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)
2018 was in many ways a turning point for the position of Israel in the system of Western, liberal, capitalist democracies. It had long sat uneasily among France, Britain, and the United States, inasmuch as it was founded on a formal racial supremacist principle that Jews must rule the state. Racism is important in the other democracies, as well, but it is not typically enshrined in the constitution. The French Rights of Man mentioned nothing about race.
After 1967, Israel acquired substantial colonial possessions in the form of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, in which its leaders began implementing a classic settler colonial regime reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa. The Israeli leadership egregiously violated international law by flooding their own citizens into a militarily occupied territory, and by extensively altering the lifeways of the occupied population.
I would argue that the occupation has now lasted so long and witnessed so many severe violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 that the occupation itself is now illegal. Palestinians living under the Israeli jackboot do not have secure rights of property or control over their natural resources and, being kept stateless, lack even the right to have rights.
Somewhat astonishingly, the assemblage of far-right Israeli parties that rules Israel has managed to worsen its wretched human rights record in 2018 and to depart from liberal capitalist democracy almost entirely.
Not only is Israel not the only democracy in the Middle East (that distinction now belongs to Tunisia), it isn’t a democracy at all in the sense of a state of equal citizens able to vote for the government that rules them.
Informed Comment reported that on July 19, the Likud-led government passed a new Nationality Law formally vesting “sovereignty” solely in the hands of the 75-80% of the population of Israel that is Jewish.
(About 21% of Israelis are of Arab Palestinian heritage and another 300,000 or so persons are not recognized as Jews by the Grand Rabbi and so would not participate in sovereignty; these are mostly immigrants whose mothers were not Jewish).
I wrote at the time, “It would be as though the US passed a law designating America as a state for white Christians, excluding African-Americans and Latinos, and making English the only official language.” I also pointed out that Apartheid is considered a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute signed by most countries in the world, which governs the judgments of the International Criminal Court.
Having formally turned non-Jews into second-class citizens inside Israel, the Likud government accelerated its colonization program in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. The pace of building squatter settlements on stolen Palestinian land has doubled under the Trump administration in 2018.
You may say it can’t get any worse. It got worse...
Israeli rules over about 5 million stateless Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
So there you have it. Israel at the end of 2018 is now unambiguously an Apartheid state, admired only in the US Deep South among those who are nostalgic for their own Jim Crow Apartheid....
2018 was the year Israel finally went completely rogue and ensured that it can no longer be considered to be in the club of liberal capitalist democracies. It is now formally an Apartheid state even inside the Green Line...
Bahia Amawai is a US citizen and Texas-based language specialist who helps autistic and speech-impaired children overcome their impairment. Despite the essential and noble nature of her work, she was fired by the Pflugerville Independent School District, which serves the Austin area.
Every year, Amawai signs an annual contract that allows her to carry on with her tasks uninterrupted. This year however, something changed.
Shockingly, the school district has decided to add a clause to the contract that requires teachers and other employees to pledge not to boycott Israel “during the term of their contract”.
The “oath” is now part of Section 2270.001 of the Texas Government Code...
“‘Boycott Israel’ means refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territory ..”
The fact that Texas considers unacceptable even the boycott of businesses operating in the illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank puts it at odds with international law, and, subsequently with the vast majority of the international community.
Twenty-five US states have already passed anti-boycott of Israel legislation, or have issued executive orders targeting the boycott support networks, while other states are in the process of following suit.
At a federal government level, the Congressional Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which is being received with enthusiasm among US legislators, vows to fine and imprison those who boycott Israel.
While there is strong civil society opposition to such obvious violations of the basic tenets of freedom of speech, the pro-Israel campaigners are unhinged...
This is the sad state of democracy in the US at the moment, where the interests of a relatively small, distant country are made the centerpiece of US government policies, at home or abroad... Many US politicians are answering the unreasonable lobby call of criminalising political dissent throughout the country...
Is protecting Israeli Apartheid more important to Americans than preserving the fundamental nature of their own democracy?
That is a question that every American, regardless how they feel about a supposedly distant Middle Eastern conflict, must answer...
DAMASCUS - The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus and raised its flag outside it on Thursday, seven years after it severed ties with Syria, a step that marks a big diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a US-allied Arab state that once funded rebels fighting him.
