and his lieutenant Nagi Hassan. That dooms the movie. Lithuanians make terrible terrorists. Never mind the plot which includes people moving from one plane to another in mid-air or a flight attendant was smart enough to find the sleeper terrorist with the bomb. But a Lithuanian playing a terrorist is just not the right thing to do. If it wasn’t for quintessential ham Steven Seagal’s minor but “powerful” role in this movie, it’s a throw-away. Then again, it might still be. Even Seagal can’t save this one.


Black Sunday (1977) Directed by John Frankenheimer


if you can find this one and want to get understand how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was viewed in the 1970s, look no further than Black Sunday. This could have easily been #1 if it was actually more popular. In a nutshell, Black September, the Palestinian operatives who were blamed for the 1972 Olympics Munich Massacre, have decided to attack American soil by detonating a bomb at the Orange Bowl during Super Bowl X. Talk about going for the trifecta of ultimate victims: The United States, Israel and the NFL. How much more do you need in terms of sensitivity to the American audience than these three holy entities.

This movie reads like a checklist of Muslim terrorism: Palestinian operatives planning to bomb an extravagant event—check. Operatives discussing suicide bombings—check. Operatives attempt to kill a patient at a hospital—check. A Goodyear blimp strapped with a bomb and steel darts—double check. Thankfully, Super Bowl X was played. The Steelers beat the Cowboys 21-17. How a movie with such callous bias and animosity towards Palestinians was ever made defines an era when paranoia was running rampant. But it also demonstrates the fabrication created to build a doomsday scenario when in reality it had no merit. Black September unofficially disbanded in 1973. The PLO had accepted a two state solution by the mid-70s an early indication of moving towards peace with Israel. And yet, instigators were still out in full force to try and bolster the fear factor of crazy Arabs and Muslims.


True Lies (1994) Directed by James Cameron

true lies

without a doubt and since its release almost 20 years ago, True Lies stands the test of time and comes in at #1. We’re so familiar with this film it’s passed down by generation in many Muslim households. The older it gets the better it ages with fine racism and juicy scenes of anti-Arab sentiments, or for those haters, anti-Arab celebrations.  If you want to sum up the film quickly—boneheaded comedy, sex and violence. It’s not surprising why it holds a 72% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 72%!

The story is extremely transparent and despicable, utilizing “Middle-Easterners” as people hell bent on gaining nuclear weapons for world destruction with the very least on destroying the United States. Crimson Jihad is their name. Crimson Jihad—why crimson? Laughable. It’s a Schwarzenegger film so not much is expected with the plot in terms of depth and detail. But to use the typical stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs so nonchalantly and excessively is beyond imagination.

James Cameron movies aren’t what I would call intellectual stimulation. He made Avatar, which was basically a Smurf movie for adults and the bad but so good Point Break. Action is what defines a Cameron movie. True Lies is very much a part of his family. It too can be found on any television channel just about every week; one of those movies to pass the time with before going out for dinner or attending a birthday party. But the message is clear. We know who evil is and what it wants to do—a negative portrayal at its best.

Scientists Give Less Than 10 years for Muslim Republicans to Become Extinct

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Sep 112014
Cover-muslim republicans

Scientists Give Less Than 10 years for Muslim Republicans to Become Extinct

By Saif Hashim


Cover-muslim republicansSan Diego (CA)—Despite being a small but strong herd that grazed and voiced their unpopular opinions throughout many urban centers, a group of scientists confirmed today the American Muslim Republican has a high chance of becoming extinct in the next 8 years.

Representatives with the North American Anthropological and Political Science Society (NAAPS) concluded after their annual 4 day conference themed “ Socio-Political Groups of the 21st Century” that Muslims who identified themselves as Republicans, or those who shared similar views with American conservatives such as limiting government involvement with social and private institutions, freezing minimum wage and escalating the awareness of homeland terror, would cease to exist due to a result of common sense and hostility from their own party.

“Without question, we have a species that is frowned upon by its own political platform as well as considered inferior by the majority of Muslims,” said Dr. Waylon Hampstead, a Professor at Pepperdine University who specializes in American immigration movements. “Somehow they don’t adapt well in many places and usually get horrid looks—kind of like a monkey in a town full of chimpanzees.”

