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)
An especially dangerous threat to liberty occurs when members of the press collude with government agencies instead of monitoring and exposing the abuses of those agencies. Unfortunately, collusion is an all-too-common pattern in press coverage of the national security state’s activities. The American people then receive official propaganda disguised as honest reporting and analysis.
"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
Joe Biden & Truth - 2009
US Vice President Joe Biden said that the new administration would seek the
unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported
the goals of the government.
The Vice President's address was greeted with loud cheers by the several hundred CIA employees who gathered for the swearing in ceremony in the foyer of the Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Standing before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We
expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not
what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman. 20-2-2009)
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign
ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid
to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation
that is afraid of its people …
The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men. …
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." John F.Kennedy
“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)
"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."
"The globalists wants to make the world unipolar in order to move towards a globalist non-polarity, where the elites will become fully international and their residence will be dispersed throughout the entire space of the planet.
Accordingly, for the salvation of people, peoples, and societies, the Great Awakening must begin with multipolarity.
This is not just the salvation of the West itself, and not even the salvation of everyone else from the West, but the salvation of humanity, both Western and non-Western, from the totalitarian dictatorship of the liberal capitalist elites.
And this cannot be done by the people of the West or the people of the East alone. Here it is necessary to act together. The Great Awakening necessitates an internationalization of the peoples’ struggle against the internationalization of the elites. Multipolarity becomes the most important reference point and the key to the strategy of the Great Awakening.
"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)
Turkish talks with Egypt next week could forge renewed cooperation between the estranged regional powers and help efforts to end the war in Libya, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. Relations have been strained since the 2013 ousting of late Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi, who was a close ally of Erdogan’s government.
Recently, however, Turkey has begun working to rebuild ties with Egypt and Gulf Arab states, trying to overcome differences which have left Ankara increasingly isolated in the Arab world.
Intelligence chiefs as well as foreign ministers of both countries have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May, Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview.
“Given the realities on the ground I think it’s in the interests of both countries and the region to normalise relations with Egypt,” he said.
“Rapprochement with Egypt...will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt,” Kalin said.
He said Turkey would discuss security in Libya, where a United Nations-backed transitional government took over last month, with Egypt and other countries.
But despite a U.N. call for all foreign forces to leave the country, he indicated that Turkish military officers and allied Syrian fighters would be staying in Libya.
“We have an agreement that is still holding there with the Libyan government,” he said, refering to a 2019 accord which paved the way for decisive Turkish intervention in support of the Tripoli-based government.
For Ibn Khaldun, the most fundamental question is what keeps a group of people together and bounded.
This is the basis of all culture, civilization and political power or dominion (mulk). Without this basic ingredient, no group of people, tribe, clan or larger community can attain political power, build an urban life and preserve it.
This is where we meet Ibn Khaldun's central concept of "asabiyyah", i.e., group solidarity and social cohesion (comparable with Civic Humanism and Classical Republicanism).
According to Ethnologue, an online resource on world languages, there are more than 7,000 living languages. All of them have the same goal and function: To communicate thoughts, meanings and feelings between humans.
But can speaking the same language always allow us to express our ideas properly?
There are instances where speaking the same language does not help overcome clashes and conflicts. This is where we need more than linguistic capability to reach the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings.
This is where Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi enters in when he says, "It is better to speak the same language of the heart than speaking the same tongue."
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood announced Sunday that it has converted into a non-governmental organization. In a written statement, the organization said it has changed its name to the Resurrection and Reform Society.
"We declare to all Libyans that, with the grace and help of Allah, the community has turned into an association called the Resurrection and Reform Society in order to revive the call of the community to obey the middle way approach and teachings of Islam,” it said on its social media page.
The decision was taken at its 11th convention, where many workshops and “dialogue tours” were held, and the group will convey its message by working intensively in various public areas in Libya, it added. Abdurrezzak Sergen, a former member of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the organization's political wing, the Justice and Construction Party, told Anadolu Agency that the group had decided that its work should only be within Libya..
Sergen noted that after this decision, the organization had no connections outside of Libya, it was not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, and it became a society that only works within the country.
Middle Way Islam
"Thus We have appointed you a middle nation.” (Qur’an, Surah Baqarah, 2:143)
Wasatiyyah Islam is defined as ‘Middle Way’ Islam, characterised neither by liberal nor radical religious thought.
Wasatiyyah Islam promotes tolerance, balance, equality, consensus, reformism, and all things that take the middle path to materialise khairu ummah (the best people).
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course..; if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. Bukhari:39
Narrated `Aisha: Allah's Messenger said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little." Sahih Bukhari, chapter: 68, Hadith no: 6020
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: "(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" The companion replied that the report was indeed true.
The Prophet then said: "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night... Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you."
A high-level Saudi delegation headed by the intelligence service chief Khalid al-Humaidan arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to an exclusive published by news website Rai Al Youm.
According to insider sources, the Saudi representatives informed their Syrian hosts that Riyadh welcomed Syria's possible return to the Arab League, some ten years since its suspension over the violent government crackdown of protests in 2011, which evolved into a full-blown conflict costing the lives of hundreds of thousands and forcibly displacing millions of Syrians. The visit came as part of efforts to prepare for the reopening of the Saudi embassy in Damascus.
The reopening of the embassy is reportedly seen as a first step to restore relations between the two countries, which had been severely strained as a result of the Syrian war.
While Saudi Arabia supported opposition forces in the early years of the conflict, Assad’s government has been backed by Riyadh’s archenemy, Iran. This development comes in light of reports that Saudi Arabia has also been engaged in secret direct talks with Iran - negotiations that were also led by Humaidan.
The recent direct talks between Riyadh and Tehran have reportedly included discussions on the conflict in Syria, which remains a thorny point of disagreement between the two regional powers.
Late last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a wide-ranging, 90-minute interview on the state-owned Rotana channel with host Abdullah al-Mudaifer.
In the course of explaining the country’s future religious policy, the crown prince said two things that probably surprised the Saudi religious establishment.
-- Firstly, he said that the Saudi constitutional system, while bound by the sunnah of the Prophet, only recognises as constitutionally binding those texts of hadiths (reports) that are considered mutawatir.
A hadith of the Prophet is considered mutawatir only if it was reported by such a large number of transmitters across generations that it is inconceivable it could have been fabricated...
In the case of hadiths that do not rise to this level of certainty, the government will only apply them to the extent that they are consistent with the well-being of the people of Saudi Arabia.
-- The second statement that surely raised the ire of the religious establishment was Prince Mohammed’s disavowal of any loyalty to Wahhabism.
Without denouncing Wahhabism as such, the crown prince asserted that it is contrary to Islamic monotheism - which does not recognise any intermediaries between people and God - to endow the views of any particular person with a special status.
He went so far as to say that if the founder of Wahhabism were alive today, he would have been the first to reject the notion that his ideas should be taken unquestioningly.
Both propositions are potentially quite revolutionary. At the same time, they might not mean very much.
When the crown prince speaks of being bound only by those hadiths whose transmission was as widespread as the Quran, he is essentially speaking of a null set: no individual hadith has been so widely transmitted that it is comparable to the Quran...
Without clarifying whether the Saudi state claims to be bound only by hadith texts whose wording is mass transmitted, the crown prince could either mean that the sunnah has effectively lost any role in the Saudi constitutional order, or that only those foundational principles of the sunnah whose meanings are essentially incontrovertible are constitutionally binding.
This leads to the next ambiguity in his response to the relationship of the Saudi state to Wahhabism.
