Understanding Minister Farrakhan's Middle East and African Peace Mission
Among some opinion leaders and activists, we've noticed a measurable level of confusion, misunderstanding and discomfort regarding Minister Farrakhan's peacemaking trip to the Middle East and Africa. While expressing a consensus of respect for the Minister, a sentiment has been conveyed over the last few days, in our travels, that the Minister's stated purpose and mission in that part of the world is inappropriate. For some the "inappropriateness" is in terms of timing; for still others, it is conceptual and principled in nature.
Yesterday, while a guest on opinion leader George Wilson's excellent satellite (XM) radio program, we commented on why we felt the Minister's trip was so important. Our response was three-fold in nature and we think, touches on the deeper impact and dynamics relative to the Minister's trip. Deeper, that is, than the majority of what we have read and heard thus far, regarding Minister Farrakhan's mission. We certainly did not exhaust all that could have been said of the vast importance of the Minister's work, at this point in world history.
In addition to the light of the three points in which we think the Minister's visible work, at this time, should be considered, we suggest that observers consider the explanation and defense of Minister Farrakhan's peace mission offered by Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Regional Representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who told us yesterday, "This is a broad and diverse mission that has to be considered as an extension and another aspect of Minister Farrakhan's work with the Million Man March and the Million Family March. The Minister called for 1 million men and nearly 2 million Black men appeared in Washington D.C. to participate in a Day of Atonement. And then five years later on that base, there was the Million Family March which went beyond Black participation and included Brown, Red, Yellow and White. With this peacemaking work, Minister Farrakhan is continuing his universal and world-wide mission which in a special way began during the Million Man March, and which grows out of the work he has been assigned to perform, by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which includes connecting Black people in the Western Hemisphere with the Muslim World and Africa."
In the backdrop of the history of the Black experience in America, the Minister's trip abroad is extraordinary in scope, awesome in implications and absolutely timely, some may say, "overdue," in a limited interpretation, if the impediments and barriers to Black citizen diplomacy in this country are considered. Before Minister Farrakhan, many great Black men and women desired and worked to connect their people in this hemisphere with the people and belief systems of their ancestry. While the Logan Act was used to prevent this from happening in the Western hemisphere there are also the little-known accounts, given by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, of men from the East, who came in the early decades of last century to connect Blacks in this country with their Brothers and Sisters across the Atlantic Ocean only to be arrested and imprisoned for doing so, for a time period that spanned decades. These rare human beings who came from abroad, in one sense can be considered as next to the ultimate "political prisoners."
In 1996, after returning from one of his World Friendship tours, the Minister's passport was taken from him by the United States government, and later returned to him. He spoke of this publicly. It was the exact same thing that had been done to W.E.B. Dubois.
According to a Congressional Research Service Abstract, The Logan Act is described in the following manner:
The Logan Act was intended to prohibit United States citizens without authority from interfering in relations between the United States and foreign governments. There appear to have been no prosecutions under the Act in its almost 200 year history. However, there have been a number of judicial references to the Act, and it is not uncommon for it to be used as a political weapon. Although attempts have been made to repeal the Act, it remains law and at least a potential sanction to be used against anyone who without authority interferes in the foreign relations of the United States.
The Logan Act, COINTELPRO and National Security Memorandum 46 can best be understood in the light of the scriptures and the account of the Children of Israel coming out of a 400-year period of slavery in a strange land. There were five major aspects to the conspiracy coming from Pharaoh and Egypt and against Moses, Aaron and the Children of Israel. One of those five was that the slaves not be allowed to join onto an enemy of Egypt's. Exodus Chapter 1 vs 9 - 10 tells of what the political leadership of Egypt feared, "...These Israelites are becoming a threat to us because there are so many of them. We must find a way to put an end to this. If we don't and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country." ( New Living Translation).
Read these verses in as many Biblical translations as possible. Then explore what Biblical and Torah study commentaries have to say on this subject. The correspondence to what is written in the Torah/Old Testament and what Blacks have and continue to experience in America is striking. One can also gain even more insight from reading about this same subject in the Holy Qur'an and related study commentaries, if they choose.
It is dangerous for the Minister and the people that he loves and represents, even all of humanity, to not understand this unusual Black man's unique work in the Middle East and Africa, especially since so few Black leaders have had anything in the way of substance and courage to offer juxtaposed to the Middle East conflict, since September 11th.