“I think it’s hard for me to support the GOP any longer, especially with what has happened in the past few years,” said Haythum El-Mansouri, a podiatrist from Oceanview, CA who had been a registered Republican the past 15 years and was inspired by former Muslim Republican Muhammad Ali Hasan, the founder of Muslims for America, an advocacy group that worked with the Republican National Committee. “I really thought I was a part of the fraternity. But in reality, they (Republicans) laughed at me.”

Jasser demonstrates his patriotism and and love for Islamaphobia.

Jasser demonstrates his patriotism and and love for Islamaphobia.

While no sociological evidence has been found to the origin of Muslim Republicans, NAAPS speculates the first incarnation of the species evolved in 2000 when Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore decided to spice up his vice-presidential selection by choosing Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut as his running mate. The decision took many American Muslims by surprise as Lieberman was  an outspoken supporter of Israel. As many took the cautious decision of supporting President Bush, his administration failed to appeal a second time mainly because of the Afghan and Iraq wars. However, a few holdouts upheld their new status as Republicans with the assumption they would be considered more favorably by the Dockers-wearing, meat and potatoes white demographic. Coincidentally the number of Muslims that participated in bowling, hunting, National Rifle Association (NRA) rallies in addition to criticizing Michael Moore and the Daly Show spiked sharply during the 2000s.

“I really didn’t think it was a problem, especially since I was a doctor,” said Akbar Shabazz, a cardiologist at Cedar-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. “I mean I never liked to do any of those recreational activities but enjoyed Republican company.”  Shabazz also said it was fantastic to be “liberated” from helping anyone and finding loopholes to avoid paying higher taxes while expecting the government to generate more revenue by instigating a war somewhere in the Middle East. “It didn’t getting any better than that.”

Unfortunately, it took just one incident to change the Muslim Republican conservation status from ‘Least Concerned’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ when Saba Ahmed, a Republican and a law student from Oregon was attacked by her own party at a Heritage House discussion on Benghazi this past July. Apparently, the guest panelists were angered and bashed Ahmed after she said that “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” and “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.” The event was reported in multiple news outlets; to NAAPS, it may have been the death knell for Muslim Republicans. Still, a few remain at large though at a distance, very much like Siberian Tigers in the wild.

Jasser demonstrates his patriotism and and love for Islamaphobia.

Jasser demonstrates his patriotism and and love for Islamaphobia.

“There’s always going to be a few that will go rogue like Zudhi Jasser, who likes to play the Uncle Tom card, panders to the Right with his ridiculous Islamic Leadership Coalition and thinks he speaks on our behalf,” said Ibrahim Nadar, Director of Strategic Development for the Muslim Alliance of Political Equality in Washington, DC. “In about five years he’ll realize that Republicans placed a ‘Kick Me-I’m Muslim sign’ on his back and will change his stripes. Even if Jasser doesn’t, he’ll be at least held captive in the GOP zoo.”

Breaking News: Tariq Ramadan agrees to attend ISNA Convention pending changes

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Aug 282014

Breaking News: Tariq Ramadan agrees to attend ISNA Convention pending changes

Tariq Ramadan in TV debate on minarets in SwitzerlandLast month, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamic scholar and leader from Switzerland, surprised Muslims in North America with a public announcement. In an open letter, he noted that he would not attend either the ISNA or RIS Conventions this year due to concerns he had with each organization. Dr. Ramadan explained his positions in the form of a public letter. ISNA responded back to his concerns, which focused  mostly on their stances on domestic and foreign policy. It was rumored that there might be discussions between the two parties to reconcile these, as well as several other smaller issues, that bothered Dr. Ramadan about ISNA. Using it’s extensive global resources, the Okra staff has obtained private correspondence between both sides. Dr. Ramadan has agreed to attend this year’s convention pending certain conditions. Below is an excerpt:

Change Themes.  Let’s start with your convention theme. Do you guys really think anyone pays attention to this stuff?  I’ll give $100 right now to anyone who can name the last five years themes without searching. Look, the conference is identical every year. Why make up an illusion like people are changing the world every time they register for the ISNA Convention? Keep it real. Here’s a suggestion. If you want to make it dramatic, just use Roman Numerals like the Super Bowl. ISNA XIV. Classy.

