Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)
"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries. What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."
Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002
"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003
A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.
"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...." "For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."
About political holism
Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.
Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance. At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)
Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)
In conservative societies, change is usually a process full of risks and difficulties as a result of strong internal cultural resistance and fear and worry of the future.
This is because people often find comfort in what they’re used to, even if deep down they acknowledge that what is typical is actually outdated and of no use. Humans in their nature love ease and love to keep things as they are as long as they are under control and performing the minimal duties.
The Saudi society is currently undergoing a real change... Therefore, it is in desperate need to build itself intellectually and psychologically so that it can keep up with the process of change and reform and participate in it. To be more accurate, it needs enlightening and civic ideas with a real effect on the audience.
Enlightenment is not an easy process as it will face many obstacles.
The first problem is related to the intellectuals who believe and advocate enlightenment and the nature of their philosophy and their perception of life and their capability of independence and free thinking and of developing a compelling and scientific rhetoric.
“We call a man free thinker who thinks otherwise than is expected of him in consideration of his origin, surroundings, position, and office, or by reason of the prevailing contemporary views,” asserted Nietzsche while outlining the individual who creates free ideas.
These characteristics as we can see are at opposite sides from the calm state that’s common among ordinary people. The light that comes out of enlightenment will disperse the darkness, shake the static and awaken the souls that have been covered with tons of dust over the years.
This free thinker must be aware of his task and understand that it doesn’t only revolve around scientific research between book pages, although that too is of great importance, but that he also contributes to the process of change by practically bringing about enlightenment in real life among the people, with the help of civil society institutions and under the umbrella of the rule of law.
This will provide a public space for free thinking to express different opinions and engage in deep discussions and cultural, religious and artistic debates without fear or worry of being accused of infidelity or of having motives doubted.
This activity will undoubtedly lead to change in people’s minds and improve their lifestyle, communication methods, work ethic and their perception of the future. Thus, the old social and value system will be replaced by a new one which is compatible with the modern days.
“Our social system will slowly fade as did all previous systems as soon as the sun of new ideas starts beaming its rays on people.” This is how Nietzsche concludes the destiny of the deep changes that will take place. It is a natural thing that has been proven by the cycle of human civilization and which we must believe in and be a part of if we want to be a civil society.
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday participated with thousands of students in the inauguration of the memorial of Syrian Universities' Martyrs at Damascus University.
After the inauguration ceremony, President al-Assad talked with the families of the martyrs and a group of students, stressing that the terrorist groups targeted university students and institutions because of their obscurantist ideology.
President al-Assad added that these groups which are fighting the Syrian people and their regional and western supporters could not bear the statue of Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri in Aleppo or the Suspension Bridge of Der Ezzor, which is a cultural monument, so they will not bear the idea of Syrian youths who are armed with knowledge to confront their obscurantism and criminality.
Al-Ma'arri: The Rights of Reason
Abul 'Ala Al-Ma'arri (born AD 973 / AH 363, died AD 1058 / AH 449) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.
He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion rejecting the claim that Islam or any other religion possessed the truths they claim and considered the speech of prophets as a lie (literally, "forge") and (some of it) "impossible" to be true. Al-Ma'arri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker.
One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.
Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen's journey."
He was equally sarcastic towards the religion of Islam as he was towards Judaism and Christianity. Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians. (Wikipedia info)
In 1895, Theodor Herzl was asked by a journalist, “What is your relation to the Bible?”
Answer: “I am a freethinker, and our principle will be:
Let everyone seek salvation in his own way.”
Israel’s theocracy is not quite what Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, had in mind. In fact, Herzl had minimal interest in religious Judaism. Instead of a Bar Mitzvah, Herzl’s 13th birthday was advertised as a “confirmation.”
Herzl did not envision the inhabitants of his future Jewish state as being religious, but had respect for religion in the public sphere.
In his novel Altneuland, all non-Jews have equal rights and an attempt by a fanatical rabbi to disenfranchise the non-Jewish citizens of their rights fails in the election, the center of the book’s main political plot.
Outlining his vision for a new Jewish state, Herzl summed up his vision of an open society: “It is founded on the ideas which are a common product of all civilized nations… Our motto must be, now and forever, ‘Man, you are my brother.’”
In his novel, Herzl directed his wrath against the nationalist party, which wished to make Jews a privileged class in Palestine. Herzl regarded that as a betrayal of Zion, for to him Zion was synonymous with humanitarianism and tolerance — in politics as well as religion.
Herzl wrote: “Matters of faith were once and for all excluded from public influence...Whether anyone sought religious devotion in the synagogue, in the church, in the mosque, in the art museum or in a philharmonic concert, did not concern society. That was his own private affair.”
Free-Mindedness Is A Divine Blessing
Free-mindedness is a divine blessing, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, said yesterday (28-1-2003).
[He] made the remark in a meeting with the members of the Pen Society of Iran.
Free-mindedness means ascending in the endless atmosphere of thought and free and conscious movement toward the unknown realms of knowledge, he said, adding free-mindedness has been subjected to injustice, for some consider it a cause of breach of fundamentals and values and this is why they reject, while some others consider it an assault on the fundamentals, principles and sacred values and this is why they welcome it. But both the approaches are wrong and it is injustice to free-mindedness.
"Wise, and fair talks based on scientific reasoning"
Ayatollah Khamenei added respectful, wise, and fair talks based on scientific reasoning is among the ways to spread and consolidate free-mindedness. The universities and seminaries shoulder a heavy responsibility in this regard.
Alluding to the matchless role of culture in the society, Ayatollah Khamenei said, the only way for the spread of culture and production of science and new ideas in the society is the creation of an atmosphere of critique in the universities and seminaries. (Teheran Times, 29-1-2003)
Russian officials will receive a delegation from the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) on Tuesday in preparation for new Syria peace talks in Geneva, a council member told Rudaw on Sunday.
“Our delegation is visiting Russia because once again all countries who have roles are trying to continue Geneva for a political solution. Russia is still playing a main role in Syria, especially regarding drafting of the constitution,” Ibrahim Biro, a member of the delegation, told Rudaw. The delegation has been officially invited by the Russian foreign ministry. It will meet with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, who is also the Russian President’s envoy for the drafting of Syria’s new constitution.
The delegation will be led by Si’ud Mala, the head of the ENKS, and includes Kamiran Hajo, The KNC rejected the legitimacy of PYD institutions on the ground.and Hawas Agid.
Syria’s new constitution is expected to be drafted under the supervision of the UN.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), control territory in northern Syria liberated from ISIS with international coalition air support.
The Kurdish National Council is a coalition of Syrian Kurdish parties not aligned with the PYD/YPG that includes about a dozen Syrian Kurdish parties. It is supported by Barzani's KDP and is a member of the Syrian National Calition.
They are seeking constitutional recognition, human rights initiatives, compensation for suffering, and participation in a nationwide democratic process. They promote the idea of a decentralized government, a decision to be made by Syrians through a referendum vote.
The KNC rejected the legitimacy of PYD institutions on the ground. The Peoples' Democratic Party, or PYD, is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey and the US have designated a terrorist organization.
Libya's rival leaders agreed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 10 following a meeting in Paris.
Representatives from 20 countries - including Libya's neighbours, regional and European powers, the United States and international organisations - were at meetings at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday.
"The parties have committed to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018, and hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 10, 2018," said a joint statement.
Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said he was happy with the outcome of the meeting and was keen to see the agreement ratified by all stakeholders.
"We reaffirm the existence and the need for a constitutional basis to organise an election and the need for everyone to work hand-in-hand to make sure the elections are a success," Sarraj said in a press conference shortly after the meeting.
Sarraj added that he had called on other rival leaders who attended the meeting to bring an end to the civil war in the country and put an end to the bloodshed in Libya.
Libya splintered following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. Since 2014 the North African nation has been divided into competing political and military factions based in Tripoli and the east. The United Nations is leading an effort to reunify the oil-rich country and to organise national elections.
The Paris meeting, which included eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, Tripoli Prime Minister Sarraj, and leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies, aimed to urge them to agree to general principles for ending Libya's crisis and moving towards elections.
"Positive that all Libya parties present at Paris conference agreed [to a] timeline leading to elections in December," Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said from inside the meeting. "Let us hope, and help them in keeping this important commitment.
Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Libya's capital, Tripoli, explained that the elections in Libya could be part of the solution, however, the process still has "a long way to go" as many of Haftar's opponents and other strong key players in Libya were not included in the talks. "These groups are very strong on the ground and they have power...
President Emmanuel Macron of France assembled representatives of the international community and some of the warring Libyan parties in Paris last week in an attempt to find a solution to the Libyan crisis. The question is, can the declaration that set a December 10, 2018, deadline for legislative and presidential elections be the basis for a solution in Libya?
