The belief itself calls for extraordinary arrogance or extraordinary hope in the believer...
It follows that one must never speak critically of one’s country in the hearing of other nations or write against its policies in foreign newspapers.
No matter how vicious and wrong the conduct of a member of the 'good' nation may be, one must assume his good intentions.
This ideology abets raw self-interest in justifying many actions by which the United States has revealingly made an exception of itself -- for example, our refusal to participate in the International Criminal Court. The community of nations, we declared, was not situated to understand the true extent of our constabulary responsibilities. American actions come under a different standard and we are the only qualified judges of our own cause.
Unconditional love of our country is the counterpart of unconditional detachment and even hostility toward other countries.
Uri Avnery & The Tribal Cult
During the last few centuries, European-American Judaism became more and more a religion imbued with a universal moral message. Jewish thinkers believed that it was the “mission” of the Jews to bring universal ethics to the nations of the world, seeing that as the real substance of Judaism.
Avnery was born as Helmut Ostermann on September 10, 1923, in Beckum, Westphalia...
In 1938, just before turning 15, he joined the Irgun underground (Irgun Tzwai Leumi - National Military Organization), in order to take part in the fight against the British colonial regime. He served for three years, but left the Irgun in protest against its anti-Arab and reactionary social attitudes and terrorist methods. Later he explained his attitude in a booklet entitled "Terrorism, the infantile disease of the Hebrew revolution" (1945).
The New Age of Ideology
"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.
"Being a warrior is the role of my generation. It was and remains the role of my generation. And it is also the role of the coming generations. It is everyone's role." (Haaretz, april 2001)
"Sharon is making hypocrites of us, and we are cowards for permitting it." (The American Conservative, 1-3-2004)
- Q – Israeli authorities have recently announced severe measures they hope will quell the unrest, including passing a law that calls for prison terms of up to 20 years for stone throwing. Do you think these attempts to suppress discontent will succeed?
- IJG – “As already mentioned, this policy, which is reminiscent of the ‘iron fist’ and ‘breaking bones’ policy of the Israeli government in the first intifada, results in a deep sense of insult and humiliation, in addition to the usual oppression and daily hardship... More Israeli repression is a recipe for more inter-communal violence by private individuals and groups, Palestinians and Israelis.”
- Q – The US has been critical of recent settlement announcements in Jerusalem, but has refused to spell out any consequences for continued Israeli disregard for American concerns and policies. Do you think this lack of American resolve emboldens Israeli hardliners?
IJG – “Yes, of course. As long as Israeli politicians and the public will believe that there is no price to be paid for settlement expansion in terms of international relations and economic cooperation, settlement expansion will be supported by the Israeli public, political parties and governments.”
It is an old strategy to present two grim alternatives and force people to choose the lesser of two evils. This was how the Muslim Brotherhood presented itself in Egypt, regionally and internationally through their international organisation.
They were the model of moderate, tolerant Islam, capable of restraining the hardliners. In assuming power, they would be in a position to serve regional and international interests by keeping the rank and file of extremist groups in check...
The Muslim Brothers have succeeded in marketing this notion in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world even among some liberal and leftist leaders who advocate accommodating the Muslim Brotherhood as a means to halt the violence and end terrorism...
In other words, we are to choose between the lesser of two evils: by embracing the Muslim Brothers we avert the dangers of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and ISIS.
The line of argument ignores the well-known fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has always been the official sponsor of takfiri thought.
The ideas of Hassan Al-Banna, Sayed Qotb and other Brotherhood ideologues are brimming with intolerance, discrimination, hatred of the other (among fellow Muslims if they are Shia) and vilification of all who disagree with their thinking.
The Muslim Brotherhood version of Islam is a far cry in form and substance from moderate Islam as epitomised by the outlook and attitudes of Al-Azhar and by the ideas of famous Islamic scholars such as the illustrious reformist the Imam Mohamed Abdu.
This brings us to another pair to compare and contrast: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, self-proclaimed caliph over the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, newly elected president of Turkey seen by an Islamist current in Egypt and elsewhere in the region as the Muslim who most merits the caliphate.
So argues that Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, the Egyptian/Qatari Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi who points out that Turkey was the seat of the caliphate.
The rise of the Muslim Brothers in most countries of the Arab region following the Arab Spring revolutions was to be the step that preceded Erdogan’s rise to that throne. Erdogan and his clique couched this in different terms to his friends in Washington and other Western capitals.
By means of the Muslim Brotherhood regimes in the Arab region he would be able to keep this region under control, curb the reach of the Iranian ogre, promote democratic transformation in a way that would not harm Western interests and that would draw Islamist extremists back from European countries...
Political and intellectual elites in the Arab region should bear in mind that the most important weapon in the propaganda and military arsenal of the countries that are targeting this region is the Islamist trend...
We conclude with the words of the eminent thinker, geographer and historian Gamal Hamdan: “Extremist Islamist groups are a recurrent plague that periodically infects the Islamic world... Political Islam is a manifestation of a psychological and mental illness… ”
To all who are running after the Erdogan sultanate or the Al-Baghdadi caliphate we will echo the cruel truth that Gamal Hamdan reached in his research: “The Islamic world is a geographic fact but it is a political myth.”
The social structure of the Arab world, with its large diversity, is based on two strong and integrated pillars: Arabism and Islam. Both of them are great, rich and vital. Consequently, we cannot blame them for the wrong human practices. Furthermore, the Muslim and Christian diversity in our country is a major pillar of our Arabism and a foundation of our strength. ...
We should always know that Arabism is an identity not a membership. Arabism is an identity given by history not a certificate given by an organization.
Arabism is an honor that characterizes Arab peoples, not a stigma carried by some pseudo-Arabs on the Arab or world political stage. ...
The last thing in Arabism is race. Arabism is a question of civilization, a question of common interests, common will and common religions. It is about the things which bring about all the different nationalities which live in this place.
The strength of this Arabism lies in its diversity not in its isolation and not in its one colordness. Arabism hasn’t been built by the Arabs.
Arabism has been built by all those non-Arabs who contributed to building it and those who belong to this rich society in which we live. Its strength lies in its diversity..
The strength of our Arabism lies in openness, diversity and in showing this diversity not integrating it to look like one component.
Arabism has been accused for decades of chauvinism. This is not true. If there are chauvinistic individuals, this doesn’t mean that Arabism is chauvinistic.
It is a condition of civilization.
On 31 October 2014, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with the Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun. The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church warmly greeted the high guest and reminded him of their last meeting in Damascus in 2011.
‘You are a bright representative of the heroic Syrian people. You and your family have passed through the tragedy of terrorism and radicalism, and your calls to peace and cessation of civil confrontation sound very convincing,‘ His Holiness underscored and continued to state that the position of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Federation on the crisis in Syria has not changed.
‘Peaceful life in Syria has been interrupted through the intervention of the external forces which supported all who wanted to wage struggle against the government, including the most radical force, which has become very dangerous and is now known as the ISIL.
It is ruining people’s life in Syria and Iraq and poses a real threat to peace in the region. The position of Syria as a state and the position of the Syrian people who still fight for their independence are very important. We support your people.’
His Holiness said that the situation in Syria and Iraq had become a great tragedy for Christians in these countries...
‘I recall the life of Syria before the war. We respect the experience of this country in constructing relations between Christians and Muslims and between different branches of Islam.'
‘You as a spiritual leader of the Syrian people have done a lot for Syria so that it could continue its policy of interreligious peace.'
Sheikh Hassoun said that Muslims and Christians were citizens who enjoy full rights in Syria and called the actions of those using religious and national problems for spreading division and tension in the country destructive.
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_Grand Mufti of Syria, Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, underlined the important role of media in enlightening society and educating people.
During his meeting on Sunday with the Russian media delegation currently visiting Syria to make documentaries on the events, Hassoun said that Syria is being targeted by a fierce campaign intended to sow sedition and undermine national unity in Syria to serve the interests of colonial countries...
He called upon Arab and foreign countries to stop backing the armed terrorist groups and interferences in the Syrian internal affairs.
During a similar meeting with the Russian media delegation, Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Assistant Bishop Luca al-Khouri underlined the role of honest media in relaying the true image of what is happening in Syria, especially in light of the immoral media war which distorts facts and seeks to sow discord among countrymen. ...
He underscored the state of national unity, love, fraternity and respect among the various spectrums of the Syrian people, which has always been a role model in the region.
The Sheikh Hassoun was born in Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic, in 1949. His father, allamah Muhammad Adeeb Hassoun was also a sheikh. He has five children and ten grandchildren. Hassoun studied at the University of Islamic Studies, where he graduated as Doctor in Shafi'i fiqh.Dr. Hassoun took office as Great Mufti of Syria in July 2005 after the death of Ahmed Kuftaro.
