It is to live in the world in a way that gives its due without either denying its existence or surrendering ourselves to it. It is to fully enjoy life while never losing sight of our ultimate goal in the world
One of the criticisms directed at Islam in the Western religious and Orientalist circles is that Islam is too worldly a religion compared to Christianity. Christian polemicists see Prophet Muhammad, in contrast to Jesus Christ, as too involved in the social and political affairs of the world.
Hence the charge that Islam is not a religion but an ideology.
These assertions are based on erroneous notions and false comparisons. Islam takes an attitude of non-attachment toward the world without denying its existence. The delicate balance is to live in the world in a meaningful way without becoming subservient to it.
We should be asking ourselves all the time: How are we to live in the world in a serious and meaningful manner without surrendering ourselves to it?
One is expected to give this world its due in a proper and joyful way but always remember what Prophet Muhammad said:
This dual attitude of non-attachment and giving the world its due is an extension of Islam's insistence on following the middle path in all things and avoiding all extremisms.
Read also: I Have, I Rule and I Will Destroy
The New Axis Of Evil
The color pink represents compassion, nurturing and love. It relates to unconditional love and understanding, and the giving and receiving of nurturing. A combination of red and white, pink contains the need for action of red, helping it to achieve the potential for success and insight offered by white. The deeper the pink, the more passion and energy it exhibits. (source)
Iranian officials said the US' new sanctions on the Iranian Republic, and US President Donald Trump's desire to limit international trade with Iran, are in violation of the deal, which was signed in 2015 by representatives of 6 countries.
In a pre-ceremony meeting with Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari said the EU must remain alert to Trump's efforts to "undermine the deal and blame Iran."
In her response, Mogherini promised that the EU would "determinedly" keep the Iran deal, Iran's state-run news agency reported.
The 2015 deal was signed by Iran, Britain, China France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.
Israeli diplomats have filed a quiet demarche with Washington over the participation of US special forces in a joint operation with the Syrian, Hizballah and Lebanese armies to clear the Lebanese-Syrian border region of Al Qaeda’s Syrian arm the rebel Nusra Front, which is fighting with ISIS elements.
The operation against the rebel group fighting under the command of Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani, has been divided into three parts.
The first part consisted of a Hizballah assault on Nusra forces holding the Arsal region on both sides of the border at its northern tip. Hizballah was claimed to have fought the enemy singlehanded.
But like all the statements from Washington and Moscow about events in Syria, this one too needed a closer look at the “facts.” It so transpired that Hizballah was backed up by Syrian artillery, while the Lebanese army had the role of cutting off the rebels’ escape routes from the battle ground.
The rebel fighters seeing they were hemmed in on all sides surrendered and agreed to pull out. Over the weekend, therefore, 7,000 rebel fighters, most of them belonging to Nusra, and their families, were evacuated from the border region to the northern Syrian province of Idlib on the Turkish border.
It also turned out that the trilateral Arsal operation had a US dimension. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Washington last week and held talks with President Donald Trump at the White House... Hariri convinced the US president to declare the Nusra Front and all its branches a terrorist organization to be fought in the same way as the Islamic State...
The Americans declared the Nusra network the target of America’s war on terror, even though this distanced the Trump administration from Jerusalem’s position.
Israel contends that the rebel groups holding the Syrian border districts opposite the Golan are defenders of their villages in the Quneitra and Hermon regions. While a small number may also have ties to Nusra, they are insignificant...
Sunday, Aug. 6, the second part of the joint Syrian, Hizballah, Lebanese operation was underway against Nusra -ISIS forces holding positions in the Lebanese towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Fakiya in the northern Beqaa Valley. This time, Lebanese Special Forces went into active combat, along with US Special Forces...
It may be argued that the US military is working directly only with the Lebanese government army. However, the operational plans must have been drawn up together with the Syrian high command in Damascus and Hizballah’s chiefs in Beirut - and, given the latter’s role as Tehran’s proxy, Iranian officers were no doubt part of this round-able planning conference.
Unfolding on the Syrian-Lebanese border region, therefore, is much more than a cleansing operation against an Al Qaeda affiliate; It is the start of a new military alignment, which is ready fight in the third part of the operation, which will focus on the Syrian-Jordanian and Syrian-Israeli borders.
