International Conflicts & the Role of Media

Global Donors Forum 2014

Global Donors Forum, 2014

Gaylord National Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland

April 13-16, 2014

International Conflicts & the Role of Media

  1. Cihangir Isbilir

Coordinator, UNIW & International Rabaa Platform, Istanbul, Turkey

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen. I greet you all respectfully. I hope and pray for the success of the Global Donors Forum of 2014.

Syria: I was at the Turkey-Syrian border last week. I wanted to make an assessment of the life condition of the people in the region. Especially, I wanted to observe personally the situation of Turkmens and Armenians who have been the subject of the media recently. I was deeply moved during my visit to the area. The people there are asking: “How can this happen in today’s World and that too in 2014?” Why the death of one hundred sixty thousand innocent people cannot shake the conscience of the humanity? Millions of people had to abandon their country because of the grim condition. The World powers have remained passive to this barbaric situation. They ask, why?

In the past three years, we have seen people starving to death. I ask you, why the world in general and Muslim Ummah in particular are utterly silent? More than half of the population of the country is internally displaced. Hospitals and education system have collapse. Now, hot summer may result in epidemic diseases. These are the questions which need answers.

A big humanitarian tragedy is occurring in the region. It is a disaster of the century. Mesopotamia, the cradle of ancient civilizations is burning and crying for help. The policies are being made in the name of geo-policy, geo-strategy and geo-economy. This all will lead us closer to a geo-tragedy! Innocent people are being crushed, while a country, a nation, a civilization is perishing.

Although the ongoing crisis for more than 3 years and frightening extent of humanitarian disaster and humanitarian aid campaigns have fallen behind, there is no media coverage of these happenings either in the print or in electronic media. The international media is reviving the political side of the crisis rather than the humanitarian one. Power centers are using the media as an effective weapon and do not care about the ground reality. They want to hide the humanitarian tragedy by portraying some misguided extremist elements of some organizations.

For instance, massacre of Armenian civilians in Syria’s Kesab village by Syrian opponents was in the news just two weeks ago. Keseb is spectacularly beautiful little and historical village which is near to Turkish border. Most of the population is Armenian. There are historical churches in the village. On the other side of the village to the Mediterranean Sea is a virtual paradise with amazing estates. When the news of the massacre was broadcast, it changed the international public opinion. I witnessed a complete fabrication of the news when I visited to the region last week. There was no relation between the narratives and the event in the field. It was already evacuated at the start of the war. There were just 15 families. The wounded Armenians in the last bombardment were saved by Turkmens. They treated them well and all civilians were brought to Turkey in safety. Churches and private properties of Keseb were under protection of Syrian opponents. We should raise our voice and activate the mechanisms which will put an end to this fabrication and madness.

All these media activities make sense for perception and image sciences. It is being broadcast to persuade us to recognize their version of the story. Perceptions of the philanthropists are being affected, willingly or unwillingly that resulted in diminishing the charity campaign in Syria. We know that the factual news and correct information service are important elements for philanthropy and donation. The people want to make sure that the aid reaches to the deserving and affected families. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same vicious circle in Central Africa, Somalia, Burma, Palestine, Darfur, etc.

Kashmir: In particular, precisely the same phenomenon of unstopped and unpunished barbarities is being witnessed in Kashmir. Pankaj Mishra, an Indian scholar wrote in Daily Guardian on August 13, 2010, “Once known for its extraordinary beauty, the valley of Kashmir now hosts the biggest, bloodiest and also the most obscure military occupation in the world. With more than 80,000 people dead in an anti-India insurgency backed by Pakistan, the killings fields of Kashmir dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet. In addition to the everyday regime of arbitrary arrests, curfews, raids, and checkpoints enforced by nearly 700,000 Indian soldiers, the valley’s 4 million Muslims are exposed to extra-judicial execution, rape and torture, with such barbaric variations as live electric wires inserted into penises. Why then does the immense human suffering of Kashmir occupy such an imperceptible place in our moral imagination? After all, the Kashmiris demanding release from the degradation of military rule couldn’t be louder and clearer. India has contained the insurgency provoked in 1989 by its rigged elections and massacres of protesters. The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that fill the streets of Kashmir’s cities today are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one.”