There are three key issues to consider concerning Libya and this new agreement, as well as all the previous conferences, meetings and agreements.
-- First, there is the most fundamental issue of all, which led to the fragmentation of Libyan society, based on the tribes and regions we see today. This issue is the non-recognition that the Libya crisis started as a civil war between different sides of Libya itself, when Libyans who supported Qaddafi [and his Green Revolution] and those opposed to him [Turkey backed Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar-NATO-backed right-wing Islamists, US-backed secular personalities living abroad] started warring, using violence from the protest’s first day.
The international community and the Libyans themselves did not admit this failure because it would cast much doubt on the decisive role Western countries and NATO have played in the Libyan crisis since 2011... The Libyan conflict, sadly, was cast through public statements and the media as a “revolution and liberation” for purely domestic political and legal reasons within Western countries themselves.
-- Second, the real issue is that all current Libyan political institutions are now expired legally because the Sekherat agreement, which gave them birth, expired at the end of 2017. Therefore, they have no real legitimacy with the Libyan people.
-- Third, there is a lack of a legal or constitutional basis, including election laws, and the glaring reality is that the country is fragmented. The UN and others estimate Libya is dominated by hundreds of armed militias.
The facts are that there are far more centers of real power than the four who gathered in Paris, the country has not experienced real reconciliation and, still inexplicably, the vast segments of Libyan society who still support Col. Qaddafi’s previous regime are excluded from any political process.
Ahmed Meiloud - Middle East Eye, 12-2-2015: "The Islamists’ ability to gain a majority in the General National Congress (GNC) allowed them to pass a strict, 19-article law that bars most former bureaucrats from running for office or holding any key position in the Libyan government. The law banned any political figure who “had played an administrative, political, military, intelligence, media or academic role in the range of organizations that supported the former regime” from being appointed in any key administrative post and from running for office.
The timing of the law was significant, especially for the Islamists. When the draft was signed into law by the GNC in early May 2013, the Islamists of Libya were trying to avert the conundrums that their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia faced. Islamist movements in both countries appeared unable to consolidate their hold on power despite their significant electoral gains.
Since the annihilation by NATO of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in 2011, the situation in Libya has deteriorated alarmingly: its GDP has been halved, and entire groups of the population live in misery – it is impossible to circulate in the country; insecurity is ever-present. Over the last few years, two thirds of the population have fled overseas, at least temporarily.
Writing off the illegality of NATO’s invasion, the United Nations is trying to re-stabilise the country.
The UN is represented by the UNSMIL (United Nations Support Mission in Libya), which is an exclusively political organisation.
Its true character was clear from its inception. Its first Director, Ian Martin (ex-Director of Amnesty International), organised the transfer of 1,500 Al-Qaïda jihadists, registered as « refugees » (sic), from Libya to Turkey in order to create the so-called « Free Syrian Army ».
While it is true that the UNSMIL is now directed by Ghassan Salame, it is still under the direct command of the Director of Political Affairs for the UN – none other than Jeffrey Feltman.
This ex-assistant of Hillary Clinton at the US State Department is one of the masters of the Cebrowski-Barnett plan for the destruction of states and societies in the « Greater Middle East ». It is Feltman himself who supervised the diplomatic foundations for the aggressions against Libya and Syria.
The History of Libya
Libya has only existed for 67 years. London favoured the emergence of a monarchy, the Senussi dynasty, which reigned over the country from its « independence » in 1951. It maintained its territory in a state of absolute obscurantism, while favouring Anglo-Saxon economic and military interests.
King Idris was only a puppet and British and French companies, along with other multinationals were the actual rulers of Libya.
The Idris-dynasty was overthrown in 1969, by a group of officers who proclaimed true independence and expelled the foreign forces.
At the level of interior politics, in 1975, Muammar Kadhafi drew up a programme called the Green Book, in which he promised this desert people that he would satisfy their most important dreams. For example, while every Bedouin nurtured the ambition to possess his own tent and his own camel, he promised each family a free apartment and a car. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya also offered water, free education and health care. National institutions were set up, inspired by the experiences of the utopian Socialist phalansteries of the 19th century. They set up a direct democracy at the same time as they co-existed with the ancient tribal structures.
In this way, all important decisions were first of all presented to the Tribal Consultative Assembly before being deliberated by the General People’s Congress (National Assembly).
On the international level, Kadhafi swore to resolve the secular conflict between the Africans, Arabs and black-skinned people.
However, despite the progress that was made, thirty years of Jamahiriya were not enough to transform this African Saudi Arabia into a modern secular society.
The current problem
By destroying this régime and once again raising the flag of the Sanussis, NATO has set the country back to what it had been before 1969 – a collection of tribes living in the desert, cut off from the world. In the absence of a state, and without a supreme leader, the population has fallen back on their tribal structures.
Sharia, racism and slavery reappeared. In these conditions, attempting to re-establish order from the top down is ineffective. On the contrary, it is indispensable to begin by pacifying the relations between tribes.
It is only when this operation is successfully concluded that it will become possible to envisage democratic institutions. Until that time, everyone’s safety will be guaranteed only by their tribal membership. In order to survive, Libyans will therefore refrain from thinking autonomously, and will always refer to the position of their group.
The repression brought to bear by the inhabitants of Misrata on the people of Tawarga is a clear example.
The Misratas are the descendants of the Turkish soldiers of the Ottoman army, and the people of Tawarga are the descendants of the ancient black slaves. As soon as the Sanussi flag had become mandatory, they turned on the black people with racist fury. They accused them of all sorts of crimes and forced 30,000 of them to flee.
It would obviously be very difficult to find a personality comparable to Mouammar Kadhafi who would first of all be recognised by the tribes, then by the People. But in reality, this is not what Jeffrey Feltman is looking for.
Contrary to the official declarations concerning an « inclusive » solution, in other words a solution which integrates all the components of Libyan society, Feltman has imposed, via the Islamists with whom he had collaborated in the State Department against Kadhafi, a law which forbids a post in public service to anyone who once served Kadhafi.
The House of Representatives has refused to apply this text, which is still in force in Tripoli.
This strategy is comparable to that of the de-Ba’athification that the same Feltman imposed on Iraq, when he was one of the directors of the « Coalition Provisional Authority ».
In both cases, these laws deprive the countries of the majority of their elites, and force them into violence or exile. It is clear to see that Feltman is still pursuing the objectives of the Cebrowski plan, while he pretends to be working for peace.
India’s External Affairs Minister,Sushma Swaraj, did not mince words in delivering a sharp rebuke to US plans for sanctions on trade with Iran, including National Security Adviser John Bolton’s threats against third parties like India.
She said, according to The Hindu, “Our foreign policy is not made under pressure from other countries . . . We recognise UN sanctions and not country-specific sanctions. We didn’t follow U.S. sanctions on previous occasions either.”
After Minister Swaraj’s meeting the same day with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, her office said that the External Affairs Ministry and the Indian cabinet
“positively assessed the implementation of decisions taken during the visit of President Rouhani to India… [including] in the areas of connectivity, energy, trade and promotion of people to people contacts . . .EAM conveyed that all parties to the [JCPOA] Agreement should engage constructively for peaceful resolution of the issues that have arisen with respect to the Agreement.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier seemed to waver over how to deal with Trump’s violation of the UN Security Council-backed Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). The return of severe US sanctions on Iran is about as welcome in Delhi as a cobra in a mongoose burrow.
India does $115 bn in annual trade with the US, but that with Iran is $13 bn a year. On the surface, you might think it would be easy for New Delhi to sacrifice the Iran piece of its trade for the much bigger American piece. But the fact is that India can buy turbines and washing machines from some country other than the US, whereas it needs Iran’s petroleum and natural gas for its future, and wants to use Iran to get around Pakistan to the northwest. Energy and geopolitics play a big role here...
Iran is India’s third largest supplier of petroleum, and India desperately wants to see Iran’s South Pars natural gas developed and the gas exported to India, either through Pakistan or through an underwater pipeline through the Gulf. At the least, it wants access to Central Asian hydrocarbons through Iran. And, India wants a good relationship with Iran as a way of offsetting its difficult relationship with Pakistan.
All non-Syrian forces must be pulled back from the border with Israel in the south of Syria as soon as possible, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said while answering media questions at the international Primakov Readings Forum in Moscow on Tuesday.
“We have well-known agreements concerning the southwestern de-escalation zone,” he said.
“Those agreements were concluded by Russia, the United States and Jordan. Israel was perfectly aware of them while they were still being drafted.
They stipulate that the zone of de-escalation is expected to consolidate stability and that all non-Syrian forces must be pulled out of that area. I believe this must happen as soon as possible. This is precisely what we are busy with now in cooperation with our Jordanian and US counterparts.”
Russia, Jordan and the United States in July 2017 coordinated the establishment of a de-escalation zone, which included three southernmost provinces: Daraa, Quneitra and Suwayda.