Better Entertainment. Hey, I’m all for good, clean fun, but it doesn’t have to be lame.  Some of the comedians keep saying the same jokes every year, and they weren’t funny to begin with. Does “how many ways to say Assalamu Alaikum” sound funny to you?  As for the music, does everyone have to sing corny songs about Islam? Can’t we just enjoy quality music by Muslim performers that’s relatively wholesome?  I like the way my man, Cat, I mean Yousef Islam does it. “Peace Train” was sweet.

Better Questions. I have always valued sharing knowledge with those who pursue it. Yet, when I go to ISNA—actually Muslim event in America—I get strange vibes…like Muslims think I’m a rock star.  Groupies want photo ops to post on Facebook to say they know me. And then there are “The Poets” who gather after speeches amongst a small crowd of people to greet me. They pose as if to ask a question, but all they’re doing is trying to impress me and the crowd with some deep, fancy-worded, overly philosophical, abstract remark, which says nothing…except how deep they are. All they’re really showing is that they’re vain and must have recently studied for the SAT’s, based on their choice of obscure words. Lastly, there are the Seekers who want me to provide them with answers to all of life’s questions. Look, I’m happy to discuss geo-political issues and address some aspects of spirituality. But I’m not the Messiah and there’s no reason to hang onto every word.  Sometimes, I feel like making up stuff with random words—like Steve Martin in “Leap of Faith”—just to see how far it goes. I’d like personal assistants who can screen out all of the above. And Muslim Americans need to cut the hero worship. Creepy!

Follow Up Calls: You know, a lot of claims are made in these conferences. At seminars, workshops. and main events. By speakers, as well as some in the audience who gather after the program ends. So how many do anything after they get home? Is going to ISNA itself their idea of Islamic work or do they learn and apply things. I’d like follow up calls. Anyone who boasts about all the things they’re going to do should be on this list.

My Original Concerns. All the things I wrote about ISNA’s stances and being silent on critical issues are serious concerns. I appreciate the efforts you’ve made since my remarks. There’s still a lot more to do and we can discuss these…but I’ll work with you.


Aug 142014
fasting kid #5


By Sophia Badr


fasting kid #5Chicago, IL — What started out this past July as an all-nighter of hanging out with friends and eating late night meals at cheap 24-hour diners has been replaced by sighs of relief, jitteriness and frequent comments on “thank God it’s over” for many high school students still feeling the impact of a summer Ramadan.

“I just want things back to normal” said Khalid Qureshi, an incoming senior at Schaumburg High school in the Western suburbs of Chicago and one of thousands who experienced Ramadan in the thick of summer for the first time. “Not eating, locked up in your house while all your non-Muslim friends are at the beach isn’t my idea of a good time,” Qureshi said as he still suffers from eating withdrawal. “We all thought it would be a blast to stay up all night and eat at 3 a.m.—but after a while it got tiring.”

Reza Durrani, a junior at River Forest Academy in Sugarland, Texas started off Ramadan with the intent of praying for happiness and requesting for the forgiveness of his sins. But by the third week he claims his only true prayer was in the morning and that was for the day to be over as soon as possible. “When you’re down on your luck and you need to do something to get through the day, food is the only answer.” Durrani explained how many of his friends had changed over the course of Ramadan, many not for the better.

Leila Hashmi, a sophomore in Walnut Creek, California contemplated numerous times of “tapping out” her 8-year old brother, a reference to a hold submission in combat sports, as he would not stop eating Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in front of her as she was lying in bed from hunger. When asked if she found peace and calmness during her day-long fast, her response was ‘absolutely not.’ “I was on the verge of putting him in the hospital. There’s a lot of pent up anger within me that if I don’t eat, I will lose it. Having nothing in my stomach for over 14 hours will do that to me.”