The UAE recalled its ambassador from Syria in 2011 and broke ties with the Assad regime in February 2012. The Syrian Embassy in the UAE remained open.
Saudi-owned al Arabiya television confirmed the UAE embassy reopening first reported by Syria's information ministry, which had invited journalists to cover the event that took place at 1130 GMT at the embassy, located in the Abu Rummaneh district of the capital.
"The UAE decision came after a conviction that the next stage requires the Arab presence and communication in the Syrian file," tweeted Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Gargash also tweeted that an Arab role in Syria is necessary now to face Iran and Turkey's intervention. He added that the UAE, through its presence in Damascus, is trying to activate the Arab role in what would "contribute to ending war and strengthening opportunities for peace and stability for the Syrian people."
The UAE does not have an ambassador to Syria yet but its charge d'affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi visited the embassy and witnessed his country's flag being raised again on the compound.
"The opening of our embassy is a first step for the return of other Arab embassies," Naimi told reporters.
The United Arab Emirates was one of several regional Arab states that backed armed groups opposed to Assad, though its role was less prominent than Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey, rebel sources have said.
The move to reopen the embassy now is seen as another step in efforts to bring the Assad regime back into the Arab fold as the conflict winds down, after years of diplomatic isolation.
Warming up to Assad is seen by some regional powers as a way of luring Syria away from the exclusive regional influence of Iran. Assad's key ally Russia has played a significant role in lobbying for the once-pariah regime to be welcomed back among Arab nations.
With a voter turnout of 57.4% and 89.4% voting in favour, the new constitution was adopted. President Al-Assad signed the new constitution into force on 27 February 2012.
Arab civilization, which is part of human heritage, has faced through its long history great challenges aimed at breaking its will and subjecting it to colonial domination, but it has always rose through its own creative abilities to exercise its role in building human civilization. The Syrian Arab Republic is proud of its Arab identity and the fact that its people are an integral part of the Arab nation.
The Syrian Arab Republic embodies this belonging in its national and pan-Arab project and the work to support Arab cooperation in order to promote integration and achieve the unity of the Arab nation....
The Syrian Arab role has increased on the regional and international levels over the past decades, which has led to achieving human and national aspirations and achievements in all fields and domains. Syria has occupied an important political position as it is the beating heart of Arabism, the forefront of confrontation with the Zionist enemy and the bedrock of resistance against colonial hegemony on the Arab world and its capabilities and wealth.
The long struggle and sacrifices of our people for the sake of its independence, progress and national unity has paved the way for building the strong state and promoting cohesion between the people and their Syrian Arab army which is the main guarantor and protector of the homeland’s sovereignty, security, stability and territorial integrity; thus, forming the solid foundation of the people's struggle for liberating all occupied territories.
Syria has ever been a peace-loving country, where civilization, history, amity and fraternity are intertwined in a unique mosaic of unity, Arabism, solidarity and secularity.
Syrian commitment to her Arab roots, tradition and pure blood is one of the most noted characteristics for her as a country, people, causes, destiny and future...
But, the tragic mistakes and fratricides should be learnt from!
The sinister scheme is to separate and divide Arabs into tiny isolated pieces in a world of permanent unrest, poverty and even wars!
The new-colonialists have been engaged in a so-called 'Arab spring' war of attrition against Arabs, and under many silly pretexts: ethnicity, race, Iran, false democracy and human rights… The wounds and injuries of Iraq, the Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia are still bleeding!
Hopefully, the return of Arabs to their beating heart (and to their senses) would motivate others worldwide to wake up and stop destroying the main pillar of civilization and humanity.
Mr. Trump's recent declaration to withdraw his occupying troops from Syria is encouraging for stability, security and restoration for all.
Could such developments lead to a rational policy by Israel?
Israel , the USA, and many, many others have spared no evil efforts to enable terrorists to rule over the secular, modern and peaceful Arab world...
Syria, Russia, Iran, Hizbollah, and many others of those who have been fighting terrorism and multinational terrorists in defence of all are the wise pillars in this insane world.
To deal with the sane or the insane, that is the question...
Damascus markets few hours before end of 2018 (SANA, 1-1-2019)
Iraqi top diplomat Mohamed Alhakim has confirmed the country’s support for Syria's return to the Arab League, in a statement quoted by the Foreign Ministry.