The situation there turned for the worse in recent months. As the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, in the area of Daraa the Syrian opposition and terrorist organizations Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State have been trying to create an autonomy, which may result in the country’s split.
"Israel in panic...; they are losing the dear ones: al-Nusra and ISIS.."
President Assad's Interview with the Russian TV International, RT Syria Times, Thursday, 31 May 2018
- Question: Your latest military victories, they have been – objectively speaking – spectacular... Are you planning on retaking all of Syria by force? We’re talking about Idleb, the borders with Israel, SDF-controlled territories.
- President Assad: War is the worst choice. I think every Syrian agrees upon this fact. But sometimes you only have this choice, especially when you talk about factions like Al Qaida, like ISIS, like al-Nusra, and the like-minded factions – actually most of them have the same ideology; Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Cham, and so on – they’re not ready for any dialogue, they don’t have any political plan; they only have this dark ideological plan, which is to be like any Al Qaida-controlled area anywhere in this world. So, the only option to deal with those factions is force.
At the same time, in other areas, we succeeded by implementing reconciliations, especially when the community in those different areas made pressure on those militants to leave those areas. So, I think the best choice is to make reconciliation.
- Question: With regards to reconciliation, how wise is it to send all of these veteran jihadists with their small arms to Idleb? By now, tens of thousands have gone to Idleb, they have consolidated, they have built defenses...
- President Assad: As you know, Idleb was captured by the terrorists in 2015 with the Turkish support. It was mainly captured by al-Nusra and some other supportive factions.
Actually, we started the reconciliations before that time, but every reconciliation that happened after that time, after 2015 - it was, I think, May 2015 - factions that wanted to leave the city or the village choose to go to Idleb. This is a very good indication that they have the same ideology, because they choose to go to al-Nusra area, they didn’t choose to go to any other area. They wanted to go there, because they have the same incubator, they have the same atmosphere, way of thinking, and so on. This is one part, the other part, which is the military aspect of your question; the plan of the terrorists and their masters was to distract the Syrian Army by scattering the different units all over the Syrian soil, which is not good for any army. Our plan was to put them in one area, two areas, three areas... So, militarily, it is better. They chose it, but it’s better for us from the military point of view.
- Question: The rebels there overwhelmingly are Sunni. Why is it that so many people, these Sunnis, these Muslims, they believe that you are oppressing them?
- President Assad: In Damascus, in Aleppo, in Homs, in every area under the Syrian government’s control, you’ll see every spectrum of the Syrian society, with no exceptions. So, this reality will debunk this narrative. I mean, how could they live with each other while the government is killing them according to sectarian basis? It doesn’t work.
- Question: How are you going to deal with the United States’ presence, military presence, in Syria?
- President Assad: After the liberation of Aleppo and later Deir Ezzor, and before that Homs, and now Damascus, actually the United States is losing its cards. The main card was al-Nusra that was called “moderate.” But when the scandal started leaking, that they are not moderate, they are Al Qaida that was supposed to be fought by the United States, they looked for another card. This card is the SDF now..
We are moving forward in the different areas to defeat the terrorists, the only problem left in Syria is the SDF. We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one, we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them are Syrians, and supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners, that’s what we suppose, so we have the same basis...
This is the first option. If not, we’re going to resort to liberating by force, to liberating those areas by force. We don’t have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans. We don’t have any other option. So, this is our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it...
- Question: Now, we have the Israeli energy minister who is threatening that his country could, quote, “liquidate you and your government.” Are you afraid, and how do you take that threat?
- President Assad: Since we were born – I’m talking about my generation and most of the generations now in Syria – we lived under the threat of the Israeli aggression... The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threat in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling, because they are losing the “dear ones”: al-Nusra and ISIS...
- Question: Well, Israel is now seemingly striking across Syria, airstrikes, at will. Is there anything you can do to stop Israel carrying out its airstrikes in Syria?
- President Assad: Actually, the first target of the mercenaries in Syria was the air defense, before attacking any other military base, it was the air defense, and you would be surprised at that time; why do they attack the air defense?
The air defense will not deal with the “peaceful demonstrators” as they say or the “moderate forces,” and it cannot deal with extremists anyway. It’s another thing, it’s built to defend the country. This is the other proof that Israel was in direct link with those terrorists in Syria. So, they attacked those bases, and they destroyed a big part of our air defenses...
Now, my answer to your question, the only option is to improve our air defense, this is the only thing we can do, and we are doing that.
syria - aleppo rebels - 2016
- Question: Israel says that its strikes are targeted at Iran.... Would you ever consider asking Iran to leave?
- President Assad: The most important fact regarding this issue, is that we don’t have Iranian troops. We never had, and you cannot hide it, and we’re not ashamed to say that we have, like we invited the Russians, we could have invited the Iranians. We have Iranian officers who work with the Syrian Army as help, but they don’t have troops...
- Question: There are now in Syria forces from five nuclear powers, five nuclear powers directly engaged in military operations in Syria, be it boots on the grounds or airstrikes. Some of those countries are on different sides. How Syrian is this civil war stil?
- President Assad: The word “civil war” has been used widely since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, even by our friends, and by our allies by mistake, without understanding the content of this meaning.
Syrian “civil war” means there are sectarian lines based on either ethnicities or sects or religions or maybe political opinion or political currents, let’s say, something we don’t have in Syria. In reality, in the area controlled by the government, which is now the majority of Syria, you have all these diversities. So, the word “civil war” is not correct.
What we have actually from the very beginning are mercenaries, Syrians and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the reality, the mere reality, the very stark reality. Everything else is just masks to cover the real intentions.
ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks Thursday with the envoy on Syria of Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin official's second visit to Ankara in a week as cooperation deepens. Erdogan hosted Alexander Lavrentiev for talks at his Ankara palace, the Turkish presidency said, without elaborating on their discussion. Lavrentiev last visited Ankara on May 24, when he had come directly from talks the day earlier in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an eye-catching itinerary that startled analysts. On that occasion he met with Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and top foreign ministry officials. In Moscow, the foreign ministry said only they had discussed "tasks aimed at advancing the political solution in Syria".
Erdogan and Putin also held the latest in a series of phone conversations on Tuesday, discussing issues including Syria.
Turkey and Russia have been on opposing sides of the civil war in Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, with Moscow the key backer of Assad and Turkey pressing for his ouster. But since Russia's military intervention in Syria began to tip the balance especially from late 2016, Ankara and Moscow have been working increasingly closely to find a peaceful end to the civil war.
Turkey's official policy remains to oppose Assad.... But Ankara has softened its rhetoric against Damascus since the cooperation with Russia began, prioritising the fight against Kurdish militia in northern Syria deemed by Turkey to be terrorists.
Some analysts have speculated that Russia would like to see a rapprochement between Erdogan and Assad in order to lay the foundation for a peaceful and stable postwar Syria, although there have been no signs of this coming to fruition.
Yet Turkey was likely to have been pleased with comments by Assad in an interview broadcast on Thursday suggesting he is prepared to use force against the Kurdish militia in northern Syria despised by Ankara.
Prior to the civil war, Erdogan, then prime minister, and Assad enjoyed a relatively warm relationship frequently exchanging visits up to 2010. Their wives Emine and Asma also have cordial public ties.
There is no political party in Turkey that distinctively and openly represents the Muslim Brotherhood (i.e. the Brotherhood).
Some members of the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP), however—including Turkish President Recep Erdoğan—have provided various forms of support to the Brotherhood, including granting asylum to wanted Brotherhood members and equipping them with satellite television and radio stations.
Despite being charged in absentia by the Egyptian government, some Brotherhood fugitives have been allowed to openly congregate in Turkey and organize against the Egyptian government.
Erdoğan’s relationship with the Brotherhood dates back to the 1970s, when he first met Brotherhood spokesman Kemal Al-Helbawy at a series of conferences organized by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Wahhabi-Salafist organization in Saudi Arabia that is believed to have funded Hamas and al-Qaeda. At the time, Erdoğan was the top advisor for Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the short-lived Islamist National Order Party (MNP) in Turkey. Erbakan’s MNP—a nationalistic Islamist party that rejected Western influence—was banned in 1971 for violating Turkey’s constitutional principal of secularism.
Erbakan went on to establish a series of similar short-lived Islamist parties in the subsequent decades including the National Salvation Party (MSP) in 1972, the Welfare Party (RP) in 1983, and the Virtue Party (FP) in 1997. Each of these parties was banned by Turkey’s constitutional courts within a span of several years for violating the constitutional principal of secularism.
Following the shutdown of Erbakan’s FP in 2001, Erdoğan and a group of his followers broke off to establish the AKP, a conservative political party that garnered support by promoting social services such as housing and health care.