Police officials in various metropolitan areas had reported an unusually high number of domestic problems with Muslim teenagers who grew increasingly violent with parents who frequently couldn’t read clocks and restricted their kids from breaking fast despite going over the official time by several minutes. In some rare cases, children called 911 on grounds of negligence and demanded their parents be arrested.

fasting kid #2

Hashmi continues to struggle with flashbacks of Ramadan this past summer

Not all youth found the long grueling days of Ramadan difficult. Stoners Talha Khan and Humza Elawhi from Dallas Piermont High school felt they were on cruise control for the entire month. “I just got super hungry right before Sahoor and kept eating for the next 2 hours,” Khan asserted with a glazed look on his face. “After that I’d sleep, oh, I’d say, about 14 hours. No it wasn’t bad at all.” Said Elahwi, “it’s all about mind control. The less you think about the food, the less you know what’s going on and pretty much -wait what are we talking about again?”

Ramadan 2015 has already gotten some teenagers deeply concerned. In Boston, plans for a petition by the Muslim Youth Students of America (MYSA) that would allow kids 17 and under to fast in December instead of July was shot down emphatically  by the Islamic Council of Greater Massachusetts. In Florida, several girls created a website dedicated to finding exemption clauses by Islamic scholars which would give them a ‘bye’ for Ramadan. Elsewhere, high-school students have been looking into leaving home for the entire summer as Muslims technically do not have to fast when travelling. Kim Callahan, a booking agent who specializes in national study programs at Educate Travel in Los Angeles said her phone has not stopped ringing in the past week, receiving calls from apprehensive teenagers who want nothing more than to enroll in summer courses which are at least 500 miles away from their state of residency. “I never realized American Muslim students had such a passion to learn,” she said. “However it’s a little disturbing that they are so urgent about their demands.” Coincidentally, the calls started coming the day after Eid.

Former IDF Officer Plays Holocaust Card to Win $1 Million in Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament

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Aug 062014

Former IDF Officer Plays Holocaust Card to Win $1 Million in Texas Hold’Em Poker Tournament

By Robin Hoyer Ajib


poker1AReno (NV)—A former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Major used his Holocaust card and beat out more than 1000 participants to win $1 million at the 2014 Bicycle Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino.

Avi Sharon, 49, of Rehovot, Israel was allowed to replace the 3 of Hearts with his own personal Holocaust card that can become any card and suit of his choice after the flop, which is the disclosure of the first three face-up community cards shared by all players. The switch allowed Sharon to hold a pair of pocket Aces, or better known in poker lingo as a pair of “AA Batteries ” or “Admiral Ackbars”, a reference to the amphibious Star Wars military commander for the Rebel Alliance. Sharon won the tournament on a Full House, a hand which matched his pocket high-cards with another Ace on the board as well as two 7s that came on the ‘turn’ and ‘river’, or respectively the fourth and fifth face-up community cards.

“I knew I had to go in strong and take command at some point of the game because I wasn’t doing great,” said Sharon, a 25 year veteran of the IDF who proudly was involved in such infamous assaults on the Palestinian Territories as Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Determined Path. “But when I realized I perhaps was not going to win, I had to use my H-card to gain sympathy and to give me the freedom to do whatever the hell I want.”

After Sharon was crowned champion the sounds of mostly groans and whimpers could be heard from the audience of four hundred with no more than a dozen clapping jubilantly. Sharon screamed with excitement once the dealer announced him as the winner and shed tears as he received the jumbo check from Bicycle sponsors.  This was Sharon’s third title in 12 years. In the two other times he played, the H-card, which is literally a blue card with a bold letter H was used four times to offset any low chips he may have had against some of the fiercest poker players in the world. Not surprisingly, many were not happy with the outcome.