Wahhabism was not, in the first instance, a legal movement, but rather a theological movement dedicated to what it understood to be a pure and uncompromising monotheism. Among its most destructive consequences was its tendency to transform every disagreement, no matter how seemingly small, into a matter of faith and disbelief.
This is because Wahhabists believed that a failure to give proper weight to religious texts - as they understood them - amounted to rejecting divine sovereignty and was tantamount to unbelief. On this basis, Wahhabists anathematised the vast majority of the Muslim world.
They also adopted a rigorous doctrine of “loyalty and disavowal” (al-walāʾ wa’l-barāʾ), whose followers not only have an affirmative duty to display contempt toward unbelievers (now defined to include much of the Muslim world) but also had the same duty toward Muslims who failed to display sufficient intolerance of unbelief.
It was the principled and rigorous intolerance of the Wahhabi movement that created much havoc in the Muslim world.
If the Saudi government truly wishes to turn the page on Wahhabism, it must be more forthright in distancing itself from the doctrine that makes even intra-Muslim pluralism inconceivable, to say nothing of inter-religious pluralism.
Finally, there is no small irony in the crown prince staking out a religious programme that seeks to limit dogmatic adherence to every prophetic report in favour of the public interest, and to promote space for personal rights and toleration. Muslim modernists have articulated this vision for more than a century, with a fundamental difference: hand-in-hand with calling for a pruning of what constitutes "religion", they have also called for greater public participation in government through democracy.
Despotic Arab states have been willing to accept their religious arguments, while assiduously refusing to implement their calls for democratisation.
Indeed, many of the scholars most interested in the kinds of religious reforms referenced by the crown prince are either in jail or accused of supporting terrorism, precisely because they also insist on the political programme of Muslim modernism.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the President and Founder of the International Schiller Institute. Its motto is “mobilizing globally for a New Paradigm of Mankind.”
"Ode to Joy" is an ode written in 1785 by German poet Friedrich Schiller. "Ode to Joy" is best known for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony.
ST : What is the purpose of the Schiller Institute?
HZL: I founded the Schiller Institute in 1984 to promote statecraft according to the image of man of the German poet Friedrich Schiller. The two main objectives were to develop programs for a just new world economic order and to promote a worldwide renaissance of classical culture based on a dialogue of civilizations, whereby each culture would present the highest expression of its own tradition, and in that way both find the common universal principles underlying all cultures, and become aware of the incredible richness of the diversity of cultures... It is our fundamental belief, that humanity must reach a new paradigm in international relations, in which geopolitics is replaced by the pursuit of the common aims of mankind, and the identity of human beings as the only species capable of creative reason known so far in the universe is established as the basis of international relations.
ST: How would you describe American policy toward the ME in general and toward Syria in particular?
HZL: Since the Bush administrations up to the present time, the US policy toward the ME has been catastrophic.
Never-ending sanctions and endless, permanent hot wars have cost millions of lives.
Essentially, US policy has been a continuation of the Sykes-Picot and British Empire policies, and of the Bernard Lewis plan, using Southwest Asia as a cockpit for proxy wars, first with the Soviet Union and more recently with Russia. The US spent trillions and trillions of dollars on these wars, which would have been better invested in rebuilding their infrastructure at home.
The policy of regime change against Syria has not succeeded, but has brought tremendous suffering and harm to the Syrian people.
ST : In your opinion, what is the right path to follow to alleviate the suffering of the Syrians?
HZL: What is needed is a strong chorus of voices from many countries in the ME, but also from elsewhere in the world, saying that the new name for peace is development, as Pope Paul VI had expressed it, and as recently repeated urgently by Cardinal Zenari. An economic development plan for all of Southwest Asia must be put on the agenda, and all neighbors from Russia, China, India to Egypt -- and hopefully including the US -- must be won over to participate...
The Schiller Institute is conducting a series of conferences to try to gain support for the idea that only a “Peace through Development” approach (combined with the evoking of Agape, as defined in the 1 Corinthians 13 letter) can resolve the situation. Mrs. Bouthaina Shaaban (Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad) will be a speaker at the next one, this coming Saturday on May 8th.
Iran confirmed publicly for the first time on Monday that it is in talks with its regional arch rival Saudi Arabia, saying it would do what it could to resolve issues between them.
"De-escalation of tensions between the two Muslim countries in the Persian Gulf region is in the interest of both nations and the region," foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a televised weekly news conference. Iran was waiting for the outcome of the talks, he said: "We welcome resolving of the issues that have existed between the two countries ... We will use our best efforts in this regard."
Ambassador Rayed Krimly, head of policy planning at Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry, last week told Reuters that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran were aimed at reducing regional tensions. He said it was too early to judge the outcome and Riyadh wanted to see “verifiable deeds”.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a rivalry that has played out in proxy conflicts across the region, from Yemen to Syria to Iraq. The two countries cut diplomatic ties in 2016. Middle East officials and sources said last month that they had held two rounds of talks. The arrival of President Joe Biden in the United States has altered the diplomatic calculus across the Middle East. Washington aims to restart a nuclear deal with Iran that Biden's predecessor Donald Trump abandoned, and has called for Saudi Arabia to end a war against Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi forces.
Some sources told Reuters last month that Tehran had promised to use its influence to halt Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, in return asking Riyadh to support the nuclear talks.
Nimr Al-Nimr has been a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah since 2008. He studied for about ten years in Tehran and also studied in Syria. He initially followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussaini Shirazi and as of 2008, followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi.
Al-Modaressi & the Islamic Action Organization
Al-Modaressi was the leader of the Iran-based Islamist paramilitary organization, the Islamic Action Organization (also known as Islamic Amal).
The Organization was conceived of as a ‘secret revolutionary avant-guard’ to spread Khomeini-inspired revolution throughout the Arab world.
Al-Modaressi was chosen to lead the Organization by Ayatollah Khomeini. It was responsible for numerous actions in Iraq in the 1980s including suicide bombings. In 1980, the Islamic Action Organization sought to assassinate Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, which helped precipitate the Iran-Iraq war.
Al-Modarresi was aligned with radicals within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but their influence waned in the second half of the 1980s as more moderate clerics like Sayyid ‘Ali Khamenei and ‘Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani came to the fore.
As Khamenei and Rafsanjani sought to develop better relations with Persian Gulf Arab states, the Shiraziyyin and Al-Modarresi were marginalised.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday arrived in Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral ties, key regional issues and Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.
The visit comes during the ongoing tensions in Jerusalem. Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent days have protested in solidarity with the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood amid attacks by Israeli police. The crisis stems from a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court in East Jerusalem, which approved a decision to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in the neighborhood in favor of Israeli settlers...
Israeli police attempted to disperse worshippers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Friday evening using stun grenades and tear gas. Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in the attacks, which have been condemned worldwide. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also visited Saudi Arabia's Jeddah on Monday evening to discuss bilateral ties and regional and international matters of common interest.
Qatar has close relations with Turkey and could be facilitating the latter's talks with Riyadh after the two Gulf countries reached a breakthrough in January in a three-year-old dispute. A statement issued by the emir's office did not give further details.
Çavuşoğlu’s two-day visit follows Turkey's talks last week with Egypt, also aimed at repairing troubled relations.
There are two separate Sheikh Jarrah stories – one read and watched in the news and another that receives little media coverage or due analysis.
The obvious story is that of the nightly raids and violence meted out by Israeli police and Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the devastated East Jerusalem neighborhood.