He is a frequent speaker in interreligious and intercultural events, and his pluralistic views on interfaith dialogue has sparked criticism from stricter visions of Islam.
Hassoun is considered to be a firm ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hassoun's 22-year-old son, Sariya, was assassinated on October 2, 2011 in an ambush in the road between Idlib and Aleppo. (WIKIPEDIA info)
Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
If we want peace, starting for example with Palestine and Israel, he suggested that rather than building walls, "let us build bridges of peace".
He also argued that "we must create states on a civil basis, not a religious basis", adding "I don't impose my religion on you, nor do you impose your religion on me".
BEIRUT: Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said during a visit to Cairo Monday that Lebanon and Egypt would cooperate in fighting terrorism and extremism.
“We came to learn from the Egyptian experience,” Machnouk told reporters after a meeting with Egyptian Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim. “We have a joint enemy and it is terrorism and extremism, and we coordinated and will coordinate more and more.”
Machnouk also met with the imam of Al-Azhar, the leading Sunni center of Islamic learning in the Arab world.
After his meeting with Al-Azhar’s imam, Ahmad al-Tayeb, Machnouk said the institution has a major role to play in supporting moderation.
He said the fight against terrorism is a “confrontation between moderation and extremism and is not a religious matter.”
He said political and security solutions, including greater inclusion in politics, would be the solution to the crisis of extremism gripping the region.
Lebanon has struggled to fight Syria-based militants encroaching on the country’s north and northeast. ISIS and Nusra Front militants are holding at least 27 security personnel and soldiers captive. Egypt is battling militants in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as other attacks by extremist groups throughout the country.
Damascus, SANA – Social Affairs Minister Kinda al-Shammat on Tuesday met Regional Director of the UNWOMEN Arab States Regional Office Sameera Al Tuwaijri, discussing with her means for supporting and empowering Syrian women who provide for their families and how to help them overcome the circumstances spawned by the crisis in Syria.
In a statement to journalists following the meeting, al-Shammat said that empowering women economically, particularly those who provide for their families, is a priority for the Syrian government, noting that the Ministry and UNWOMEN plan to sign an agreement on this issue by the end of 2014...
The Minister said that the two sides reached agreement on the real needs of Syrian women based on realistic evaluations of what is happening on the ground, adding that there will be meetings with local partners in order to plan for future actions and programs.
For her part, Al Tuwaijri said the meeting focused on empowering Syrian women, with emphasis on marginalized and poverty-stricken groups, in addition to finding ways to end all forms of violence against women.
It is un-Islamic for Muslim women to laugh out loud in public. At least, this is what was stated by a senior Turkish cabinet member early summer 2014.
Unfortunately, he is not alone in this belief. The question is whether this is really related to Islam, or whether there is a deeper underlying reason. Is it perhaps the case that women should not be seen or heard because men cannot control themselves?
Disregarding the origin of the issue, it has a significant impact on women in every aspect including their position in the workplace and as entrepreneurs. If women are not allowed to make themselves heard, how are they expected to participate as full members of a country’s economy?
It could be much worse. In some countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, women can be jailed for ‘moral crimes’ such as being the victim of rape, or running away from forced marriage and domestic violence. It is this type of behaviour that leads people globally to believe that Muslim women are inferior to men.
There is, however, no ground for any inequality or this type of behaviour in the Quran and the Hadith in which it is recognised that men and women differ, but neither of them is considered superior to the other.
Their roles are complementary and supplemental which is for example supported by Sura Al-Ahzaab in the Quran which mentions men and women in equal measure.
Contrary to other religions in which the role and independence of women is significantly limited, within Islam women have been granted independence which clearly shows from both the Quran and the Hadith. Women have the right to own, use and dispose of their own property, they cannot be forced into marriage, they retain their own name and identity after marriage, can initiate divorce, and are entitled to an education (‘To seek knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim, male and female’).
Of particular interest are the following two Hadith: 'Let no Muslim man entertain any bad feeling against a Muslim woman', and 'The best of believers are those who are best to their wives and families'.
When reading the Quran, it is very clear that statements such as ‘women should not laugh out loud’, and ‘women should not be seen outside the house’ do not have a basis in Islam and must have been introduced at a later date, most likely as the result of a male dominant society. It is worth bearing in mind that modesty in behaviour and dress applies to both men and women.
Although the world generally believes women can be treated badly in Islam, there is more than enough proof that this is not the case. In addition, Muslim women have historically been fully involved in all aspects of society including business, politics and religion which in itself is a powerful tool in combating growing cultural sensitivities around women in the workplace.
The question then is how to change this perception, and who would be responsible for doing this. Education and communication are the key to change the rather distorted view on women’s rights in Islam.
Women, whether Muslim or not, should not rely on men to come to this conclusion on their own, but should take matters in their own hands starting with themselves and their own families.
Nina – how did we get our name?
by Hayder Al-Fayhan, October 27 2014
Nina is one of the names of Goddess “Inana”, representing fertility, beauty and love to the ancient people of Mesopotamia.
Together with the moon god Nanna or Suen (Sin in Akkadian, patron deity of UR), and the sun god Utu (Shamash in Akkadian), Inana/Ishtar is the third figure in a triad deifying and personalizing the Moon, the Sun, and Venus: Moon (wisdom: Virgin Mother), Sun (justice) and Venus (life force: Eartly, Sensual Mother).
The Goddess appeared for the first time in the lands of “Sumer” 5,000 years ago. She was symbolized in cuneiform writing by an octagon star that referred to the planet Venus. The Sumerians called her “Aynata”. She was the patron deity of URUK.
In those ancient times, society was matriarchal.
This reflected the fact that survival depended on two main pillars; food and reproduction. Women’s physical bodies were seen as symbols of these needs, with the religious power of a strong female leader filtering through into all aspects of society – including the political and economic spheres.
The Goddess “Aynata” represented fertility and love together. She also came to symbolize the desire of communication between man and woman; from her body, a new life arises.
Her godhead has been given many names over time, some of which you might recognise – Ishtar and Ashtarut, Easter or Eostre, as well as Venus and Aphrodite. To the people of the Levant, Inana transformed into Nina, and that’s how we know her today.
The Menorah: "tree of life"
The seven branched candelabra (menorah) was created in 'the wilderness' (pre-Ezra times) and later transferred to the Temple in Jerusalem. By the time the temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., the menorah had been a Jewish symbol for several years.
The use of replicas of the menorah for religious purposes was prohibited for many years. Eventually, menorahs began to appear as symbols in mosaic designs on synagogue floors, walks and tombstones. Later, they were displayed in synagogues. Over centuries, the seven branches of the menorah came to symbolize the seven heavenly bodies and the seven days of Creation.
The shape, a central shaft with three branches on either side, suggests a tree. The "tree of life" theme is common in Jewish thought , and the menorah, like the Torah, is sometimes referred to as a "tree of life."
We the sons of Mesopotamia [...] can create a new Iraq, without sectarianism, racial strife, regionalism, discrimination or isolation.
Terrorism and “takfir” (declaring someone an infidel) did not divert us from moving forward to build a nation of law.
Sectarianism and racism did not stop us from marching together to strengthen our national unity, set ways to peacefully transfer power, adopt a manner to fairly distribute wealth and give equal opportunity to all.
We the people of Iraq [...] are determined - men and women, old and young - to respect the rule of law, reject the policy of aggression, pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their cares, the children and their affairs, spread the culture of diversity and defuse terrorism.
In color psychology white is the color of new beginnings, wiping the slate clean, so to speak.
Mustafa, 27, is a resident in Raqqa and decided to stay... The price of that decision has been his personal adaptation to a difficult new way of life.
"Most people here including myself now use formal Arabic [instead of the usual colloquial Syrian accent] and we speak of the Islamic Sharia, fatwas and religion. If an argument arises, we automatically state issuing fatwas and calling each other kaffirs [disbelievers or infidels], instead of appreciating the other’s point of view," he said.
"This is mainly due to how we each understand this futile tradition that’s been imposed on us … the daily interactions, the circulars and the sermon tents frequently set up by ISIS. We even started using the word sheikh to refer to local authorities, imitating ISIS for fear of saying something else that would be deemed anti-Islamic. That’s why we have copied IS in the way they talk and behave as well as their daily routine.”
Mustafa said he became eager to memorize some of the sayings of the Prophet and a few Quranic verses, just to be ready in case he was ever questioned by ISIS and quizzed on anything relating to Islam.