Here are three aspects that we hope our diverse BlackElectorate.com viewers will consider, in addition to what Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad offered, and of course the actual words that the Minister presented at his relatively unreported press conference announcing this phase of his work abroad.
In addition, let all of those who have labored on behalf of truth and the oppressed consider their own evolution, and degree of weariness, fatigue and even jaded condition, at this late hour. Is it possible that many of us through our years of sacrifice and struggle are unaware of the time in terms of the mental resurrection process, up from slavery, of our people, and are missing the critical nature of the moment that we are in, in terms of recorded history, and even prophecy, as the Minister visits the "holy," "promised" and/or "mother" land, that many of us long for and revere? This continuing discussion regarding the Minister's peace mission is an important one.
The Most Powerful Muslim In The Most Powerful Nation In The World. By nature of his being the most popular and well-known Muslim leader impacting the American political process, Minister Farrakhan is in a rare and unique position, with his trip, to not only influence the Israelis and Palestinians - the two principal sides in the Middle East conflict - but to influence United States foreign policy relative to the Middle East conflict.
In the event that a Black voting bloc could be melded with an Arab/immigrant voting bloc there is a enough in terms of voting power(at present supplied more by Blacks) and campaign finance(at present supplied more by the Arab and Immigrant Muslim community) and public opinion, to grow the currently close to 70 member-"Palestinian sympathetic" delegation in Congress to the lower 3-digits in size. Include a Latino/Hispanic contingent that will increasingly be demonized in the "war on terrorism" and sufficient power has been cobbled together to virtually guarantee a more even-handed U.S. policy in the Middle East.
As we have mentioned a portion of National Security memorandum 46, dated March 17, 1978, in terms of its relevance in the political realm - in the context of the campaign races of Rep. Hilliard and Rep. McKinney; we ask that you consider the same in the spiritual realm, in the context of Minister Farrakhan's Peace mission to the Middle East and Africa. That portion, written by President Carter's National Security Adviser Zbignew Brezinski (Mr. Brezenski denies that he wrote the detailed and multi-page memo but BlackElectorate.com has learned that President Carter, in private, has confirmed its existence and contents in the presence of Black leaders) reads:
"In the above context, we must envisage the possibility, however remote, that black Americans interested in African affairs may refocus their attention on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Taking into account the African descent of American blacks; it is reasonable to anticipate that their sympathies would lie with the Arabs who are closer to them in spirit and, in some cases, related to them by blood. Black involvement in lobbying to support the Arabs may lead to serious dissension between American Blacks and Jews."
How does the Minister's trip look when viewed from the lens of NSC 46?
In addition, while many have focused on the Israeli-Palestinian aspects of the Minister's mission, he has also raised a second and very important aspect and aim of his travels. The Minister explained:
"Secondly, and equally important, it is our desire to help our own government to see the danger in the course that our government is on in preparing a war to unseat Saddam Hussein from power and giving instructions to the CIA that he should be overthrown and possibly murdered. While on the surface this may seem to the American people to be the right thing to do, as Saddam Hussein has been and is being portrayed in the American media as a man worthy to be unseated because he allegedly is developing weapons of mass destruction, he has gassed his own people and he has kicked the UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq to keep them from seeing his cache of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, a man like this must be overthrown, from the administration's perspective and from the perspective of Senator (John) McCain of Arizona and many of America's congresspersons; he's (Hussein) considered a clear and present danger and therefore is justified in being eliminated.
But I ask, what is the truth of these allegations? Is it a fact that he is this, or is this propaganda to whip the American people into a war frenzy and to stir up the passion of the American military for war? What is this? Can truth be found on the battlefield, or should truth be found in deliberate legislative bodies in lawfully constituted judicial processes. We totally disagree with the policy of murder and war, which runs counter to all civilized judicial processes. In a speech made by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, he said, "Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic in this country, to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man." What is our mission today? I would ask President Bush, before any order is given to assassinate Saddam Hussein or overthrow his government, that we need to ascertain the truth or the falsity of the charges.
How can we do this? There are qualified American citizens who will stand up before the President and the Congress to say Saddam Hussein did not gas his own people. These are voices that should be heard. These are not people on the street. These are people from the War College who have searched out the truth of these things. Did he kick out the UN inspectors to hide a cache of arms of weapons of mass destructions? What is the truth of that? Let us hear from those people; bring them before Congress; have a hearing. And if America really wants the American people to be informed, then invite the Iraqis to defend themselves before us against these charges."
