Shabestari: Many of my students already understand what I am saying, because the changes that have taken place in Iran have led to a situation in which such statements are now much better understood than would have been the case 15 years ago...
Politics must not be sanctified. That is where the problem lies. No political leader should ever be sanctified, irrespective of who it is.
What I want to emphasise finally is my belief that, before we are millions of Muslims in a society, we are people in a society. Before we go to the Koran and the Sunnah to find out what it is they have to say, we need a society, a social system, a social institution, within which to live. Only then does religion enter the equation, in second place. Then I ask myself, what standards should we apply to regulate this very important question of social coexistence.
One cannot say that the answer will be found in the Koran or the Sunnah. Because looked at logically and philosophically, the basis for our living together is order; that has priority.
I always say that these ideas and standards that we need to take care of first are nothing other than universal human rights. We need, first of all, to put things right by means of justice and human rights.
Q: What, then, in your opinion, represents a fair form of government?
Shabestari: In my opinion the only criterion we can use is the measure of respect that is shown for the preservation of universal human rights, though I am aware that the 30 articles of the 1948 declaration are neither interpreted nor treated in the same way in every country. However, I see no other option.
Mohammad Mojtahed Shabestari (born 1936 in Shabestar, Iran) is a highly influential Iranian philosopher, Shia Islamic theologian, writer and professor at Tehran University.
Now What President Obama?
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others..(Mark 10:42)
No time should be wasted to empower Muslim communities to reject the culture of fanaticism and to promote moderation, tolerance and spirituality. Muslims should be reminded that there is no clergy in Islam. All Muslims are equal before God.
The issue of takfiri is the main reason behind the intolerance that has spread among many Muslim societies. Many Muslims today don’t feel safe and confident to practice what they believe to be the true principles of their faith. They are afraid to utter something that could be interpreted as blasphemous.
Those self-appointed guardians of Islam should understand that only God is the judge of the faithful... No one is obligated to follow blindly the dictates of the views of extremists.
For a very long time, many Muslims remained passive and did little to stop the fanatics that have gained influence in almost every Muslim country.
Today, educated Muslims should be encouraged to speak out and publicly reject radical views that are a threat to peace and global prosperity.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough called for the end of the Zionist “50-year occupation” and doubled down on the Obama administration’s critique of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a warmly received speech to the lobbying group J Street in Washington Monday...
He warned Israel’s next government not to consider unilateral annexation of any West Bank territory, saying it would “be both wrong and illegal,” and that America would strenuously object.
“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” he said. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
He denied claims that the administration’s reevaluation of its approach to the peace process stemmed from U.S. President Barack Obama’s “personal pique” with Netanyahu, but he described Netanyahu’s remarks before the election as “troubling.”
Washington, he said, “has long advocated direct negotiations” toward a two-state solution — a position, he noted, that Netanyahu embraced in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. McDonough rejected Netanyahu’s claims that he had not changed his position..:
“We cannot simply pretend that these comments were never made,” McDonough proclaimed, receiving a standing ovation from the 3,000-person audience.
Since virtually every comment on Hamas in American media includes the assertion that the group’s Charter rejects Israel’s right to exist, it’s worth noting the following from the Likud Platform of 1999 (Likud is the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu):
a. “The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”
b. “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem”.
c. “The Government of Israel flatly reject the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”
d. “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel.
“The trick is not to be there [in the occupied territories] and be broken; the trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.” Netanyahu 2001
Some defenders of Israel become indignant at the mention of these realities as scurrilous and spurious because the Likud platform quoted above is just an “old” statement of principles not reflective of the Party’s actions in power.
But by that logic, the Hamas Charter, written over 25 years ago, cannot be said to be the sole controlling document of that organization.
Arab leaders are accused all the time of making one set of (conciliatory) statements in front of some audiences in English, while revealing their (true) rejectionist feelings in front of others, in Arabic.
To the extent that this is true, one could certainly say the same about Netanyahu – relatively conciliatory and reasonable-sounding statements for international audiences. And altogether different rhetoric for internal consumption.
Bibi is, after all, a master – like many politicians – at speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
US President Barack Obama reprimanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his attitude towards Israel's Arabs and his lies about the two-state solution...
Obama has a bellyful of criticism against Netanyahu, but the most amazing part in this story is not that Obama is making it clear to Netanyahu that he doesn’t see him as a friend....; the amazing thing is the remarkable patience that all the Western leaders have been showing for decades towards Israel's insolence.
Europe and the United States allegedly oppose Israel's Palestinian policy, and especially its settlement policy.
There is not a single country in the West which accepts the settlements' legitimacy, and they all see them as a real obstacle to peace. But beyond paying lip service the West's elites have supported the occupation, in practice if not in theory, and have avoided imposing any significant sanction on Israel...
The regular warnings of the left, that if the right-wing government crosses a certain red line the words will turn into actions, have been proven false time and again: Israel's government expanded the settlements, violated their promise to evacuate illegal outposts, violated the Palestinians' basic human rights, and repeatedly launched "operations" which sparked a flood of words and a light drizzle of action.
It's not easy explaining this preferential treatment of Israel. It may have to do with the Holocaust and with the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s it turned from a Jewish memory into a pan-Western symbol...
There is no doubt that it has to do with the radicalization processes in the Muslim world, which have turned the Palestinians from the victims of Western colonialism to part of the radical Islam's plan to wave its flags not only in al-Quds but also in Paris, Brussels and London.
Different processes have played in Israel's "favor" and allowed it to do as it pleases in the territories it occupied.
That doesn’t mean there isn't any problem. There is a problem and it's ours – and the Palestinians' of course...
Israel is controlling the fourth generation of subjects with no civil rights. At some stage or another – in the coming years?
In the coming decade – we will be required to define the state's character: Either a binational state or an apartheid state.
Nehemiah 13:23-30 - "In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take oath in the name of God, saying, You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves."
Deut 23:2-3 - "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD."
During the apartheid era in South Africa, the Bible was used both as a tool to legitimise the apartheid ideology and as a site of struggle against it.
Today, in the post-apartheid context, the Bible still plays a significant role in addressing the current challenges.
The Bible is open to abuse by the powerful, and we have allowed the powers and principalities of both secular and spiritual oppression to usurp its spirit and use it to legitimise economic and environmental exploitation, racism, sexism, and other forms of abuse.
In Africa, Scripture has been abused to justify ethnicity. Scripture has been abused to justify the slave trade. Biblical texts such as Philemon and 1 Corinthians 7:21 24 have been used to justify slavery in Africa and the USA... The advocates of apartheid used Scripture to justify their ideology:
Their favorable text was the story of the Tower of Babel [Gen 11:1-8] which tells us of the confusion of tongues. It was deduced from the story that it is God's will that different races and nations should be separated to live far from each other.
The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in South Africa has played a significant role in providing a theological backing for apartheid policies. "The three large Afrikaans churches, despite their differences, used the Bible in much the same manner."
A biblical hermeneutical justification of apartheid was triggered by "a sense of anxiety about the mixing of races, together with a concomitant uncovering of certain 'principles' on race in Scripture".
According to this hermeneutic, anyone who questioned the so called "principles" or "conclusions" was seen to be questioning the authority of the Bible.
The texts most frequently used to justify apartheid were Genesis 11, Deuteronomy 32:8, Ezra-Nehemiah, Acts 1:8 and 17:26, 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 and Revelation 5:9 and 7:9. From these texts conclusions were summarily drawn about racial segregation within society and in the church.
The Nazi's & Apartheid
Julius Streicher, at his Nuremberg trial, stated:
"As for years I have written that any further mixture of German blood with Jewish blood must be avoided. I have written such articles again and again; and in my articles I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that the Jews should serve as an example to every race, for they created a racial law for themselves - the law of Moses, which says, 'If you come into a foreign land you shall not take unto yourself foreign women.'..
These laws of the Jews were taken as a model for the Nuremberg Laws...
When, after centuries, the Jewish lawgiver Ezra discovered that notwithstanding many Jews had married non-Jewish women, these marriages were dissolved.
That was the beginning of Jewry which, because it introduced these racial laws, has survived throughout the centuries, while all other races and civilizations have perished."