For weeks, thousands of Jewish extremists have targeted Palestinian communities in Jerusalem’s Old City. Their objective is the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
They are not acting alone. Their riots and rampages are directed by a well-coordinated leadership composed of extremist Zionist and Jewish groups, such as the Otzma Yehudit party and the Lehava Movement. Their unfounded claims, violent actions and abhorrent chant “Death to the Arabs” are validated by Israeli politicians, such as Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Arieh King.
Here is a little introduction to the political discourse of Ben-Gvir and King, who were caught on video shouting and insulting a wounded Palestinian protester. The video starts with MK Ben-Gvir disparagingly yelling at a Palestinian who was apparently wounded by Israeli police, yet returned to protest against the evictions planned for Sheikh Jarrah:
Ben-Gvir is heard shouting, “Abu Hummus, how is your ass?”
“The bullet is still there, that’s why he is limping,” responds the Deputy Mayor, King, to Ben-Gvir. King continues, “Did they take the bullet out of your ass? Did they take it out already? It is a pity it did not go in here,” King continues, pointing to his head.
Delighted with what they perceive to be a whimsical commentary on the wounding of the Palestinian, Ben-Gvir and King’s entourage of Jewish extremists laugh.
While “Abu Hummus”, wounded yet still protesting, is a testament to the tenacity of the Palestinian people, King, Ben-Gvir, the settlers and the police are a representation of the united Israeli front aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians and ensuring Jewish majority in Jerusalem.
Another important participant in the ongoing Israeli ethnic cleansing campaign in Jerusalem is Israel’s court system which has provided a legal cover for the targeting of Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.
The legal foundation of the Jewish settlers’ constant attempts at acquiring more Palestinian properties can be traced back to a specific 1970 law, known as the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, which allowed Jews to sue Palestinians for properties they claim to have owned prior to the establishment of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948.
While Palestinians are excluded from making similar claims, Israeli courts have generously handed Palestinian homes, lands and other assets to Jewish claimants. In turn, these homes, as in the case of Sheikh Jarrah and other Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, are often sold to Jewish settler organizations to build yet more colonies on occupied Palestinian land. Last February, the Israeli Supreme Court awarded Jewish settlers the right to many Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
Following a Palestinian and international backlash, it offered Palestinians a ‘compromise’, whereby Palestinian families relinquished ownership rights to their homes and agreed to continue to live there as tenants, paying rents to the very illegal Jewish settlers who have stolen their homes in the first place, but who are now armed with a court decision.
However, the ‘logic’ through which Jews claim Palestinian properties as their own should not be associated with a few extremist organizations. After all, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 was not the work of a few extreme Zionists.
Similarly, the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967 and the massive settlement enterprise that followed was not the brainchild of a few extreme individuals. Colonialism in Israel was, and remains, a state-run project, which ultimately aims at achieving the same objective that is being carried out in Sheikh Jarrah – the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to ensure Jewish demographic majority.
This is the untold story of Sheikh Jarrah, one that cannot be expressed by a few news bytes or social media posts. However, this most relevant narrative is largely hidden. It is easier to blame a few Jewish extremists than to hold the entire Israeli government accountable.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is constantly manipulating the subject of demographics to advance the interests of his Jewish constituency. He is a strong believer in an exclusive Jewish state and also fully aware of the political influence of Jewish settlers.
For example, shortly before the March 23 elections, Netanyahu made a decision to greenlight the construction of 540 illegal settlement units in the so-called Har-Homa E Area (Abu Ghneim Mountain) in the occupied West Bank, in the hope of acquiring as many votes as possible.
While the Sheikh Jarrah story is garnering some attention even in mainstream US media, there is a near-complete absence of any depth to that coverage, namely the fact that Sheikh Jarrah is not the exception but the norm.
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net
Far-right Israeli groups are planning to mount further attacks against Palestinians in Israel on Thursday night, according to group chat messages seen by MEE, after a night of mob attacks, crackdowns by Israeli security forces and deaths across Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza on Wednesday.
"Bring everything, knives, gasoline," read one message in a group chat named "The Underground Unit" - seemingly on Signal - with several hundred members. "Don't be scared, we are the chosen ones."
"Good job at Bat Yam yesterday," another message read, referring to a spate of violence in the Tel Aviv suburb which saw a Palestinian man violently attacked live on Israeli television. "Today we'll go back to make some mess at 6pm. Let's meet at the seafront."
Far-right groups such as Lehava and La Familia have also been planning attacks in Jerusalem, according to Haaretz.
In another message, which appeared to be posted to WhatsApp, on a group called Israel People Alive Haifa, a forwarded message gave the location of a Palestinian march in Tel Aviv. "Any Arab you see - you stab," it read. "Please come equipped with flags, bats, knives, guns, brass knuckles, wooden boards, pepper spray, anything that would hurt them. We will restore the honor of the Jewish people."
In another group chat, also on WhatsApp, one user wrote: "We need Molotov cocktails. To the mosque. To make them shake. We'll burn their houses, their cars, everything."
Located north of Jerusalem's Old City, the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood is named after the personal physician of Saladin, the Muslim general who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
Today, Sheikh Jarrah is home to generations of Palestinian families.
The 1948 war that established the state of Israel displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many of whom fled to territory that was then controlled by Jordan. In 1956, 28 refugee families moved into Sheikh Jarrah with the support of Jordan and UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
But in 1967, Israel captured Sheikh Jarrah, along with the rest of East Jerusalem, and then annexed what is considered occupied territory by much of the international community. The Palestinians envision Jerusalem as part of their future state.
Under a 1970 Israeli law, Jewish property owners and their heirs can reclaim land if they can prove they had ownership prior to 1948.
Palestinians displaced from West Jerusalem in 1948 were not afforded the same right. They were labelled “absentees” and their property, including bank accounts, transferred to the Israeli state.
In the decades since the property law was passed, pro-Jewish settler groups, including the US-based Nahalat Shimon organization, have launched a wave of lawsuits seeking to reclaim land in Sheikh Jarrah.
The UN estimates roughly 1,000 Palestinians across East Jerusalem — nearly half of them children — are at risk of eviction. The left-leaning Israel-based rights group Ir Amim says 70 of those families are from Sheikh Jarrah.
Palestinian residents say Israeli settlers have stoked tensions in the city. In a video that made the rounds on social media, an apparent settler is heard telling a Palestinian woman, “If I don’t steal your home, someone else will steal it.”
This doesn't describe the Israeli occupier's logic only; it also describes the rudeness of those who support the Israeli colonial policies of expropriating the Palestinian occupied lands.
The exhibition of Iranian art from the Qajar era (late 18th century – 1925) is being hosted by the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow, Russia, as of Saturday (May 15).
The opening ceremony was held on Friday with participation of Iran’s Ambassador to Moscow Kazem Jalali.
Iran’s ambassador described culture and art as language for communication. Iran is not just a country but a great place of art and culture, Jalali added.
As he underlined, exhibitions like what is underway in Moscow can help countries get familiarized with each other more.
About the exhibition Alexander Sedov (Director-General of State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow) said the precious art works which are being showcased in Moscow have not been put on display anywhere. As he said, over 1,000 Iranian art works from Qajar era are at State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow.
The invaluable collection includes paintings, miniature works, glassware, woodwork, metalwork, rugs, handwoven textiles, calligraphy, and a good number of handmade historical weapons.
TEHRAN — Two Iranian political heavyweights, ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi and moderate conservative Ali Larijani, on Saturday launched what may be the main battle in next month's presidential election.
Hopefuls have been registering ahead of June 18 polls to select a successor to moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is constitutionally barred from running for a third consecutive term.