This combination is the outcome of the US-Russian deal to cooperate in Syria... Both powers are determined to impose their agreed ceasefire zones right up to the Golan border, whatever it takes - whether Israel likes it or not.
Ernst Zundel, 1996
With an introduction by Ernst Zundel
German Holocaust denier,
In 1977, Zundel helped found Samisdat Publishers, which printed and distributed material denying the Holocaust including British National Front Richard Verrall’s “Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth At Last” pamphlet. Samisdat also published explicitly pro-Nazi material including Zundel’s own pamphlet “The Hitler We Loved and Why”.
"Zündel is in prison not because his views are unpopular, or because he's a security risk. He's in prison because Jewish groups want him there. He's a prisoner because he promotes views that the Jewish-Zionist lobby considers harmful to its interests."
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) warned that the West is ignoring the greatest threat to global security in its fight against ISIS, trading away long-term strategic security for short-term tactical gains.
In an opinion piece published by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Bennett argued that while ISIS had captured the West’s attention, the Tehran regime has been quietly expanding its influence across the region, working to establish radical Shi’ite hegemony over large portions of the Middle East.
“Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has sought to become a dominant world power, capable of instilling Islamic rule on as many people as possible. The Iranian regime finances and supports armed militias in other countries and is the world’s top exporter of terror.”
While ISIS atrocities have sparked outrage, Bennett claims Iran represents a far deadlier long-term threat, one which could extend far beyond the Middle East.
“An essential part of Tehran’s grand strategy is to control a land corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea. Under the cover of Syria’s bloody civil war, Hezbollah is helping to build such a highway. This endangers the entire Western world.” As this “Iranian empire” grows in strength, America and her allies remain focused on combating terrorism, enabling Iran to expand almost unchallenged, Bennett contends.
“The free world has yet to take the first and most important step: declaring that it cannot abide an Iranian empire from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.”
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett warns West is ignoring looming Iranian threat, calls for concerted strategic action to block 'Iranian empire'.
The scope for regional peace has broadened as Iran becomes a looming hegemonic force in the Middle East. Bennett insists that Arab countries must work together with Israel to defend against “the real threat,” of Iran.
Currently, Israel is considered a “regional superpower,” with its defense forces, intelligence information, cyber security technology and economy, “Israel is like a lighthouse within a storm,” he added.
“Everyone is looking at Israel to help defend the region against the real threat," of Iran whose dominance would, "risk the entire free world," he warned.
With the threat of a common enemy, Bennett says new countries are willing to engage with Israel, albeit sometimes quietly, in order to thwart the potential perils posed by its middle eastern rival.
Zoroastrianism: The religion that shaped the West
Ahuda Mazda, Son of Man (Aquarius-brotherhood), ruling over the astrological signs Taurus (have), Scorpio (destroy) and Leo (rule) (read also: The age of Aquarius")
The idea of a single god was not the only essentially Zoroastrian tenet to find its way into other major faiths, most notably the ‘big three’: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The concepts of Heaven and Hell, Judgment Day and the final revelation of the world, and angels and demons all originated in the teachings of Zarathustra, as well as the later canon of Zoroastrian literature they inspired.
Even the idea of Satan is a fundamentally Zoroastrian one; in fact, the entire faith of Zoroastrianism is predicated on the struggle between God (the forces of goodness and light, represented by the Holy Spirit, Spenta Manyu) and Ahriman, who presides over the forces of darkness and evil.
While man has to choose to which side he belongs, the religion teaches that ultimately, God will prevail, and even those condemned to hellfire will enjoy the blessings of Paradise (an Old Persian word).
How did Zoroastrian ideas find their way into the Abrahamic faiths and elsewhere?
According to scholars, many of these concepts were introduced to the Jews of Babylon upon being liberated by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great.
They trickled into mainstream Jewish thought, and figures like Beelzebub emerged. And after Persia’s conquests of Greek lands during the heyday of the Achaemenid Empire, Greek philosophy took a different course.
The Greeks had previously believed humans had little agency, and that their fates were at the mercy of their many gods, who often acted according to whim and fancy. After their acquaintance with Iranian religion and philosophy, however, they began to feel more as if they were the masters of their destinies, and that their decisions were in their own hands.
For all its contributions to Western thought, religion and culture, relatively little is known about the world’s first monotheistic faith and its Iranian founder.
In the mainstream, and to many US and European politicians, Iran is assumed to be the polar opposite of everything the free world stands for and champions.