State subjects, without citizenship rights
The Nuremberg Laws were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the 1935 annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). After they seized power in 1933, the Nazis began to implement their party platform, which included the formation of a national community based on race, and racial cleansing via the active suppression of Jews, who would be stripped of their citizenship and civil rights and removed from German society.
The two Nuremberg Laws, passed on 15 September 1935, were the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans, and the Reich Citizenship Law, which declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens; the remainder were classed as state subjects, without citizenship rights.
President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Russian media in which he hailed the Russian initiative for inter-Syrian dialogue as positive and denied any direct dialogue between Syria and the US, stressing that there has been no real change in the American or Western policies on Syria so far.
- Question: Mr. President, within the framework of the steps taken to achieve a political solution, there is an initiative proposed by the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura concerning a fighting freeze in Aleppo.
- President Assad: Since the first meeting with Mr. de Mistura, we supported his ideas. In principle, the initiative is good because it deals with reality on the ground. It is similar to the reconciliation deals which have been achieved in Syria. But de Mistura’s initiative depends on more than one party.
Some of these armed groups are controlled by other countries. In the city of Aleppo in particular, all the armed groups or terrorist forces are supported directly by Turkey. That’s why these forces declared that they refuse to cooperate with him and rejected the initiative altogether.
- Question: Mr. President, what is your vision for the prospects of national reconciliation attempts, whether in Damascus Countryside or in other governorates?
- President Assad: We started the national reconciliation endeavors over a year ago, or maybe two years ago. It is a parallel track to the political solution.
The national reconciliation attempts include returning people to their neighborhoods, and for armed men leaving these neighborhoods, or remaining without their weapons in order for them to return to their normal lives.
In this case, the state offers amnesty to those and brings them back to their normal lives. Part of this process is releasing a number of prisoners.
The truth is that national reconciliation in Syria has achieved great results, and led to the improvement of security conditions for many Syrian people in different parts of the country.
- Question: There are European politicians who say that the peaceful political solution in Syria will be without President Bashar al-Assad.
- President Assad: The statements we have been hearing since the beginning of the crisis reflect the Western mentality, which is colonialist by nature.
The West does not accept partners. If they don’t like a certain state, they try to change it, or replace its president. When they use this reasoning, they do not see the people. As far as they’re concerned, there is no people. They don’t like the president, so they replace him...
The same thing is happening now in Ukraine. And this is what they aim for in Russia. They don’t like President Putin, so they demonize him. The same applies everywhere....
The Syrian crisis can be solved. It’s not impossible. If the Syrians sit and
talk to each other, we will achieve results. We talked about national
The Syrian society has not disintegrated.. What is happening in Syria is not a civil war; in a civil war there should be lines separating the parties, either on ethnic, religious, or sectarian grounds. This doesn’t exist in Syria.
People still live with each other, but most people escape from the areas in which the terrorists operate to the safe areas controlled by the state.
- Question: Mr. President, you indicated previously that had you accepted what was
offered to you before the crisis, you would have been the most favored and most
democratic president in the region. Could you please explain to us what you were
offered at the time
- President Assad: Let me go back to the Western mentality, which I described as
colonialist. The West does not accept partners. It only wants satellite states.
The United States does not even accept partners in the West. It wants Europe to follow the United States. They didn’t accept Russia, although it was a superpower. They didn’t accept it as a partner.
They used to put pressure on us to abandon our rights in our land occupied by
Israel. They wanted us not to support the resistance in Lebanon or Palestine
which defends the rights of the Palestinian people. At a later stage, a few
years before the crisis, they put pressure on Syria to distance itself from
Iran. There were other similar things...
We refused. Had we done these things, we would have become, as I said, a good, moderate, and democratic state.
Now, they describe our state as being anti-democratic, while they have the best relations with the Saudi state which has nothing to do with democracy...
- Question: So, what does the West require of Syria today in order to stop
arming the Syrian opposition and start the political solution?
- President Assad: Simply, to be a puppet...
For far too long, the Iranian-backed Houthi movement was left to meddle in Yemen. Time after time, Iran and its agents have continued to prove that they cannot be trusted and that they will always behave as the rogue players that they are.
Secretly aided by Yemen’s toppled leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis took over Yemen by force and terror.
Saudi Arabia and its allies – who up until now include all GCC states (excluding Oman), Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Pakistan - answered the call with Operation Decisive Storm which was inaugurated overnight under the supervision of the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who along with Deputy Crown Prince and second deputy premier and minister of interior Prince Muhammad Bin Naif were personally following up on military action at the command center.
By sunrise, several senior Houthi leaders were already targeted and eliminated as the Royal Saudi Air Force took complete control of Yemeni airspace.
Having been a victim of several atrocious terrorist attacks itself, Saudi Arabia has always been a key ally in the war against terror and has been relentlessly pursuing Al-Qaeda and Daesh (self-proclaimed IS) militants in Yemen, Syria and Iraq...
Saudi Arabia and its allies are waging this war in the name of humanity, civilization and on behalf of the whole world.
Let us not forget that the Houthis are agents of the world’s biggest terrorist regime in Tehran.
Indeed, the Iranian regime supports both Shiite and Sunni terrorist groups, which are the main source of upheaval and instability across the region, particularly in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
Faisal J. Abbas is the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Arabiya English. The channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is majority-owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center.
The long-simmering struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for Mid-East supremacy has escalated to a dangerous new level as the two sides fight for control of Yemen.
Shiite Houthi rebels have already seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and pose a potential contagion risk for aggrieved Shia minorities across the Saudi border in the kingdom’s Southwest pocket, never an area friendly to the ruling Wahhabi dynasty in Riyadh.
The Saudis face an impossible dilemma. The harder they hit the Houthis, the greater the danger of a power vacuum that can only benefit Al Qaeda and Islamic State groupings that already control central Yemen.
They are among the most lethal of the various Al Qaeda franchises. A cell from that area was responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.
The last 120-strong contingent of US military advisers has been evacuated from the country, while Yemen’s own security apparatus is disintegrating.
The fast-moving events in Yemen are a bad defeat for the US, which had pinned its hopes on the British-trained president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. American diplomats and security officials have had to destroy documents and make a dash for the exits, reminiscent of the final days in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
The dreams of the Arab Spring have died in one country after another. Both Yemen and Libya have collapsed, prey to Jihadi groups in multi-sided civil wars.
Iran has urged regional countries to act responsibly to help restore calm to the Middle East, urging the states which have adopted wrong policies to abandon their erroneous strategies.
“Those which have caused irreparable damage with their strategic mistakes and ambitious policies had better adopt responsible policies and tap into the existing potential to ensure tranquility and convergence in the region,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Zarif reiterated Tehran’s preparedness to work in tandem with other states in the region to help restore security to the country.
“Iran is ready to work with all its brothers in the region to facilitate a dialog among different Yemeni groups in order to maintain its integrity and help restore stability and security to the country.”
Zarif’s remarks came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Iran on Thursday of “trying to dominate the region” and said Tehran’s efforts had begun annoying Ankara, as well as Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf Arab countries.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah lashed out at Saudi Arabia over its war on Yemen, stressing that the failure of Riyadh’s foreign policy is the real reason behind the Kingdom’s attack against its neighbor.
In a televised speech aired on al-Manar TV, Sayyed Nasrallah called on Saudi Arabia to halt its military attack on Yemen, saying there’s still a chance for the Kingdom to change its mind over the assault.
In this context, the Lebanese resistance leader stressed that the only solution for the Yemeni crisis is political.
The Hezbollah leader elaborated the pretexts used by the Saudi Arabia to justify it war on Yemen, saying they are "baseless" pretexts.
“Pretext that Yemen represents a threat to Gulf states is baseless,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that “one of the most big lies Saudi Arabia has been propagating is that Iran is occupying Yemen.”
"The major mentality of Saudi Arabia is that it does not recognize the rights of the peoples of the region..."
“Where are the achievements of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy since 30 years ago?”
“What did you do for Iraq? You have funded the war waged by Saddam Hussein against Iran... You have also supported George Bush in his war on Iraq. And when the Iraqi people resisted the US occupation you have supported al-Qaeda-linked groups and Takfiri militants; and ISIL is your latest crime.”
“You have sent the Takfiri monsters to Syria not to save the Syrian people, but to subdue Syria. However Syria will remain free and independent,” Sayyed Nasrallah said referring to Saudi Arabia.