First to throw down the gauntlet on Saturday was Ali Larijani, a long-time parliament speaker and now advisor to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, submitting his name at the interior ministry early on the final day of registration.
Then it was the turn of judiciary chief and one-time presidential hopeful Raisi, who was
Rouhani's leading rival in 2017 elections, to announce his own candidacy. While several other hopefuls have thrown their hats into the ring, "the main clash will be between Mr. Raisi and Mr. Larijani," Masoud Bastani, a Tehran-based journalist told AFP.
"The first represents the ultraconservative faction and part of traditional conservatives ... and the second the traditional conservatives and moderates, and by proxy, reformists," he added.
Since registration to run in the election began Tuesday, more than 300 hopefuls have submitted bids to stand, according to the interior ministry. All the hopefuls will be vetted by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, who will publish a list of approved candidates by May 27, after which campaigning begins.
Ebrahim Raisi was deputy prosector at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war that broke out shortly after the Islamic revolution. Human rights organisations, exiled opposition members and dissidents have accused the tribunal of overseeing the execution of political prisoners without due legal process during his tenure.
Ali Larijani proved to be a key ally of Rouhani, elected in 2013 on a platform of ending Iran's international isolation by reaching a nuclear agreement -- something eventually signed two years later.
This is Larijani's second run for the presidency. He ran in 2005, which saw a surprise victory by the ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who has also put his name in to run this year. Seen today as a prominent establishment figure, Larijani was at the time in charge of Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West, a post he quit two years later over serious disagreements with Ahmadinejad. He then went on to be parliament speaker from 2008 to 2020.
Larijani's candidacy comes as Iran and world powers hold in talks in Vienna, seeking to revive the deal. Voicing hope that the talks give Iran's economy "breathing space", he called for "smart relations with the West, strong and constructive relations with the East, and brotherly relations with our neighbours".
The nuclear accord has been a constant target of criticism by Rouhani's opponents, and its fate is expected to one of the major issues in the June poll.
Iran Presidential Election to Feature 7 Candidates
Voice Of America News, May 25, 2021
Iran’s election watchdog has approved seven candidates for the country’s June 18 presidential election, including judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, while disqualifying several prominent figures.
Raisi is the most well known of the candidates allowed to run by the Guardian Council, and is a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
State television said the other candidates include former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei, former lawmaker Ali Reza Zakani, lawmaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh, former provincial governor Mohsen Mehralizadeh, and the current head of Iran’s Central Bank Abdolnasser Hemmati. The council barred former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who had allied with President Hassan Rouhani, from running.
It also disqualified pragmatist First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangir, as well as former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Abdolnaser Hemmati is an Iranian politician and economist who currently serves as the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, taking office in 2018. He was previously vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (1989–1994), governor of the Central Insurance of Iran (1994–2006; 2016–2018), the Chief Executive Officer at Sina Bank (2006–2013) and Bank Melli Iran (2013–2016).
Iranian banking industry wants guaranteed sanctions relief
TEHRAN, May 10, 2021 (Mehr News Agency)
During the ongoing JCPOA talks in Vienna, Iran is pushing for its banking industry to be given guaranteed and conclusive sanctions relief.
“The removal of sanctions against the central bank, Iranian banks, SWIFT, and any money transfer between them and major foreign correspondent banks, needs to be verified,” Abdolnaser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, said in answers to written questions, referring to restrictions on Iranian access to the Belgium-based global payments system. Hemmati said that officials from the central bank are directly involved in the talks to ensure US sanctions removal is tangible.
Negotiations resumed in Vienna on Friday in an attempt to rebuild the 2015 agreement struck by Tehran and a group of six leading nations.
Iran says US sanctions have damaged its ability to import non-sanctioned goods like food and medicines and effectively handle the coronavirus outbreak. Washington has also stood in the way of Iran’s $5 billion loan application to the International Monetary Fund.
The stone streets of Jerusalem’s Old City are silent. Shutters with peeling paint are firmly rolled down.
In Haifa, Jewish cafes are serving coffee. Beside them, Palestinian-run businesses have their lights turned off.
Across Israel, the clanking, sawing and drilling sounds from construction sites have disappeared. There are no Palestinian labourers manning the scaffolds now.
Millions of Palestinians have gone on strike.
In Israel, occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Palestinians have downed tools or stayed away from their desks in just the latest example of pan-Palestinian solidarity following days of Israeli crackdowns and ferocious bombing on Gaza.
"I cannot recall, for years, Palestinians of all backgrounds, factions, Muslims, Christians, atheists, being united under one goal," Inas Abbad, a political science researcher and activist from East Jerusalem, told Middle East Eye.
"This is the first time since the Second intifada that Palestinian parties, together with all Palestinians of the occupied territories of 1948, have issued a joint statement and a unified call for a strike."
Schools, businesses, shops and official institutions have heeded the call, first raised on Sunday by the Arab Follow-up Committee, which coordinates between political parties inside Israel.
Thousands of Palestinians are protesting in cities and towns across historic Palestine, raging against Israeli raids in al-Aqsa Mosque, attempted expulsions in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah, deadly far-right violence in Israel and a punishing bombardment in Gaza that has killed 212, including 60 children.
In Haifa, a northern Israel city known for its mix of Jewish and Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian flag has been raised on several buildings, and residents have taken to the streets chanting in solidarity.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, too, encouraged participation in the action, labelled the Karameh (Dignity) Strike.
Around 1.93 million Palestinians are citizens of Israel, a fifth of the country’s population. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem are some three million, some of whom travel over to Israel every day to work on construction.
The announcement of the “Karameh”, or “dignity, strike has led some to draw parallels to the 1936 general strike in British Mandate-era Palestine.
Middle East Eye takes a look at this defining moment in Palestinian history before the creation of the state of Israel and the Nakba - “catastrophe” in Arabic - that would displace at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. By 1936, historic Palestine had been under British colonial mandate for nearly 20 years.
Under the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, France and the United Kingdom had divided large swathes of Greater Syria and Iraq, formerly part of the late Ottoman Empire, between themselves.
However, the mandate over Palestine was not the only British colonial endeavour in the region. Unbeknownst to regional Arab leaders - and the broader Palestinian population - at the time, the UK had promised in the 1917 Balfour Declaration that it would support the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Mandatory Palestine...
Jewish immigration was a source of tension between British authorities and Palestinians, particularly due to the transfer of lands to the Jewish community - whether through unilateral handovers by the British, or by creating conditions facilitating land grabs or the purchase of lands from non-Palestinian feudal landlords.
British authorities enacted legislation that allowed the confiscation of Palestinian land for military purposes - only for these lands to then be handed over to Jewish residents.
The socio-economic impact of British policies on Palestinians - many of whom found themselves evicted from their villages by landlords, their agricultural production heavily taxed, while those who moved to urban centres found themselves living in poverty in shanty towns - also led to growing anger among Palestinians, setting the stage for the 1936 strike.
April 1936 marked a turning point in Palestinian rejection of the British Mandate.
On 19 April that year, the newly formed Arab National Committee in Nablus called on Palestinians to launch a general strike, withhold tax payments, as well as boycott Jewish products, in order to protest British colonialism and growing Jewish immigration.
By 25 April, local national committees united to form the Arab Higher Committee, led by Jerusalem Grand Mufti Amin Husseini, which would go on to become the political body advocating for Palestinians under the British Mandate.
The movement was notable for encompassing much of Palestinian society at the time - rural, urban, men, women, countless stories testify to its broad nature. Solidarity campaigns would also emerge across the Middle East, in cities like Cairo, Beirut and Damascus.