The irony is that the impunity that is thus being granted to the violator of human rights in Kashmir is not in the context of a new dispute, or a civil war where the status, the positions and the actions of the parties remain obscure for sometime and international response lags behind turns in the situation. It is being done in a territory known to be disputed for 67 years. There is no alibi for the international communities’ inaction except that India with its major power pretensions maintains violent occupation of the territory. Furthermore, the dispute is known to have the potential of large-scale international conflict with the possibility of nuclear confrontation. It has produced two wars and a third cannot be ruled out unless a peace process is set in motion between the Governments of India, Pakistan and the genuine leadership of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

 

As we know that Palestine and Kashmir are the longest conflicts pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.

The Central African Republic: The Central African Republic faces holocaust like conditions as we have seen in Rwanda and Bosnia; on the other hand Somalian situation becomes an academic discussion between natural disasters and international politics. We cannot disregard these facts. Distraction of media does not justify our insensitivity to humanitarian catastrophes. Philanthropists and humanitarian aid activists have a big moral responsibility. Humanitarian aid institutions should create their own news and information service to let the World know the facts as they exist.

Egypt: Ladies and Gentlemen, as we all know that Eastern Mediterranean is passing from the darkest era. In the world’s most ancient civilization, which we know as Egypt, the army has for the first time since pharaohs, massacred thousands of people in the square of Rabaa al-Adaviyya, on 14 August 2013. Nine months have passed since the coup d’etat of 3 July 2013 in Egypt, and Egyptian people are demanding nothing but justice and freedom for all inhabitants. The military led government in Egypt decided to execute 529 people in two court sessions. It is a historical record that the decision of the execution of such a large number of people was announced in less than an hour. The New York Times wrote on March 24, 2014, “Legal experts called it the harshest mass conviction in modern Egyptian history, arguing that it disregarded legal procedures, defied plausibility and stood little chance of surviving appeals. A three-judge panel reached its verdict after two sessions of less than an hour each, and about 400 of those convicted were sentenced in absentia.”

The United States, the European Union and Islamic countries headed by Turkey spoke against this decision. The dream of millions of people has dashed to the ground under tanks in Rabaa al-Adaviyya square in Egypt. If the World Powers do not react immediately against it, there will be nothing left but chaos for Egypt and the region. The responsibility may not lie only on Egyptian local authorities, but also on powers who choose to keep silent. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Said 45 years ago, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

The Istanbul-based International Rabaa Platform is working on the situations in various international conflict zones. It has representation from 400 NGOs and thousands of volunteers from all over the World. It’s basic objective is to attract attention of the World community to these injustices and inequalities.

It is a fact that an enormous duty lies on the shoulders on all Philanthropists irrespective of their religious and cultural background. If handled carefully, these disasters can provide a new hope for humanity. It can also guarantee peace and stability in the world if we judiciously assess the past and work together for the future. Peace is not just the meaning of Islam, but also one of the most beautiful attributes of Allah. We should never give up the hope in Allah’s compassion. I believe the human conscience will ultimately find the truth. We should commit ourselves to do all that can be done for the oppressed people of the world no matter to which religion and race they belong.

In conclusion, I want to remind the world leaders what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said 49 years ago, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Thank you.

 

The Global Donors Forum convenes distinguished philanthropists, public and private sector leaders, social investors, financial services industry executives, and experts from across the world to offer pragmatic insight and constructive response to pressing global and regional challenges.

The biennial Global Donors Forum serves as a marketplace for ideas, as a platform for sharing knowledge and for forging partnerships, and as a launching pad for high-impact collaborative activities. In addition, this convening is widely recognized as the premier forum on Muslim philanthropy worldwide where issues unique to Muslim giving are discussed in a safe space.

http://globaldonorsforum.org/

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Coming Out

coming-out

It all started in second grade.  It was my first real contact with someone outside my family who touched me and treated me with affection and seemed to care about  me.  I became deeply attached, and after school I would go to the home of my new found love and just stand around, as though waiting for something magical to happen. Although in those wistful moments I never got close enough to look in the windows, I would sit a small distance away and just stare, hoping for a short glimpse of someone I had developed a huge crush on.  I had little notion of what love meant, or what my feelings were all about, but I knew that something was going on inside  of me, and I liked it.   At seven years old, I had already become a peeping tom.