"Iraq supports the unity of Syria and its return to its normal position in the Arab world and the region and the restoration of its position in the Arab League," the Twitter post read.
The Iraqi foreign minister added that Baghdad wanted to see border crossings reopened between the two neighbors to stimulate trade.
The statement comes after Saudi Arabia, seen as Syria’s rival in the group, said last week it did not mind the Middle-Eastern state's return to the Arab League, followed by the UAE’s decision to reopen the embassy in Damascus.
Syria’s membership of the 22-nation League was suspended in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings.
On Tuesday (1-1-2019) morning, Gabbay announced publicly that he was ending the Zionist Union, a joint list of Labor and Hatnuah, which was formed ahead of the 2015 election.
Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay’s sudden announcement Tuesday morning that he was dissolving his party’s partnership with the Hatnuah faction and ending the Zionist Union joint list has drawn criticism from senior party members and some Labor MKs, some of whom accused Gabbay of treating the party ‘like a dictatorship’. The Labor chief gave no prior warning of the move, and had not informed Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni prior to his announcement. Livni, who was caught unprepared by the announcement as she sat next to Gabbay, quickly left the room after Gabbay spoke, declining to offer a response.
Gabbay later defended the move during a meeting of Labor lawmakers, during which he attacked Livni’s behavior during her term as Leader of the Opposition.
“I had to take s*** from her the entire time from the moment she became [Opposition leader]. There wasn’t any partnership here, just damage. Whenever there was good news, she ran to the media. When times weren’t as good, she disappeared and left us all the work.”
MK Eitan Cabel blasted Gabbay for publicly “shaming” Livni: “I don’t want to talk about the shaming you did to Tzipi, without notifying her or us [ahead of time]. I just want to say that it was a mistake. You do what you want, without consulting others. What is this? Do you make the decisions for the rest of us? This party was founded long before you came along, Avi Gabbay. I grew up in this party all my life. This isn’t your private company. You aren’t alone here and you can’t do everything without consulting us.”
“This was an unfriendly move,” one senior Labor MK said. “You don’t do things like that. It’s complete elections madness. You can’t manage a democratic party… like a one-man dictatorship.” “What [Gabbay] did is stupid. Most people in the party think so, but are afraid to say it openly for fear that it will hurt the party, or that Gabbay will get revenge on them.”
After breakup, Livni fires back: Gabbay not fit to be PM
David Rosenberg, 02/01/19
Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni ripped Labor chief Avi Gabbay Wednesday morning, a day after he abruptly ended the alliance between their two parties.
Gabbay gave no prior notice of his plans to either Livni or fellow Labor members, leaving Livni stunned as she sat next to him during his Tuesday announcement. Livni, who was caught unprepared by the announcement as she sat next to Gabbay, quickly left the room after Gabbay spoke, declining to offer a response.
On Wednesday, however, Livni spoke out on the sudden termination of the Zionist Union, saying that while she was shocked by Gabbay’s sudden announcement, she did not feel humiliated: “I’m surprised, but not humiliated,” Livni said during an interview with Yediot Ahronot.
In a separate interview with Army Radio, Livni attacked Gabbay, saying the Labor chief for lacking a strong ideology, and calling him unfit to serve as premier.
“Everybody who saw what happened yesterday [at the press conference] knows he isn’t a candidate for premier.” “He isn’t prime minister material, he has no real ideology.”
The Zionist Union, which won 24 seats in 2015, has struggled in the polls over the past year, and in the latest surveys was projected to win just 7-10 seats before the breakup
MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) called on his party members to consider replacing the chairman to maximize the chances of success in the elections.
"Avi Gabbay in the business world would have handed over the reins a long time ago, and he should consider giving up his place," Cabel said Thursday in an interview with Army Radio. “I am upset because the significance is that Labor may disappear.”
Cabel harshly criticized Gabbay following the incident in which he disbanded the Zionist Union on a live broadcast without prior notice, and stunned “Hatnua” chairwoman Tzipi Livni.