The strike was brutally suppressed by British forces. British authorities began arresting anyone suspected of being responsible for the movement, while also proceeding with punitive home demolitions - a practice that Israel continues to implement against Palestinians today. At the same time, the British worked with and trained Zionist militias such as the infamous Haganah to crack down on Palestinian unrest.
The strike was called off by the Higher Committee in November 1936, as regional Arab leaders from Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia urged Palestinians to trust that the UK would implement their demands - demands which were, in fact, never fulfilled.
While the general strike lasted six months, it set the wheels in motion for what would become known as the Arab Revolt from 1936 to 1939.
Those three years marked the most sustained armed resistance against the British Mandate, and was violently repressed by British forces, which shipped more than 20,000 troops into Mandatory Palestine to quell the uprising. In parallel, Zionist paramilitary groups grew in numbers and strength. It was only in 1939 - as the UK was faced with the outbreak of the Second World War, that the revolt came to an end, as London issued a White Paper promising to restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine and promising the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within a decade.
But by the time the 10-year deadline set by the White Paper came to pass, the state of Israel was established, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced in the Nakba.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Mideast conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
An entirely new generation of young men and women is at the forefront, challenging an increasingly fanatical Jewish society and extreme right-wing Israeli government.
This generation is under no illusions about the occupation. Most of its members were born well after the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to lead to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Instead, this generation was born into a completely different reality. Very little territory was left for any meaningful Palestinian state.
Since 1967, and more actively since 1993, Israel has confiscated more land, built more settlements, expanded existing ones, and demolished more Palestinian houses. The new generation did not have a state waiting for them, but rather a Palestinian Authority, the main outcome of Oslo, which colludes with Israel in oppressing Palestinians.
The disappointment, bitterness, anger and frustration felt by this new generation have been deepened by a decade that saw Arab governments in the region relegate the Palestinian cause to the margins of their politics. This culminated with the decision by several Arab states to normalise relations with Israel, despite the latter’s push to annex more land and declare Israel a Jewish supremacist state.
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has been shifting to the extreme right of the political spectrum, giving increasing power to the Religious Zionist camp, which believes that Palestine was promised to them by God and they are thus entitled to dispossess Palestinians.
They are particularly focused on al-Aqsa Mosque, which they believe will ultimately become the site of a third temple.
To prepare the landscape for such an eventuality, they have claimed ownership of Palestinian homes near the mosque, including in Sheikh Jarrah, and used Israel’s apartheid court system to legalise evictions. Acting with impunity and protected by Israeli security forces, the Jewish extremists organise provocative marches within Jerusalem, and at times storm al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The latest flareup came as settlers organised a big rally to celebrate the anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967.
During the month of Ramadan, Israeli police and settlers intimidated and harassed Muslim worshippers, including through the implementation of measures to restrict access to the mosque by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.
As provocations and tensions escalated, worshippers, most of whom happened to be members of the new generation of Palestinians, stood up to police, ultimately leading to the removal of barriers from the Damascus Gate plaza. As tensions simmered, Hamas warned Israel against continuing its attacks against worshippers and the desecration of the mosque.
It gave Israel until 6pm on 10 May to stand down, promising it would otherwise come to the aid of Palestinians in Jerusalem - and the rockets began firing right on schedule....
By allying itself with Jewish fanatics who want all Palestinians expelled from their “promised land”, the current Israeli political class has succeeded like never before in turning the political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis into a religious war.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center reports the number of people displaced inside their own countries because of conflict, violence and weather-related disasters reached an all-time high of 55 million by the end of 2020.
The secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, says last year, conflict and disasters caused more than 40 million new displacements, with some people being forced to move many times out of their homes.
"Forty million times a child, a woman, or a man was displaced in 2020," said Egeland. "That is more than one person per second, and it is continuing, so…a lot of people have been displaced also in 2021 while we speak.”
The report says Syria has the highest number of internally displaced people, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
It says sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa generated 90 percent of all new conflict-related displacements.
The director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, Alexandra Bilak, says escalating violence in Ethiopia and strengthening of extremist groups in Mozambique and Burkina Faso fueled some of the world’s fastest growing displacement crises.
"In Ethiopia, we are looking at over half a million new displacements that were triggered by violence in the Tigray region alongside, as you know, reports of human rights violations and abuses," said Bilak. "But across the rest of the continent, we saw how armed groups exploited simmering disputes and expanded their influence across the Sahel, as well as in Nigeria, Somalia and Mozambique.”
Weather-related events, primarily storms and floods, were responsible for 98 percent of all new disaster displacements recorded last year. The report says nearly 70 percent took place in South Asia and East Asia, and the Pacific.
It adds 1.7 million displacements were recorded in the United States from devastating wildfires and hurricanes. Authors of the report cite this as an important reminder that high-income countries are just as exposed to disasters as low-and-middle-income countries.
The Kurdistan Region is reviving its efforts to write a constitution and, once again, debate is raging over whether the document should be secular or follow Iraq’s lead and adopt Islamic principles.
Two years after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the country voted to approve a constitution. Article 120 stipulates that the Kurdistan Region can have its own constitution on the condition that it does not contradict Iraq’s.
Article 2 of the Iraqi constitution says Islam is the official religion and no law may contradict Islamic principles.
The 2009 draft of the Kurdistan Region constitution aligns with Article 2 of Iraq’s.
In 2009, academics, legal, and constitutional experts prepared a draft of a Kurdistan Region constitution and submitted it to the regional parliament. The draft, however, was never passed. The political parties have been deadlocked for more than 10 years and calls to finalize the constitution have yielded no result.
This year, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani is trying again. He has met with political leaders and a conference on Wednesday pushed the constitution into the news headlines.
In an interview with Rudaw English following the panel, Ali Bapir, head of Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal), previously the Kurdistan Islamic Group, said his party is completely against the idea of a secular constitution. “If implemented right, Islam is much better than secular rule,” he said.
Bapir’s comments stirred debate.
“We need to differentiate our political system from religion. The majority religion is the official religion, but should we have Islamic rule? Are we an Islamic country like Iran? We are a country with Islam as the main religion, and this should be differentiated in the constitution,” Fazil Mirani, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) politburo chief, said during the panel. Mirani later told Rudaw English that the constitution should enshrine individual rights. “If this lady does not wear a hijab, she should be free, and the constitution will give her such a right. We cannot come and impose a hijab on her,” Mirani said, pointing to a woman standing close by. “We [the KDP] are working for a constitution that reflects the people of Kurdistan, respects all religions, and does not prefer one religion over the others,” he added.
“There is no future with a religious constitution. Religion is something ideological, it is very necessary to separate religion from the state,” Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq and the world, Cardinal Mar Louis Raphaël I Sako, told Rudaw English on Wednesday.
“A civil constitution goes with the reality we live in today,” Cardinal Sako said. “A secular government is not against religion, but it does not interfere in religious fields. They respect all religions and do not impose a certain religion on anyone.” A secular constitution would not be in contradiction with Islamic teaching, according to AbdulGhafar Sabir, an Erbil based Islamic scholar.
“The Prophet had established a civil constitution during his time in Medina, where Jews, Christians, and all lived equally,” he told Rudaw English on Thursday. “I believe that the constitution should preserve my rights as a Muslim, the rights of other groups, and most importantly human rights.”
“I do not see why there should be an explicit Islamic Sharia constitution if all rights are preserved,” he added. “The parties and groups in the Kurdistan Region should come up with a compromise, to establish a civil constitution.”