“I want to be able to give them the right answer to avoid punishment … so as not to be dragged to jail, like cattle. It could escalate and I could be whipped or tortured, because ISIS would think that I don’t know enough about the Sharia and Islam. I could even be killed if they considered me a kaffir.”
Mustafa says ISIS has also left a visual mark on the city.
“What reminds me the most of the ISIS presence is the overwhelming use of the color black. Everything is black now in Raqqa.
ISIS paint their headquarters black, as well as the walls at the markets … women wear the black dresses, covered from head to toe in 'the shield.' Black ISIS flags are everywhere: on cars, in markets, on electricity poles and on street corners. ISIS members roam the streets and they too are dressed in black. In Raqqa, it seems the color black and fear go hand in hand,” he said.
Alongside the predominance of black comes a dark and sober message, with stern religious overtones. "They write slogans that glorify their Islamic state and their caliphate, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi. Sometimes, they write prophetic sayings and Quranic verses, mostly the ones that show God’s punishment and wrath, instead of writing the verses that remind us of God’s mercy and tolerance," said Mustafa.
Plutocracy or plutarchy, defines a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy.
Throughout history, political thinkers have condemned plutocrats for ignoring their social responsibilities, using their power to serve their own purposes and thereby increasing poverty and nurturing class conflict, corrupting societies with greed and hedonism. (Wikipedia info)
Americans live in a plutocracy: the country that claims to lead the world is largely controlled by major American corporations and financial groups, and exceedingly rich individuals.
The question posed is can anything be done to reverse this situation, in which money has steadily accumulated national political power until reaching the seemingly decisive position it possesses today. The international economy’s present tendency, as the French economist Thomas Piketty has recently argued, is to augment the fortunes of the already rich, since the rate of return on investment tends to run ahead of the rate of growth in the overall economy.
The rich are not, as mainstream economists have argued for years, “the creators of jobs.” Industry does not, as assumed for many years, support an enlarging workforce. What it does produce is enlarging return for investors...
Matriarchy: Rule by a mother figure
"In a competitive world the winner doesn’t show any compassion towards the loser: 'the winner takes it all, the loser has to crawl'.
This is true of the patriarchal world created by men. Pity and compassion is seen as ‘weakness’. (Matriarch faqs)
William McKinley’s assassination within months made Theodore Roosevelt president and inaugurated a period of reforms — of the civil service, anti-trust legislation, regulation of interstate commerce, food and drug inspection and regulation, national resource conservation, and establishment of the nation’s national park system — that shaped much of the United States’ economic and agricultural regulatory framework that survives to the present day.
The first Roosevelt was a romantic nationalist and believer in heroic leadership, contemptuous of class interest.
His nephew, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who confronted the Great Depression, shared and acted upon those beliefs, characterizing the rich who despised and fought him — the “one percent” of the 1930s — as “malefactors of great wealth,” an expression that fit major figures in the election that has just passed, and identifies the vulnerability of democracy to the plutocracy that now exists.
"The plutocracy still lives in the ‘Mad Men’era, and family life becomes more patriarchal the richer you get."
"It is a culture both patriarchal and hierarchal. It is thoroughly rooted in male dominance that extols virtues of ruthless competition, exploitation, greed, and even violence to achieve self-aggrandizing ends."
Arab MKs are among the Israeli Arabs readying to protest in Umm Al-Fahm Friday, as frustrations build in the Arab city over the Temple Mount and the shooting of terrorist Hir Alhamdan in Kafr Kana.
Participants not only include Umm Al-Fahm residents, but also MKs Hanin Zoabi (Balad), MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad), and MK Afu Agbaria (Hadash) - as well as Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked northern Islamic movement.
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Hanin Zoabi deifantly stated, "we are not afraid of Israel, the terror state."
Jamal Zahalka, meanwhile, encouraged the total closure of the Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site which Muslims claim under the label "the Al-Aqsa Mosque" - to Jews.
"Al-Aqsa is a tangible reality, while the [first and second Jewish] Temple there is a myth," Zahalka claimed. "Any attempt to damage Al-Aqsa will bring greater escalation."
"Anyone who wants tensions to calm [there] should allow [Muslim] prayer there [to resume] and stop pyromaniacs and provocateurs of all sorts from ascending to it," he added.
"We are part of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, which failed all Israeli targets, both military and political," Zoabi boasted to reporters at the scene. "The Palestinian people is still occupied, however, and we cannot break it by force - only through a just political solution and ending the siege and the occupation."
Flashback: Bill Clinton, a true believerDuring the Camp David conversations with Bill Clinton in 2000 Yasser Arafat expressed doubts that the ancient Jewish temple actually lay beneath the Islamic-run compound in Jerusalem containing the holy Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This was a critical point of dispute, since the Western Wall, a remnant of the temple's retaining wall, is the holiest site in Judaism and one the Israelis were intent on maintaining sovereignty over. "I know it's there," Clinton said he told Arafat." (Michael Hirsh, Newsweek, June 27, 2001)
The Temple & Fort Antonia
"When Romans took control, they built a huge fortress, which is now mistakenly called the temple mount, north of the city of David, which enclosed 35 acres — about three times as much as the entire City of David. This was the Tower of Antonia. This fortress follows the same pattern as Roman fortresses and camps in other places in the world." George Wesley Buchanan
Josephus, a Jew who was an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70AD and the author of "The antiquities of the Jews" and "The Jewish wars"(available online) said the Temple of Herod was built high up on a platform that had four walls around it forming a precise square of 600 feet on each side. Josephus said the wall of its southeast corner had its foundations directly in the deepest part of the Kidron Valley (in the streambed itself) and that its height was 300 cubits (450 feet, or about the height of a modern 40 story building). This description in no way fits the dimensions of the Haram.
Near the northwest corner Josephus said this external Temple wall was connected to Fort Antonia by two side-by-side colonnade roadways (each 600 feet long).
Josephus then said that Fort Antonia itself was built around a notable "Rock" that was viewed as the centerpiece feature of the interior of the Fort (which was also known as the Praetorium).
"I will not go to the other extreme, out of opposition to those men who extol the Romans nor will I determine to raise the actions of my countrymen too high; but I will prosecute the actions of both parties with accuracy.
Yet shall I suit my language to the passions I am under, as to the affairs I describe, and must be allowed to indulge some lamentations upon the miseries undergone by my own country. For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it, and that they were the tyrants among the Jews who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the burning of our holy temple.
Titus Caesar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, during the entire war, pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious, and did often voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order to let the authors have opportunity for repentance."
Titus (Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus) was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. Prior to becoming Emperor, Titus gained renown as a military commander, serving under his father in Judaea during the First Jewish-Roman War. In 70, he besieged and captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the city and the Second Temple. For this achievement Titus was awarded a triumph; the Arch of Titus commemorates his victory to this day.
As emperor, he is best known for completing the Colosseum and for his generosity in relieving the suffering caused by two disasters, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 and a fire in Rome in 80.
"Oh most wretched city, what misery so great as this didst thou suffer from the Romans, when they came to purify thee from thy internal pollutions!
For thou couldst be no longer a place fit for God, nor couldst thou longer survive, after thou hadst been a sepulchre for the bodies of thine own people, and thou hast made the Holy House itself a burying-place in this civil war of thine. Yet mayst thou again grow better, if perchance thou wilt hereafter appease the anger of that God who is the author of thy destruction.
But I must restrain myself from these passions by the rules of History, since this is not a proper time for domestic lamentation, but for historical narrations. (The Lamentation of Josephus, War 5.1.4 19-20)
The entire country is now aflame. East Jerusalem is already a war zone, with daily demonstrations, riots and bloodshed. In Israel proper, since the Kafr Kanna killing Arab citizens are also mounting daily strikes and demonstrations. In the West Bank, there were some demonstrations and a fatal stabbing, after which an Arab was shot and killed.
Mahmoud Abbas is doing everything in his power to prevent a general uprising, which might quite well endanger his regime. But pressure from below is mounting. Abbas refused to meet Netanyahu in Amman.
Popular wisdom in Israel has already found a name for the situation: "Intifada of Individuals". For the Israeli security chiefs, that is a nightmare. They are ready for an organized Intifada. They know how to quash it by force, and, if necessary, by more force. But what to do with an Intifada which is entirely made by isolated individuals, with no orders from any organization, with no grouping that can be infiltrated by the collaborators of the Shin Bet net of informers? ...
The center of the storm is the Temple Mount..
For decades now, a group of Israeli zealots has been busy planning for a new Jewish Temple to be built in place of the al-Aqsa and the magnificent Dome of the Rock. They are stitching garments for priests and making the necessary preparations for animal sacrifices.
Until recently, they were considered simply a curiosity. Not anymore.