"The public has been exposed to a very embarrassing version of a reality show - the episode in which the big sister is kicked out," Cabel described the event in picturesque terms. The Labor Party said in response to Cabel's remarks, "His subversion is not a new thing. Cabel is the record-holder of ‘yes’ and ‘no’, one thing and its opposite, and even the opposite of the opposite.”
Veteran Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel caused an uproar over the weekend, when he announced his support for applying Israeli law to West Bank settlement blocs while freezing construction beyond the blocs until both Israel and the Palestinians have what he called “a Nelson Mandela.”
According to Cabel’s plan, Israel will define what the settlement blocs are and apply Israeli law to them, while freezing and evacuating communities beyond the blocs and compensating their residents who leave.
“This is a plan to save chances for long-term peace,” Cabel told The Jerusalem Post. “My ideas come from my fear that Israel will become a binational state while there is no one on the other side that can or wants to talk to us. Every day that passes makes the situation harder to solve.” Labor leader Avi Gabbay, who was not consulted about the plan, distanced himself from it and said it would not become party policy: “In a democratic party, everyone can have their opinion, but Labor is for separation, not annexation,” Gabbay told Channel 2’s Meet the Press program. “Separating from the Palestinians must come as part of an agreement. I am not in favor of a unilateral step.." Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett praised Cabel on Twitter...
Activists in Labor called for banishing Cabel from the party.
The Likud has opened up a nearly 20-mandate lead over its nearest competitor in the race for the 21st Knesset, a new poll shows.
According to a survey conducted by Panels Politics and published Tuesday night by Walla!, if new elections were held today, the Likud, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the helm, would gain two mandates, rising to 32 seats total...
Following the address, the Likud gained two seats compared to the previous Panels Politics poll, which had showed the party retaining the 30 seats it won in 2015. That gives the Likud a 19-mandate edge over the second largest party, former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, which would gain two seats, rising from 11 to 13.
The new Hosen Yisrael (Israel Resilience Party) led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz would net 12 seats, tying for third place with the predominantly Arab Joint List.
The New Right (HaYamin HaHadash), launched by former Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, would win eight seats if new elections were held today, as would the Labor party under Avi Gabbay.
Shas, which currently holds seven seats, would fall to five, while the United Torah Judaism faction would rise from six to seven.
Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party would win just four seats, barely clearing the electoral threshold, compared to six seats the party won in 2015.
The far-left Meretz party would retain its five seats. Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah faction, which had run jointly with Labor under the Zionist Union alliance in 2015, would not pass the electoral threshold.
“Welcome to the world of President Rand Paul,” blared the headline at The Washington Post.
In the piece that followed, columnist Josh Rogin took President Donald Trump to task for reportedly listening to the Kentucky senator too much.
“Several U.S. officials and people who have spoken directly to Trump since his Syria decision tell me they believe that Paul’s frequent phone conversations with Trump, wholly outside the policy process, are having an outsize influence on the president’s recent foreign policy decisions,” Rogin writes.
“The existing concern over Paul’s influence on Russia policy has now boiled over with respect to Syria,” Rogin worries. He also warns, “In the run-up to 2020, Trump should realize that most Republicans—and most Americans—favor a robust U.S. foreign policy.”
This is Washington groupthink disguised as mainstream consensus. Polling this year has showed that most Americans are opposed to “robust” endless wars.
To date, Trump has agreed to troop commitments in Syria and military build-ups in Afghanistan at the behest of his inner circle. This month, after two years of taking their advice with no endgame in sight, he essentially said “no more.”
This is consistent with what Trump promised during the election. It’s consistent with what Rand Paul has advocated during his time in Congress.
It’s also what Barack Obama once promised. Obama campaigned on resisting Washington’s longstanding predilection to rush into war, particularly in Iraq, and promised to challenge the status quo.
But a main difference between Obama and Trump, or at least Trump’s actions this month, is that Obama was never able to fully break from Washington foreign policy consensus, which some progressives lamented.
Why wouldn’t the president move foreign policy in Paul’s direction, considering it is also the direction Trump himself had promised?
This isn’t crazy or reckless or subterfuge or whatever other barbs foreign policy elites will continue to come up with. Again, it’s consistent. It’s also rational.
“These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them,” Andrew Sullivan writes regarding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. “Trump gave them one last surge of troops—violating his own campaign promise—and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.” [...]