Sammy Abraham couldn't believe his luck when Sharon pulled the H-Card

Sammy Abraham couldn’t believe his luck when Sharon pulled the H-Card

“Every time this guy shows up, we all have to be ready to play against the Holocaust card,” said a peeved Sebastian Kroenecker from Rotterdam and the Netherlands poker champion who came in third at the tournament.  “Why does he get to play that hand while all of us watch in despair?”  In recent years, a petition had been signed by the International Cards Community (ICC) to prevent Zionists from playing the H-card describing it as “illegal.” In several instances reportedly in Europe, players from Israel who insisted they play with the card were immediately disqualified and sent home. However the United States Gambling Association, the biggest supporter of competitive poker, has supported the use of the tool in its effort to demonstrate solidarity with Israel. However, controversy did arise when Arab and in particular, Palestinian players tried to use their own H-card at tournaments but were unsuccessful as the U.S had not recognized Palestinians as a demographic in the process of being ethnically cleansed.

“I don’t understand why this favoritism is one-sided,” said Sameer “Sammy” Abraham, a Palestinian Christian from the West Bank who finished seventh. “Have you seen where I live? If that isn’t annihilation of my people I have no idea what is.” Stereotypical assumptions of those who would play the H-card were also dismissed.

“That is an insult to me and I wouldn’t use that card to win anything,” said Jerry Leibowitz who finished as the runner-up despite controlling the game for most of the leg at the final table. Leibowitz, who is Jewish and grew up in Boston, found the entire H-card play absurd. He stated most Jews in America don’t want some free ride based off an extremely unfortunate incident that happened almost 75 years ago. “It’s something which should always be remembered and commemorated. But to use that today as some vindication defies logic which is beyond me.”

Leibowitz said he is proud to have never used the card in his life.

Leibowitz said he is proud to have never used the card in his life.

A few celebrities also congratulated Sharon on an excellent performance including Jon Voight. Voight who has been in Oscar-worthy movies such as Varsity Blues as well as Anaconda and recently made himself look like an idiot by calling fellow actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz “ignorant” for speaking out against the recent Israeli military invasion into Gaza, tweeted “First you guys take out the Tunnels—now you take out the Tournament. Good job Avi!” Comedian Jackie Mason, who co-founded One Jerusalem, an organization which prevents Palestinians from gaining any sovereignty to the holy city, also showed his heart-felt support for Sharon by sharing his happiness to a robin that was perched outside his kitchen window drinking water. Apparently the 83-year old Mason thought ‘tweeting’ meant communication with a bird that would then relay the message to the intended recipient.

Sharon, who also uses the H-card for free pizza deliveries and priority boarding, was later asked if he won the tournament fairly considering no other player had a special card like him. “Yes it was fair. If I have the upper hand whether it’s in the military or in poker I’m going to do whatever I can to take advantage regardless if the world thinks wrongly of it. It’s my reasoning and it doesn’t have to make sense. My question to you is what are you going to do about it?”

Damn you Hamas—Damn You!

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Jul 302014

Damn you Hamas—Damn You!

An op-ed by the Tiny Minority of Pro-Israel Supporters


Israeli supporters 2As we head into the third week of a poor man’s intifada, one cannot avoid the violence and pools of blood that blemish the roads and hilltops throughout this beautiful region. We have witnessed children killed, families separated and the horror of bombs dropped every 10 minutes. We constantly look at the sky and then seek shelter. We pray to the end of the destruction and the agony of those who have been inflicted by pain from all the suffering. Most importantly we say with courage to the people from the Light unto Nations—stay strong. And damn you Hamas.

Hamas you have made things so tough for Israel. We sit here and loathe the day you ever took control of Gaza through an official Palestinian legislative election in which you received 440,000 votes, nearly 44% of the constituency. Yes, we know it’s official. But you’re not getting a fruit basket from us. Were we surprised when you removed the declaration of wiping Israel from the map in your new manifesto which completely nullified the very same statement in the preamble to your 1988 charter? Yes! There was more of a chance for LeBron James to play in the WNBA than for you to make such a bold and positive change. But then you had the balls to take your rage one step further in 2012 and work with Fatah to squash your differences.  Was this an attempt to become more legitimate and to start a new chapter of dialogue? Maybe. But it’s not going to happen because we won’t let it. There is no need for a talk when it is a scientific fact your organization is comprised of terrorists.