Later that year, I was crushed to learn that my teacher was leaving for Hollywood, having won a starring role in a movie.  I didn’t know it then, but the urge to manifest a certain kind of gender was awakening within me.

Gender as a choice was not really mine.  You fall in love when you fall in love, and I guess the decision is some kind of mark in your genes or the values you’ve been exposed to, and you simply can’t help it.   I rarely have raised the subject throughout most of my life, because its something that has become frowned upon in most circles.  You don’t make an issue of it because someone might think you are an oddity.  But it’s been pressing upon me for years, and now I have to admit it.

I am a heterosexual. My teacher was a woman.  To my young eyes, she was an exquisitely beautiful woman, a “superfem.”  It’s never been a huge matter of pride for me that I am a heterosexual, and besides, it isn’t politically correct.  One doesn’t want to offend those who are different.  But I take it for granted just as much as I do the face I look at in the mirror every morning.  I don’t look at myself awkwardly and wonder why I’m different from most people.   In second grade, I never knew that there was any other kind of sexual or gender choice to be made, and I probably never heard the word “homosexual” used until I was in high school.  I didn’t know what one of them there things was.   I liked women more than men, overwhelmingly so.  My choice of a mate when I played house with the neighborhood kids was and has always been female, and I would never go to bed with a male unless it was a pet dog or cat (which I own neither of).

I know that I should feel guilty about that, obviously.  There is a strong movement on my political side of the fence to abandon all the symptoms and manifestations of heterosexuality, of masculine declarations, of any kind of sexist thinking in which I am different or want to express myself in a unique way to women as a man.   Unfortunately, I look upon them as completely different creatures, divine creatures, which I have come to adore.  I like it when I see in a woman a delicate nature and vulnerability.  My protective hunter/gatherer nature kicks in, and I want to provide.  I want to do everything for her, and pamper her with all the love I am capable of.

I have never tried on panties or high heels or wondered what I would look like in a chiffon dress.  I am a man who chooses to be distinguished clearly with all the markings of a man.  Yes, I agree.  It’s all so much theatre.  It is quite possible to manufacture entirely different cultural roles and the woman could take on what are perceived as masculine tendencies and men could do the opposite.  Perhaps not much would change.  But the play has already been established.  We’re well beyond the first act.  I didn’t write the script, and I’m perfectly happy with it just the way it is.

That choice is clearly discriminatory.  I have an aversion to any intimacy with men.  I have a natural desire to be around women, and my deepest feelings for another human being are aroused by women, not men.  Therefore it follows that when I see homosexual intimacy among men, it disturbs me.  It’s not what I do, It’s not what I grew up experiencing, it’s not what I see happening in the vast majority in my culture, it is highly exceptional to see any display of it publicly, and therefore it is a deeply engrained and a quite natural feeling to react negatively toward it.

Those feelings would obviously be characterized as homophobic.  Yet the choice not to act like gays is something very fundamental to my character and thinking.   Should I change?  Should I find it just as appealing to have intimate relations with men?  Should I teach my children that they can as well?

If I died, for example,  I would not want my child to be reared by someone who is gay.   I would not teach my children that gay-ness is equal in all respects to heterosexuality, because it isn’t.  In fact I have raised two children – both are fully grown adults now – and I have taught them to respect differences in people, and I have never made fun of gays.  I have allowed them to make their own decisions about that.  But there’s no question that I raised my daughter to think of herself as a girl and ultimately as a woman and to adopt traditional perspectives about what is appropriate in dress and mannerisms and what to expect from men.  I also raised my son to think of himself as a man and not some kind of homogeneous amalgam of sexuality that I wasn’t myself.

I’ve looked at the statistics, and the LGBT population in the U.S. varies from city to city but on average is about 3 percent.  So it is interesting that this movement has gained such a strong voice.  A 3 percent representation is a deviation from the core biological polarity of sexual opposites found in all nature.   I have no judgmental position about that, but I don’t believe that a 3 percent deviation represents anything I would propose as a model for my children to be raised under.  I’m interested in outcomes, in the end result, and values that are attached to the most mainstream perspectives about life engender the greatest success.  I’m with the 97%.