So now, Trump is finally being sane. Right now, the president of the United States is challenging Washington’s conventional foreign policy thinking....
Jack Hunter is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Senator Rand Paul.
Sen. Rand Paul is urging President Donald Trump not to choose prominent neoconservative Elliott Abrams to serve in the number two spot at the State Department.
In an op-ed published in the libertarian website Rare, Paul argues that Abrams would not promote the same foreign policy agenda that Trump described throughout his campaign and since taking office.
"Congress has good reason not to trust him — he was convicted of lying to Congress in his previous job," Paul, a vocal critic of the neoconservative foreign policy crowd in Washington, said. The senator added that Abrams’s "neocon agenda trumps his fidelity to the rule of law.”
Donald Trump broke with neoconservatives during his presidential campaign, arguing for an end to nation-building abroad and suggesting he was open to warmer relations with Russia.
TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian theatre director Hossein Parsaee calls Victor Hugo's classic a "masterpiece without borders" but his groundbreaking production of "Les Miserables" that has hit the stage in Tehran has a few unique twists.
For a start, none of the actresses are allowed to reveal their own hair, and in case their wigs look too natural, the poster advertising the show carries a bright red notice underscoring that their locks are fake. Nor do the actors and actresses touch hands, or have any other physical contact throughout the musical. This is, after all, the capital of the Islamic republic... The concessions to the government's view of Islamic rules are often subtle. There is, for instance, always at least one other voice accompanying an actress when she sings -- since female solos are taboo -- although spotting the second voice can be tricky. All the other staples of a big-budget musical are here: a live orchestra, billowing dry ice and dazzling light displays.
With a cast, crew and orchestra of over 450, the production has played to sold-out 2,500-strong crowds for six nights a week since it debuted in November.
Foreign-made TV, film and cartoon versions of "Les Miserables" -- a French 19th-century epic on sociopolitical tumult, crime and punishment -- have been frequently shown in Iran, where the book has also been translated.
The classic work even has the stamp of approval from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has described Victor Hugo's book as "a miracle among novels... a book of kindness, affection and love."
The new production is being hailed as the most spectacular play yet staged in Iran, and arrives at a topical moment with the ongoing "yellow vest" protests in France.
"After 200 years you see it happening again in France," contends businessman Mehdi Hooshyar. "This is good, it shows whenever their society stagnates, something like this happens to move it forward," he said. "The revolution is still alive."
Director Parsaee said connecting with Tehran's elite was part of the point.
"This story is relevant to all times, and all places, and that includes today's Tehran. It's about the class divide, the social breakdown and the poverty that exists today," he told AFP. "It's a reminder to the audience that other classes exist and we need to see them and know about them. It's a serious warning."
In Les Misérables, Hugo asserts that love and compassion are the most important gifts one person can give another and that always displaying these qualities should be the most important goal in life.
Valjean’s transformation from a hate-filled and hardened criminal into a well-respected philanthropist epitomizes Hugo’s emphasis on love, for it is only by learning to love others that Valjean is able to improve himself.
While Valjean’s efforts on behalf of others inevitably cause him problems, they also give him a sense of happiness and fulfillment that he has never before felt. Valjean’s love for others is what keeps him going in desperate times.
I’m starting to wonder whether President Trump has any power over US foreign policy at all.
Many people believe that the US president is just a figurehead, with actual foreign policy firmly in the hands of the deep state. Trump’s latest dramatic U-turn on pulling troops from Syria certainly feeds such theories.
When President Trump announced just a couple of weeks ago that the US was removing its troops from Syria and possibly reducing troops from Afghanistan, the neocons, the media, the military-industrial complex, and the left-wing “never-Trump” people were livid. They were silent when President Obama made the horrible decision to overthrow Assad in Syria and sent weapons to jihadists to do so. They never said a word when billions of dollars were committed to this immoral and dangerous “regime change” policy. They weren’t interested in the rule of law when President Obama thumbed his nose at Congress and sent troops into Syria.
But when President Trump declared the obvious – that ISIS was effectively defeated and that we had no business being in Syria – these above groups in unison declared that actually bringing US troops home was a “gift to Russia.” They said bringing US troops home would create instability in the regions they left.
No sooner did President Trump announce our departure than his neocon advisors began walking his words back.