President Nechirvan Barzani, who is leading the effort to finalize the constitution, emphasized the importance of every group in the Kurdistan Region. Speaking at the conference, he refused to use the label “minorities” because he believes “the beauty of Kurdistan lies in the mosaic and coexistence we all have in this country.”
“I want to reiterate that a constitution is not for one party, ethnicity, or group but for all the citizens of Kurdistan Region..."
“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”
"The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message" Islam Today Net
One of the fundamental truths established by the sacred texts is that no one can be compelled to accept Islam. [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256]
It is the duty of Muslims to establish the proof of Islam to the people so that truth can be made clear from falsehood. After that, whoever wishes to accept Islam may do so and whoever wishes to continue upon unbelief may do so. No one should be threatened or harmed in any way if he does not wish to accept Islam.
This verse is decisive in establishing that each person has the right to make his or her own choice about embracing Islam. There is other equally decisive evidence in the Qur’an, among which are the following verses:
Allah says: “If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed. Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” [Sûrah Yûnus: 99]
Allah says: “So if they dispute with you, say ‘I have submitted my whole self to Allah, and so have those who follow me.’ And say to the People of the Scripture and to the unlearned: ‘Do you also submit yourselves?’
If they do, then they are on right guidance. But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message. And in Allah’s sight are all of His servants.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 20]
Allah says: “The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 99]
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday he wrote the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to protest a decision by an election watchdog to reject high-profile nominees for the June 18 presidential election.
Rouhani in a weekly Cabinet meeting said he wished Iran’s Guardian Council would give more would-be candidates the opportunity to run.
The council on Tuesday barred former parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a conservative who allied with Rouhani in recent years, from running. It also nixed the candidacies of current senior vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“Yesterday, I had no choice but to send a letter to supreme leader to see if he can help,” he said.
“The nature of the election is competition, if you take this from the election, it becomes a body without life,” Rouhani said.
The Guardian Council approved only seven of some 590 people who registered with the panel of clerics and jurists overseen by Khamenei. Iran’s theocracy partially bases its legitimacy on voter turnout numbers.
Iran’s 2020 parliamentary vote saw only a 42.5% turnout, the lowest since 1979. By comparison, Iran’s 2017 presidential election saw a 73% turnout. Government statistics suggest 59.3 million people will be eligible to vote in the June 18 election.
The state-owned polling center ISPA has warned of the possibility of a turnout as low as 39% this year — the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Although the West has waged 10 years of war on Syria, and there is much destruction, the entire country isn’t in ruins and the pulse of life continues, albeit strangled by brutal Western sanctions.
After Eastern Ghouta’s liberation in 2018, the Western media predictably went silent on the return of internally displaced Syrians and the rebuilding that had occurred.
Today, in towns in the region outside the capital Damascus, behind dusty, battered metal shop shutters, I saw glossy new windows and even more rebuilding than I had when I was here in 2018.
In Douma, I saw lovely, smiling children, excited to practise their English with me. Given that they were born during the war and lived under the horrifically savage rule of the rebel groups Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, and their co-terrorists, their exuberance was remarkable.
Since both the media and leaders in the West made such a big deal over the Douma chemical hoax, it was particularly rewarding to see life in the streets again.
Syrians in Eastern Ghouta were put through a hell that most of us, living safely far from war, cannot begin to fathom.
Until the liberation Syrians in Damascus risked being maimed or killed every time they went to work, to school, to the market, or even while they remained at home, when terrorist mortars and missiles rained down from Eastern Ghouta....
Flashback: Douma - Syria, 2018
Residents of Damascus breathe great sigh of relief
after Douma evacuation, SANA, 9 April 2018
Damascus, SANA, 27-5-2021: Speaker of the People’s Assembly Hammouda Sabbagh announced on Thursday the winning of Dr. Bashar al-Assad with the post of President of the Syrian Arab Republic, having the majority of votes with 95.1%.
“Dr. Bashar al-Assad gained 13.540.860 votes with 95.1% out of the total correct votes,” Speaker Sabbagh said at a press conference.
Sabbagh added that the number of voters who have the right to cast their votes inside and outside Syria reached 18.107.109, while the number of those who cast their votes inside and outside the country reached 14.239.140 with 78.64%.
Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a leading Sephardic rabbi, has claimed that G-d will be angry so long as Yesh Atid chief MK Yair Lapid is influential.
Nahum,1-2: The Lord avenges and is full of wrath
During a lecture in Bnei Brak, Rabbi Mazuz warned of a "government of change," saying: "We see that they have almost succeeded. Almost almost. One day they said at eight in the evening that they are signing an agreement with Lapid."
According to a report on Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Mazuz said that "so long as Lapid is in the world, there is wrath in the world. Wrath ('haron af' in Biblical Hebrew) is exactly the numerical value of Yair Lapid. This is a new insight which I realized yesterday. Exactly. Wrath equals 345, and Yair Lapid equals 345."
The Hebrew language has a system called "gematria," which gives numerical value to each Hebrew letter. The first ten letters are equal to 1-10, and the next nine - from the letter kaf to the letter kuf - jump by tens from 20 up to 100. The last three letters are equal in value to 200, 300, and 400.
Rabbi Mazuz went on to explain that Lapid causes this wrath "so long as he barks too much and he has no Torah, no wisdom, no history, no knowledge, no understanding, and no brain, is wild and crazy and insane. He left the insane asylum."
"People continue [working] with him because of the honor of this guy or that guy. They do not understand that we need to protect the honor of the People of Israel, to protect the honor of the nation," Rabbi Mazuz added.
"Hamas sees that we are in a period where 'there is no king in Israel; each person does what is right in his [own] eyes' and so they also do what is right in their [own] eyes," he concluded.
A key characteristic of the number 5 is curiosity and the need for a variety of exciting experiences in order to feel fulfilled.
It craves freedom and adventure and isn't afraid to let the wind carry it where it may. For the 5, life isn't about setting goals and making plans, it's about getting out there and experimenting. Anything that stirs the senses piques the 5's interest and it can't wait to partake in the experience. The Numerology number 5 is a master of change, able to go with the flow and adapt itself to thrive in different environments and social situations. It is happiest when things feel fresh, high energy, and full of possibility.
The moment an experience starts to feel too routine or predictable, the 5 will move on to something more captivating. The only thing this number is truly attached to is being unattached.
Curious: The opposite of tunnel vision, the Numerology number 5 has 360-degree vision and everything it sees looks enticing. This curious nature leads it into a variety of exciting and enlightening new experiences few others may have. For the 5, the best way to learn is to experiment. Adaptable: This number does not stick with any one idea, job, relationship, or situation long, so being flexible is vital. Its detached emotions allow it more freedom of movement. Whether something changes by choice or by chance, this number can easily shift gears and direct its attention and energy toward its new circumstances. Social: The number 5 is an explorer and knows that one of the best ways to experience the world is to interact with the people in it. Whether it's one-on-one or in a lively group setting, this number flourishes in social situations and never misses a chance to engage with and learn from someone new.
People with a 5 Life Path number are on a lifelong adventure. They are ready for anything and want to soak up every experience this world has to offer.
Number 5 people tend to learn by living and don't allow themselves to get stuck in any situation that has outworn its interest. The moment things start to get humdrum, a person with this Life Path will move on to something more fascinating.
Qatar and Egypt helped broker a ceasefire last week in Gaza, ending the deadliest Israeli bombardment on the besieged Strip since 2014.
In an exclusive interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed the urgent need to address ongoing Israeli violations of human rights.