Several cabinet ministers and Knesset members have entered the holy enclosure to pray, contrary to the status quo. Throughout the Islamic world, this has aroused alarm. Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in Israel proper are furious.
Netanyahu promised King Abdallah II to restore quiet. But he is doing the opposite.
Jesus turned water into wine. Netanyahu is turning water into gasoline and pouring it on the flames.
The UAE classified the President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, among terrorists through categorizing the Union he heads within 83 organizations, community groups and movements, the UAE Cabinet considers within its own list of terrorist groups.
The category also included the Islamic Relief Organization, which the retired Egyptian actress Hanan Turk works as an ambassador for.
Emirates News Agency "WAM", explained that the UAE Council of Ministers adopted a list of 83 organizations Abu Dhabi considers as terrorist organizations.
CounterJihadReport: The list includes two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities and one British group with a branch in America: the Council on American-Islamic Relations(CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the U.K.-based Islamic Relief Worldwide, the parent organization of Islamic Relief USA.
CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity named the Holy Land Foundation for financing Hamas. The U.S. Justice Department also listed CAIR as an entity of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee.
MAS was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America,” federal prosecutors said in a 2008 court filing. Abdurrahman Alamoudi, a convicted terrorism-financier and admitted member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, testified in 2012, “Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Islamic Relief Worldwide/Islamic Relief USA has extensive Muslim Brotherhood links. Israel banned the group this summer for financing Hamas, and it is also known to work closely with a Hamas-linked group in Turkey.
Flashback: Americans are mobilizing the Muslim Brotherhood
in the Arab nation, WorldTribune, 14-9-2012
The Gulf Cooperation Council was said to have been examining the growth of Brotherhood-aligned groups in the six member states over the last year.
GCC sources said the Brotherhood’s expansion in the Gulf region appeared to reflect U.S. encouragement of the Egyptian-based movement.
“Today the Americans are mobilizing the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab nation, for the benefit of America, not the Arabs,” Brig. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan, regarded as the security chief of the United Arab Emirates, said.
GCC sources said the UAE as well as other GCC states were dismayed by U.S. support of the new Brotherhood-led regime in Egypt....
Qatar has been the only GCC state to have embraced the Brotherhood. The sources cited significant Qatari military aid to the rebels in Libya and Syria as well as a relatively free hand granted to a top Brotherhood cleric, Sheik Yusef Al Qaradawi.
“Qatar is just as concerned as the rest of the GCC of the Brotherhood,” the GCC source said. “But it is gambling that the Brotherhood could be coopted...”
He talks about everything, which makes him exhibit A for anyone seeking to demonize Islam. A justification for every stupidity can be found in Qaradawi's words, as long as one searches long enough. On the other hand, Muslims refer to the search for the appropriate dogma as "fatwa shopping." To them, Qaradawi is a hypermarket of dogmas.
During a visit to London, then Mayor Ken Livingstone asked the sheikh how he felt about the rights of homosexuals. "He told me that he was against attacks on homosexuals," Livingstone recalls. But the mufti isn't opposed to 100 lashes for gays and lesbians if that is the punishment imposed by a Sharia judge, at least according to statements he has made on his program.
He attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he met Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banna offered an Islamic alternative to the alleged ills of modern life: corruption and gambling, insolent women and provocative writings, alcohol and the neglect of the poorest members of society. In a word: godlessness.
Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser imprisoned the sheikh three times because of his Islamist activities. In 1961, Qaradawi went into exile in Qatar, where he still lives today. With the protection of the Emir of Qatar, Qaradawi was able to build his fatwa empire, a realm of schools and various forms of media.
On 21 February 2011, Yusuf al Qaradawi talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi:
"...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!" WIKIPEDIA info
The head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, expressed his refusal for the United States fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “ISIS” organization despite disagreeing with them in thought and means.
Qaradawi wrote on his account at "Twitter" that "America is not driven by the values of Islam, but their own interests, even if blood was spilled." "I do not accept America that is not driven by the values of Islam..." "It is a disappointment for a person to fight his friend and befriends the enemy."
Earlier on Friday, Armenia’s ambassador to Tehran had also dismissed Western media outlets' propaganda on alleged discrimination against religious minorities in Iran, and hailed the Islamic Republic for creating ideal conditions for Armenian Christians.
“The Armenians residing in Iran are offered tremendous possibilities for maintaining their national identity,” Grigor Arakelian said, noting, “Presence of two [Armenian] legislators in the Iranian parliament signifies that Armenians enjoy really good conditions in Iran and get great respect from the Muslim brothers.”
Conservative Iranian Police Woman: Allah Is Black
The color black relates to the hidden, the secretive and the unknown, and as a result it creates an air of mystery. It keeps things bottled up inside, hidden from the world. It creates a barrier between itself and the outside world...
Black is the absorption of all color and the absence of light. Black hides, while white brings to light. What black covers, white uncovers.
In color psychology, black means power and control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. Black is intimidating, unfriendly and unapproachable because of the power it exudes. It can prevent two-way communication because of its intimidation. Too much black encourages us to look at the negative side of life.
Al Musawwir: "He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver,
"... and He formed you and made your forms good" (Qur'an, 40:64), "Into whatever form He pleased He shaped you" (Qur'an, 82:8), and "He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases (3:6)."
Al-Musawwir means: the One Who invents the forms and shapes of whatever He creates, Who beautifies them according to His wisdom, giving everything its own distinctive shape and form.
He creates humans in different forms and shapes, making some of them different from others in physique, size, complexion, etc.
This may be the meaning of the verse saying, "And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for those who have knowledge" (Qur'an, 30:22).
Damascus, SANA – The Russian language and literature department at the Literature and Human Sciences Faculty of Damascus University was opened on Monday.
Higher Education Minister Mohammad Amer Mardini said the new department was opened due to the need for this specialization in the job market, adding that this step also shows the strength of the relations between Syria and Russia.
Russian Ambassador in Syria Azamat Kulmuhametov, who attended the opening ceremony, said that this step is a sign of the closeness and friendship between the two countries, asserting that Russia will not change its stance on the crisis in Syria.
The opening ceremony included the screening of documentary on Russia and a musical performance from the Russian heritage.
Vladimir Putin & Russian Spirituality
Sebastian Willnow, NPR, March 29, 2014
The political — and very real and serious — drama unfolding in Ukraine right now "isn't merely geopolitical," says Andrew D. Kaufman. "It's a deep-seated drama of the Russian soul that's been around for centuries. And Russian literature is the place we see it in full flower."
Andy is a Russian literature scholar at the University of Virginia and author of the upcoming Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times.
The question Putin is grappling with, Andy says, "is one that recurs throughout the nineteenth-century Russian classics: What is the source of our national greatness?"
Nineteenth-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky believed that Russia's mission was to establish a widespread Christian empire — with Russia at its epicenter, Andy says, pointing to The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov as exemplary novels. Putin "has chosen the Dostoevskian tradition..."
In certain works by Dostoevsky, says Laura Goering, professor of Russian at Carleton College, "the West is depicted as something seductive, yet soulless, a temptation to be resisted at all costs."
For example: Writing about his 1862 journey to Europe in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, Dostoevsky describes the Crystal Palace in London: "You sense that it would require great and everlasting spiritual denial and fortitude in order not to submit, not to capitulate before the impression, not to bow to what is, and not to deify Baal, that is, not to accept the material world as your ideal."
Laura says, "That conflict is further played out in The Brothers Karamazov, in which Ivan's materialism is opposed to Alyosha's spirituality and Dmitri's very Russian breadth of soul."
Again and again in Russian literature, she says, "we see a claim to a kind of spiritual and moral exceptionalism that is fundamental to Putin's rhetoric.
Jesus & the Chief-Inspector
President Khatami's Address to Seton Hall University
Our call to Dialogue among Civilizations is an invitation to replace the discourse of violence and hostility with a discourse of mutual understanding and reason.
Any dialogue among civilizations and cultures is incumbent upon taking into consideration the most fundamental cultural and civilizational element, that is religion, beyond historical prejudice and fanaticism.
In such a dialogue, we should emphasize bright points of essential concordance, and leave aside divisive issues, which derive not from the essence of religions but only from historical factional conditions and only when fanaticism prevails over fairness.
One cannot but wonder in bewilderment at the insurmountable gap between Jesus Christ who was all for love, beauty, freedom and compassion on the one hand, and the appalling character of a cardinal who sides with Satan and whom Dostoyevsky mockingly calls "the Chief Inspector" in his Brothers Karamazov. (Seton Hall University Website)
Jesus Way Of Loving
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his famous novel The Brothers Karamazov, gives a powerful portrayal of the distinctiveness of Jesus’ way of loving.