First he had to endure a lunch with Sen. Lindsey Graham reading him the riot act, where, according to the Senator, Trump agreed to no timetables for departure. Then his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, began to tell the world that President Trump’s statements on troop pullout were just empty words, not US policy.
Bolton claimed that the US would shift troops from Syria to Iraq to continue fighting ISIS and that the US fully backs Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory. Did President Trump even agree to any of this?
Secretary of State Pompeo is embarking on a Middle East tour.. His message to the Middle East will be, "Despite reports to the contrary and false narratives surrounding the Syria decision, we are not going anywhere...."
Will President Trump stand by and watch this coup taking place under his nose? Why is he so intimidated by the neocons?
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will blast former President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy in a major speech he will give during his trip to the Middle East this week, sources told the Politico website on Monday. The speech will be given in Cairo, the same city in which Obama famously delivered an address to the broader Muslim world in 2009.
Pompeo plans to repudiate Obama’s Middle East vision and he will slam the former President’s engagement with Iran, while asserting that President Donald Trump has the region’s best interests at heart, according to Politico. [..]
Pompeo is slated to tell his audience that Obama — although he may not name the former president — misled the people of the Middle East about the true source of terrorism, including what contributed to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the people briefed. Pompeo will insist that Iran, a country Obama tried to engage, is the real terrorist culprit. The speech’s drafts also have Pompeo suggesting that Iran could learn from the Saudis about human rights and the rule of law, two people briefed told Politico...
Pompeo, like Trump, has been a vocal critic of Iran. In July, Pompeo blasted the corruption in Iran, saying it shows the Islamic Republic “is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government.”
More recently, the Secretary of State issued a stark warning to Iran, making clear Washington will take direct action against Tehran for any attacks, even those using proxy forces, against US interests.
In describing the overall trip, one senior State Department official said Pompeo would focus on two themes:
First, that the “United States is not leaving the Middle East,” despite what the official claimed were “false narratives surrounding the Syria decision.” And second, that “the Iranian regime is the dangerous actor in the region.”
United States President Donald Trump insisted on Monday that his policy on withdrawing troops from Syria had not changed, even as the drawdown timeline shifted from “coming back now” to “leaving at a proper pace”, which his national security advisor has suggested could take months, if not years.
In December, Mr Trump made the surprise announcement that the US was making a full withdrawal of the estimated 2000 US troops in Syria. The American troops are stationed in north east Syria to assist the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS.
“They’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now,” Mr Trump declared in a video on December 20.
At the time, US Defence Department officials told the New York Times that Mr Trump had ordered the withdrawal to be completed in 30 days.
The military police of the Russian Armed Forces began patrolling the territory in the Manbij area in the Syrian province of Aleppo near the Turkish border.
“Today we have started patrolling the safety zone in the area of Manbij and its surroundings. Our task is to ensure security in the zone and control the position and movements of armed groups,” Military Police officer Yusup Mamatov said.
According to Lt. Gen Sergei Solomatin, Head of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, the patrols are being carried out along the rear border of the security zone near Manbij and the routes will be changed regularly.
According to the spokesman, the military police receive from local residents reports about arms dumps and unexploded shells that have remained here since the occupation of the territories by militants.
Following US President Trump’s announcement on the planned withdrawal of US troops from Syria, the YPG requested Damascus re-establish control over the territories it previously occupied, including Manbij, with the aim of avoiding possible clashes with Turkey.
In early January, Syrian Defence Ministry reported that about 400 YPG fighters left Manbij and were heading toward the eastern bank of Euphrates.
Israel has announced a plan to file lawsuits against Arab countries, asserting that the Arab world forced Jews to leave their lands, following the establishment of the Israeli state 70 years ago. Its aim is to counter claims made by Palestinians, legitimate refugees, that Israel stole their homes, lands and possessions.
Fearing the demands that may be put on them in US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century,” Israelis are demanding the Arab world pays $250 billion in compensation to Jews living in Israel who were originally from Arab countries.
This isn’t a new claim. Israel has been making this “quid pro quo” lie since it was founded in 1948. It has been a part of Israel’s commitment to propaganda, rather than to genuine peace. In 2002, the leaders of Israel’s Sephardic Jewish community threatened to file a lawsuit against the Arab League. The Israelis are masters of propaganda, but are reluctant to make peace...