“What we have seen in the ceasefire that has been brokered recently that it’s temporary and it’s not addressing the root cause of the issue, which is the provocation that took place in Jerusalem and ultimately the absence of the prospect of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Sheikh Mohammed told host Ayman Mohyeldin.
Sheikh Mohammed also said more must be done to halt the forced dispossession of Palestinians living in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah while addressing the destruction in Gaza, where an 11-day Israeli bombardment left much of the Strip destroyed.
Opening of the Sheikh Hamad residential project in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis on January 16, 2016. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)
Mohyeldin also tapped into ongoing allegations regarding Qatar’s aid to Gaza given the presence of the ruling Hamas movement in the city, referencing Doha’s latest $500 million donation to reconstruct the the strip.
In response, Sheikh Mohammed said “Palestinians are not only Hamas”. We cannot reduce the Palestinian people living under occupation and consolidate them in just one group. There are 2.1 million people living in Gaza who are in desperate humanitarian need...” the official said.
So far, 50% of Qatari aid has contributed to providing Palestinians with electricity to help increase Gaza’s power supply from two to 16 hours per day. The other half of the donations goes towards 430,000 of the poorest families living in the city, each of which receives $100, he said.
Qatar has built 42,000 housing units, hospitals and roads, including the Hamad Hospital for rehabilitation that successfully completed 70,000 medical services in 2020 alone...
The MSNBC host also discussed concerns over Qatar’s direct dialogue with Hamas and its reported impact on the peace process in Palestine.
“Qatar has been a trusted mediator throughout the years, we have done different successful mediations in the region. Our relations with the different parties is benefiting the security and stability of our region, whether it’s with Hamas or the Taliban,” said Sheikh Mohammed...
“We have stopped conflict between the US and Taliban and we are now carrying out dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan government,” he said.
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett agreed to form a coalition government with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, N12 reported on Friday evening.
The two sides agreed that Bennett will serve first as prime minister until September 2023, after which Lapid will take over until November 2025, according to N12. The swearing-in ceremony is expected to take place on June 7. This came following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's attack on Bennett on Friday, accusing him of rejecting a right-wing government and instead seeking to become prime minister of a "government of the Left."
In a three-minute video released on social media, Netanyahu revealed that Likud and Yamina negotiators had reached what he called a far-reaching agreement, but Bennett refused to sign it. The agreement would create a coalition of 59 MKs, two less than is needed. Bennett has declined to form a minority government and urged Netanyahu to find two defectors.
"Naftali Bennett is running to the Left," Netanyahu said. "This goes against all their principles and promises and everything necessary to guarantee the future of our state."
He warned that Bennett and Shaked were endangering the country, the land of Israel and the IDF. "Either it was a show or they have no principles," he said.
Naftali Bennett (born 25 March 1972) entered politics in 2006, serving as Chief of Staff for Benjamin Netanyahu until 2008. In 2011, together with Ayelet Shaked, he co-founded the My Israel extra-parliamentary movement. He led the Jewish Home party between 2012 and 2018 and currently serves as an MK for the New Right and Yamina. He served as Minister of Economy and Religious Services from 2013 to 2015, as Minister of Education from 2015 to 2019 and as Minister of Defense from 2019 to 2020. (Wikipedia info
EARLIER ON Friday prior to the report, Lapid wrote on Facebook: "I don't know if we'll form a government or not. "We're leaving no stone unturned, doing everything we can – but it doesn't just depend on us."
Lapid said that what he did know was that even if he had many more seats than the 17 Yesh Atid won, he would try to form the unity government he was trying to build now with the same partners – from the Right, Left and center – which he said sends a message that different sectors of society do not hate one another and want to work for the greater good...
"We need a government with religious and secular together, where Left and Right combine with a large national-liberal centrist bloc, where Jews and Arabs who think and say loudly that they believe in coexistence – living here together and in the rule of law – sit together."
Rudomin is the president and founder of the Jewish Professionals Institute.
JPI Statement: "We launch a sort of "unconventional war" on Jewish ignorance. I, and my associates, must overcome our fear of treating other Jews as "strangers". I am called upon to adopt the methods of marketing, salesmanship, and advertising in order to "sell" Judaism to Jews, because of my love for my fellow Jews."
The end of Netanyahu's reign may be around the corner, so the media predicts!
Left, right, and center outside of the Likud and the religious parties - Aguda, Shas and Relgious Zionism - will be joining with the Arabs in the Knesset to oust one of Israel's most brilliant and illustrious leaders!
It is as if they were the opponents of a "Julias Caesar," all intent on ending his illustrious career with Bennett taking on the role of "Brutus," unashamedly gyrating from right to left to right and finally to left.
Bennett now may be called the leader of the political pack displaying the worst case of unprincipled shamelessness, even for Israel as they prove that they have no political principles beyond the desire for power, added to personal revenge and hate for one man who in effect is the majority leader of the Jews of Israel...
One cannot be amazed by the prescience of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe when he encouraged Nentanyahu to be courageous in the face of "119 opponents" in the Knesset early in Netanyahu's Knesset career... And one can't imagine what someone like the Lubavitcher Rebbe would be thinking now, as Israel faces a political abyss!
What are the leaders of Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu and New Hope thinking? They all owe their start in politics to the Likud and Netanyahu in particular...
How will they even get along with each other, this motley crew and assembly of political rivals, a house divided against itself?
All of a sudden the Arabs will vote to endorse Liberman, their nemesis?
How will rightists and capitalists "Likudniks"-in-everything-but-name Bennett and Saar get along with Marxists and communists from Labor and Meretz?
How will a Kippa-wearing Bennett reconcile the image of being observant by doing a political duet with known atheists and anti-religionists all around him?
I cannot help but think that as Jews we are nearing the end of a long historical road. Jewish religious texts teach that at the end of time the Jews will be dominated by a mysterious "Eruv Rav". Just what that means is not exactly clear. Some call it a "mixed multitude" of various mixed-up parties and peoples within the Jewish people who do not have the best interests of the Jewish people at heart...
In the interim, all we can do is turn our eyes to Avinu Shebashamayim, our Father in Heaven...
Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, one of the most prominent figures of the religious Zionist movement, threatened Sunday to sever ties with Yamina politicians Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked if the two go ahead with forming a coalition with 'the Left'.
In a Facebook post, he explained that the left-wing political parties threaten to undermine Judaism and settlements, and siding with them would constitute a betrayal.
He reminded that the movement forgave Bennett and Shaked once before, when the two took advantage of the Habayit Hayehudi political party and split from it right before an election, but warned that the two would not be forgiven if they were to betray the movement again.
"Remember that when this government fails, you will have nowhere to go back. We promise.... Whoever fooled us and betrayed us has lost our trust forever, " he wrote.
Shmuel Eliyahu (born 29 November 1956) is the Israeli Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council.
Eliyahu calls for a religious Prime Minister of Israel, saying that earlier prime ministers (presumably referring to Ehud Olmert) had been "without faith...without credibility...[and] without values"
In July 2013, Eliyahu ran for the position of Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein requested that Eliyahu abandon his candidacy, noting that he had made a number of offensive statements against Arabs.
In september 2020 the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered disciplinary action taken against the chief rabbi for making a series of offensive comments and for taking “explicit” political stances.
The ruling came in response to a petition filed by several rights groups in 2016 against Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, citing over a hundred separate statements.
“These statements express a very negative attitude, to the point of degradation, of the phenomenon of assimilation of Jews and the LGBT community and in favor of a halachic ban on the sale and rental of Jewish property to the Arab population and on women’s service,” justices wrote.