In 2002, the AKP earned a majority of the votes in Turkey’s general elections, effectively positioning Erdoğan as the Turkish prime minister. In 2014, after serving three terms as prime minister, Erdoğan was elected president of Turkey.
Throughout their political careers, Erbakan and Erdogan both maintained working relationships with the global Brotherhood network.
Following Erbakan’s death in 2011, several leading Brotherhood figures attended his funeral, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the Brotherhood’s former spiritual guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef.
Although Erdoğan has attempted to distance the AKP from its history of Islamism, the party has demonstrated strong support for the Brotherhood, particularly after the July 2013 ouster of senior Brotherhood leader and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Erdoğan himself has indicated his support for the Brotherhood. “It is not an armed group, but…an ideological organization,” he stated in February 2017 interview with Al Arabiya in response to international pressure against the organization.
“There would be no tolerance for the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey if they had to do with terrorism, and we have not seen or observed any action [from them] that indicates this.”
In August 2015, Istanbul hosted the Conference for Countering Despotism and Bloodshed, a two-day symposium in which Brotherhood members and sympathizers openly criticized the Egyptian government. Pro-Brotherhood speakers at the event labeled the Egyptian government as illegitimate and urged Egyptians “not [to] abide by any of the state’s decrees and should, instead strive to rise against them.” Egypt has accused the Turkish government of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood. In November 2017, Egyptian authorities detained 29 individuals on suspicion of espionage for Turkey.
Egypt’s General Intelligence Services (GIS) alleged that they had been passing information to Turkish intelligence services as part of a plot to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power in Egypt.
"We must recognize that the threats that confront Israel also confront the United States. The same terrorist groups that want to destroy Israel also want to destroy the United States."
Rep. Ted Poe is assigned to the House Committee of Foreign Affairs and is a member of the Israel Allies Caucus.
As parliamentarians in Baghdad work to form a new governing coalition in the wake of this month’s elections, their counterparts in Washington are seeking to sanction more than a dozen of the Iraqi legislators over their links to Iran. The House of Representatives unanimously voted last week on legislation requiring President Donald Trump to sanction “persons that are officials, agents, affiliates of or owned and controlled by” two prominent Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq and Syria.
The amendment from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill targets Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, both of which are part of the Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units battling the Islamic State.
Both militias joined with other Iran-backed military forces as part of the Fatah, or Conquest, political coalition, which came in second in the May 12 elections with 47 out of 329 parliamentary seats. Asaib Ahl al-Haq won 14 of those 47 seats, according to Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell, while Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba did not field any candidates.
“The US Department of Treasury will ultimately determine if the political wing constitutes an affiliate or entity controlled by” Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a Poe aide told Al-Monitor. “Congressman Poe believes [Asaib Ahl al-Haq] will likely be subject to these penalties unless it completely breaks all ties with the armed wing, renounces violence and acts solely as [an] Iraqi political party with no backing from Iran.”
“Political parties are about engaging in peaceful civil discourse, not about representing armed thugs who commit violent atrocities to achieve political ends,” the aide added.
The Trump administration has taken an increasingly hawkish approach to Iran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal earlier this month, vowing to go after Iran’s proxies throughout the region.
If it so chooses, however, the administration has some wiggle room to avoid sanctioning the 14 new Asaib Ahl al-Haq lawmakers as Iraqi law requires political parties to formally separate themselves from the militias. However, the parties retain the same names as their respective militias and Asaib Ahl al-Haq’s leader, Qais al-Khazali, has landed a seat in parliament.
The Iraqi Embassy did not respond to Al-Monitor’s inquiries about its positions on the provision.
Other than potential sanctions on the 14 Iraqi parliamentarians, it remains unclear how much of an impact such measures would actually have on Washington’s ability to do business with Baghdad as Iraqi politicians attempt to create a new coalition.
“The most meaningful impact of sanctions like these is often less on the direct targets and more on their environment,” Nathaniel Rabkin, the managing editor of the newsletter Inside Iraqi Politics, told Al-Monitor.
“The more Iraqi entities and persons you sanction, the more US businesses will be cautious about doing business in Iraq more generally and the more carefully they’ll be vetting Iraqi partners.”
qaraqosh 2016, liberated by iraqi army
and popular mobilization units.
A member of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi who was elected to the Iraqi parliament on May 12 says he is proud his group is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, adding that US sanctions against Iran could affect the outflow of funds to militia groups in Iraq. “The American administration or the congress classifying the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq means nothing to us,” Ahmed Ali Hussein told Rudaw. “I take pride today, because today the American government lists me on the terror list.”
Hussein, a leadership member of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq running on the Sadiqun list, won one of the Shiite list’s 15 seats. Sadiqun is a part of the Fatih coalition that won 47 seats, the second highest number of seats in the election. Hussein pointed out that his group was the first to fight against ISIS and accused the United States of double standards.
“We believe Daesh (ISIS) is the product of American policies. This project was aimed to assail Iraq’s unity,” said Hussein.
The Hashd were formed after a fatwa by the highest Shiite cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, following the ISIS blitzkrieg of 2014.
In December 2016, the Iraqi parliament passed a law to formally bring the Hashd al-Shaabi militias under the command of the prime minister.
The Iraqi constitution prohibits the formation of armed groups outside the framework of the official army.
“They shall be subject to the control of the civilian authority, shall defend Iraq, shall not be used as an instrument to oppress the Iraqi people, shall not interfere in the political affairs, and shall have no role in the transfer of authority,” reads the Iraqi constitution.
Iraq is currently working to form a new coalition government. The US invested heavily in the “new Iraq,” but at the same time is trying to balance regional influence between Shiite Iran and mostly Sunni Persian Gulf states.
“We will work with whoever the Iraqi Government and the people of Iraq decide to elect into its government,” said US Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert on Wednesday.
Mahmoud al-Rubaie, spokesman for the political bureau of the movement: "We are an Islamic nationalist movement, a movement that looks for peaceful coexistence, which neither threatens embassies nor companies and does not assault the interests of any country that does not harm Iraq and the Iraqis. Iraq Business News, 21-8-2016
During the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates and Russia have signed a declaration on strategic partnership.
The sides call for the establishment of a broad international coalition to combat terrorism and extremism, which would be based on respect for the sovereignty of states directly affected by terrorist attacks," the document says.
According to the declaration, Russia and the UAE will coordinate efforts to fight terrorism and extremism. The document also says that the spread of international terrorism requires the world community to take decisive measures without double standards.
The UAE and Russia stated their intention to intensify consultations in the field of security and defense.
"The parties will strengthen cooperation in the field of security and defense, in particular, by intensifying consultations between the competent authorities of the two countries," the document read.
In addition, both countries pledged to contribute to ensuring a safe and peaceful cyberspace, and prevent the dissemination of extremist ideology.
"The parties will actively contribute to the disarmament process at the international and regional levels, in particular, by strengthening the non-proliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. In this regard, they will coordinate efforts to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction," the document says.
The two sides also agreed to develop cooperation in the areas of fighting against money laundering, as well as combating drug trafficking and illegal migration.
The West likes to think of itself as a truly “peace-loving part of the world”. But is it?
You hear it everywhere, from Europe to North America, then to Australia, and back to Europe: “Peace, peace, peace!”
It has become a cliché, a catchphrase, a recipe to get funding and sympathy and support. You say peace and you really cannot go wrong. It means that you are a compassionate and reasonable human being.
Libya 2011: "A Medieval Crusade"
Vladimir Putin stated on March 21 that the resolution of the UN Security Council on Libya was flawed. "The Security Council resolution is deficient and flawed; it allows everything and is reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade."
"It effectively allows intervention in a sovereign state," "This policy is becoming a stable trend..." "Where is the logic and conscience? There is neither." (Pravda 2011)
Every year, there are “peace conferences” taking place everywhere where peace is worshipped, and even demanded. I recently attended one, as a keynote speaker, on the west coast of Denmark. If a heavy-duty war correspondent like myself attends them, he or she gets shocked. What is usually discussed are superficial, feel-good topics.
At best, ‘how bad capitalism is’, and how ‘everything is about oil’... At worst, it is all about how bad the world is – “all people are the same” cliché. And, also, there are increasingly, bizarre, uninformed outbursts against China and Russia which are often labeled by Western neo-cons as “threat” and “rival powers”.
Participants of these gatherings agree “Peace is Good”, and “War is Bad”. This is followed by standing ovations and patting each other on the back. Few heartfelt tears are dropped...
My friend, a great Indian writer and thinker, Arundhati Roy wrote, in 2001, reacting to the Western “War on Terror”: "When he announced the air strikes, President George W. Bush said, “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of Prime Minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people”.... So now we know...: War is Peace.
When it comes from the lips of the Westerners, is ‘peace’ really peace, is ‘war’ really a war? Are people in that ‘free and democratic West’, still allowed to ask such questions?