Israel seeks to lure Jews away from nearly every country, not just from the Arab world. Since 2014, Israel has been enticing Jews to leave France. I guess, once complete, Israel will complain that France forced the Jews to leave and demand compensation from them too. The truth is that many Jews who entered Israel did so at Israel’s bidding. Tel Aviv has paid Jews to leave not just Arab lands but countries all around the world in an effort to increase the Jewish population in Israel, while doing everything possible to reduce the population of non-Jews.
Israel steals lands from the Palestinians and uses them to build homes for Jewish immigrants. Jews who move to Israel are given many special privileges and services and are assisted in every aspect of life, from finding employment to receiving education... The truth has never mattered to Israel. It will sacrifice human rights and the rule of law and make false claims against the Arab world to take the world’s attention away from its own oppressive policies against non-Jews.
Instead of normalizing relations with Israel, the Arab world should get good lawyers and file a lawsuit of its own...
Ray Hanania (born 1953) is an Arab-American Palestinian Christian, journalist and stand-up comedian. After the September 11 attacks, he created the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour and Comedy for Peace, which brought together Israeli and Palestinian comedians. He founded his own public relations firm, called Urban Strategies Group. (Wikipedia)
The Jews of Iraq
Iraq’s rich history is as diverse as the country’s many names – Babylon, Shinar, Chaldea, Al-Jazireh, Mesopotamia, Iraq. It’s also a history of many people, including the Jews who lived there for 2,600 years, until only a generation ago. [..] In 1948 Iraq joined the Arab League states that went to war to stop the creation of Israel.
When they lost, both ordinary people and officials again turned their fury on the Jews at home. It became very frightening for a year or more. In spite of the fact that tempers had settled by 1950, in 1951, 95% of the Jewish population (120,000–130,000) signed up to be airlifted to Israel in Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, a project financed largely by American Zionists.
The Iraqi Jews had until that point been largely indifferent to Zionism. Early Zionism mostly concentrated on the Jews of Europe, ignoring the Iraqi (indeed all Sephardi) Jews. The indifference was mutual.
Iraqis were not interested in the agricultural ideals of the settlers, and the Ashkenazi (European) Jews were snobbish about Jews from the Middle East.
After the Holocaust however, there was a numbers crisis in Israel and emissaries were sent to Baghdad to encourage the young to emigrate illegally. It was thought that if the young went, the families would follow.
The campaign was successful. Money was raised, Iraqi politicians were paid off and the initially reluctant population signed up en masse.
Terrorist bombs started going off in Jewish districts of Baghdad, and there has been controversy ever since about whether the bombs were actually set off by Zionists anxious to get the population moving....
In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Jewish Agency launched an effort to track down all remaining Iraqi Jews and present them with an opportunity to emigrate to Israel. (Remember Baghdad)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to attend an international conference against Iran in Warsaw on February 13, Channel 10 News reported on Friday.
The conference will be attended by Arab foreign ministers from countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Israeli officials told Channel 10’s Barak Ravid that Netanyahu has not decided yet if his is going to attend or not.
Pompeo announced the summit in an interview with Fox News on Friday, saying the international summit is meant to promote stability and freedom in the Middle East and will focus on Iran’s regional influence. "We'll bring together dozens of countries from all around the world,” said Pompeo.
"Countries will all come together to focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence."
On Thursday, he gave a speech in Cairo in which he was highly critical of Iran. Pompeo vowed that the US “will not ease our campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world...
He also reiterated that the US “fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Iranian regime’s aggressive adventurism. We will continue to ensure that Israel has the military capacity to do so decisively.” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Friday blasted the planned anti-Iran conference.
“Reminder to host/participants of anti-Iran conference: those who attended last US anti-Iran show are either dead, disgraced, or marginalized. And Iran is stronger than ever,” tweeted Zarif. “Polish Govt can't wash the shame: while Iran saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts a desperate anti-Iran circus,” he added.
