Balawi and Gaza

By Daniel Luban

From yesterday’s New York Times story on Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian doctor who killed 7 CIA agents (as well as his Jordanian handler) in Afghanistan last week:

He [Balawi’s brother] described Mr. Balawi as a “very good brother” and a “brilliant doctor,” saying that the family knew nothing of Mr. Balawi’s writings under a pseudonym on jihadi Web sites. He said, however, that his brother had been “changed” by last year’s three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed about 1,300 Palestinians.

The brother said that Mr. Balawi was arrested by the Jordanian authorities after volunteering with medical organizations to treat wounded Palestinians in Gaza. The family is itself of Palestinian origin, from a tribe in the Beersheba region.

While hawkish supporters of Israel in the U.S. often urge us to “let Israel decide on Israel’s security needs,” this story is yet another reminder that Israel’s actions do not have consequences for Israel alone. It is depressing to think about how many Muslims are being turned against the U.S. at this very moment by the belief (a correct belief, as it happens) that the Obama administration is complicit in the siege of Gaza.

Daniel Luban

Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



  1. The sad thing is that no one in the Obama administration –or at least no one with authority –seems to realize this. And a fair number of people, including me, worked to elect the guy because he seemed to understand this basic, extremely important, fact. What a disappointment.

  2. I agree with Scott. And I applaud Lobelog for raising this issue, which needs to be vented much more in the media.

    Snazzy new site graphics. Rather cold compared to the old picture of smilin’ Jim, but hell, every site’s gotta change its look periodically.

  3. The Scott above is not me, the Scott who most often posts here. I didn’t vote for Obama. I voted for Ron Paul in the Primary and Bob Barr in the General.

    I suppose I would have voted for Obama over Hillary or McCain. But, among democrats I would have voted for Kuccinich or Mike Gravel.

    I voted for Nader in 2000 and the Libertarian in 2004. I live in Texas, haven’t had a vote since I first voted for Bush’s Daddy in 88. I tried to explain to a customer who supported Gore in ’00 that as a TX voter she couldn’t vote for Gore–all the electoral votes would go to Bush. She had no clue what I was talking about, I fear she is the majority of American voters hence, we are up a creek without a map, paddle much-less the good sense to figure out which way is up-stream.

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