For those who think this issue doesn't affect them in the Black community, we raise a question: whose young men and women will be disproportionately sent to die in Iraq, if there were a war? The military is by some estimates 35% "minority."
As a Muslim in America, Minister Farrakhan is in the best of positions, probably better than any American, to balance an imbalanced U.S. foreign policy while simultaneously exhorting and encouraging Muslims in the region to return to their core principles and values.
The Mission With The Muslim World The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, decades ago, encouraged a younger Minister Farrakhan, his student, then-Minister of the Nation Of Islam's New York City Temple # 7, to "find a way to unite with the Muslim World." One of the things that is important for Blacks to consider is the degree to which black cultural leaders are viewed through the prism of Western media and local filters. In one sense Blacks, particularly men, are demonized by images of crime, and a degenerate entertainment culture that is full of negative stereotypes and exaggerations.
On the other hand, Blacks in this country are admired and expected to have a level of positive consciousness (that we often lack) by their Brothers and Sisters in other parts of the world.
That is one of the reasons why the Million Man March was so important. It gave an image that increased the latter view while diminishing the former. It countered the international stereotype of Black men as shiftless, violent and irresponsible, in a single day!
Another accomplishment of the March is that to wise scholars in the Islamic ulama it signaled that indeed something unusual, perhaps even that which Muhammad of 1,400 years ago alluded to would occur in the last days, was happening in the West - in terms of the revitalization, renewal, reform and restoration of Islam. In the immediate weeks after the Million Man March an eminent Sheikh from Syria, who had personally met the Honorable Elijah Muhammad some years prior to the March, actually said as much. Similarly revered religious scholars in the holy land had a similar reaction. Some in fact, since the Million Man March, have visited Minister Farrakhan in Chicago.
That Islam had finally broken through the barrier erected against it in the Western Hemisphere (a barrier so strong that when Minister Farrakhan first accepted Islam in 1955 and desired to read a copy of the Qur'an in the Boston Public Library, he was directed to the library's rare reading section and made to inform them that he was in fact a Muslim, just in order to get access to the holy book.) was signaled during the Million Man March. Much of the Muslim world witnessed in awe and took note of what a Muslim leader and nearly 2 million Black men who had not been taught Islam by any contingent of them, demonstrated on that day in October of 1995. The respect level for both Minister Farrakhan and Black people abroad was elevated - in a single day.
With that degree of elevated status, in the last several years, Minister Farrakhan has increasingly worked to foster unity among the Muslim ummah - the international family of Muslims. At the same time he has worked to cultivate reconciliation between the Black and African-American and immigrant Muslim communities. The shining example of an aspect of his progress has been the respectful and public growing unity with Imam Warith Deen Muhammad and the community of Sunni Muslims and former followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that he (the Imam) represents. The Minister for years has expressed his desire that Muslims settle their differences according to Qur'anic teaching. In particular, but not exclusively, the Minister has lamented over the disunity that exists in the Islamic World between its Sunni and Shi'ite divisions. The Minister has exceptionally good relations with leading members of both Islamic perspectives and in his work in uniting Muslims in America, is providing a key that could eventually unlike the door to unity and reconciliation between Islam's two largest "sects."
While the Minister is working to stop the shedding of blood between Israelis and Palestinians he is also working to accomplish the same between Muslims.
In addition, he has made public his desire that Muslim moderates and Muslim extremists return to a greater application of the guidance contained in the Our'an. He has been even-handed in his constructive criticism of "moderate" Muslims who sacrifice their principles in order to curry favor with the West; and in his criticism of "extremist" Muslims who sacrifice their principles in acts of vengeance in response to oppression.
The Minister's position is that the Islamic world's ultimate problem has been its own deviation. Muhammad of 1,400 years ago said "three generations after me would not be of me." This condition was not to be permanent and in the latter days would be reversed. But the Muslim world in many ways, even at this late hour, is moving in a rudder-less fashion, spiritually and politically, with many leaders in the West taking advantage of that condition, to their very narrow benefit.