Don’t think your change in attitude will fool us. You deserve the economic blockade imposed on you since you were sworn into office even though we kind of figured just about everyone in Gaza is not associated with Hamas. There’s not a gallon of milk you can purchase for kids in school that will allow us to overlook your malevolent actions. Your limited movement from one fence line to the next and inspections at checkpoints for anyone under 50 is a testament to the safety we maintain for the Palestinian people. If they can’t go anywhere than we know they are secure. We make sure that all goods are inspected before they proceed into Gaza. All infrastructure, gas and electricity are minimal. I mean how much do you really need anyways? And while the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council, The Red Cross, Desmond Tutu, Russell Brand, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Chuck D and John Legend consider this blockade a collective punishment and illegal, just remember, ‘flotilla’ rhymes with ‘vanilla’ and earns you 11 points in Scrabble.

israeli owl

Baatz blames his pain and anguish on Hamas

We show compassion time and time again. When your hand-rolled $800 missiles that look more like bottle rockets come into Israel but are shot down by our $180 million Iron Dome System (thank you Detroit!), we show no animosity.  Before we invade Gaza, we demonstrate the decency by providing leaflets which warn Palestinians to evacuate the area before we annihilate the homes they will never see again. We even drop smaller bombs before the bigger ones just to let them get a small taste of what’s really coming. But when a long-eared owl by the name of Baatz gets injured from a delayed mortar attack in Nirim and has to be rushed to an animal hospital to save it from dying, there is no compassion. How dare you speak of the occupation, the atrocities and the 1000 civilians’ deaths in Gaza this past month when an innocent owl was seriously injured?! Luckily Baatz is now in stable condition and has the best doctors in the world tending to his needs. But what if he hadn’t survived? Could you live with yourself Hamas to have the blood of an Israeli owl on your hands? Could you deal with the pain and suffering of Baatz? I think not.

As a minority of ardent supporters who love shwarmas and Chuck Norris, we are committed to protecting Israel and advocating that the only peace is a one-sided solution in which we ask the questions and you give the reply. So please stop Hamas—it’s making the situation dire. While your popularity rises as Israel’s blatant control of the Palestinian National Authority becomes more evident, you cannot win the world over. As soundtrack king Kenny Loggins and ex-front man falsetto God Steve Perry sang together in the summer of 1983, “Don’t fight it—it’ll do your heart no good.” Listen to them—they divinely speak the truth. And always remember—the owl is watching.

Jul 232014

Detroit Residents Stunned Israel Not the 51st State of America

By Ed Majeed


Detroit 2Detroit (MI)—A recent Gallup poll in Detroit this past week found over 89% of its residents believed Israel was the 51st state of the United States of America.

5,000 homeowners within the proper city district of Detroit were surveyed for public opinions related to the latest conflict in the Middle East, but also to question their knowledge on Israel. Surprisingly, 90.4% of respondents mistakenly took the country as a state in the union, detached from the mainland as with Hawaii. Even more remarkable was 78% supported the $3.5 billion in annual aid Israel received and its recent attack on Gaza calling the Palestinians “savages who want to take control of American soil.” Respondents were later told Israel was indeed not a part of the United States and the aid was not domestic, but foreign.

“What you mean, foreign?!” screamed Latoya Randolph, a salon stylist from the North End neighborhood of Detroit. “You telling me we giving $3 billion to a fucking country in the middle of nowhere while we all out here struggling to get groceries?! That’s just bullshit.”

Detroit 1

Randolph was pissed when she realized Israel was not a state

“Apparently the government hasn’t come to this town in a while,” said Leonard Tates, a retired police officer, who has been waiting for his pension to start since 2005 because city funds have been depleted. “This place is a dump and no one seems to be helping. But Israel is just having a grand old time out there on the Mediterranean putting honey on itself and rolling in my taxes.  I can’t believe this.”

Detroit, which was given the dubious title in 2013 by Forbes magazine as “most miserable city in America” has continued to struggle with high levels of crime and unemployment. Home prices have set unprecedented lows dropping 35% in the past three years to an average of $40,000 as more people have left. Last April, President Obama spoke to the state of Michigan to try and provide Detroit a whopping $100 million in federal funds to demolish vacant homes and buildings as well as remediating the city. However, it was still $3.4 billion short than Israel’s yearly allowance.