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that it’s the Yemeni people's right to defend their country against the Saudi airstrikes. On the other hand, Nasrallah stressed that the dialogue between the resistance party and the Future movement is still going on, noting that the move is a national interest.
“We will go on with the dialogue with the Future movement since it is considered a national interest.”
The tribal groups in north Yemen that make up the Houthi movement have always been distinct in their fighting spirits. When the Saudi army was send to beat them it was thoroughly defeated. They have also always felt that they did not receive a fair share of Yemen's not so big oil revenues and other spoils. During the last decades they fought some six small wars against the Yemeni army.
In 2012 the U.S. and its Wahhabi Arabic Gulf allies expelled the longtime Yemeni president Saleh and replaced him with his vice president Hadi.
There was some hope that Hadi would change the quarrel on the ground and teh dysfunctional state but the unrest in the country kept growing and as the oil prices went down so went the Yemeni government.
Hadi could only beg the Saudis to finance him and in return had to fulfill their political demands.
Meanwhile al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula kept growing in Yemen, U.S. drone strikes killed more and more tribe members in the south and deserved revenge and a southern independence movement added to the tumult. All this led to the rise of the Houthis.
The Houthis, allied with the former president Saleh and some parts of the dysfunctional Yemeni army, decided to take on the state.
In 2014 they captured parts of the capitol Sanaa and expanded the territory they controlled. In January Hadi fled to Aden in the south.
Many people belonging to the Houthi groups are Zaidi Shia. Their believe differs from Iranian 12er Shia believe and their religious rituals have more in common with Sunni rituals than with mainstream Shia. But Houthi, like many other Yemenis, despise the Saudis and their Wahhabism....
Yemen has now joined the Iran led axis of resistance consisting of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon. The Saudi Wahhabis see these mostly Shia forces as their eternal enemies.
The U.S., while allied with Saudi Arabia and the other anti-Shia Arab countries at the Gulf, needs Hizbullah to keep Lebanon from falling apart. It does not want the Syrian government to fall. It supports the Iraqi government against the Islamic State and it is likely to soon request support from the Houthis for its drone campaign against AlQaeda in the Arab peninsula.
This is a remarkable turn around from a decade ago when the resistance side was a major U.S. enemy...
"Iran is an aggressive state that is intervening and operating forces in the Arab world," Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said this week at a joint press conference with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond. "Its nuclear weapons are a threat to the Gulf and the entire world."
He then went on to convey a message to the Obama administration, saying: "Striking a deal that Iran doesn't deserve is not right. Think, too, about the dangerous ramifications of the Iranians' second plan."
This "second plan", about which Israeli intelligence officials have been warning for the past five years, involves Iran's desire for Shiite control over the Arab world, with the ultimate objective being control over the Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia.
"We're dealing with two parallel courses of action," says influential Saudi media pundit Jamal Khashoggi. "If they halt the nuclear program by means of military force or a diplomatic move, as the Americans are currently trying to do, the Iranians will still be left with the threatening alternative of 'creeping progress' on the ground, throughout the Arab world.
"They are goal-oriented. They have a map of objectives to achieve on the road to Saudi Arabia."
"There's no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." John Bolton
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran’s nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria... Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.
The Obama administration’s increasingly frantic efforts to reach agreement with Iran have spurred demands for ever-greater concessions from Washington.
The president’s policy is empowering Iran... Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure.
The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.
Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan.
An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years.
The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.
John Bolton is a senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and the chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a right-wing "pro-Israel" activist group that has been accused of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment.
A longtime national security hawk, Bolton is a former board member of the Project for the New American Century and a past adviser to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard, and other right-wing media outlets.
Bolton has long dismissed the legitimacy of the United Nations and other international institutions. He has also dismissed international treaties as nonbinding "political obligations" and was a leading opponent of the International Criminal Court.
In April 2014, Bolton called the Syrian civil war a "strategic sideshow" and wrote that the United States should instead be preparing for war with Iran.
"It is Iran, through its pursuit of nuclear weapons and its decades-long role as international terrorism's central banker, which poses the central danger.
Instead of focusing on overthrowing Assad or aiding his enemies, we should be vigorously pursuing regime change in Iran."
Bolton is a steadfast supporter of the right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, like many members of Netanyahu's cabinet, an opponent of Palestinian statehood. Bolton has fervently criticized the Obama administration for seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The security of many Arab states is in jeopardy today, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a welcome address to the heads of state and government of the Arab League countries taking part in a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
"Unfortunately, the security of many Arab countries today is under threat due to activation of extremist and terrorist organizations that seize entire cities and provinces causing hundreds of thousands of civilians to suffer and destroying the priceless cultural heritage of humankind," Putin said in the document posted on the presidential website.
Expressing regret, he said "Russia resolutely condemns these criminal actions having no justifications."
"We proceed from the fact that effective fight against terror is impossible without a general improvement of the regional situation.
In this connection, we consider the soonest possible settlement of the crisis situations in Syria, Libya, Yemen on the basis of the principles of international law, by means of broad dialogue and search for national accord to be rather important," Putin said.
The United Nations has loaded the last of its staff in Yemen quietly onto airplanes, sending them to safety in Ethiopia, and capping their failed effort to start peace talks in the war-torn country.
There is no room for peace talks now, it seems, with Saudi Arabia and its allies so decidedly in favor of a full-scale war against the Shi’ite Houthis, and leaving no room open for a settlement.
For the Saudis, there is no middle ground, and democratic reform is not the goal. The only goal for the war is to reinstall General Hadi, Yemen’s dictator from early 2012 until his resignation in January, back into power.
The Saudi coalition partners in the Arab League all seem to be on board with this strategy as well, insisting that the war will go on until the Houthi “rebels,” who at this point seem to be the closest thing to a de facto government Yemen has, unconditionally surrender.
Talking to IRNA on Monday, Leader of the Druze Lebanese Democratic Party Talal Arslan stressed that Iran’s wise policies have turned it into the main component of new power equations in the region.
He also underscored that the animosity being practiced by the Saudi-Zionist circles against the resistance wave and their various plots including the recent military aggression against Yemen are certainly doomed to failure.
He noted that the US-Zionists-Saudi triangle started using certain Arab countries in the region to hatch plots against the resistance movement since 15 years ago and said their schemes have entered new stages recently.
He said the Zionist regime had been “ruling” the whole region by now had it not been for the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Arslan said he was “optimistic about the future of region and the resistance movement in particular”... He said the new equilibrium created by Iran based on realistic policies has driven Israel and its Arab allies insane, making them to adopt policies which lack balance and symmetry.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby on Sunday accused Israel, Iran and Turkey of fueling conflict in a number of countries across the Middle East and of complicating efforts to achieve stability in the turmoil-struck region.
Elaraby accused the only three non-Arab countries in the region of “meddling” with other countries and causing turmoil, as the Arab body took initial steps toward creating a joint fighting force to thwart regional threats.
“There is meddling by some neighbors, Israel on one side, Turkey and Iranian interference in several countries,” Elaraby said during the closing remarks of a two-day Arab summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
He was responding to a question about accusations by several Arab leaders of the threat posed to the region’s Arab identity by what they called moves by “foreign” or “outside parties” to stoke sectarian, ethnic or religious rivalries in Arab states.
Many of the statements were thinly-veiled references to Iran, which has in recent years consolidated its hold in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen. But Elaraby said Israel and Turkey were also overstepping their bounds to stoke tensions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a delegation of US senators in Jerusalem that a proposed deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program “paves Iran’s way to the bomb.”
“We are very much concerned for our common interests by the developments in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told the senators...
“As we are speaking, Iran is rampaging through Yemen; it is conquering the Middle East.
This is correctly seen by all the countries in the Middle East as a strategic move to dominate the region and therefore we are witnessing something quite unprecedented.
“And as Israel and the Arab countries see Iran progressing with its aggression to conquer Yemen and the Bab el-Mandeb straits, talks continue as usual and go on, on a deal that from everything that we hear paves Iran’s way to the bomb.”
What was the justification for launching a military operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council?
According to the Saudi’s they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterize as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.
But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.
The intervention by the Saudi’s and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the U.S. precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half.
Violations of the UN Charter and international law modeled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalized resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.
The double standard and hypocrisy of U.S. support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and U.S. condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine will not be missed by most people.
The geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain.
Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.
Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst.
Land Day, March 30, is an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians of the events of that date in 1976.
Damascus, SANA – The National Leadership of Baath Arab Socialist Party affirmed on Sunday that Syria will continue to support the Palestinian people no matter what.
The Leadership’s affirmation came in a statement issued on the occasion of 39th anniversary of Land Day, an event annually marked on March 30 by Palestinians to commemorate the events of that date in 1976 where a general strike and marches broke out in response to the Israeli occupation government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of land for security and settlement purposes.
Syria’s support for the Palestinian people, the statement said, will continue until they succeed in their struggle to liberate their land, reiterating Syria’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation...
The statement denounced the failure of some Arab regimes to do their duty towards the Palestinian people...
Fuel is needed to urge a collective awareness forward, and nothing can possibly achieve such an end but the insistence on resistance, in both the real and cerebral sense.
The term “resistance” once dominated references made by Palestinian leaders in yesteryears, but was purposely marginalised following the signing of Oslo in 1993...
Yet without resistance there is only submission and defeat, which is precisely what took place...
Without resistance, Palestinians may as well raise white flags and sign on whatever dotted line is dictated by Israel. And then, they would simply be agreeing to perpetual subjugation.
Saudi Arabia has used its attack on Yemen and the success of its anti-Iranian regional propaganda to create an Arab NATO...
Combining the false myth of a secret Iranian ‘invasion' of Yemen (which is non-coincidentally presented like the phantom Russian ‘invasion' of Ukraine) with heightened sectarian rhetoric, Riyadh purposely scared its allies and indebted states into hurriedly rushing into a formal alliance under its leadership.
Al-Sisi: Saud's 'Pit Bull'
Egypt's incorporation into Saudi Arabia's sphere of influence, despite it being much more populous and militarily stronger, is the result of the billions of dollars that the GCC has given al-Sisi since he came to power.
Thus far, there has been over $20 billion in general aid and another $12 billion promised for ‘New Cairo', Egypt's plan for building a new capital...
The only reason that al-Sisi betrays Egypt's fundamental national interests by becoming the House of Saud's ‘pit bull' is simply because of the billions of dollars that he has received from them.
Saudi virus of sectarianism
The Saudi virus of sectarianism was already present in Yemen prior to recent events, but it was never the dominant engine of conflict in the war-torn country...
There's a strategic reason that the Saudis have clouded their actions in Yemen around sectarian rhetoric, aside from the political one, and it's that they're desperate to divide the Yemenis between themselves in order to stop the Houthis.
The whole reason that the Houthi minority has been able to achieve such astounding military success in Yemen is because they represent the majority of its citizens...
People support the Houthis not because of their Shia identity, but because of their pro-democracy and poly-political/confessional/ethnic promises of governance...
One should always keep in mind that ISIL and militant Islam's ideology was birthed by the official Saudi state ideology of Wahhabism, which Riyadh strategically applies as a Sword of Damocles over the head of its international subordinates.
The irony about Egypt's participation in the Arab NATO is that al-Sisi was extremely sensitive to the activities of the Qatari-supported Muslim Brotherhood, but he immediately jumped in bed with the Saudis who basically do the exact same thing but with different groups and different names.
President al-Assad’s interview with CBS News
"Saudi Arabia is an archaic autocracy"
Syrian Arab News Agency, 31-3-2015
- Question: Let me talk about the parties involved, and characterize how you see them. Let me begin with Saudi Arabia.
- President Assad: Saudi Arabia is an archaic autocracy, a medieval system that is based on the Wahhabi dark ideology. Actually, I say it’s a marriage between the Wahhabi and the political system for 200 years now. That is how we look at it.
- Question: And what is their connection to ISIS?
- President Assad: The same ideology, the same background... It’s the Wahhabi ideology. Their ideology is based on the books of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia... And that’s not just by ISIS...; by al-Qaeda, by al-Nusra. It’s not something we discovered or we try to promote. I mean, they use the same books to indoctrinate the people.
Iran and its allies are defending a new society
by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network 30-3-2015
We are witnessing an explosion of violence by the partisans of polygamy against the supporters of womens’ rights.
The Arab monarchies and the Muslim Brotherhood are defending a society dominated by men, while Iran and its allies are defending a new society, in which men and women control their own fertility and enjoy equal rights. ...
We think, wrongly, that the dress codes of Iran are the equivalent of those of the Saudis. And yet in Iran, women toook control of their fertility in the first years of the Revolution – in other words, before the women of most European States. They strongly outnumber men in the universities and they also excercise the highest responsibilities. On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, they have no personal rights.
We think, wrongly, that the Muslim world is divided between Sunnis and Chiites who are locked into a merciless and ongoing war. But here, in Syria, the Syrian Arab Army is composed of more than 70% Sunnis.
"The advancement of women in our country, and the restoration of their rights and exercise of their duties constitute a fundamental element in continuing and accelerating our efforts on the road toward progress and evolution." Hafez al-Assad
Damascus, SANA, 31-3-2015: On occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Syrian Arab Student Day, the National Union of Syrian Students(NUSS) held a marathon on Tuesday with participation of around 2,500 students from all the faculties and institutions of Damascus University...
Celebrations on this occasion included events by the NUSS branches in all universities, including blood donation drives, art exhibitions, and visits to injured army personnel and army checkpoints.
"So we stand unshaken, clear in our mind and vision as to truth against falsehood, the colour black, which represents darkness, wickedness and aberration, as opposed to the colour white which represents truth, justice, fairness, purity, virtue, adherence to principles and defending these principles against those who abandoned them..., blind in both heart and conscience." Saddam Hussein, 16-11-2002
In color psychology white is the color of new beginnings, wiping the slate clean, so to speak.
White contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum, representing both the positive and negative aspects of all colors.
Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence.
The color most strongly associated with Islam is green because it has represented Islam for centuries.
White is perhaps the second-most associated color with Islam. The color white symbolizes purity and peace and so it is often worn by Muslims attending Friday prayers. Muslims also wear it when performing sacred rites of pilgrimage.
The color green is the color of balance and harmony. From a color psychology perspective, it is the great balancer of the heart and the emotions, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart.
From a meaning of colors perspective, green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth. It renews and restores depleted energy. It is the sanctuary away from the stresses of modern living, restoring us back to a sense of well being.
There were some of those who believed that the green colour was the colour of the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraysh. Others believed that green was the Prophet’s favourite colour. In fact, it is said that the Prophet always wore a green turban.
There are also those who associated the colour with a hadith attributed to the Prophet, which says that “Three things of this world are acceptable: water, greenery and a beautiful face.”
There are three type of colour that were said to be the colours that were restricted in Islam and that is red, yellow and saffron. According to an article by Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i Islam, it has been known that red, yellow and saffron are primitive colours and they represent primitive communities. (Colors of islam)
Russia and the United States are engaged in a profound ideological confrontation — one that isn’t widely understood in Western Europe or even at the White House...
The Russian president claims that his real political ambition is to restore to Russia the culture, religion and historical mission of its past... He wishes to remake the “New Russia” that existed at the end of the Romanoff era.
He has restored the Orthodox Church to the primacy it then occupied, and interestingly enough has distributed among his senior officials the works of Christian philosophers of the pre-revolutionary period (and later, of those in exile), including Nicholas Berdyaev, Vladimir Solovyov and Ivan Ilyin...
Putin has denied that he wishes to impose a religio-ideological state doctrine in the place of Marxism, but he does wish to sponsor the reintroduction of Russian elites to the national past and its historical culture.
He wishes to see a sovereign democracy that is “qualitative” rather than arithmetical or quantitative...
It is a response to what Putin views as the decadent and “anthropocentric,” or egoistic and materialistic, modern West...
Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (18 March 1874 – 24 March 1948) was a Russian Christian universalist mystic (personalist) and Christian anarchist political philosopher.
PERSONALISM emphasizes the significance, uniqueness and inviolability of the person, as well as the person's essentially relational or communitarian dimension.
The title “personalism” can therefore legitimately be applied to any school of thought that focuses on the reality of persons and their unique status among beings in general.