The Shas party's Council of Torah Sages on Tuesday morning published a harsh letter criticizing the proposed "unity" government, headed by Yesh Atid's chair MK Yair Lapid and Yamina chief MK Naftali Bennett, Kikar Hashabbat reported.
In their letter, the rabbis called the government a "government of wickedness."
"Those who hate religion have now lifted their heads, and all of the issues which are dear to us - Shabbat (the Sabbath), conversion, the purity of the Jewish People, the Torah world and the Land of Israel's Jewish character - are all in immediate and grave danger.
"There is an obligation to do everything to prevent this danger and to connect to the holiness - to form a Jewish government with the Right and prevent the formation of a government of wickedness, for which a central goal is the persecution of religion and of anything which has a Jewish smell."
Degel Hatorah (left) & Shas (right): "prevent a government of wickedness"
The rabbis also sent a message to Bennett, warning that "anyone who lends his hand to the formation of such a government is essentially stating that, 'I have no part or portion with the G-d of Israel,' and any party which joins such a government is included in this.
We call on these parties to backtrack on their intentions and to prevent this horrific and terrible accusation against the People of Israel."
On Monday night, Kikar Hashabbat reported that the Council of Torah Sages which leads the United Torah Judaism's Degel Hatorah faction published a special letter opposing the proposed coalition.
The letter, which was directed at Bennett, said, "Our souls are troubled to hear of the intention to found a new government, a central and significant part of which includes those who wish, G-d forbid, to harm the foundations of religion, and to undermine the tradition of generations, upon which the House of Israel is supported."
"We call on every Jew who believes in G-d [..], to walk back from his intention and not lend a hand to an act which is in the realm of uprooting religion and harming the foundations of Jewish law. "
Hashim Safi Al Din was born in 1964 in Deir Qanoun En Nahr, south Lebanon, to a respected Shia family. He is the head of Hezbollah's Executive Council and generally considered the "number two" in Hezbollah. He is a maternal cousin of Hassan Nasrallah. His brother, Abdallah Safi Al Din, is Hezbollah's representative to Iran. Hashim Safi Al Din studied theology in Najaf, Iraq, and in Qum, Iran, together with Nasrallah. In 2017 Al Din was designated a terrorist by the US Department of State.
My dear brothers and sisters of the Palestinian Resistance, we and you are engaged in the same struggle... Your fight is our fight, your martyrs are our martyrs, your cause is our cause...
What I want to say clearly is that firstly, the battle that is being fought today in the heart of Palestine is different from all previous battles, whether it is the ones that we ourselves (Hezbollah) fought in Lebanon against the Zionist enemy, or those led by our dear brothers of the Palestinian Resistance inside Palestine.
Why? Because it is the battle of the defense of Al-Quds and its identity, the defense of Al-Quds and its dignity, the defense of Al-Quds and its history.
For Al-Quds embodies the dignity of the Muslim community, the dignity of (cultural and religious) affiliation, the dignity of history. And this battle is distinguished from other battles in that it is the battle of the entire Muslim community.
Therefore, there can be no question of being neutral there: either you are with Al-Quds or you are with the enemy. There is no place for political, opportunist, sectarian or other alibis, nor for states, nor for peoples, nor for societies.
Second, this battle for the defense of Al-Quds made all Palestine one, just like it unified the Arab-Muslim peoples, making it clear to us and everyone else that when the Muslim community comes together & unites for its just causes, and takes the path of Resistance and Justice, then it appears quite grandiose, as it is today...
O my dear ones, during all the past decades, Israel, and alongside it the United States and the West, as well as a few leaders from our Muslim community, have worked tirelessly to divide us... Especially the last 10 years with the creation of ISIS...
But today, the response to these last 10 years has come... Today the page of dislocations, divisions and seditions has ended, so that we all find ourselves on a new basis, and let's open a new page whose title is "Al-Quds, Unity and Resistance"...
We yell "We are all the Resistance! Yes, yes to the Resistance! No and a thousand times no to seditions and dislocation (of our ranks), and a thousand times no to normalization (of relations with Israel)!"
Third, If we, in Lebanon, had a certain capacity in 2006, I assure you that today, our power is much greater still, at all levels: weapons, rockets & missiles, manpower, all our different capacities have been increased tenfold! In Lebanon, our power has increased exponentially!
And in Gaza too, the Resistance's capacities have increased enormously compared to 2014. They have been multiplied!
I tell you O Zionists, we, the Resistance, are in an upward phase! We will always cry out, every day, with Al-Quds and with Palestine, “O Quds, we are coming, we are coming, we are coming!"
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)
Palestine Chronicle correspondent in Gaza, Mahmoud Ajjour, spoke with Mohammed Jamal A’ram, 25, who sells balloons in the streets of Gaza City. A’ram’s business received several blows in the last two years.
First, Israel increased the restrictions on balloon exports to Gaza as a result of the Great March of Return. Then, the COVID-19 lockdown made it impossible for him to sell his only product to the children of the besieged Strip.
But things are looking up for A’ram, as the ongoing celebration of what many Palestinians perceive to be a victory over the Israeli military in its latest war on the Strip is making the young man’s balloons once again popular in the Rimal neighborhood.
The Palestine Chronicle caught up with A’ram. This is what he told us:
“I am single. I live with my parents. I am 25 years old. I am trying to raise money to get married. I am a balloon salesman, I can’t find any other job. Even the balloons are now hard to find because of Israeli restrictions. Children love balloons, the moment a child gets hold of a balloon, the child smiles. Simple things make children very happy.
“I work every single day for many hours, days in which I don’t work I have no income, and sometimes have no money for food. When the war started, I stayed home, we were all very stressed out, not only because of the war outside, but also because we ran out of money. The war destroyed so much in Rimal, the entirety of Al-Shrouq tower, many shops and businesses. With the shops gone, people stopped coming here. Very few families are now roaming the streets to buy my balloons. But thanks to God, business is picking up again. “I am back, and I am hopeful that the future is better. At the end of the day, there is nothing to this life but surviving with dignity. I will do my best.”
Presidential candidate Nasser Hemmati has described the harsh sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States as one of the country’s “most fundamental problems,” blaming the restrictions for more than have of the economic woes facing the nation.
On a Sunday evening (May 30) TV show, Hemmati, generally viewed as a Moderate figure close to the Reformists, said more than 50 percent of the current economic issues had been caused by the sanctions, which he said had “abruptly” cut the country’s foreign exchange earnings to one sixth of what they had been earlier.
Under such circumstance, “it is clear that [the sanctions] are effective. How could it be said that they are not effective?” said Hemmati, who was the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) until earlier in the day. “The sanctions have negatively affected the prices to a great extent. The bans have had the biggest impact on the country’s economy,” he said. “Some want to deny this, but they are wrong.”
Many believe, however, that the country’s economic difficulties are, for the large part, due to the administration’s mismanagement.
The presidential candidate, a senior economist, referred to pledges by his rivals to significantly increase cash handouts to people, saying such promises are only “populistic and could not be trusted.”
Hemmati was apparently reacting to presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei’s pledge for an increase in cash handouts to the Iranian people from the current monthly 455,000 Iranian rials (1.9 US dollars) to 4,500,000 — an increase of 10 times.
He also defended his performance as the CBI chief and said, “I think I was successful. If I keep working as president as powerfully as before,…the country’s economic situation would definitely improve.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani ended Hemmati’s tenure as CBI governor, days after he began campaigning for the June 18 presidential election.
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