After the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941 the Soviets agreed to evacuate part of the Polish formation to Iran. Non-military refugees, mostly women and children, were also transferred across the Caspian Sea to Iran. During this time Iran was suffering economically. Following the invasion, the Soviets forbade the transfer of rice to the central and southern parts of the country, causing food scarcity, famine, and rising inflation. The Allies also took control of the Trans-Iranian Railway and other modes of transportation, the manufacturing industry, and all other resources for the war effort. Despite these difficulties, Iranians openly received the Polish refugees, and the Iranian government facilitated their entry to the country and supplied them with provisions. Polish schools, cultural and educational organizations, shops, bakeries, businesses, and press were established to make the Poles feel more at home.
Starting in 1942, the port city of Pahlevi (now known as Anzali) became the main landing point for Polish refugees coming into Iran from the Soviet Union, receiving up to 2,500 refugees per day. General Anders evacuated 74,000 Polish troops, including approximately 41,000 civilians, many of them children, to Iran. In total, over 116,000 refugees were relocated to Iran. Approximately 5,000–6,000 of the Polish refugees were Jewish.
Thousands of the children who came to Iran came from orphanages in the Soviet Union... Between 1942–1945, approximately 2,000 children passed through Isfahan, so many that it was briefly called the “City of Polish Children.”
Other children were sent to orphanages in Mashad. Numerous schools were set up to teach the children the Polish language, math, science, and other standard subjects. In some schools, Persian was also taught, along with both Polish and Iranian history and geography.
While most signs of Polish life in Iran have faded, a few have remained. Nearly 3,000 refugees died within months of arriving in Iran and were buried in cemeteries, and many of these burial sites are still well tended by Iranians today. A Polish cemetery in Tehran is the main and largest refugee burial site in Iran, with 1,937 graves. There is a separate area in the cemetery belonging to the Jewish community of Tehran. Each of these 56 graves exhibits a Star of David.
TEHRAN, Jan. 12 (MAN) – Former US Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs Frank Wisner says the upcoming anti-Iran conference in the Polish capital, Warsaw, will only reduce the chances of reaching an agreement between Tehran and Washington.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the meeting would “focus on Middle East stability and peace, freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence."
Noting that Pompeo’s remarks are not something new but actually the repetition of Washington’s polemics against the Islamic Republic, Wisner said the goal behind such moves is exactly the same, however, the tactic to exert pressure on Iran is different. Since the US unilaterally pulled out of Iran’s historic nuclear deal last year, Washington has steadily intensified the pressure on Tehran by re-imposing sanctions, and vowed to increase the pressure in a bid to undermine the country's regional influence.
Meanwhile, the US unilateralism has put the Western country at odds with the policies of its allies in Europe, which seek to establish their policies independent from that of Washington.
The United States is experiencing the problem of their sanctions no longer working as nations increasingly disobey what is declared by those in government.
Despite sanctions, the Russian economy continues to grow at a steady pace and expand. Inflation in Russia remained low while the expansion of the economy occurred last year according to a World Bank report.
“Although economic sanctions tightened, Russia experienced relatively low and stable inflation and increased oil production. As a result of robust domestic activity, the Russian economy expanded at a 1.6 percent pace in the year just ended,” said the report. The U.S. has long used sanctions to harm the economies of other countries for a variety of reasons, however, those sanctions seem to be failing.
According to a report by RT, The World Bank pointed out that Russia and other oil exporters “maintained steady growth in 2018, supported by a rise in oil prices.” In Russia, “growth has been resilient, supported by private consumption and exports,” the bank said, projecting a short-term slowdown this year to 1.5 percent. In 2020 and 2021, the bank expects an increase in the growth rate of Russia’s GDP to 1.8 percent.
In May of last year, Bloomberg reported that the U.S.’s “sanction power” was reaching its limits. It appears that countries susceptible to U.S. sanctions are dropping the dollar like hotcakes and working around them making the issuing of sanctions powerless... Russia isn’t the only nation to make sanctions obsolete. China has set up its own lending institutions parallel to the Washington-based World Bank and International Monetary Fund and pushed the yuan as an international currency. The country is likely to strengthen its presence in Iran no matter what Trump does.
The key decisions, to comply or defy, will be made by the only actors on the same economic scale as the U.S.: China and Europe.
“For absolutely core national security reasons, China will find ways around the hold of the U.S. banking sector,” says Jeffrey Sachs, an economics professor at Columbia University.
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