Personalists regard personhood (or “personality”) as the fundamental notion, as that which gives meaning to all of reality and constitutes its supreme value. Personhood carries with it an inviolable dignity that merits unconditional respect. (Stanford Encyclopedia)
In Berdyaev's view, the only way of escape from the many forms of slavery (spiritual, economic, political) lies in the fuller realization of personality, as he defines it.
Berdyaev turned to religious views and played a large part in the renaissance of religious and philosophical thought in Russian intellectual life early in the 20th century. In 1922 he and a number of other intellectuals were expelled from the USSR.
* "Hostile to the principle of person is every single-planed world-outlook, for which the nature of man is comprised solely by its belonging to the social plane of being, i.e. man possesses no dimension of depth."
* "It is not appropriate to confuse the concept of person with the concept of individual.
The individual is a naturalistic category, biological and sociological, and it appertains to the natural world. It is an atom, indivisible, not having inner life, it is anonymous. The individual does not possess any unique or independent existence apart from race or from society."
"Person signifies something altogether different. Person is a spiritual and religious category. Person speaks not only about man belonging to the natural and social order, but also to a different dimension of being, to the spiritual world. Person is a form of being, higher than anything natural or social."
* "Person is not definable as a part in relation to any sort of whole. Person is an whole, it is a totality, it is integral, it bears within itself the universal, and it cannot be part of any sort of the general, whether of the world or of society.."
"Person is not able to be self-sufficient, it mustneeds emerge from itself towards other persons, towards the human and towards the cosmic multiplicity, and towards God. Ego-centrism, being locked up within oneself and being absorbed by oneself disintegrates the person.
Person realises itself through a constant victory over ego-centrism, over the hardening of self."
"Person is created by God and in this is its highest merit, and the source of its independence and freedom. That which is born in the generative process and formed in the social process is merely the individual, in which person needs to be realised."
"The socialisation of the economy, which affirms the right to work and a guarantee of a worthwhile existence for each human life not permitting the exploitation of man by man, is a demand of personalism. The sole system, therefore, corresponding to the eternal truth of personalism, is a system of personalist socialism.
At the basis of a social world-concept of personalism lies not the idea of equality nor the idea of justice, but rather the dignity of every human person, which should receive the possibility to realise itself.
Vladimir Putin congratulated Russia’s Jewish community on the Passover holiday.
“The Jewish believers hold the Passover holiday particularly dear. It takes them back to events in ancient times, to the Jewish people’s liberation from enslavement and the great ideals of freedom, justice and creation, which continue to be universal values for us all today.
It is pleasing to see the active development underway in Russia’s Jewish community. You are establishing new religious and educational centres, actively pursuing philanthropic and educational work, opening modern museums and exhibitions, and developing interregional and international contacts.
This multifaceted activity is exceptionally important for strengthening interethnic peace and harmony in our society and creating an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual understanding.”
The memory of signing the joint statement by Tehran and six world powers for a final deal on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program will remain in people’s minds forever, President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday in a televised address.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) signed a framework nuclear deal on Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, after eight days of hugely intensive negotiations.
Rouhani said the world should know that Iranians would keep their promises and will live up to such promises provided that the opposite side abides by its promises as well.
The president also said the world has come to the understanding that producing nuclear fuel on the Iranian soil does not pose threat to any country.
The nuclear agreement is just a step toward interaction with the world including all those countries that want to respect the Iranian nation and “work with the people of Iran within framework” of mutual interests, Rouhani asserted.
President Rouhani also stated that there is no doubt that cooperation and interaction will benefit all.
"John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif have demonstrated that diplomacy can work, that war is not the only available policy tool or even a very good one, and that we don’t have to fight World War III in the Middle East." Juan Cole, 3-4-2015
A meeting of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his cabinet Friday ended with a unanimous rejection of the "framework deal" with Iran over its nuclear program.
The deal, announced yesterday at a joint conference in Switzerland and widely celebrated as a "victory" in Iran, was quickly lauded by US President Barack Obama as an "historic" agreement.
"I am convinced that if this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal it will make our country, our allies and our world safer," Obama asserted... But despite Obama's claim that there was "no daylight" between the US's commitment to Israel's security and the framework deal, Israeli officials heavily criticized it as an "historic mistake".
"It is a bad framework which will lead to a bad and dangerous agreement. The framework gives international legitimacy to Iran's nuclear program, the only aim of which is to produce a nuclear bomb," they added.
"This framework (agreement) is a step in a very, very dangerous direction," government spokesman Mark Regev told journalists, adding that Iran's "single goal" behind the accord was to build a nuclear bomb.
During a conversation with Obama following the announcement, Netanyahu voiced his own strong objections to the deal, branding it a threat to Israel's very survival.
“This deal would legitimize Iran's nuclear program, bolster Iran's economy, and increase Iran's aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond. Such a deal would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it,” warned Netanyahu...
- Q. When did the “Iranian threat” become part of the Israeli discourse?
- Ram: It started in the ‘90s. As the Oslo Accords coalesced, the Rabin government began marking Iran as threat No. 1 on Western civilization and its outpost in the Middle East, Israel. Basically, since 1996 they have warned us that in a year, Iran will have a nuclear weapon...
The whole Iranian issue, be it with Ariel Sharon, Barak or Benjamin Netanyahu, is meant in the end to distract attention from Israel’s central problem – the occupation and the defense budget...
Arafat, hated & humiliated, because he wanted to be the President of a Palestinian State
Although the “two-state solution” has become accepted as the basis of the peace process between Israel and Arab Palestinians, that wasn’t the original plan.
There is nothing in the Oslo Agreements about a “Palestinian state.” PM Yitzhak Rabin in his speech in Knesset (Oct 5, 1995) made this clear when, seeking approval for the ”Interim Agreement” he said that he envisioned an independent, autonomous “Palestinian entity, not a state.”
Neither Rabin, nor Shimon Peres (at least initially), both of whom were intimately involved in writing the Oslo Agreements, saw the Agreements as the foundation for a sovereign Palestinian state...
Palestinians were given autonomy, not sovereignty.
Officially known as the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the Oslo Accords were firmly ensconced in the framework of the two-state solution, heralding “an end to decades of confrontation and conflict,” the recognition of “mutual legitimate and political rights,” and the aim of achieving “peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and . . . a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.”
Its supporters claimed that under Oslo, Israel would gradually relinquish control over territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA) eventually forming an independent state there.
The negotiations process, and subsequent agreements between the PLO and Israel, instead paved the way for the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza.
From the perspective of the Israeli government, the aim of Oslo was not to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or to address the substantive issues of Palestinian dispossession, but something much more functional. By creating the perception that negotiations would lead to some kind of “peace,” Israel was able to portray its intentions as those of a partner rather than an enemy of Palestinian sovereignty.
Based on this perception, the Israeli government used Oslo as a fig leaf to cover its consolidated and deepened control over Palestinian life, employing the same strategic mechanisms wielded since the onset of the occupation in 1967.
Settlement construction, restrictions on Palestinian movement, the incarceration of thousands, and command over borders and economic life: all came together to form a complex system of control.
A Palestinian face may preside over the day-to-day administration of Palestinian affairs, but ultimate power remains in the hands of Israel.
Oslo presented itself as the ideal tool to fortify Israel’s control over Palestinians and simultaneously strengthen its position within the broader Middle East.
Under the framework established by the Oslo Accords, Palestinian land was gradually transformed into a patchwork of isolated enclaves, with the three main clusters in the north, center, and south of the West Bank divided from one another by settlement blocs. The Palestinian Authority was granted limited autonomy in the areas where most Palestinians lived (the so-called Areas A and B), but travel between these areas could be shut down at any time by the Israeli military.
Beyond the Impasse?
The Single State Vision - The End Of Zionism
The reality of Israeli control today is the outcome of a single process that has necessarily combined violence and the illusion of negotiations as a peaceful alternative.
The reality is that the overriding project of the last sixty-three years of colonization in Palestine has been the attempt by successive Israeli governments to divide and fracture the Palestinian people, attempting to destroy a cohesive national identity by separating them from one another.
Oslo may be dead, but its putrid corpse is not one that any Palestinian should hope to resuscitate. What is needed is a new political orientation that rejects the fracturing of Palestinian identity into scattered geographical zones.
It is encouraging to see the mounting chorus of calls for a reorientation of Palestinian strategy, based on a single state in all of historic Palestine.