In an extended parable of the “Grand Inquisitor” within the novel, Dostoyevsky tells of Jesus’ appearance in Spain in the late Middle Ages at the height of the Great Inquisition, when the church was cracking down on “heretical” Christians and Jews, putting hundreds of the unorthodox to death.
Jesus circulates among the poor, fearful, and suffering masses, offering compassion, healing, unconditional mercy, and acceptance. He does not say much, but people recognize him and soon crowds follow him and marvel at his kindness. The Cardinal, who is the Grand Inquisitor, observes Jesus and immediately has him arrested and taken away.
The Grand Inquisitor then challenges Jesus, accusing him of not having genuinely loved humankind. The Inquisitor bases his accusation on Jesus resisting the three temptations of the devil in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. (Mennonites Website)
Man does not live by bread alone
The Temptation of Jesus - Story Summary:
After his baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil. Jesus fasted there 40 days.
- Satan said, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." (Luke 4:3, ESV) Jesus replied with Scripture, telling Satan man does not live by bread alone.
- Then Satan took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, saying they were all under the Devil's control. He promised Jesus to give them to him, if Jesus would fall down and worship him. Again Jesus quoted from the Bible: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." (Deuteronomy 6:13)
- In the third temptation, Satan took Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and dared him to throw himself down. The Devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, misusing the verses to imply that angels would protect Jesus.
Jesus came back with Deuteronomy 6:16: "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." (ESV)
Seeing that he could not defeat Jesus, the Devil left him. Then angels came and ministered to the Lord. (aboutreligion.com)
Rede der Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
zur Enthüllung des Dostojewskij Denkmals in Dresden am 10.10.2006
"Ich hoffe, dass viele Menschen nicht nur hier herum gehen, sondern vielleicht sich auch angeregt fühlen, etwas von Dostojewskij zu lesen und damit etwas von der russischen Seele kennen zu lernen."
TEHRAN - Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin has said that Iran and Russia share similar views on the Western sanctions against Moscow. Naryshkin made the remarks in a joint press conference with Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran on Monday.
The two countries believe that sanctions are a tool for “political and economic blackmail” which have no place in international law.
In his meeting with Naryshkin prior to the press conference Larijani said nuclear talks are on a “progressive path” but pretexts by the U.S. and some other Western countries in the group can create impediments on the path.
Commenting on bilateral relations, Larijani stated that Iran and Russia have enjoyed friendly relations and cooperation which should be boosted. He highlighted the important role of the two countries’ parliaments in expansion of ties in various spheres.
Larijani also said Iran and Russia play important role in campaign against terrorism and extremism.
Naryshkin, for his part, praised Iran’s “positive and constructive” role toward regional crises.
He went on to say that continuation of cooperation between the two countries is very important to restore security in the Mideast region.
From the very beginning that the conflict started in Syria both Iran and Russian raised concerns about support to the militants fighting the Syrian government by some Arab and Western countries.
Scores of young Palestinians took to the streets Wednesday in East Jerusalem, after Israeli security forces demolished the home of a terrorist who plowed his car into a crowd of people waiting at the Ammunition Hill station of Jerusalem's Light Rail on Oct. 22...
"The intifada has started," a 17-year-old told Ynet. "We won't remain quiet about what happens in East Jerusalem and inside Al-Aqsa. We will continue to struggle and support terror against Israel, that is the only solution we have to save ourselves."
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points an accusing finger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Israel's top secret security service said Tuesday he did not believe Abbas was responsible for the current round of terror and violence.
"Abbas is not interested in terror and is not inciting to terror. He's not even doing so behind closed doors," Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
According to the Shin Bet head, the central factors behind the current violence, was the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir - who was killed by Jewish vigilante in retribution for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens last June - and attempts by Israeli legislators to change the status-quo on the Temple Mount.
According to Cohen visits by right-wing MKs and attempts to introduce legislation which would change the status quo on the flashpoint holy site were the main factors for rising tensions in East Jerusalem.
Sources present at the meeting said Cohen told MKs that public officials should refrain from going on the Temple Mount in the current tense climate, as it incites anger among the Palestinians.
Asked about Cohen's comments, Netanyahu insisted Tuesday night that "there are no gaps between myself and the Shin Bet chief." The prime minister said that while Cohen "clarified Abbas is indeed not launching terrorist attacks or directly encouraging terror attacks," there is still incitement in the Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Abbas.
Yoel Marcus: Why don't we put the blame on Moses?
Blaming someone else for our failures is the standard practice in these political climes...
Sitting pretty for 20 years, the Likud led this country from bad to worse. When settlement was imperative in the pre-state days, Herut never lifted a finger, but the Likud has covered the West Bank with a blanket of settlements and outposts to ensure its irreversible annexation.
The Likud dragged us into 300 percent inflation and bought votes for cash, following Begin's famous directive "to do right by the people." It entangled us in the 18-year Lebanon War, which eroded the IDF's power of deterrence, spawned Hezbollah and paved the road to two intifadas.
If Netanyahu is looking for a fall guy, what about Moses? After all, isn't it his fault we're here and not in America? (Ha'aretz 22-7-2003)
Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon & the “Al-Aqsa Intifada”
In late September 2000, Israeli, Palestinian, and other officials received reports that Member of the Knesset (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon was planning a visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Palestinian and U.S. officials urged then Prime Minister Ehud Barak to prohibit the visit. Mr. Barak declined to prohibit it.
Mr. Sharon made the visit on September 28 accompanied by over 1,000 Israeli police officers. Although Israelis viewed the visit in an internal political context, Palestinians saw it as highly provocative to them.
On the following day, in the same place, a large number of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and a large Israeli police contingent confronted each other. According to the U.S. Department of State, “Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about 200.” According to the GOI, 14 policemen were injured.
Similar demonstrations took place over the following several days. Thus began what has become known as the “Al-Aqsa Intifada” (Al-Aqsa being a mosque at the Haram al- Sharif/Temple Mount). (From the Mitchell Report, 30-4-2001)
Israeli Army & The Settlers
A symbiosis has taken place between the army chiefs and the settlers. The generals see themselves as the patrons of the settlements.
The military that was supposed to be a "small, smart army" for the defense of the state is becoming more and more like a colonial militia for the defense of the settlements. It has become more and more estranged from large parts of society.
The best and the brightest do not remain in the army, they go to high-tech and the universities. Their place is being taken by the fanatical "hesder" yeshivot, a kind of modern version of the Templar order of the Crusaders.
A simple question: When did the State of Israel ever consciously decide to sacrifice itself on this altar? When was this choice ever put clearly before the people? When has the public, the Knesset or the government ever made the decision to take this road?
The answer: never. This way was imposed on the state by a small, fanatic, messianic-nationalistic sect, which was joined over time by opportunists, gold-diggers and villas-for-nothing seekers. They have dragged the state on their way, step by step, and now it’s they who decide the destiny of the State of Israel. (Uri Avnery, 17-3-2001)
Sharon & the Palestinian pastrami sandwich
“What is to become of the Palestinians?”
“Oh,” Sharon said, “we’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them.”
I said, “What?”
He said, “Yes, we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart”.
Winston S. Churchill III (journalist) at the National Press Club, October 10, 2001, recalling his conversation with then-General (res.) Ariel Sharon in 1973
TEHRAN (FNA)- Former President of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition Forces Moaz Al-Khatib confessed that his opposition to the Damascus government has been a grave mistake, saying that President Bashar Al-Assad has been fighting against the terrorists.
"I acknowledge that I have made a mistake in the past as I imagined that the western and Arab countries as well as Turkey wanted to help Syria and its people," Turkish news website Ulusal quoted Khatib as saying on his account on a social network.
He wrote that the so-called Friends of Syria are actually the enemies of Syria and terrorists are cooperating with them to destroy Syria.
"I have come to the conclusion that the Syrian government is fighting against the terrorists; it is paying salary to its employees in different parts, supplies electricity and do things that show it is thinking of the people," Khatib said.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs and terrorists against both the army and civilians.
As the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria continues without an end in sight, the US government has boosted its political and military support to Takfiri extremists.
Syria Deeply, 25-3-2013
Why Did Moaz al-Khatib Resign?
* Andrew Bowen, Scholar for the Middle East, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University:
Moaz al-Khatib was a unifying figure on the surface for the opposition. But while he was a universal figure, he also lacked the constituency of other groups within the Syrian national coalition, the more partisan groups.
While Khatib believes now that a political negotiated settlement is really the only way forward, his secretary general was still believing in a military solution, which clearly the Qatari government has expressed its support...