Iran’s many other legacies and influences aside, the all but forgotten religion of Zoroastrianism just might provide the key to understanding how similar ‘we’ are to ‘them’.
iran - tehran
Noteworthy link: The Christ Aquarian Revelation
Son of Man = representative of Aquarius on earth
Herodotus around 430 B.C. noted that a tribe of the Medes who were skilled as priests and diviners were called magi.
Sāveh (Sāva, Saba) is a city in the Markazi Province of Iran. It is located around 60 miles southwest of Tehran. According to Iranian tradition, the Magi who visited the infant Jesus traveled from Saveh, and are buried among its ruins. Marco Polo described the tombs of the Magi in his travel book... (Wikipedia)
The Magi Entourage to Jerusalem
Mathew 2:1-12: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.. They saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures they presented unto him gifts; gold and frankincense, and myrrh..."
In Jerusalem, the sudden appearance of the Magi, probably traveling in force with every imaginable oriental pomp and accompanied by adequate cavalry escort to insure their safe penetration of Roman territory, certainly alarmed Herod and the populace of Jerusalem.
Their request of Herod regarding the one “who has been born King of the Jews” was a calculated insult to him, a non-Jew who had contrived and bribed his way into that office.
Consulting his scribes, Herod discovered from the prophecies in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) that the Promised One, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. Hiding his concern and expressing sincere interest, Herod requested them to keep him informed.
After finding the babe and presenting their prophetic gifts, the Magi “being warned in a dream” departed to their own country, ignoring Herod’s request.
Tanakh, Micah, chapter 5: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past."
Herod "the Great" reigned as a Roman-appointed king over Judea from 37 to 4 bc.
The son of Antipater the Edomite, he was responsible for changing the political rule of Judea from the Levite Hasmoneans —the royal family descended from the Maccabees— to the Edomite, or Idumean, Herodians.
The Hellenized Upper-City, dominated by Herod's Palace and the Antonia citadel. Jews lived in the Lower City
Herod constructed a number of important cities, and named most of them either in honor of Caesar or his own Edomite family. Perhaps most famous of these is the important coastal city of Caesarea, where Pontius Pilate eventually lived. In addition, Herod had a temple erected in honor of Augustus there. North of Jericho, he founded the city of Phasaelis, named after his brother, and to honor his father, he built Antipatris, where the Romans later held Paul captive (Acts 23). Besides these cities, Herod also built or restored a number of fortresses across Judea to strengthen its defenses.
Herod's best-known building projects were in Jerusalem. Within its walls, he built a theater, and in a valley just outside, an amphitheater, introducing Greek arts. For himself, he built an ornate palace of gold and marble in the city's western district.
North of the Temple, he raised a massive citadel, Fortress Antonia, in honor of his patron, Marc Antony.
The Jews were not particularly supportive of his ventures. The Jews also found it hypocritical that Herod, only half-Jewish, claimed piety in this work, despite building numerous temples in honor of other gods in other Roman provinces, including a temple to Apollo and even one to Baal.
The Jews were also suspicious of his aggressive marketing of Greek culture. He not only introduced Greek theater, but also began hosting Olympic-style games in Jerusalem in honor of Caesar. He also syncretized Greek and Jewish culture in every possible area.
He surrounded himself with a cabinet of Greek orators and philosophers as advisors, and he replaced state officials with Greek politicians. One historian claims that Herod "boasted of being more nearly related to the Greeks than to the Jews."
The final period of Herod's reign, up to his death, is defined by family betrayal, sickness, and bloodshed.
The New Testament claims that Herod ordered a massacre in Bethlehem. The old, paranoid king, after hearing from the visiting magi that a new King of the Jews had been born in Bethlehem, ordered all male children under the age of two to be killed (Matthew 2:16).
Turkey is limiting cross-border movement at Bab Al-Hawa (Cilvegözü) crossing with Syria after the area was taken by a terrorist group, Customs Minister Bülent Tüfenkci said Wednesday.
Tüfenkci told reporters that the restrictions were imposed after Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants took control of the area.
He noted that restrictions will continue until the terrorist group's control over the area ends and will be imposed on all exports of all goods with the exception of humanitarian aid and food products.
The Cilvegözü border crossing in Turkey's Hatay province is a main crossing into Syria, which shares a lengthy border with Turkey.