A one-state strategy presents a vision for Palestine that confirms the essential unity of all sectors of the Palestinian people regardless of geography.
It provides a path to reach out to the Israeli people that reject Zionism and colonialism through the hope of a future society that does not discriminate on the basis of national identity, and in which all may live regardless of religion or ethnicity.
Khamenei & The Single State Solution
The last major occasion on which Khamenei spoke about [the Palestinian problem] was during the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran in 2012:
"We have proposed a just and democratic solution [for the problem]. All the Palestinians — the current residents, as well as those who had to flee [in 1948] but have preserved their Palestinian identity — whether Jew, Muslim, or Christian, must take part in a well-monitored and trustworthy referendum, and choose the political structure of the country.
All the Palestinians that have suffered for years as refugees must return home and take part in the referendum, and then in drafting a constitution and holding elections. It is only then that peace will prevail."
The 16th and 17th century English author and diplomat Henry Wotton described an ambassador as someone "sent abroad to lie for his country".
Nowadays, the principle of "lying abroad" enables Israel to hammer home its message and drown out that of the Palestinians throughout Western media...
It is not surprising that nations use propaganda to cover up their sins. What is surprising is that so-called intelligent, informed journalists report Israel's fabricated stories time and again, and rarely dig deeper...
By taking at face value anything said by Israeli politicians or spokespeople without independent corroboration, the press is presenting Israel in the best possible light, a stated aim of Israel and Zionism.
Yitzhak Shamir, the seventh prime minister of Israel famously said: "It is permissible to lie for the sake of the Land of Israel."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Irrespective of whether you're right or not, you must always present your side as right."
Akiva Eldar, an Israeli journalist, also wrote: "In Israel, lying has become the norm among the army, the legal establishment and the diplomatic corps. Lying has become a way of life for commanders and soldiers, lawyers and clerks, most of whose views are far from being right-wing, and who loathe the occupation."
There is an all-pervasive willingness to accept Israel's own excuses for even the most criminal and inhuman acts...
The media fail to spot - or choose to ignore - that all of Israel's accounts of its actions aim to deceive. It is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone who might otherwise believe the Palestinian arguments for justice, freedom and an end to persecution.
"Either Zionism is moral and just, or it is immoral and unjust... We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done... There is no other morality." (Zeev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923)
President Obama stated clearly what are the alternatives to a peaceful resolution of the brewing conflict: war, or walking away from the negotiations – imposing heavier sanctions, blinding ourselves to what is going on in Iran, and following a course that eventually leads us back down the road to war. And he made a very important point, one that is not often brought up these days: we have been here before.
During the cold war we faced the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous adversary. Instead of launching World War III, we negotiated with them – an enemy that had vowed to destroy us, and, unlike Iran, actually had the means to do so – and thus avoided a global conflagration. Citing John F. Kennedy – “We must never negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate” – the President conjured cold war ghosts that are today largely forgotten: but those of us who lived through the Cuban missile crisis will never forget...
The opposition to this deal is coming straight from Tel Aviv, and only from Tel Aviv. And the overwhelming majority of Republican leadership – in Congress, and in the party hierarchy – is merely an adjunct of the Israel lobby.
John F. Kennedy,
American University speech, 10-6-1963
"What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave.
I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time."
"Too many of us think peace is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view.
Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."
"We shall do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just"
In the current coalition talks, Likud and the Jewish Home have been discussing ways of dethroning the leftist 'junta' in Israel – which the parties' leadership believes rules Israel de facto, even when right wing governments are elected.
One step in this direction, which the Jewish Home is demanding, is the legislation of a bill that would make it difficult for leftist NGOs to receive donations from foreign countries and from foreign state-affiliated organizations.
The bill proposed by MK Ayelet Shaked, who heads the Jewish Home's delegation to coalition negotiations, would require that donations from a foreign official state body would require the approval of the Foreign Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
Ronen Shoval, founder of grassroots Zionist movement Im Tirtzu, helped Shaked draft the bill.
Ronen Shoval is an Israeli writer and Zionist-activist. Ronen is the author of the book "Herzl's Vision 2.0, a manifest for the rejuvenating Zionism". He is a columnist in the Israeli newspaper Maariv and previously wrote in Haaretz and Makor Rishon. He was elected a board member of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod. Ronen was elected one of the top one-hundred influential Jews in the world by the Algemeiner journal.
Im Tirtzu is an extra-parliamentary movement that works to strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel. Im Tirtzu's main objectives focus on working towards a renewal of the Zionist discourse, Zionist thinking and Zionist ideology...
In recent years, Im Tirtzu has become one of the most important and influential organizations in the Israeli public arena. The Movement's reports have become an important instrument in the formation of public opinion and in policy formulation by various parties in Israel.
Brian Klug: Face Reality
"Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is no fantasy. Nor is the spread of Jewish settlements in these territories. Nor the unequal treatment of Jewish colonisers and Palestinian inhabitants. Nor the institutionalised discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens in various spheres of life. These are realities. It is one thing to oppose Israel or Zionism on the basis of an anti-semitic fantasy; quite another to do so on the basis of reality. The latter is not anti-semitism." (The Guardian, 18-12-2003)
Tunisia says it plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with Syria in order to track its citizens who have gone to fight alongside Islamist militants. Tunisian concerns about home-grown militants have been heightened by last month's attack on a Tunis museum.
Tunisian FM Taieb Baccouche told reporters on Friday that his country would not have an ambassador in Syria but would open a consulate or "put in place a charge d'affaires" there.
He said a consular presence in Syria would help Tunisia keep track of its citizens fighting alongside the Islamist militants. He added that Syria was welcome to send an ambassador to Tunisia if it so wished.
After the emergence of Islamic State (IS) as the most powerful of the jihadist groups in the Middle East, several European countries re-opened channels of communication with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Al-Qaeda: Kill Huthi, Saleh
The offer came as a Saudi-led coalition of nine Arab, mostly Sunni states, completed its second week of air strikes against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, troops loyal to Saleh. (Middle East online 8-4-2015)
The U.S. is helping the Saudis to wreck another country...
I doubt that anyone really believes that the Saudis are trying to “help” people in Yemen, and it is a deplorable bit of spin on the part of our government to promote the idea that “helping” Yemenis has any part in the Saudi campaign.
When any government is bombing a neighboring country, it should be taken for granted that “helping” the people of that country has nothing to do with the intervention. That should be even more obvious when we’re talking about a government as awful and authoritarian as the Saudi government.
The Saudi campaign is alienating Yemenis, who understandably resent having their country ruined because of Saudi paranoia...
When one is launching an unprovoked attack on another country, it is unreasonable to expect that the people on the receiving end will welcome the attackers or approve of their goals...
The administration that pursed regime change in Libya in the name of the “responsibility to protect” is now backing the war of its abusive Saudi client despite the extraordinary danger that this poses to the civilian population of Yemen.
Behind all of these moves seems to be an insatiable need to take sides in foreign conflicts in which the U.S. has little or nothing at stake. This does nothing to make the U.S. more secure, but it does make our government one of the authors of the ruin of one country after another.
WASHINGTON - US Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that Iraqi leaders have asserted the country's sovereignty in their war against jihadists and do not want to be "puppets" of Iran or other outside powers.
The vice president said media coverage had initially portrayed Shiite militias backed by Iran as "running the show" in the Tikrit offensive. But after the operation stalled in Tikrit, Abadi "courageously stepped in, making it absolutely clear the Iraqi government, him, as commander in chief, was in charge of this operation," Biden said in a speech at National Defense University in Washington....
Iraq for years has faced sectarian pressures from inside and outside the country but "Iraqis don't want to be drawn into regional conflicts," he said. "They don't want to be owned by anybody." He added: "They don't want to be puppets dangling on a string of anyone's puppeteering in the region."
Biden said Iraq's leaders had to continue to pursue reconciliation among the country's Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite communities.
"The entire region is watching this closely. And Iraqi leaders can't afford to lose that sense of political urgency that brought them to this point," he said.
"They must continue to compromise. And it is hard," said Biden, citing years of bloodshed fueled by sectarian violence.
But he said that ironically the IS group's brutal tactics and massacres had helped rally rival leaders to form a new government under Abadi.
The leaders of the Israeli left ('The Zionist Camp') are coming out against President Obama's capitulation to Iran. The Zionist Union issued an official press release on April 2 criticizing Obama's Iran deal.