Or is the war and peace perception just a part of the dogma that is not allowed to be questioned and is ‘protected’ by both the Western culture and its laws?
I’m not in the West, and I don’t want to be. Therefore, I’m not sure what they are allowed to say or to question there. But we, those lucky people who are ‘outside’ and therefore not fully conditioned, controlled and indoctrinated, will definitely not stop asking these questions anytime soon; or to be precise, never!
I wrote about war and peace at length, in my 840-page book “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”.
When you do what I do, you become like a doctor: you can only stand all those horrors and suffering, because you are here to help, to expose reality, and to shame the world. You have no right to decompose, to collapse, to fall and to cry.
But what you cannot stand is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is ‘bulletproof’. It cannot be illuminated by correct arguments, by logic and by examples. Hypocrisy in the West is often ignorant, but mostly it is just self-serving.
So, what is real peace for the people in Europe and North America? The answer is simple: It is a state of things in which as few Western people as possible are killed or injured.
How many African, Latin American or Asian people die as a result of such arrangement of the world, is thoroughly irrelevant.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world.
Damascus, SANA – Hundreds of Syrian youth and students have got dressed and put on work clothes, spread in a number of terror-affected schools and service centers in the Eastern Ghouta and started rehabilitation and maintenance and cleaning works with great vigor.
The campaign included the service centers in the towns of Kafr Batna, Ein Tarma, Zamalka, Saqba and Arbin, in addition to 2 schools in Daraya in the western Ghouta with the aim of rehabilitating schools, health centers, streets and public squares in the aforementioned areas.
During the month-long campaign, the buses carrying participants arrived in front of Saqba school at 8:00 am after which the volunteers started to remove debris, clean the classrooms, repair windows, rehabilitate destroyed walls and paint the schools. All works are implemented in cooperation with teachers and engineers and specialized workers. The campaign is organized in cooperation with the National Union of Syrian Students, the Syrian Trust for Development, the Revolution Youth Union, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
Maccabees 1: "King Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should be one people, and every one should leave his laws: so all the heathen agreed according to the commandment of the king. Yea, many also of the Israelites consented to his religion, and sacrificed unto idols, and profaned the sabbath."
(Maccabees 4) "Then Judas appointed certain men to fight against those that were in the fortress, until he had cleansed the sanctuary. So he [Judas] chose priests of blameless conversation, such as had pleasure in the (Jewish) law."
The chief rabbis of Israel and some 25 religious Zionist rabbis on Sunday called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reject a proposal to overhaul the system of conversion to Judaism in the country, arguing that stripping the Chief Rabbinate of that authority will divide Jewry and facilitate the loss of Jewish heritage. Moshe Nissim, a former justice, finance, and industry minister, on Sunday presented Netanyahu with his final recommendations on a proposed bill to streamline conversion into a uniform process under the auspices of a new state-authorized Orthodox body.
The proposed changes were immediately dismissed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the leader of the coalition Shas party, and United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, who said they would mount political hurdles to the advancement of the proposed reforms. Currently, the Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate has the monopoly on state-recognized conversions to Judaism, a subject that deeply divides Jews from the Conservative and Reform movements.
But although the new proposal would apparently ensure that conversions are still conducted under strict Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law, hardline religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox rabbinic leaders were nonetheless opposed to Nissim’s proposal, which also calls for recognizing conversions carried out by the Conservative and Reform movements abroad...
At an emergency meeting attended by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and leading religious Zionist rabbis, the participants expressed their alarm at Nissim’s document...
“Recognizing Reform and Conservative converts is a very serious violation,” said Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef . “Each and every clause of the bill is problematic.” Yosef also objected to the inclusion of Reform and Conservative representatives on a panel that would appoint the rabbinical judges for conversion under the new Israeli system.
“Just the fact that Reform representatives are involved in the committee to appoint conversion judges is totally inappropriate and therefore this document must be rejected out of hand,” said Yosef. “This law must be buried,” the Sephardi chief rabbi said.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said the new system would “create the illusion for people that if they receive a certificate, this is what will turn them into converts.”
“This is an opening toward assimilation and will bring the destruction of Judaism, that is happening in the [rest of the] world, to the holy land...”
Never before in Jewish history has there been a chief rabbinate that has sought to impose its views upon the entire Jewish world.
The position of chief rabbi was created in medieval Europe largely for secular purposes, such as collecting taxes and compiling statistics, and in order to provide an intermediary between the government and the Jewish community.
During the period of the British Mandate of Palestine, the High Commissioner established the Chief Rabbinate as the religious authority for the Jewish community.
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is a particularly problematic institution. First of all, there is not one chief rabbi but two — one for the Sephardim and one for the Ashkenazim! Its incumbents are not chosen on the basis of their knowledge or piety, but rather as a result of political wheeling and dealing...
Yet, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has pretensions of being a Jewish Vatican. It has just released its proposed criteria for the recognition of rabbinical courts around the world for the purposes of conversions to Judaism and divorce.
Some 160 rabbis, including several prominent American Orthodox leaders, appear on a list of rabbis whom Israel’s ultra-Orthodox-dominated Chief Rabbinate does not trust to confirm the Jewish identities of immigrants...
British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has asked his publisher, Continuum, to stop promoting and printing The Dignity of Difference until he has completed revisions for a second edition. His decision followed growing charges from a broad spectrum of the Orthodox community, including his own mainstream United Synagogue movement, that the views he expressed could be regarded as heretical.
Sacks wrote that "God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims."
He went on to assert that "no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical, and artistic expressions of mankind... "
Bezalel Rakow and Joseph Dunner, leaders of Britain's haredi community, declared that the book is "irreconcilable with traditional Jewish teachings" in an advertisement published in London's Jewish Chronicle. Any implications that Judaism does not contain absolute truth represents a grave deviation from the pathways of traditional and authentic Judaism."
"A victory for the dinosaurs"
British chief rabbi revises controversial book
By Richard Allen Greene, Jewish Telegraph, March 16, 2003
In the second edition of “The Dignity of Difference,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks removed statements suggesting that Christianity and Islam are as valid as Judaism.
The publication of the first edition in August 2002 sparked a storm of criticism from fervently Orthodox rabbis in Britain and Israel.... There even were rumors that Sacks would face charges of apostasy.
To the dismay of many British Jews, Sacks backed down and let it be known in November that he would issue a revised edition of his book.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, director of Yakar, an Orthodox Jewish study center in London, said he is disappointed that Sacks retreated.
“I am very disappointed that the thinking side of Torah Judaism allowed itself to be bullied by the side that has no philosophical training,” he told JTA. Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain echoed Rosen’s view, calling the new edition of the book “a victory for the dinosaurs.”
Sacks’s original book contained the passage, “God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to the Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims...”
The new edition, published March 1, substitutes: “God communicates in human language, but there are dimensions of the divine that must forever elude us... As Jews we believe that God has made a covenant with a singular people... " (the Jewish people)
More than 50 years ago, the state of Israel shocked the world when it seized the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, in a matter of six days. In a war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, known as the 1967 War, or the June War, Israel delivered what came to be known as the "Naksa", meaning setback or defeat, to the armies of the neighbouring Arab countries, and to the Palestinians who lost all what remained of their homeland.
The Naksa was a continuation of a prior central event that paved the way for the 1967 war. Nineteen years earlier, in 1948, the state of Israel came into being in a violent process that entailed the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Zionist forces, in their mission to create a "Jewish state", expelled some 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroyed their villages in the process. Shortly after Israel declared statehood, units of the neighbouring Arab country armies came in to fight for the Palestinian nation.
The 1948 war ended with Israeli forces controlling approximately 78 percent of historical Palestine. The remaining 22 percent fell under the administration of Egypt and Jordan.
In 1967, Israel absorbed the whole of historical Palestine, as well as additional territory from Egypt and Syria. By the end of the war, Israel had expelled another 300,000 Palestinians from their homes, including 130,000 who were displaced in 1948, and gained territory that was three and a half times its size.
Why did the 1967 war break out?
On May 13, 1967, the Soviet Union falsely warned Egypt that Israel was assembling its troops to invade Syria. Under an Egyptian-Syrian defence treaty signed in 1955, the two countries were obliged to protect one another in the case of an attack on either. Egypt then ordered the evacuation of UN troops out of Sinai and stationed its troops there. A few days later, Abdul Nasser blocked Israeli shipping in the Red Sea.
At the end of May, Egypt and Jordan signed a mutual defence pact that effectively placed the Jordanian army under Egypt's command. Iraq followed suit shortly after.
On the early morning of June 5, Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt's airbases and destroyed the Egyptian air force while it was still on the ground, a move that unleashed the war. The Israeli attack on Egypt's airbases in the Sinai and the Suez reportedly disabled at least 90 percent of the Egyptian air force and dictated the course of the war. Israeli ground forces proceeded to invade the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula on the same day.