Hitto was very much a Qatari-backed candidate, and clearly he was not Khatib’s choice. Hitto’s first remarks were that he would not negotiate with the regime. So Khatib’s red lines, his principles, were crossed and as a result he resigned.
* Karim Bitar, analyst at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), Paris:
This latest resignation is a result of a race between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It appears the nomination of Ghassan Hitto as interim prime minister was orchestrated by Qatar...
Moaz al-Khatib said pretty clearly that he felt Qatar was intervening in domestic Syrian affairs in a heavy-handed way...
It appears every foreign country is betting is betting on one or several Syrian opposition members. Qatar has its own protégés, Saudi Arabia has other protégés and so does Turkey.
They don’t mind seeing Damascus destroyed in an ultimate clash. People like Khatib don’t want Damascus destroyed and are willing to talk to the regime.
* Joshua Landis, author of the ‘Syria Comment’ blog and director of Oklahoma University’s Middle East Studies Center:
Moaz al-Khatib was squeezed out. The Muslim Brotherhood and this Mustafa Sabbagh Doha faction came together and voted for and elevated this Ghassan Hitto fellow to be prime minister of this interim government. And that meant that Khatib became a third wheel.
This is a replay of what happened in the Syrian National Coalition earlier. It is why the Syrian (National) Coalition was founded in the first place and the United States threw its weight behind it. And now, once again, the same forces have pushed aside more secular elements.
As this exiled opposition becomes less and less relevant, the Islamic Front and Jabhat al-Nusra are getting their act together. They are coming off of a big victory in Raqqa… and the Raqqa forces are now moving south along the desert highway towards Damascus.
This is setting up a situation where an Islamist north, and particularly east, is moving downwards to liberate Damascus. Many Damascenes are terrified of this eventuality.
Khatib made this effort to open dialogue in Damascus.. he wanted a political solution. The Muslim Brotherhood did not; they want to smash what is left of Baathist rule and the military.
They don’t mind seeing Damascus destroyed in this ultimate clash. People like Khatib don’t want Damascus destroyed and are willing to talk to the regime.
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday added to its terror list a Libyan Islamist group accused of involvement in the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
The council blacklisted Ansar al-Sharia for its ties to al-Qaida, slapping an arms embargo, assets freeze and global travel ban on the extremists at the request of Britain, France and the United States.
Salafist Al-Aroor thanking France, US and UK. He became widely known after the start of the Syrian civil war and was seen by some as the non-official face of the anti-government movement in Syria. He favors arming the opposition and a foreign military intervention.
The measure targets Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi and its sister group Ansar al-Sharia Derna, which both have links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other violent radical outfits.
In October, Ansar al-Sharia Derna pledged allegiance to the Islamic State organization, the Islamist group that has seized control of territory in Iraq and Syria.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said "this decision sends a clear message that the international community will take action against extremist groups in Libya who pose a threat to peace and security."
"It is incumbent on all Libyans to reject these groups and all they stand for," Hammond said in a statement.
Since 2012, the Benghazi wing has operated several training camps mainly to help armed groups in Iraq and Syria and to a lesser extent in Mali, according to the request filed by the three countries.
Twelve of the 24 jihadists who attacked the Algerian In Amenas gas complex in 2013 trained in the camps of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, Libya's second city, documents said.
More recently, the group has conducted several attacks on Libyan security forces, it added.
Ansar al-Sharia Derna also took part in the September 2012 attack on the US mission and is operating camps in the northeastern Derna and Jebel Akhdar regions to train fighters for Iraq and Syria.
On Nov. 13, the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page was given over to Mark Dubowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Assuming nuclear talks with Iran conclude unsuccessfully by the Nov. 24 deadline, they write, we have four options.
Two involve continued or tougher sanctions. The other two are a preemptive war featuring U.S. air and missile strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, or a U.S. attack to bring down Bashar Assad’s regime.
“Taking Mr. Assad down would let Tehran know that America’s withdrawal from the Middle East and President Obama’s dreams of an entente with Iran are over.”...
Which raises a question: What is this FDD?
Answer: A War Party think tank that in 2011, according to Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss website and Eli Clifton of Salon, took in $19 million from five rabidly pro-Israel givers.
Home Depot’s Bernard Marcus gave $10.7 million, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer $3.6 million. Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas-Macau casino kingpin, chipped in $1.5 million.
Last week, Adelson and media mogul Haim Saban spoke of plans to dump hundreds of millions into the presidential campaigns of 2016.
What does the pair want from our next president? According to the Washington Post’s Phil Rucker and Tom Hamburger, action on Iran:
“Saban said that fundamentalist Iranians represent a real threat. If necessary to defend Israel, and as a last resort, he added, ‘I would bomb the living daylights out of the sons of bitches.'”...
This billionaires boys club wants to buy U.S. foreign policy and a U.S. war on Iran. And the propagandists of FDD are paid to produce that war, in which they will not be doing the fighting and dying.
Since Nov. 4, the Journal and its neocon allies have been cawing for U.S. troops to fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria, for U.S. air strikes on Assad’s regime, for bombing Iran, and for arming Ukraine to fight the Russians in a war that Kiev would surely lose.
Was this what America voted for on Nov. 4?
Is this what the Grand Old Party has to offer — endless war?
FDD’s current Chairman is former CIA director R. James Woolsey.
FDD’s distinguished advisors include Sen. Joe Lieberman, former National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, former State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, Gen. P.X. Kelley (ret.), Francis “Bing” West, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, former CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Richard W. Carlson, and Forbes CEO Steve Forbes.(FDD website)
We need to demonstrate that there is a price to be paid for undermining the United States on a matter of supreme national interest.
We should be thinking now about building the new alliance structure around the United States, Britain, Australia, Turkey, such willing and supportive Old Europe countries as Spain and Italy, and the New Europe of deeply pro-American ex-communist states...
As part of that rethinking, we should redeploy our bases in Germany to Eastern Europe, which is not just friendlier but closer to the theaters of the new war. (For Love For Israel, febr. 2003)
Damascus, SANA-President Bashar al-Assad said the region is going through a “critical juncture”, with the steadfastness of the Syrian people being a crucial factor in determining where the region is heading to. President al-Assad was speaking during his meeting with leadership members of Tartous branch of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party.
“The unfolding crisis in Syria has shown the importance of al-Baath Party as an ideological party that is open to all...
What we are living today is an intellectual, exclusionist warfare that needs to be confronted by thought, not only by battling terrorists on the ground,” added the President.
He indicated that the crisis in Syria has “added to the political awareness of citizens” which he said has made developing the performance, discourse and techniques of al-Baath Party a pressing necessity, a goal that the party has a great potential to achieve as it has a clear intellectual and political project derived from a ‘natural phenomenon, which is Arabism.’
“Syrian citizens are no longer comfortable with the old style,” the President said.
He underscored the significance of dialogue within al-Baath Party to confront future challenges. “It is dialogue that generates ideas, cements bases and prepares leadership cadres,” he said, emphasizing the necessity of finding new work mechanisms inside the Party.
Commenting on the situation in Syria and the latest regional and international developments, the President said the Syrian armed forces continue to repel terrorist organizations, emphasizing in the meantime the importance of national reconciliations...
The President considered that the international situation ‘lacks vision in the current stage’ in light of the atrocities of terrorist organizations, namely the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
“[ISIS] has not emerged out of thin air. ISIS came to cap accumulating wrong-headed policies by parties involved in the war against Syria that have supported, armed and funded terrorist and takfiri organizations to undermine Syria and strike the Syrians’ unity.”
The United States and its politicians have since the Cold War been so confident of American supremacy over the whole of Western civilization that not only allies have ceased to count but enemies.
Americans are the leaders who make the decisions on how the world should work, even when this clearly is not what experience teaches, as one might think had been learned in recent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
In Brisbane for the G20 discussions, the president oversaw David Cameron of Britain (who has become the new Tony Blair) reiterating the State Department script, and issuing a lordly warning to Vladimir Putin that he must do as he is told concerning Ukraine or there will be still more sanctions...
President Obama’s final words to Mr. Putin set the pattern for hypocrisy: “(We are) very firm on the need to uphold core international principles, and one of those principles is you don’t invade other countries or finance proxies ... to break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.”
Is it possible that no one in his own government has yet worked up the courage to tell Mr. Obama that it was his own United States State Department that arranged a public uprising in Kiev last February, against a democratically elected president of Ukraine, and sponsored the coup d’etat that made Arseniy Yatsenyuk prime minister?
David Cameron has told European leaders that the west risks making similar mistakes in appeasing Vladimir Putin over Ukraine as Britain and France did with Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the second world war.
Russia toughened its opposition to Western military intervention in Libya this week as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin deployed his strongest criticism yet of NATO airstrikes in the country.