The head of the party's Knesset delegation, MK Eitan Cabel, elaborated on his Facebook page: “I refuse to join those applauding the agreement with Iran, because the truth is it keeps me awake at night..."
The senior Labor Party official continued: "When a crazy religious regime with a proven track record of terrorism and cheating receives permission to get that close to a nuclear bomb, I am very worried...."
Calling Prime Minister Netanyahu's efforts against the Iran deal "a correct struggle," the Labor Party MK emphasized that he is “standing behind Netanyahu"..."
By contrast, J Street, the pro-Palestinian lobbying group which represents a portion of the American Jewish left, is defending President Obama...
In the face of the new Israeli left-right consensus on Iran, J Street will be effectively pushed back to the fringes in the American Jewish community.
But don't expect the J Streeters to reconsider their positions... In the months ahead, they will probably pretend that the Israeli left doesn't exist, and concentrate their fire on American Jewish leaders and congressmen who dare to question Obama.
Because that, in the end, is J Street's true mission..., not to help protect Israel, but to facilitate President Obama's political agenda and to protect him from Jewish critics.
Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of Philadelphia
The biggest problem with the controversial group isn’t its bullying, mischaracterization of opponents, outrageous lobbying positions, or childish huffing and puffing. It’s their implicit rejection of everything Zionism stands for.
J Street was founded in 2008 by the far-Left Israeli activist Daniel Levy and Jeremy Ben-Ami, a former Clinton White House operative, who felt that America’s traditional “pro-Israel” organizations were too right-wing and didn’t represent the “silent majority” of American Jews.
In the years since its founding, J Street’s visibility has grown exponentially through its political action committee, lobbying efforts, and grassroots mobilization campaigns, especially on college campuses.
According to its website, J Street says it believes that “Israel’s Jewish and democratic character depend on a two-state solution, resulting in a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security”...
The problem is what J Street represents: The idea that American Jews have the right and the responsibility to “fix” Israel when it is perceived to have erred — to impose their ideas in contradiction to Israeli self-determination. This idea weakens Israel, and contains at its heart an implicit repudiation of Zionism itself.Opposing the 'Messianic vision'
Being a Zionist means working towards what even the secular David Ben-Gurion called the “messianic vision” of mass Jewish immigration to Israel.
To Ben-Gurion, the ingathering of the exiles, a fulfillment of the traditional Seder promise of “next year in Jerusalem,” was “the central mission of our state.”
The question of whether Jewish life can (and ought to) survive in the Diaspora is an especially complicated one... According to Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua Diaspora Jews are only “partial Jews”...
Choosing not to make aliyah, to remain in the Diaspora, is a wholly legitimate choice... But in doing so, Jews waive the right to claim that Israel has “failed them” by acting in a certain manner.
For a non-Israeli citizen to claim the right to have a say in Israeli policy decisions [...], is to deny Israelis the right to shape their state as they best see fit... It is a form of anti-Zionism. And it is exactly what J Street does...
Whether they realize it or not, many American Jews are undermining Zionism by putting political processes in place that pressure Israeli citizens and the Israeli government to act in a certain way...
Flashback 2011: US media in praise of lynching
Russia Today, October 26, 2011
The mainstream US media has reacted to Muammar Gaddafi's brutal lynching with a tidal wave of cheers and approval...
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the triumphant celebrations of Gaddafi’s death with her immortal line, “We came, we saw, he died!” - words which are sure to be remembered far beyond America’s shores.
Although many Libyans would argue whether he was really so bad, considering what Gaddafi did for the country’s social welfare and women’s rights, in the eyes of the US media, he was the ultimate evil.
“It is a demonization, every step of the way, against Gaddafi. In the media today always one man, one leader of a country, becomes a justification for destroying an entire country,” acknowledged Sara Flounders, member of the Workers World Party.
For a few days, the media savored the bloody images of Gaddafi’s killing and laughed at similarities between his capture in a ditch and that of Saddam Hussein.
Just two days before the murder of Gaddafi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton staged an unannounced visit to Tripoli on a heavily armed military aircraft. While there, she issued a demand that Gaddafi be brought in “dead or alive”.
“‘We hope he can be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer’, Clinton told students and others at a town hall-style gathering in the capital city.” (Bill van Auken, 21-10-2011)
“The despot thinks he is just as God.., capable of ordering everything to be as he wants it to be. What a nadir and mean fate! The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people, confiscate their decision, and legitimate freedom and choices given that they were born free.
They were indeed freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003
Paris, SANA - Syrian and Arab communities in France organized a supportive standing in Paris to express condemnation of the western and Saudi- backed aggression and terrorism launched against some Arab countries including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Tunisia.
The participants carried the Syrian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Lebanese and Tunisian flags, calling to halt supporting terrorism and stop the bloodshed, as well as to respect these countries’ sovereignty and support Arabism.
With a dozen candidates having announced or begun fundraising in the contest for the Republican nomination, Clinton’s official entry into the race marks the de facto beginning of the 2016 US presidential election campaign.
What will unfold over the next 19 months is a travesty of democracy. The American financial aristocracy will select the candidates of the two big-business parties, using its vast wealth and control of the media. This will culminate on November 8, 2016, when the voters will be given the “choice” between two individuals with nearly identical right-wing views, committed to the defense of Wall Street’s interests at home and abroad...
On the Republican side, the announced or likely candidates include four US senators - Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham — and numerous governors and former governors, including Bush, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.
The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that Jeb Bush, who viciously attacked public education and supported the ultra-right campaign over the comatose Terri Schiavo, is now regarded as the leading “moderate.”
While the American media will portray the 2016 presidential as an exercise in democracy, the US political system can be more accurately described, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, as government “of the billionaires, by the billionaires and for the billionaires.”
The electoral process effectively excludes any candidates who challenge the capitalist system.
The UN Security Council voted on Tuesday to impose an arms embargo on leading members of the Houthi militia as well as Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the son of former longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. The resolution was passed with 14 votes in favor and Russia abstaining.
The Salehs have given support to the Houthi militia that seized control of Yemen’s capital in September, ousting President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and placing him under house arrest. Hadi fled for the southern port city of Aden in February before leaving the country in March for Saudi Arabia in the face of a Houthi-led assault on his compound.
While the Security Council resolution calls for the Houthis to “immediately and unconditionally end violence,” it says nothing about the airstrikes being carried out on a daily basis by a coalition of Arab Gulf States headed by Saudi Arabia.
Since March 26 Saudi coalition air forces have launched more than 1,200 airstrikes against targets throughout Yemen...
American drones continue to fly over Yemen in support of Saudi operations against the Houthi militia and the targeting of members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). An apparent drone strike on the southeastern port city of Mukalla Sunday killed senior AQAP leader Ibrahim Al Rubaish.
Foreign military aggression has never led to the resolution of any dispute, and the current airstrikes against Yemen won't be an exception, senior Iranian envoy to the UN said Tuesday.
Referring to allegations against Iran on Yemen, Iran's ambassador to the UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, "categorically" rejected such allegations that he stressed "are fabricated to distract attentions from the misguided and failed policies that have led to the current political and humanitarian crisis in Yemen."
"The bombing campaign further destabilizes Yemen and could lead to a prolonged and bloody civil war..."
"Tragically, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), and other extremist and terrorist groups in the region are the only beneficiary of the current destabilizing airstrikes and are poised to further benefit from the space created by the bombing to control larger territory in Yemen and turn it into an infesting breeding ground for their nefarious purposes," Khoshroo underlined.
The Iranian diplomat highlighted that the conflict in Yemen is entirely domestic issue. Nor is it sectarian, stressing that "the preposterous narratives trying to depict it as merely a battleground between Sunnis and Shiites are entirely erroneous and invented simply to advance the interests of the foreigners."
He reiterated his country's call for "an immediate cessation of the bombing campaign and a genuine push towards a political solution" as the only responsible approach to the crisis.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always supported the United Nations-led efforts in restoring peace and stability in Yemen and fully abides by its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen..."
BEIRUT: Ali Ahmad al-Dailmi, Yemen’s ambassador to Lebanon, reflected on the crisis gripping his country and evoked a trope that has become synonymous with the George W. Bush administration’s war against terror.