Israel also attacked the Syrian airfields on the evening of June 5. The next day, fighting ensued between Jordan and Israel for control of Jordanian-held East Jerusalem. On the dawn of June 7, military commander Moshe Dayan ordered Israeli troops to take control of Jerusalem's Old City. By mid-day of June 7, Israeli forces had seized the Old City from the Jordanian army.
The major West Bank cities of Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jericho, fell to the Israeli army a day later. Israel also shelled the Abdullah and Hussein bridges over the Jordan River that linked the West Bank to Jordan. After taking the Old City, Israeli forces demolished the entire 770-year-old Moroccan Quarter neighbourhood, to widen access to what the Jewish people call the Western Wall, (known to Muslims as the al-Buraq Wall.)
Approximately 100 Palestinian families living in the quarter were ordered to evacuate their homes and the neighbourhood was bombed and completely demolished. The space was used by Israel to build the "Western Wall Plaza", an area that granted Jews direct access to the Wall.
Throughout the war and under the orders of Yitzhak Rabin - who later became Israel's prime minister - Israeli forces ethnically cleansed and destroyed several Palestinian villages, expelling some 10,000 Palestinians. Among the most infamous wiped out villages were Imwas, Beit Nuba and Yalu.
In the Palestinian West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Tulkarem, the Israeli army systematically destroyed Palestinian homes. About 12,000 Palestinians were forced out of Qalqilya alone, as a means of "punishment", Dayan reportedly wrote in his memoirs.
The overwhelming majority of the newly displaced Palestinians sought refuge in Jordan. Many crossed into Jordan through the river, and did so on foot with very few belongings.
Israel's offensive on the Syrian Golan Heights started on June 9, and by the next day, the Golan had been captured, putting Israel at a shocking distance from the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Egypt and Israel signed a ceasefire on June 9, while Syria and Israel signed on June 11, effectively ending the war with a UN-brokered truce.
In six days, Israel brought more than one million Palestinians under its direct control in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The 1967 war turned Israel into the country with the largest Palestinian population.
The shock of loss and defeat precipitated a revolutionary atmosphere among Palestinians, which spurred the emergence of armed resistance movements, vowing to take back Palestine by force throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
For the Israelis, their government's seizure of territory in the war led to a sense of euphoria. Thousands of Jews, even secularists, flocked to the Wall and wept as they prayed for what they believed was a miracle from God. The belief that the outcome of 1967 was a miracle reinforced the idea to religious and messianic Zionists who believed, based on religious convictions, that they had a right to the entirety of the Holy Land.
The war unleashed the settler movement; a young generation of messianic Zionists decided to establish houses in the West Bank and Gaza, territory that is occupied and is not part of the state of Israel... Israel began encouraging its citizens to move into the territories it occupied and supporting them as they did so.
Today, at least 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements scattered across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlements, which are accompanied by roads and infrastructure built especially for the settlers, control at least 40 percent of the West Bank's surface area.
As such, Israel has created an apartheid reality in the Palestinian territories whereby Israelis and Palestinians live under a system that privileges Jews over non-Jews.
The United States warned governments and the private sector to crack down on what it described as Iranian efforts to exploit them to fund its support for terrorism, destabilizing actions in the region and rights abuses at home.
"You must harden your financial networks, require your companies to do extra due diligence to keep them from being caught in Iran’s deceptive web, and make clear the very significant risks of doing business with companies and persons there," Under Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker said.
"Companies doing business in Iran face substantial risks, and those risks are even greater as we reimpose nuclear-related sanctions," she added. "We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account."
The U.S. decision to leave the pact, under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions, has antagonized its other parties: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
With U.S. sanctions returning it is not clear how enthusiastic U.S. allies or other nations such as China may be to comply with those sanctions, particularly those requiring foreign firms to reduce their imports of Iranian oil.
The weight of the U.S. financial system and the reality of companies having to choose between selling to Iran or to the vast U.S. market, is likely to force many private firms to comply.
"To those in the private sector, I urge you to also take additional steps to ensure Iran and its proxies are not exploiting your companies to support their nefarious activities," Mandelker said. "You have to do more to make sure your compliance programs are airtight."
"The Iranian regime will deceive your companies, undermine the integrity of your financial systems, put your institutions at risk of our powerful sanctions, all to fund terrorism, human rights abuses and terrorist groups," Mandelker added.
She repeated U.S. threats to increase financial pressure unless Iran ceases actions such as supporting proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
"Our powerful economic authorities will give the regime a clear choice: Change its unacceptable support for terrorism, destabilizing activities and human rights abuses, or face economic calamity," Mandelker said.
JERUSALEM - Israel's intelligence minister Yisrael Katz' called Tuesday for a military coalition against Iran if the Islamic Republic were to defy world powers by enriching military-grade uranium.
Yisrael Katz's remarks came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began visiting European leaders to discuss Iran's regional involvement and nuclear programme, both seen by the Jewish state as grave threats.
EKatz addressed Tehran's threat to restart uranium enrichment at an "industrial level" if the 2015 pact falls apart.
"If the Iranians don't surrender now, and try to return" to unsupervised uranium enrichment, "there should be a clear statement by the President of the United States and all of the Western coalition," he said. "The Arabs and Israel surely would be there too."
The message should be that "if the Iranians return" to enriching uranium a military coalition will be formed against them," Katz told Israeli public radio station Kan.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday warned European leaders to drop their "dream" of Tehran continuing to curb its nuclear programme despite renewed economic sanctions.
The Iran deal paved the way for the partial lifting of international sanctions against the country, in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme for several years.
Israel argues the lifting of sanctions under the nuclear deal allowed Iran to expand its presence in the Middle East, both through its own forces and with proxy groups.
It also says the time limits on the accord do not guarantee Iran will not eventually obtain nuclear weapons, while it also wants to see restrictions on Iranian missile development.
In his Monday meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu warned that Iran was "seeking nuclear weapons to carry out its genocidal designs." "It's important to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. We commit, and I commit again, that we will not let that happen," he said.
Israel's parliament [Knesset] disqualified a bill that called for all citizens to be treated equally, rejecting the argument it must recognise the rights of its Arab minority as equal to the Jewish majority. The text of the bill stated its objective was "to anchor in constitutional law the principle of equal citizenship while recognising the existence and rights of the two, Jewish and Arab, national groups living within the country".
The bill was sponsored by Balad, an Arab political faction and member of the Joint List - an alliance of four predominantly Arab parties - in the parliament. Haneen Zoabi, a Balad member of the Knesset and one of the bill's sponsors, told Al Jazeera the proposed legislation aimed to make Israel more democratic - especially in its treatment of Arab citizens.
"The cancellation of our bill shows that democracy and equal rights do not go hand-in-hand with the way Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. "It is clear that Israel considers democracy, or even demanding it, a threat to its existence," Zoabi added.
According to the bill, Israel is defined as "a state for all its citizens, whose regime is a democratic regime" and, therefore, must make itself a state for both national groups, Arabs and Jews, equally. It also called for a separation of religion and state, while guaranteeing the freedom of worship for all. Jamal Zahalka, who co-sponsored the proposed legislation, told Al Jazeera he wanted to place Arab citizens of Israel on equal footing with their Jewish counterparts. "If Israel wants to remain a democratic state, it must treat all of its citizens equally," he said. Speaker Yuli Yoel Edelstein denounced the bill in a statement on the Knesset website on Tuesday.
"This is a preposterous bill that any intelligent individual can see must be blocked immediately. A bill that aims to gnaw at the foundations of the state must not be allowed in the Knesset," Edelstein said. "This is the first time since my appointment as Knesset speaker five years ago that I am recommending that the presidium disqualify a bill."
Israel was founded in the aftermath of the 1948 war on what was then Palestine. Most Palestinians were expelled from their towns and homes by Jewish militias, or fled over the course of the war. While Israel celebrates the anniversary of its founding every May, Palestinians commemorate the event as the Nakba, or Catastrophe. Israeli Arabs make up some 20 percent of Israel's population.
‘Either Russia is a sovereign country, or there is no Russia’
Vladimir Putin on relations with the West RT Russia, 6 June, 2018
Speaking to Chinese TV, Putin said that he believes the rounds of sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, its allies and the EU have only one goal – to hamper its economic development.
"Where is all this pathos about protecting human rights and democracy when it comes to the need to pursue their own interests?" Vladimir Putin, 11-5-2006
He went on to stress that no amount of sanctions and punitive measures will ever be enough to make Russia cave in and change its policy.
“I believe that either Russia will be sovereign, or there will be no Russia at all. And, of course, the Russian people will always opt for the first. I think the Chinese people will too. We have no other option,” Putin said.