The premier’s comments came after he earlier likened the UN Security Council resolution to enforce a no-fly zone in the country to a “call to a medieval crusade.”
David Cameron warns of 'appeasing Putin as we did Hitler'
Ian Traynor-Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, 2 September 2014
Cameron likened the west's dilemma with Putin to the infamous conduct of the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, with Hitler in Munich in 1938, when Anglo-French appeasement encouraged the Nazi leader to invade Poland the following year, sparking the second world war.
"We run the risk of repeating the mistakes made in Munich in '38. We cannot know what will happen next," Cameron was reported as saying.
Putin: "a medieval crusade"
by Lidia Okorokova, Moscow News 28-04-2011
On Tuesday, speaking during a news conference in Copenhagen, Putin said the North African country was being illegally destroyed by “so-called civilised society” and that NATO was going beyond the UN mandate when it dropped guided bombs on embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli...
Libyans should resolve the conflict “themselves, without any external help,” Putin said.
On Wednesday, this time in Swedish capital Stockholm, Putin kept up his barrage of criticism, saying that he was “dumbfounded” over how easily decisions were being made to use force against countries. Putin said “this happens despite human rights and humanity concerns which the civilised world is believed to advocate."
"Don’t you think that there is a serious controversy between words and practice of international relations?” he said, adding that this “imbalance” should be eliminated. (Moscow News 2011)
David Cameron has told European leaders that the west risks making similar mistakes in appeasing Vladimir Putin over Ukraine as Britain and France did with Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the second world war.
Russia toughened its opposition to Western military intervention in Libya this week as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin deployed his strongest criticism yet of NATO airstrikes in the country.
The premier’s comments came after he earlier likened the UN Security Council resolution to enforce a no-fly zone in the country to a “call to a medieval crusade.”
Gaddafi: The Green Book|
Part Three, Chapter Eight: EDUCATION
To impose certain subjects upon people is a dictatorial act...
All methods of education prevailing in the world should be done away with through a worldwide cultural revolution to emancipate man's mind from curricula of fanaticism and from the process of deliberate adaptation of man's taste, his ability to form concepts and his mentality.
Society should provide all types of education, giving people the chance to choose freely any subjects they wish to learn...
Knowledge is a natural right of every human being which nobody has the right to deprive him of under any pretext...
Ignorance will come to an end when everything is presented as it actually is and when knowledge about everything is available to each person in the manner that suits him.
“People everywhere in the world are hungry for economic opportunities. The challenges ahead of all of us are immense: Developing economies and rapidly growing populations.
"How do we help entrepreneurship take even deeper route? Entrepreneurship is about creating an entire climate for innovation and ideas,” he noted.
The US Vice President says that it takes an education system that is universal and open to all, including girls and women in order to prosper in the 21st century.
Biden called for young entrepreneurs to challenge orthodoxy in order to succeed and thrive.
You cannot think free where you cannot challenge orthodoxy. You cannot think different where you cannot speak your mind.
Those who think the same do not hold promise to progress because the only way to change commons is to think different.
He warned against corruption which “is not only a threat to economic growth but also to security and sovereignty.
'Orthodoxía' is defined as “conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, [or] ideology,” including conventional or generally accepted beliefs.
Imagination is defined as “the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful,” which includes the capacity for fantasy.
We all know that the Western Wall, the Kotel,is the last remnant of our Temple. We also know that Jews from around the world gather here to pray. People write notes to G-d and place them between the ancient stones of the Wall.
In the year 37 BCE, Herod was appointed king in Jerusalem and he soon initiated a huge renovation project for the Temple. He hired many workers who toiled to make the Temple more magnificent and to widen the area of the Temple Mount by flattening the mountain peak and building four support walls around it.
The Western Wall is the western support wall built during this widening of the Temple Mount Plaza. What makes the Western Wall (and not one of the other three remaining support walls) the most special is its proximity to the location of the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
The Second Temple was destroyed in the year 70 CE. Despite the destruction that took place, all four Temple Mount support walls remained standing.
Throughout the generations since the Temple’s destruction, the Western Wall was the remnant closest to the site of the Temple’s Holy of Holies that was accessible to Jews.
David Roberts, a Scottish-born artist, rose from poverty to become one of the most popular painters of the 19th century. He traveled extensively in the Middle East in 1839, creating well over 250 paintings and drawings beautifully depicting majestic and historic scenes of this ancient land.
And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build of himself the temple of God:
"I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavor to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this kingdom, and that by rendering his temple as complete as I am able."..
Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits (45 meters), and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations 23 fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero.
Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits (11 meters), their height was eight (3.5 meters), and their breadth about twelve (5.5 meters); and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher...
The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height with the temple itself...
He encompassed the entire temple with very large cloisters... There was a large wall to both the cloisters..
The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. He built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was encompassed by a deep valley.
And at the south side he laid rocks together, and bound them one to another with lead, and included some of the inner parts, till it proceeded to a great height...
The hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong...
In the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the temple in the manner of a theater, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter..
Now on the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness.
This citadel was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest, which the high priest only put on at the time when he was to offer sacrifice.
When Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.
Wikipedia info: In around 19 BCE, Herod the Great extended the Mount's natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. This artificial expansion resulted in a large flat expanse which today forms the eastern section of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The trapezium shaped platform measures 488 m along the west, 470 m along the east, 315 m along the north and 280 m along the south, giving a total area of approximately 150,000 m2 (37 acres).
Antiquities 18.4.3, Bellum 1.21.1 and 5.5.8:
Antonia Ford, as the Jews see it
A small building for 6000 soldiers
But on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion = 3600-6000 soldiers) went several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals, in order to watch the people; for the temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the temple; and in that tower were the guards of those three.
The hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest...; it was the only place that hindered the sight of the temple on the north.
In another sign of increasing efforts to Judaize the occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli cabinet has voted in favor of a controversial motion aimed to anchor what it calls a "Jewish state" in law.
Following a stormy cabinet meeting on Sunday, 14 Israeli ministers voted in favor and six against the proposal. The bill will be sent to the Knesset (parliament) to be discussed by legislators...
Two centrist parties, one led by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the other by Finance Minister Yair Lapid voted against, media reports said.
At a heated debate on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Livni’s “weak” stance on a nation-state, saying, "We wouldn't be here if Livni had conducted herself differently. A weak stance doesn't serve the current reality."
That was in reference to Livni’s comments over the weekend that she would only support a softened version of the bill in which "the state" will maintain “equality for all its citizens.” The Israeli premier’s version has avoided using the word “equality.”
The new development has been seen as an extension of Israel’s efforts over the past decades to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni warned Monday that the so-called nationality bill would not pass and trying to force it could destroy the coalition. The bill, if passed, would result in a new basic law defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. It critics, who include the attoney general, claim that the bill is redundant at best and anti-democratic and discriminatory at worst.
Livni made it clear in an interview to Ynet on Monday morning that the bill will not pass in a Knesset vote Wednesday.
"If the prime minister wants to anchor the position of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, it can be done," she said. "But to take a radical bill that is contrary to the declaration of independence, which harms democracy and would subject the Israeli population to a theocracy - will not happen."
A letter by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel listed some tangible examples it says illustrate how the bill could hurt the Arab population...
"The bill seeks to nullify the understanding of democracy laid out in Israel's definition," said the letter by ACRI's lawyers. They noted that the bill makes no reference to national equality rights. "The possible consequences are of the utmost seriousness, and could constitute a threat to the human rights of all citizens."
Dr. Mohammed Mustafa of Haifa University told Ynet that the bill was a dangerous attempt to limit Israeli Arabs' citizenship.
"This bill is another erosion of Israel's democratic aspects and its goal is to limit the Arab population's citizenship as well as distort their rights."
"The politicians who attempt to pass the bill preach about Israel being the only democracy in the midst of nations that legislate according to Sharia law. Is there a difference between this bill and the laws of Arab countries who base their legislation on scripture?"
"Little time left to make peace with the Arab national movement"
by Uri Avnery, CounterPunch, 6-9-2014
For six decades my friends and I have warned our people: if we don’t make peace with the nationalist Arab forces, we shall be faced with Islamic Arab forces. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will turn into a Jewish-Muslim conflict. The national war will become a religious war.
National conflicts are basically rational. They concern territory. They can usually be solved by compromise.
Religious conflicts are irrational. Each side believes in an absolute truth, and automatically considers everybody else as infidels, enemies of the only true God.
There can be no compromise between True Believers, who believe that they are fighting for God and get their orders straight from Heaven.
The Zionist movement was created by secularized Jews... Before the creation of the State of Israel, the Zionist enterprise was remarkably free of religious dogmas...