To have a strong culture, we have a need to assert cultural norms as valid and worthy of standing behind.   We have to believe that what we are doing makes sense.  The institution of family and the family nucleus is founded upon heterosexuality.  If we believe in families, then we need to foster attitudes that encourage them.   Dmitry Kiselev, host of the popular television program Vesti Nedeli in Russia, in the context of the recent brouhaha over gays involved in the Olympics, put it this way:

Gay culture certainly has the right to exist in Russia, and it does, de facto. Yet, it is a minority culture, and this is all it will ever be. A minority culture should not be imposed on the majority, especially not through aggressive propaganda. I do not believe this unconventional sexual orientation is an illness. I am not even saying it is outside physiological norms. But it is certainly outside accepted social practices, and for me this is a strongly held belief. Each country has the right to define its own social norms. In Russia, the norm is a traditional family. The Russian government is responsible for encouraging what is accepted as the social norm, because it is crucial for society. A family means children. Russia is experiencing a demographic crisis. Supporting the spread of gay culture in Russia amounts to self-elimination.

I don’t believe in laws against homosexuality.  As director of United Progressives, we actively support the rights and freedoms and equal opportunity of the LGBT community.  But as a heterosexual, I ‘m an advocate for heterosexuality and fostering heterosexual values to the extent that any one of us has a choice.  For those who don’t, in a democracy where majority values count, they will suffer, because there will always be discrimination against minority values, lifestyles and points of view.  That’s a fact of life.  We can only promote tolerance and create laws that enforce tolerance, but we should not create conditions in which minority values dominate.  That is anathema to the cultural integrity we need as a nation.

Gays have made significant headway in the U.S. in establishing a foothold in securing their rights.  The following links provide adequate evidence of that.   To date, the Obama administration, as the following link exhibits,  “has appointed more than all known LGBT appointments of other presidential administrations combined. “

LGBT Appointments in the Obama-Biden Administration
http://www.victoryinstitute.org/programs/presidential

Is this something heterosexuals should be concerned about?  Of course.  At what point it become critical, I don’t know.  How much is too much?  Where do we draw the line?  To the extent that a homosexual agenda begins working its way through government bureaucracies and law into mainstream heterosexual values regarding the importance of family, raising children and lifestyles is a matter that we all ought to sit up and take notice of.  The prevailing view that homosexuals offer an “alternative” lifestyle that is open to anyone as a matter of choice promotes cultural disintegration of heterosexual values.   It isn’t simply a matter of choice.  We are all conditioned by the values that we grow up in.   Government intrusion into the private lives of mothers and children can readily be seen through agencies like Child Protective Services.  Decisions are made that affect everyone involved, and often they become very politicized.  It’s a given that gay marriages have no ability to produce children, and therefore the importance of breast feeding, child rearing and education takes a back seat to other priorities in such relationships.  How that affects decision-making regarding children is unknown, but it’s undoubtedly a factor.   Educators and others, such as the entertainment industry, who affect impressionable young people are very significant in determining cultural standards and molding future societies.  Anyone who can influence policy in major institutions can have a great impact upon the future course of everyone’s lives.  So it’s important that we pay attention and adopt standards that protect those values that we want to nourish.

Where the money went

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  • money-velocity-bank-reserves

    The benefits to the economy through the Fed’s quantitative easing is obvious from this chart. If the money had flowed through the banks back into the economy, you would see an entirely different chart. The fact is that the banks just held on to the money. The red indicates the growth of bank reserves during QE1 and 2.

  • Announcing a new round of Quantitative Easing, QE3, Bernanke said the open-ended purchases of securities should help bolster the confidence of American consumers and businesses by showing that the central bank is determined to stop the economy from weakening.

  • “By assuring the public that we will be prepared to take action if the economy falters, we’re hopeful that that will increase confidence, make people more willing to invest, hire, and spend,” Bernanke said.

  • Purchases of housing debt should help the housing market, which he called “one of the missing pistons in the engine.”