“Israel is a part of America and that is a fact,” said Charlie Dryer, a sanitations inspector for Motown Water Works. “I’m pretty sure they are known as the Blue-Grass state.” Dryer, like many other Detroiters, was clueless of the assistance the country had been receiving for the past six decades by the United States. “I thought they were one of us.”

Detroiters can't charge games for money, because no one has any.

Detroiters can’t charge games for money, because no one has any.

The Gallup Poll also discovered the favoritism of the American public towards Israel had been based on the bias of mainstream media which constantly praises the country for being heroic and valiant, the incessant advocacy by politicians on Israel and its safety, Barbra Streisand and the annoying 700 Club. However, with the advent of social media and live reporting in places such as Gaza and the West Bank, the attitudes of many have started to change. In addition organizations as Jewish Voice for Peace, Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) along with vocal critics such as Naomi Wolf and Noam Chomsky, who denounce the Palestinian occupation, have created more visibility for the crisis.

Still, despite proving Israel was not the 51st state, there were still respondents who refused to buy into the “lie.” My brother’s friend said he drove to Tel Aviv from Oregon last year,” said Christina Tallender, a resident of Rosedale Park. “And if he tells me that you can drive to Israel, you better believe it.”

Israel Lauded for Fair and Equality Policy towards Palestinians by Bombing Them All

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Jul 142014

Israel Lauded for Fair and Equality Policy towards Palestinians by Bombing Them All

By Rania Shaheed


criminals3Jerusalem (Israel)—Several right-wing American organizations and Middle East conservative pundits praised Israel’s use of airstrikes in the Palestinian territories after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas with the killings of three Israeli teenagers who were apparently hitchhiking in the West Bank despite having no proof.

While most of the world has stood in shock for the past two weeks on the violence that has been escalated by Israel’s aerial assault, many felt comfortable and at ease with the action knowing Israel did not single any one Palestinian or group for the death of the youths, instead taking it out on everyone.

“Let’s be honest. Israel is headed in the right direction because they have been fair to all Palestinians in resisting to blame anyone in particular,” said Malcom Cromwell, Group Executive Vice-President of Development for the Heritage Foundation. “They chose to target all Arabs in Gaza which demonstrates to me equality.”

Bibi reassures Rabbi all bombings of Gaza have been fair

Bibi reassures Rabbi all bombings of Gaza have been fair

“It’s a sense of humbleness knowing Israel shows compassion in these times by avoiding pointing the finger at anyone,” said Max Schneider, Director of Communications at Act! For America the same paranoid Islamaphobe citizen awareness organization led by Bridgette Gabriel, who has the distinct honor of being implicated as a bigot by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League. “Israel to me stands for fairness and keeping their cool when things get hairy. They don’t ask questions, nor evidence. They simply attack. That’s democracy at its best.” When he was asked about the fairness in the savage beating of American Muslim teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir by Israeli forces, Schneider responded by saying the “fairness” lies in the 15 year-old teenager still being alive.

Israel has come under immense criticism from global media outlets who have criticized the country dubbed the “Light Unto Nations” for substituting restraint and investigation for a blitzkrieg onslaught which has taken the lives of 159 Palestinians including women and children with 1000 wounded since it began its campaign on Monday July 7. A ground assault by the Israeli army appears to be imminent. But bloodshed was the last thing on the minds at the Fox network.

“It’s a little ridiculous Israel gets all this negativity from other countries,” said Donna Makkarat, Assistant Producer for the daily morning show, Fox & Friends. “I heard they were liked by only 20% of the world according to a 2013 BBC poll. Come on! How can the world feel that way when they’ve given almost 7 miles to 2,000,000 people in Gaza!” That’s showing equality—and it’s what they do best.”

Zionist college students say they are laughing with the Palestinian women-not at her.

Zionist college students say they are laughing with the Palestinian women-not at her.