The Arab national movement was always decidedly secular. Some of its most outstanding leaders were Christians. The pan-Arab Baath (“Resurrection”) party, which came to dominate both Syria and Iraq, was founded by Christians. The great hero of the Arab masses at that time, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, though formally Muslim, was quite un-religious. Under the leadership of Yasser Arafat the PLO remained a secular body with many Christian ingredients.
So what has happened? How did nationalist movements turn into violent, fanatical religious ones?
The US should mind its own affairs, Economics Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett stated Tuesday - especially regarding the proposed "Jewish State" law to concretize Jewish values in Israel's legal system.
"I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel - we will manage [ourselves]," Bennett stated... "We have to deal with the implications of [the law and] what kind of country we want."
"At the end it is our problem," he added. "This is an internal issue and I think that no one has the right to intervene with it."
Bennett's remarks surface after a statement from the US State Department implied that the "Jewish State Law" would undermine Israel's dedication to equal rights.
The 'Jewish State Law' is comprised of two bills by three MKs: Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), Yariv Levin (Likud), and Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home). Both bills, which are similar in their principles, effectively raise the Jewish influence on the legal system.."
Naftali Bennett: "The Temple Mount is the basis of our existence" (Arutz Sheva 19-11-2014)
"The Temple mount is the holiest place in the world for Jews." (CNN, 4-11-2014)
In February 2014, Naftali Bennett, leader of the extreme right-wing Jewish Home party and Minister of Religious Services and of the Economy, told a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations that Israel was attempting to exercise greater control over the Noble Sanctuary, stating that he had already taken measures that would "ultimately influence the eastern side of Jerusalem, and that will include the Temple Mount.”
Housing Minister and settler Uri Ariel, from the Jewish Home, regularly visits the Noble Sanctuary and has publicly called for the construction of a Jewish temple in its place.
In November 2013, during a parliamentary debate on a bill that would allow Jews to pray in the Noble Sanctuary, Knesset member Orit Strock from the Jewish Home party called Palestinians “savages,” stating: “When King David bought the Temple Mount you were savages in the desert. You have no rights on the Temple Mount, that’s a historical fact. Nothing will help you. Even now you are savages.”
POURING FUEL ON THE FIRE
Arab Israeli's are people without a National Home
“Israel is the . . . state of the Jewish people, and their only state...
National rights [in Israel] are for the Jewish people only.” Benjamin Netanyahu
•Since the election of the current Israeli government in January 2013, Jewish extremists have significantly increased their efforts to assert Jewish control over the Noble Sanctuary.
In February 2014, Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO that focuses on Jerusalem, released a report noting that in recent weeks right-wing Jewish activists who advocate the construction of a temple in the Noble Sanctuary had “intensified their rhetoric.
•In February 2014, the Knesset held hearings to debate asserting Jewish control over the Noble Sanctuary, during which Deputy Speaker Feiglin declared: "I call on the government to apply the full sovereignty of the State of Israel in the entire Temple Mount. I call on the Israeli government to allow free access to any Jew to the Temple Mount through any gate, and allow them to pray."
•On February 21, 2014, a group of rabbis and heads of Jewish religious schools submitted a petition to the Knesset calling for Israel to take control of the Noble Sanctuary.
•On March 30, 2014, the Temple Institute, which is part of the Temple Mount Faithful coalition, held its fifth annual "International Temple Mount Awareness Day" with an Internet broadcast featuring Deputy Knesset Speaker Feiglin and others.
In an interview prior to the broadcast, the institute's "International Director," Rabbi Chaim Richman, told settler media: "Today we are witness to a tremendous increase... record numbers of Jews ascending the Temple Mount in purity... Especially today we see that even on a political level there are growing numbers of lawmakers and legislatures [sic] who are realizing that there's something very wrong with our accepting the status quo...
More than anything, International Temple Mount Awareness Day is an indicator of the tremendous change that's going on in this generation. It's the beginning of the Temple revolution."
Back to Ezra, the father of
political judaism (i.e. theocracy)
The Book of Ezra, Chapter 10
While Ezra prayed before the house of God, a very large assembly of Israelites gathered about him, men, women, and children; and the people wept profusely.
Then Shecaniah, the son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, made this appeal to Ezra: “We have indeed betrayed our God by taking as wives foreign women of the peoples of the land. Yet in spite of this there still remains a hope for Israel.
Let us therefore enter into a covenant before our God to dismiss all our foreign wives and the children born of them, in keeping with what you, my lord, advise, and those who are in dread of the commandments of our God. Let it be done according to the law!
A proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles should gather together in Jerusalem... All the people, sitting in the open place before the house of God, were trembling both over the matter at hand and because it was raining.
Then Ezra, the priest, stood up and said to them: “Your apostasy in taking foreign women as wives has added to Israel’s guilt.
But now, give praise to the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will: separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign women.” In answer, the whole assembly cried out with a loud voice: “Yes, it is our duty to do as you say!
A Nation Apart
After the breakup of the mixed families, the people of the land knew that the returned exiles would not assimilate, but had come among them as a nation apart, a people that viewed themselves as superior to all other men on earth, a people who would not cooperate on projects of common welfare or "be reasonable" regarding social conventions of marriage, worship and government..." (racialpeace.org)
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
The word Pharisee means “pure,” or “separated”. In the time of Jesus, there were several thousand Pharisees in Israel led by two main schools of philosophy: The School of Shammai (ultraconservative Ezra-followers - friends of the Zealots) and the School of Hillel (liberal Ezra-followers).
1. The School of Shammai.
The most important group in Israel was the Pharisees who sat under the teachings of a rabbi named Shammai, who founded his school shortly before Jesus was born. The closest example in our world to understanding them would be to equate them with Mullah Omar and the Taliban, for they were ultra-conservative religious fundamentalists with a pathological devotion to obeying hosts of man-made traditions and commandments.
Most believed, among other things, that the Hebrew descendants of Abraham were the only people beloved of God, and that no other people were of value in His sight. Salvation was thus only available to Jews--and so, in their early days, the Shammaiites wouldn’t even welcome Gentile converts to Judaism. This attitude caused Pharisees from the school of Shammai to hate all Gentiles, and left them with little regard.
In the days of Shammai, so passionate was their hatred of Gentiles that around 10 AD, Shammai passed 18 edicts specifically meant to force separation between Jews and Gentiles... Because of Shammai’s influence, these edicts became laws of Israel...
The school of Shammai, which was politically proactive, also had close ties to the infamous zealots, a group of fanatics who favored armed revolt against Rome.
(Virtually every time you see Jesus or the apostles in strife against what the Bible labels as “Pharisees,” it is almost certainly referring to Pharisees or ex-Pharisees from the School of Shammai.)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." (Matth 23)
2. Of lesser influence in Israel was The School of Hillel.
The school of Hillel was far more liberal, and its founder was renowned for placing people and justice at the heart of Judaism, whereas Shammai stressed strict observance of religious laws. While Hillel’s followers acknowledged that the Jews were God’s special people, they willingly accepted Gentile converts to Judaism in the belief that the God of Abraham allowed all to worship Him who would turn from idolatry.
Modern-day Judaism traces its roots to the teachings promoted by the followers of Hillel who survived the destruction of Jerusalem and began codifying their teachings around 200 AD.
Two sayings we commonly attribute to Jesus were supposedly coined by Hillel before his death, and were being quoted by Jesus in the Gospels. These were the Golden Rule, along with the summary of the Law and the prophets (Love God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself)...
This is not to say that the school of Hillel was without problems. Among them was the fact that the Pharisees could not divorce themselves from the idea that they were righteous men because, in their view, they followed God's commandments--some sincerely, some hypocritically.
(Whenever you see Jesus interacting positively with the Pharisees - for instance, with Nicodemus or the rich young ruler- he is probably interacting with Pharisees from the school of Hillel.)
The word Sanhedrin refers to a religious court. In the time of Christ the Great Sanhedrin, was comprised of 70 elders with a president. The Great Sanhedrin functioned much like a combination of the Senate and Supreme Court, and most of its members were Pharisees from the school of Shammai.
“I am truly concerned about the future of the Zionist project. I am concerned about the critical mass of the threats against us on the one hand, and the government’s blindness and political and strategic paralysis on the other..
I am concerned that for the first time, I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war...
This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of ‘the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations’ (Numbers 23:9).”
Shavit said Israel should launch a peace effort, based on the Arab peace initiative, which calls for full peace for full withdrawal. (Thomas Friedman, NYT 26-11-2014)
"Can a blind man lead a blind man?
Will they not both fall into a pit?" Luke, 6:39-40,