  • “Our mortgage-backed securities purchases ought to drive down mortgage rates and put downward pressure on mortgage rates and create more demand for homes and more refinancing,” he said.

  • Did it? That’s the fundamental question.

  • if banks held on to the reserves created through the purchase of these securities, then they weren’t making loans and there could be no significant impact on the housing market.

  • The problem is inherent in the economy itself, a lack of jobs, a deep fear that still lingers among businessmen to expand when things are so tight. Bank reserves do not add a single dollar to the economy. The money essentially is in storage. Where is the incentive to make loans — to whom and for what?

  • Here’s what actually happened to home sales following QE1 and 2.

  • Paul Barrow's photo.

    One of the biggest factors affecting the housing market is that too many people still owe more money on their homes than their homes are worth. “According to the third quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report, the national negative equity rate fell at its fastest pace in the third quarter, dropping to 21% of all homeowners with a mortgage underwater from 31.4% at its peak in the first quarter of 2012. In the third quarter of 2013, more than 1.4 million American homeowners were freed from negative equity, and 4.9 million mortgaged homeowners have been freed since the beginning of 2012. However, roughly 10.8 million homeowners with a mortgage still remain underwater.” (www.zillow.com)

  • Paul Barrow's photo.

    What is interesting about this graph is that clearly the traditionally wealthiest parts of the country have been the hardest hit.

  • “Home value appreciation has been the main factor driving down negative equity rates, specifically in very hard-hit states such as California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia. There has been a negative equity feedback loop, as regions with high negative equity have experienced acute inventory shortages brought on in part by locked-in underwater homeowners.” (Zillow.)

  • “On average, a U.S. homeowner in negative equity owes $74,632 more than what the house is worth, or 41.8% more than the home’s value.”

  • The Zillow figures originate from the third quarter of 2013. What they fail to show is that the impact, mostly psychological, was short-lived.

  • Here’s a graph from the National Association of Realtors showing what happened to price appreciation during the final quarter into January 2014.

  • Paul Barrow's photo.

    Going back to the first chart I posted here, the graph shows a rather steady slide in the velocity of money. What does that mean? According to Wikipedia, “The velocity of money (also called velocity of circulation of money and, much earlier, currency) is the frequency at which one unit of currency is used to purchase domestically-produced goods and services within a given time period. In other words, it is the number of times one dollar is spent to buy goods and services per unit of time.] If the velocity of money is increasing, then more transactions are occurring between individuals in an economy.” The implications would suggest the effects of inflation. Higher priced goods and services reduce purchasing power, and fewer goods and services are purchased.

  • The classic definition of inflation is “too much money chasing too few goods.” Low rates and QE were intended to help revive a stalled economy, but unfortunately, demand has not risen, but rather, the velocity of money has dropped like a rock.

  • Who profited from QE? Who else but Wall Street. “Bernanke first indicated the FOMC was willing to unveil a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, at a now famous, or infamous, speech given in Jackson Hole. Equities rallied sharply on the news and continued on an unprecedented rally.The S&P 500 went through the roof, peaking on April 29, 2011 at 1,363 points, up 28.1% in 8 months.” (Forbes.com)

  • Paul Barrow's photo.

    Equities around the world tumbled after S&P downgraded U.S. sovereign debt, along with continued sovereign debt woes in Europe, as large economies like Spain, Italy, and even France came under fire in late July and early August. (Forbes.com)

  • What is causing inflation if banks aren’t spreading some of that money around? It’s been the decline of the dollar. Here’s what happened during QE2: The dollar progressively declined in value in relation to its major trading partners throughout all of QE2. What we buy at WalMart typically comes from emerging markets. As measured by the UUP ETF, the dollar’s value fell 11.6%. QE was blamed for “unfairly” appreciating emerging market currencies and sparking a “currency war” in the words of Brazilian Finance Minister guido Mantega, it was blamed for putting upward pressure on commodity prices and causing inflation around the globe (indirectly leading to uprising across the Arab world), and, most prominently, for fueling a massive rally in gold.

  • Paul Barrow's photo.

     

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  • Gold during QE2:

  • Paul Barrow's photo.