The Russian president argued that all attempts by the West to wreck the Russian economy will eventually backfire on those who followed the US' lead in ‘punishing’ Russia. “Those who followed the US lead, they themselves are beginning to suffer from what the United States is implementing with regards to these countries,” Putin said.
Ukraine-linked sanctions, introduced after Russia’s reunification with Crimea and an outbreak of civil conflict in eastern Ukraine, are taking their toll on European economies. Calls to lift the sanctions have been coming from several European capitals...
Apart from Russia-related sanctions, the EU has been forced to deal with a steep increase in import tariffs on steel and aluminum, which were introduced by US President Donald Trump and took effect last week. Noting that the countries that sided with Washington on Russia are now themselves starting to feel the burn, Putin said that he points it out not because he likes to rejoice at others’ misfortunes, but because it proves that sanctions are detrimental to all the parties, “including those who initiated them.”
Speaking on the chances that relations between the West and Russia, which are now hitting rock bottom, will improve, Putin said he hopes for “positive,” mutually beneficial ties. “Eventually, I believe that we will manage to improve the relations one way or another.”
Qatar's emir has triggered an exodus of leading US advisors to his government after hosting 'a leading Islamist extremist' at dinner this week.
Prominent US consultants engaged by Qatar as part of its influence operations in the US have quit in recent days, in outright protest provoked by pictures of the emir and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has a long track record of incitement to violence. Mort Klein, a campaigner who traveled to Qatar as a part of an outreach to influential Jewish Americans, said he could no longer associate with Doha. “I’ve lost confidence that they’re at all serious about changing,” he told the Politico news site.
Joey Allaham has also cut ties, citing the meeting in Doha during a Ramadan gathering for religious leaders. “The Emir enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region, but this could not be further from the truth,” said Mr Allaham.
Completing the spate of resignations was Nick Muzin, a former adviser to Senator Ted Cruz who has been engaged in lobbying efforts since the boycott of Qatar by the Arab Quartet.
2011/12: Good Guy
Qaradawi: "Kill Gaddafi", "Kill Assad"
B.H. Levy: I agree.. They are enemies of Israel
The emir of Qatar last week embraced a prominent Islamic scholar who has encouraged Muslims to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and expressed hope for another Holocaust, according to newly surfaced photographs.
Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, on Wednesday hosted an iftar banquet for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in honor of religious leaders, Qatari media reported. One of the theologians present was Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a radical Egyptian preacher and Muslim Brotherhood leader who is based in Doha, Qatar, and was banned from visiting the United States because of his calls to kill Jews and Americans.
The Anti-Defamation League's David Weinberg flagged al-Qaradawi's attendance on Twitter, noting some of the theologian's past radical statements. Al-Thani can be seen hugging al-Qaradawi in one photograph and appears to have given the preacher the seat of honor next to him.
"Here's #Qatar's ruler hugging hate preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi last week, who authorized attacks vs Americans in #Iraq and called the Holocaust divine punishment of the Jews for which he wanted a second round." David A. Weinberg (@DavidAWeinberg) June 5, 2018
In a statement that aired on Al Jazeera TV in 2009, al-Qaradawi said the Holocaust was a "punishment" for Jews ...: "Throughout history, Allah punished them for their corruption," al-Qaradawi said. "The last punishment was carried out by Hitler..." Al-Thani's apparent embrace of al-Qaradawi is particularly significant given the recent scrutiny Qatar has undergone for financing Islamist terrorist operations.
Qatar's Hamad Bin Jaber al-Yhani admits that his country was the prime mover in the Syrian crisis but then Saudi Arabia turned against us and later tried to monopolize the Syrian dossier.
It is three years since HBJ, as he is known in London's financial circles, stepped down as prime minister of the small state of Qatar, part of a deal in which Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the ruler at the time, abdicated in favor of his son Tamim. As PM of Qatar, he invested in Britain and intervened in the "Arab Spring".
When asked about holding some responsibility for the debacle in Syria, HBJ admitted: "I will tell you one thing and that is maybe the first time I say this: when we started being involved in Syria we had a green light that Qatar would lead this because Saudi Arabia didn't at that time want to lead. After that there was a change in policy and Saudi Arabia didn't inform us that they wanted us in the back seat. We ended up competing and it was not healthy." Money and weapons flowed but with no clear strategy or direction; the whole enterprise was undermined by bickering and competition between the two Gulf States.
He further pointed out that the same policies used in Syria were followed in Libya, where Qatar and the United Arab Emirates backed opposing sides in the war since the demise of the Gaddafi regime in the 2011 revolution.
He acknowledges that in Libya, "There were a lot of cookers in the end. That's why it was spoiled."
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Friday morning left Tehran for China to take part in the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The Iranian President who is to attend the 18th summit upon the invitation by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, will also hold bilateral talks with the heads of states and delegations on the sidelines of the event. He will also meet the heads of some international organizations.
'Four documents will be signed on fighting narcotics and organized crimes, Iran's role in 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, stock exchange and security cooperation, and academic cooperation,' Ali-Asghar Khaji, Iran's ambassador to Beijing said on Thursday.
Some senior officials, such as the Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, and Minister of Economy Masoud Karbasian are accompanying Rouhani in the visit.
SCO is an international organization founded on June 15, 2001, in China's Shanghai. The heads of eight member states (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan) as well as those of the four observer states (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) will attend the summit that is to be held from June 9-10.
As the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal hangs in a balance, and with Europe wavering in doing business with Iran due to the return of US sanctions, Tehran is making a hard turn East to boost its economy, and counter mounting pressure from Western powers.
On Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heads to China for an economic and security summit in the coastal city of Qingdao, where he is expected to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on bilateral relations, and the future of the nuclear deal.
Amid rising anti-Iran sentiments from the West, analysts said, the meeting between Rouhani and Xi presents an opportunity for Tehran to further cement its economic and political ties with Beijing, and for China to reinforce its growing geopolitical influence in the region.
China's foreign policy mouthpiece, Global Times, reported on Wednesday that Rouhani's visit will see Iran's "comprehensive strategic" relationship with China "upgraded to a new level". "Unlike the US, China will not break its promise and will ensure that China-Iran relations won't be affected," Hua Liming, China's former ambassador to Iran, told the state-owned publication.
For Iran, a country that prides itself as "Neither Western nor Eastern", US President Donald Trump's decision to spurn the nuclear agreement, meant readjusting its policy to tilt ever closer to the East.
tehran underground railway network
Maziar Motamedi, a journalist at the Tehran-based Financial Tribune, said that China has become Iran's "biggest alternative" for the many European deals that may become "endangered" as a result of the snapping back of US sanctions in the coming months. "Iran is negotiating with Chinese companies in wide-ranging deals from insurance to building train wagons at the moment," Motamedi told Al Jazeera.
But China's years of presence in Iran proved that it is not just an alternative, or the partner of "last resort", said Kutty of RSIS at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. Rather, China was the only one "willing to further investment or trade when times were tough", she said. This was particularly "visible" when both the United States and Europe isolated Iran in the period leading to the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal, she added.
For the last three decades, China has been pouring billions in aid and investments in Iran - including in the construction of the Iranian capital's underground railway network - winning goodwill from Tehran.
Since the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal, relations have advanced even further with China's Xi visiting Iran in January 2016 and pledging to increase China-Iran trade to $600bn by 2025.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying dismissed reports that businesses are retreating from Iran, saying Beijing and Tehran "maintain normal economic and trade ties", and will continue to cooperate "on the basis of not violating our international obligations".
And in an indirect dig to the US, Hua said China "opposes one country imposing unilateral sanctions on others in accordance with its domestic laws".
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday he was grateful to Russian President Vladimir Putin for his support for Iran’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The Iranian leader made this statement during a talk with the head of the Russian state.
"I want to express my gratitude for your position on Iran’s accession to this organization as a full-fledged member," Rouhani said. "The SCO is a very influential structure for ensuring security.."
Speaking about bilateral relations with Russia, Rouhani stressed that "with each day, they [the relations] are developing forward."
As the Iranian leader noted, the relations between the two states are "unique and special" as they embrace all levels and all issues.
When Hitler came to power in Germany, he entrusted one of his faithful henchmen, Joseph Goebbels, with the creation of a Ministry of Propaganda. Goebbels turned propaganda into an art form. Among other means he turned all the German media – newspapers and the radio – into government agencies. In German that was called "Gleichschaltung" – connecting all components to one electric line. Thanks to this, Nazi Germany continued fighting long after it was clear that it had lost WWII.
One of the means was the disconnection of the German public from any other source of information. The official propaganda was blared from every medium. Listening to a foreign broadcast was a major crime, punished severely.
Does it take a dictatorial regime – Nazi or Communist – to turn the media into a brainwashing machine?
Common sense says that this is impossible in a democracy. But common sense is wrong.
It will be remembered that Hitler attained power by democratic means.
How is this done?