Here is something we wrote in early April for our BEC Political Economy and Financial Market Analysis clients which sheds light on the Islamic world's weakened condition and how the Minister is key to improving such. The residual benefit would be peace and a calming of a growing clash of civilizations. This is especially important in light of Yasser Arafat's diminished and marginalized leadership. Please consider what we wrote for our clients nearly three months ago:
In our last analytical commentary we presented our thesis that Israel and the Palestinian causes are actually functionaries for larger international interests. Israel, we explained is the buffer or barometer used juxtaposed to the oil interests of the United States of America and England, and the Palestinians are the proxy of the Islamic world. We further explained that it is necessary that there be a maintenance of a "draw" or equilibrium in the local Palestinian/Israeli conflict in order to keep both of their benefactors from becoming involved in the conflict. That involvement can come in the form of diplomatic or military involvement. The militant wings of both sides are both backed with the support of the benefactors. The Israelis get their armament from the U.S. and the Palestinians get their weapons from their supporters throughout the Islamic and Arab world.
In the way of diplomacy, however, the Islamic world is suffering from atrophy, while the West exhibits excellence that has caused even the Palestinian leadership to view the United States as the most viable of intermediaries. This may comfort some observers of the conflict but such a condition does not bode well for the long-term maintenance of a "draw" or the eventual hoped-for peace in the region.
Because unless their exists a trusted voice in the Muslim world capable of distilling the salient points of grievance and articulating such to the West and Israel, there exists no peaceful means by which the United States will ever be able to accept the role as an impartial third party, or even that of an honest broker. It really is not the duty of the United States to voice the concerns of the Islamic world, but rather, only to respond to them. The Islamic world makes demands upon the U.S. relative to Israel in spasmodic fashion, without consistency and without leverage.
If the Middle East conflict is to be solved it will require that the Muslim world establish two of the three roles for its world and community - a core Islamic state, a UN-like political union, a caliph-like leader, not exactly like the Pope, but one capable of arguing for both true jihad and peace, if need be.
We thought about this in our last commentary writing:
"Because there does not readily appear to be any other "proxy" for the Islamic World in the form of a strong Islamic core state; a Caliphia-like religious leader; or collective body of Islamic nations any elimination of Arafat leaves a void that can only be filled by the most militant members of the Islamic world.
Short of an unlikely pull-back by Bush, Sharon, or Netanyahu the only initiatives to slow the roll to World War III would be the sudden emergence of a nation, individual or organization in the Islamic world fulfilling the three previously-mentioned functions.
The leading candidates for such are Turkey as the strong Islamic core state, Minister Farrakhan as the Muslim religious leader who can call the Islamic world back to the example of the Caliphate; and the OIC as the UN-like political body.
Turkey, because she has earned the friendship of Israel and is too powerful militarily to be rolled by any Muslim nation that would oppose her. Minister Farrakhan, because he is the most influential Muslim leader in the world, lives in America, and has the capacity to influence Islamic Africa and the Arab Muslims, simultaneously. And the OIC because of its ability to shield any single Muslim country from charges of "selling out" to America and Israel
Not since the fall of the Ottoman Empire has the Islamic World had a dominant intermediary through whom it could be represented to the Western world. And not since the death of the Caliph Ali, the son-in-law and companion of the Prophet Muhammad, 1400 years ago, has the Islamic world had a single leader that Muslims in various nations could defer to and trust. After the death of Ali, the Muslim world became divided in two major camps - the Shi'ites and Sunnis, with no uniform leader.
But now more than ever, the West and the Islamic World need a trusted intermediary through whom the most serious disagreements can be discussed. The European Union, the Vatican and the United Nations will not do. The Organization Of Islamic Conference does represent a political ummah capable of representing, on the state level, the unity of the Islamic world. And last week's impressive gathering of the 57-nation group, focused on terrorism, demonstrates the Muslim body's ability to command the world stage and shift the intellectual initiative and debate on the world political scene. In addition, last week's meeting in Malaysia, hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, showed that in Mr. Mahathir, the Muslim world has a maverick capable of satisfying the hard-liners while remaining attractive to Western business interests and political leaders.
To punctuate this point, President Bush has invited Prime Minister Mahathir to the White House this week.