Not surprisingly, most have thought differently of the situation, usually those with a brain and an ounce of logic. “I don’t understand why you would start bombing a densely populated area out of revenge when you’re not sure who the revenge is towards,” questioned Dr. Jacob Feinstein, a professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. Other organizations such as Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch have also viewed Israel with confusion and horror while Dr. Norman Finkelstein, a renowned expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has simply called Israel, a “lunatic state.” Still, the vocal minority has shrugged off the obvious and maintains the positivity in Israel’s latest conflict.

“Yes, Israel is expanding on settlements, collectively bombing the crap out of Gaza and Netanyahu is completed opposed to any two state solution—but Bibi did call the father of the Palestinian teenager that was killed to offer his condolence!,” said David Eisenberg, Associate Chairmen at the American Zionist Organization, referring to 16 year old slain Muhammad Abu Khudair who was killed last week by Jewish extremists. “Israel shows sympathy when it counts—but takes land when it counts. It’s called fairness.”

Jun 262014

United Nations Diplomat Pleads with ISIS to Join Tinder—Says Meeting Hot Single Girls Might Quell Violence

By Annissa Gorani


Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.50.59 PMBaghdad (Iraq)—A diplomat for the United Nations urged radical insurgents, ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, to halt its month long conflict in the Middle East by subscribing to the wildly popular mobile social application Tinder.

UN representative Tarek Mahmoud Sheikh, who has been in talks with ISIS Chief Communications operative Rashed El-Wakel, insisted the jihadist group, which in recent weeks has taken over large portions of northern and western Iraq, needs to divert their attention elsewhere. He suggested Tinder as an outlet to their insurgency revolt where they could spend time chatting online to interesting women primarily in the United States.

“ISIS is run predominantly by young men who are mostly single and active. But they are also surrounded by dudes all day,” said Sheikh. Why can’t they just take the time to meet some nice ladies and focus their attention on getting to know someone?”

ISIS is a group of Sunni jihadists who seek to create an Islamic state in eastern Syria and northern Iraq based on sharia law. Thus far, the group has captured territory from the outskirts of Aleppo in eastern Syria to Fallujah in southern Iraq. But while ISIS has made international news as an added layer of instigators to an already turbulent region, Sheikh has seen the opportunity to bring technology and attractive women as a relief to the mind-numbing casualties of conflict.

“It’s really, pretty simple. The men in ISIS have never had chances to explore and see the brighter side to life because of their environments and upbringing,” Sheikh said. “With Tinder, they can relax and stop thinking about how to raise hell. They can actually act like red-blooded American guys and just kick it with some friendly girls.” However, the idea of utilizing the social site known for arousing the flirtatious curiosity of millions of twenty and thirty-something minds hasn’t gone over well with the ISIS leaders.

“It’s never going to work. Why would our men want to give up fighting and start messaging cute blondes in London,” said Dean al-Maliki, Central Weapons Logistics Commander of ISIS, who was appalled but did register with Tinder. “I’ve gone on to the site about ten times, and in no way did I see anything that I was like really into, like a lot.” Al-Maliki, 48, did admit he gets mildly excited when he receives Tinder emails from new people. “I’ll receive four or five a day,” he said, using “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain and Tennille as his inbox ringtone.

A spokesperson for Tinder did not respond to calls from The Okra, but released a press statement encouraging all militant groups to put down their guns turn on their mobile phones and access the application where all “your fantasies can come true” with a few clicks of the buttons.

While Sheikh has not confirmed if Tinder has been accepted as a band-aid solution to alleviate ISIS fighting, sources have told him it’s definitely on the table as a possibility with unconfirmed reports of ISIS soldiers getting in trouble from squad leaders for staying up at night and talking loudly with college girls on Tinder. “We’re not giving up on ISIS. We have to believe that some really good looking girls can be a part of the solution and help these men stop fighting.” He went on to recommend that Tinder could be also helpful to the Syrian government who for over two years has gone ballistic on their own people. “If we can’t use social networking as a tool to find peace, than maybe beautiful adventurous girls who like to laugh and want to get to know you maybe our next hope.”