It’s quite simple, really: one has to suppress all other voices. One has to make sure that the citizen hears only one voice. One that repeats a few messages over and over, endlessly. This way the lie becomes truth.
In such a situation, the ordinary citizen becomes convinced that the official line is really their own personal opinion. This is an unconscious process. When one tells a citizen that they are brainwashed, they are deeply insulted.
This has been happening in Israel over the last few years. The citizen is not conscious that it is happening. He or she absorbs diverse newspapers, TV programs and radio broadcasts, and sees that all these media are freely arguing with each other and even quarreling with each other.
The citizen is not conscious of the fact that on the one critical subject of our life – war and peace – all the media are "connected" to one singular line of brainwashing.
"Disconnected from reality, the majority of Israelis pursue their regular way of life... All international opposition to the occupation is read as the “delegitimizing” of Israel and as a provocation to the country’s very existence. The world’s seven billion people – most of whom are against the occupation – are wrong, and six million Israeli Jews – most of whom support the occupation – are right. That’s the reality in the eyes of the average Israeli..." Gideon Levy, Haaretz 4-7-2014
During the last few weeks we have been seeing a perfect example of this mechanism. The events on the Gaza Strip border have activated a mechanism of brainwashing that dictatorial regimes in the world can only envy... One should notice the use of the word "terror". It has turned into an adjective attached to everything.
There are not just tunnels – they are all always "terror-tunnels". There are "terror-activists". There is "the Hamas terror-regime" and there are "terror-bases". Now there are "terror-kites".
Notice: not just "incendiary kites", or "destruction-kites", only "terror-kites". The same every day in all media. The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are "terrorists". All of them? Of course, no question. Especially Hamas members.
But Hamas is a political party, which has won democratic elections in all of Palestine. A civilian party which has indeed a military wing. But in our media all party members and supporters are "terrorists", sons of death. Of course.
The use of these terms, hundreds of times every day, clearly constitute brainwashing, without the citizens noticing it. They are getting used to the fact that all Gazans are terrorists.
This is a process of dehumanization, the creation of Untermenschen in the Nazi lexicon. Their killing is allowed, even desirable.
Not a single one of the hundreds of TV news program presenters ever corrects such statements by correspondents.
What can be done to counter such brainwashing? First of all: there is a vital need for a second voice. Brainwashing can be efficient only when the official voice enjoys a complete monopoly.
All the media must be pressured to present a variation of views on matters of war and peace, to let the "internal enemy" be heard, so that the citizen is able to form an opinion of their own. The foreign media must be allowed free access to the sources of information, even when the foreign media are critical, "hostile" and "anti-Semitic".
I don’t like the word "must". But in this context, no other will do...
Celebrated chef, television host, and writer Anthony Bourdain, whose global travels brought an American audience perspectives on the food and political climates of Laos, Africa, the occupied Gaza Strip, and other distant cultures that are rarely depicted on major television networks, has died of apparent suicide at the age of 61.
While Bourdain's shows and writings were ostensibly centered on his experience of strange, exotic, and extraordinary food across the globe, he frequently offered incisive and deeply humane political commentary that laid waste to conventional narratives and held the powerful to account for their crimes.
In 2013, Bourdain visited the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, and spoke with unique honesty about his experience and expressed dismay at what he witnessed.
After tweeting a photo of dead children on a Gaza beach in 2014 and receiving a flood of "ugly racist sh*t and accusations" in response, Bourdain wrote: "The willingness of people to not see what is plainly apparent, right there, enormous and frankly, hideous. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it's nearly impossible to even describe reality much less deal with it. It's utterly heartbreaking." ...
Asked if he would ever sit down for a meal with President Donald Trump, Bourdain said simply: "I can't see the point, he only talks about himself and he's only interested in himself. I can't see that as being scintillating dinner conversation..."
Anthony Bourdain was the only major American celebrity who succeeded in depicting publicly the Palestinians as rational, caring human beings rather than as irrationally angry “inciters” to violence.
He was the anti-Bernard Lewis. Lewis smeared the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the charge of “Islamic Rage” (as though large swathes of humankind are angry for no reason).
Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinians, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.”
In the face of this dehumanization, Bourdain stood as an all too rare exception.
Bourdain got away with his humane sentiments toward Palestinians and his calling of bullshit on Israeli propaganda, presumably, because he had a cooking show rather than doing hard news. Or perhaps he stood where he stood because of the sheer force of his personality and his refusal to compromise with principle.
He will be sorely missed.
JEDDAH – An interactive exhibit aims to relive the glorious age of early Islamic history during the time when renowned Muslim scholars contributed significant inventions and scientific discoveries.
Dozens of university student volunteers dressed in special costumes and trained in storytelling techniques played the roles of 14 renowned scientists and scholars at the Treasures of the Golden Age exhibit in Makkah. Organizers say they seek to educate visitors on significant milestones in the Islamic heritage and celebrate the achievements that have inspired humanity in scientific innovation and knowledge more than a thousand years ago.
The exhibit displays numerous major inventions that initiated significant developments until today, such as the camera, astrolabe, compass, rockets and aircraft, among others. It also inspires the youth to play a leading role in modern life by looking up to Muslim innovators who pioneered in astrology, mathematics, optics, science, aviation, chemistry, medicine, and others.
The event offers a new style of edutainment with live performances, interactive displays, workshops and a film. Figures such as the Andalusian polymath and aviator Abbas Ibn Firnas and 11th century Arab scholar Ibn Haytham who contributed to the science of vision are some examples of the role models for the youth to look up to.
Others include Sharafuddin Al-Tusi, a Persian mathematician and astronomer of the Islamic Golden Age, and Mohammed Ar-Razi, a Persian polymath, physician, alchemist and philosopher who is considered an important figure in the history of medicine, in addition to Lagari Hasan Celebi, an Ottoman aviator who made a successful manned rocket flight.
Famous women figures were also presented such as Mariam Al-Asturlabi, a 10th-century female astronomer and maker of astrolabes in Aleppo, and Shifaa Bint Abdullah Al-Qurashi, a nurse and teacher who later worked in public administration, becoming the first Muslim woman to hold public office.
The political arm of a powerful alliance of Syrian Kurd and Arab fighters announced it was ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus on Sunday.
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed militia that holds much of the country's north and east, said it was committed to resolving Syria's deadly conflict through dialogue, and would not "hesitate to agree to unconditional talks".
"It is positive to see comments about a summit for Syrians, to pave the way to start a new page," a statement on Sunday said.
Leading SDC member Hekmat Habib told AFP that both the council and the SDF "are serious about opening the door to dialogue" with the government.
"With the SDF's control of 30 percent of Syria, and the regime's control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis," he said. The Kurdish-Arab alliance controls areas in the north and east of the war-torn nation, most of which are managed by autonomous Kurdish-run administrations that the regime sees as a challenge to its authority.
The comments are the latest in a string of developments indicating an attempted rapprochement between the regime and Kurdish authorities, in an effort to head off a clash. Last month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Kurdish forces he could use force against them, if he was not able to take their territory through talks.
Several days later, a delegation from Syria's tolerated domestic opposition made a rare visit to Qamishli, most of which is held by Kurdish forces linked to the SDF.
The SDF visited the Kurdish-led administration to "start a dialogue" with the government, Ilham Ahmed, who co-chairs the US-backed SDC in northeast Syria said last week.
The proposition came days after Turkey and the United States agreed on a "roadmap" to resolve a dispute over the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which is controlled by the US-backed Kurdish fighters, Washington's main ally in Syria.
"The aim would be to develop a Syrian-Syrian solution and close the door on conflicts and wars," said Aldar Khalil, a senior Kurdish official.
Ahmed suggested time may be ripe for dialogue with the Syrian government... "We are seeking. a vision that ends the war," said Ahmed. "We want to secure our (self-administration) project and the Americans care for that too.”
Syria's government has recaptured more than half of the country, and the SDF is the second most powerful force with just under a third of Syrian territory.
Much of the territory currently under SDF control was captured during a US-backed military campaign against the Islamic State militant group.
Militants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with the participation of the US special ops units are preparing a provocation involving chloride in the Syrian Deir ez-Zor province to provide an opportunity for the US-led coalition of a new attack on the country’s state facilities, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Monday.
"According to the information confirmed through three independent channels in Syria, the command of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ aided by the forces of the US special ops units are preparing a serious provocation involving chemical warfare agents in the Deir ez-Zor province," he said.
According to Konashenkov, FSA militants have delivered chlorine cylinders to the Syrian Deir ez-Zor province to simulate another "chemical attack against civilians."
"After being published in western media a staged video is set to initiate a missile strike on Syria’s state facilities by the US-led coalition and justify an offensive operation by militants against Syrian governmental forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River," he said, adding that Russia’s Defense Ministry warns that the use of such provocations for destabilization of the environment on the Syrian territory is unacceptable.
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