“‘You are either with us or against us,’ and that’s what is going on in Yemen,” Dailmi told The Daily Star, quoting the former U.S. president’s infamous ultimatum, in a sit-down interview at the Yemeni Embassy in Bir Hasan.
“If you don’t take the views of one side, it means you’re on the other. They don’t recognize people who sit in the middle, who sit with the interests of Yemen at heart.”
Sitting in his somber office, Dailmi, a former professor of political science, said a return to GCC-sponsored dialogue was the only means to solve the crisis in Yemen.
“No one group can rule by itself, that’s the message we [as a diplomatic mission] are trying to send to the GCC, that it has to engage with all groups,” he added. “We don’t want the GCC to take sides with one group and fight with the other.
However, no one seems to be interested in putting down arms just yet. “This is why we are concerned about being in a long-term conflict.”
Dailmi, who was appointed to his post two years ago, fears Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch might be strengthened by the crisis.
“Right now we have a failed state in Yemen, Al-Qaeda has good ground to become stronger,” he said.
More than 100,000 Yemeni civilians have reportedly fled their homes since the fighting began. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 15.9 million people are in need of assistance.
MOSCOW, April 16. The short-sighted logic of winners in the Cold War prevails in Washington and NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday at the 4th Moscow Conference on International Security.
"Unfortunately, after the United Nations Organization was founded, possibilities for global management on the basis of true partnership were undermined by a tough bipolar confrontation," Lavrov said.
"A quarter of a century ago, it seemed that after the Cold War ended, a prospect opened for the first time in history for switching to a broader cooperation and constructive development," the foreign minister said.
"Russia actively and consistently followed this direction, called for serious work aimed at implementing a principle of equal and indispensable security in the Euro-Atlantic.."
"[They] often refused to listen to us, let alone hear us. As a result, the short-sighted logic of winners in the Cold War started to prevail in Washington, and then in NATO," Lavrov said...
"Today we approached the landmark were we once again, just like after World War II, have to make a fateful choice - between cooperation and conflicts," Lavrov said.
"Russia is guided by a realistic pragmatic approach. We are far from deliberate escalation of alarmist sentiments," he added.
The Clinton Foundation will continue to accept donations from foreign countries – but not from Saudi Arabia, declared Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton resigned from the Foundation's Board of Directors last week as protests mounted in the media and on the campaign trail over the family foundation's acceptance of donations from Saudi Arabia, which denies women many of the rights Clinton and the foundation claim to stand for.
An Associated Press investigation showed that between 2001 and 2015 the foundation received grants of between $55 million and $130 million annually from 16 donor countries.
Seven of the donor countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Kuwait, and Brunei – were Arab Middle Eastern states, most of which severely limited women's rights.
Speaking last month, Kentucky Republican and presidential hopeful Rand Paul urged Clinton to return the money. “There is indeed a war on women in Saudi Arabia," said Paul. "When Hillary Clinton claims she will support women's rights, ask her why she accepted millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia."
“The fact that the Arab coalition no longer trusts us, or feels they need to inform us as what they’re about to do, is chilling,” Graham said on March 26. “They no longer have confidence in the United States of America,” McCain enjoined. “The Saudis did the right thing.”
This has been a common refrain from the senior senators, who have become as predictable as the tides when it comes to blaming the president for “leading from behind,” or not showing the appropriate obeisance to certain foreign allies — whether Israel on the Iran nuclear deal or Ukraine in their struggle against Russia...
There are two prevailing explanations for why the U.S. should intervene more strenuously:
1) Yemen is boiling over in a proxy war in which the bad guys are power-hungry Iranians seeking to establish Persian-led Shi’a hegemony across the region, and/or
2) Washington must support “pillars” of stability like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, else the Middle East will go up in flames.
Both claims have been deemed exaggerated and oversimplified in varying degrees by national security experts...
The Saudi government has just hired two top Republican political spin doctors for tens of thousands of dollars to ensure that the above narratives stick, and to make sure that U.S. elected officials react in a matter consistent with the Saudi point of view...
McCain: "Bomb, bomb, bomb..."McCain supported the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. In a late October 2001 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece he wrote, "America is under attack by a depraved, malevolent force that opposes our every interest and hates every value we hold dear." He advocated an overwhelming, not incremental, approach against the Taliban in Afghanistan, including the use of ground forces, saying, "War is a miserable business. Let's get on with it."
In February 2000, McCain said "As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security." McCain supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the U.S. decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
McCain & Libya: During the 2011 Libyan civil war, McCain called for the removal of Gaddafi from power, due to Gaddafi having "'American blood on his hands' from the 1988 Lockerbie bombing." In April 2011, he became the 'highest-profile Western politician' to visit the rebels in Libya, urging Washington to consider a ground attack that aims for the absolute removal of Gaddafi. He later said the airpower policy that Obama had pursued should be the model for American actions against other countries in the region. (Wikipedia info)
April 19th, 2012 WASHINGTON: U.S. Senators
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
released the following statement on Syria:
“Changing the military balance inside Syria requires the United States, in close coordination with our Turkish, Arab and other allies, to provide the Syrian opposition with the help they are pleading for to defend themselves. This can include training and equipping the Syrian opposition with weapons, providing them with tactical intelligence, and using airpower to target Assad’s command-and-control and help the Syrian opposition to create safe zones inside Syria.
McCain-Lindsey, Wall Street Journal 7-10-2014:
"Mr. Assad all but created Islamic State... "Our efforts to build up a viable Free Syrian Army to liberate Syria from the evils of Islamic State and Mr. Assad will surely fail if the Syrian ruler is not dealt with..."
"Defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad. Avoiding this reality, as Mr. Obama still tries to do, will only postpone the problem..."
Flashback 2003: Bill Clinton blasts
US approach to international affairs
Former US President Bill Clinton blasted US foreign policy adopted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, arguing the United States cannot kill, jail or occupy all of its adversaries.
"Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us," said Clinton, who spoke at a seminar of governance organized by Conference Board. "And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."
The Democratic former president, who preceded George W. Bush at the White House, said that sooner or later the United States had to find a way to cooperate with the world at large. "We can't run," Clinton pointed out.
"If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries, sooner or later you have to make a deal." (AFP 16-4-2003)
Rand Paul ripped into his hawkish rivals for the Republican nomination Saturday, suggesting that problems in the Middle East would actually be worse under them than President Barack Obama:
“There’s a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now — maybe more...” “This is something that will separate me from many other Republicans...
The other Republicans will criticize Hillary Clinton and the president for their foreign policy, but they would have done the same thing – just 10 times over!”
The Kentucky senator went on the offensive against the militarists in his own party...
Speaking of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Paul asked: “Why the hell did we ever go into Libya in the first place?”
“Everyone who will criticize me wanted troops on the ground, our troops on the ground, in Libya,” he said. “It was a mistake to be in Libya. We are less safe. Jihadists swim in our swimming pool now. It’s a disaster.”
Paul framed his foreign policy approach as more realpolitik than isolationist.
“Every time we’ve toppled a secular strongman, we’ve gotten chaos and the rise of radical Islam,” he said.
“We have to decide when getting involved is good and when it’s not so good. There’s a group of folks in our party who think it’s always good…
There’s people in our party who supported giving arms to [Muammar] Gaddafi before they supported giving arms to the ‘freedom fighters,’ who turned out to be al Qaeda...”
In the spirit of realism, Paul argued that Christians are better off under Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad than the alternative.
“ISIS is a threat. But how did ISIS grow stronger? Well, we put 600 tons worth of weapons into the Syrian civil war. You’ve got Assad on one side. You’ve got two million Christians living under Assad. And then you have the Islamic rebels. All the weapons we gave to the Islamic rebels … a lot of them wound up in the hands of ISIS...”
What you might not know:
Rand Paul was born in Pittsburgh but moved to Texas as a youngster in 1968. His name was "Randy" until his wife renamed him "Rand" because it sounded more mature.
His favorite book is "The Brothers Karamazov", a Russian novel completed in 1880 by Fyodor Dostoyevsky that is "a satire of human corruption, a meditation on faith and religious institutions in an age of skepticism, a murder mystery involving love triangles, a courtroom thriller and in the end a testament to the goodness and bravery humans are capable of."
Dostoyevsky was one of the topics he spoke about during his first encounter with his wife-to-be, Kelley.(Source)
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)