Specifically speaking, if the OIC were to assume a UN-like role; while a militarily-powerful Muslim nation, like Turkey, with good relations with Israel; and a trusted international Muslim leader in America, like Minister Farrakhan; were to all call for a just peace in the Middle East, the conflict could be moved out of the realm of militarization and into diplomacy. In the process, the equilibrium and "draw" would be restored with enough momentum to formulate a lasting peace.
Without a representative of the Muslim World's religious interests/grievances with the West beyond an embattled Yasser Arafat, who is truly only a local leader, there is no pathway to peace.
The Potential To Foster Pan-African and Islamic Unity The division between some pan-Africanists and Black and Arab Muslims in America and Africa is painful to observe. This is especially true in light of NSC 46 and the work of some Zionist groups that continuously manipulate both groups through propaganda and the irritation of old wounds. This is clearly the case in how the "slavery in the Sudan" and opposition to the African Union has played out. In both cases Islamic Africa is placed opposite to the global pan-African movement as the Islamization of Africa is portrayed as an exercise in colonialism and Arab imperialism and not in terms of any positive revolutionary and liberating impact it has had on an Africa weakened by the touch of some Christian missionaries, colonialism and its legacy. The manner in which the two sides are pitted against each other has caused the African Union's forward motion to pause, as it is a Muslim from Northern Africa (the portion of the continent that experienced the most Arab and Muslim immigration), Moammar Gadhafi who has spearheaded the African Union, at the state level. Although it is a fact that in Africa, Mr. Gadhafi (whom the West's favorite African, Nelson Mandela, says he loves and will never denounce) is generally viewed as the most popular and admired of African leaders, his Muslim religion and northern African nativity is being used as a wedge between pan-Africans and Africans that are Muslim. The rift has even been elevated to the point, in the African and Western media, where Thabo Mbeki's NEPAD initiative is being styled as an "African Union" -alternative pitting Gadhafi against Mbeki and slowing the progress of African unity at the state level. Recently the two African leaders met to discuss their respective efforts.
Minister Farrakhan is the key to resolving this problem. It is a fact that the idea of an African union began and was popularized in the Diaspora. Mr. Gadhafi has publicly stated this. And it is a fact that it was an Arab Northern African in Gamel Abdel Nasser and a Black sub-Saharan African in Kwame Nkrumah who jointly led the way in spreading the idea of an African union throughout the continent.
Minister Farrakhan has been the most supportive of Black leaders in the Diaspora, in political and cultural terms, in popularizing the "United States of Africa," even encouraging a gathering of rappers including Ja' Rule, Fat Joe and Redman, at Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Summit, to weave mention of the African Union into their rhymes.
During the expected time-period of the Minister's trip to the region, the African Union is slated to be officially launched. In addition, the Minister is scheduled to visit internally-torn nations like Zimbabwe and Sudan, where his presence as a peace-maker is sorely needed. Minister Farrakhan is one of the few leaders to have gained the ear of both the Islamic Khartoum government and leaders in the Black, largely animist and Christian Sudanese South. Interestingly, it is rarely reported that the Minister almost brokered a peace in the mid 1990s in Sudan. Even less mentioned is Minister Farrakhan's three-hour meeting during that peace-making effort with the Sudanese People's Liberation Army(SPLA) leader, Mr. John Garang, who informed the Minister of his grievances against the Khartoum government and did not mention the issue of slavery a single time.
Minister Farrakhan is uniquely positioned to bring about unity between pan-Africanists, Muslims and African tribal leaders, as he is respected by eminent leaders on all sides. While much is naturally made of the esteem with which the Minister is held among Muslim leaders in Africa, little is known of the Minister's private work among tribes on the continent. The unprecedented honor that the Minister received from a leading Yoruba chieftain, while in Africa, is an important example of the Minister's ability and further potential to serve as a vessel for African unity.
These are just some things to consider as the Minister works to foster peace and re-connect people divided centuries ago.
With a mission that awesome and important, reflect over what might be attempted to derail his effort(s).
Note: This was written at the time it was learned that Congressman Earl Hilliard was defeated in his congressional primary run-off. His successful opponent, Mr. Artur Davis, was backed in unprecedented fashion by lobbies that did not feel it appropriate for Rep. Hilliard to place the relationship between the United States of America and Africa and the Arab and Muslim world on par or above the United States of America's relationship with a single state, Israel - even though Mr. Hilliard's constituents, Alabama's 7th district, are a Black community. His campaign race is an instructive example...
Wednesday, June 26, 2002