The border crossing, near the southern city of Hatay, is located across from the Bab al-Hawa crossing north of Aleppo in Syria.
HTS is the political spawn of the former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. HTS has adopted a plan to expand and consolidate its power in northern Syria.
According to an article on the news site Al-Modon, besides its growing control over Idlib governorate, HTS extended its territorial control in the southern, western and northern regions of Aleppo at the end of July.
HTS now not only controls the center of Idlib governorate, but also the border with Turkey.
Border areas hold both economic and strategic importance for HTS. “They allow the group to secure a continuous revenue stream [through taxes imposed on transit] and it provides it with control over the supply routes that are used by its rivals and so with significant influence over them.”
Another consolidation approach used by the organization is via mergers, tactical alliances, the creation of a local administration and the issuance of fatwas.
Among the prominent brigades that declared allegiance to HTS in the wake of the clashes is the Ibn Taymiyyah Mujahedeen Brigades, which controls various mountainous areas in the northwestern Aleppo countryside near the city of Darat Izza, strategically located close to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Afrin...
In addition, the organization has been able to count on local tactical alliances. For instance, the Turkistan Islamic Party fought alongside HTS in the takeover of the town of Jisr al-Shughour. Despite splitting from HTS in the wake of the clashes, the Nureddin Zengi Brigade still applauded the radical group's move to create a civil administration that would govern over the region.
HTS has also extended its dominance over the region’s political scene using fatwas. On May 11, HTS stated its intention to oversee Idlib’s informal money transfer offices. By taking over the informal banking sector, HTS would have leverage over local and international charities and thus the refugee population.
Henry Kissinger at 94 is still misinforming Washington about Iran.
Now he is warning of an “Iranian radical empire” stretching from Tehran to Beirut if Iran is allowed to “fill the vacuum” as ISIL is rolled up– as Jack Moore at Newsweek points out.. Kissinger seems stuck in a Cold War mentality, and still addicted to domino theory, just substituting Khomeinism for Communism.
Kissinger said: “The outside world’s war with Isis can serve as an illustration. Most non-Isis powers—including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states—agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran? The answer is elusive because Russia and the Nato countries support opposing factions.
If the Isis territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.”
I presume Kissinger thinks the Iranian radicalism here is the ideology of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, or Khomeinism, which holds that clerics should rule society.
If Kissinger is suggesting that we go slow on rolling up ISIL because it is a check on Iran, that is a non-starter. ISIL blew up Paris and Brussels and Istanbul and Damascus and Baghdad, and it simply must be stopped.
-- As for the radical empire idea, first of all, that is ridiculous. Lebanon is a multicultural country where Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shiites and Druze shape politics. Even Hizbullah admits that it isn’t a plausible country for Khomeinism.
-- Most of Syria is dominated by the secular Baath Party. Its alliance with Iran is one of convenience, not ideology. Although the upper echelons of the Baath and the Syrian Arab Army are dominated by the Alwaite Shiite minority, Alawites are esoteric, New Age Shiites without Friday mosque prayers or a seminary-trained clerical establishment. In short, it is the least likely community to support Khomeinism you could imagine. The rest of Syria is Christians, Druze, Kurds and Sunni Muslims– also not likely to be tempted by Twelver Shiite clerical Khomeinism.
-- Although the majority of parliament in Iraq is Twelver Shiite, most Iraqis reject Khomeinism. They do not want clerical rule. Even the chief cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, rejects clerical rule in favor of parliamentary governance. And Shiites in Iraq are not all-powerful. They need the Kurds and Sunni Arabs. Kurds are Sunnis. So 40 percent of Iraq is Sunni or other non-Shiite minority.
So Iran cannot spread a ‘radical empire’ in these countries because their elites would never accept Khomeinist ideology.
As for alliances of convenience, those existed long before ISIL’s take-over of territory in 2014. They are based on national interest and domestic majorities, something a realist like Kissinger should understand.
Kissinger seems unaware of the possibility that al-Qaeda and other Salafi Jihadi groups could fill the vacuum, as it has in Syria’s Idlib province. Would Kissinger really prefer that outcome?
Iraq’s oil minister met with the Saudi crown prince and other senior officials on Wednesday in Jeddah to discuss Opec’s policies to stabilise oil prices, cooperation in the energy industry and other economic opportunities.
The trip is the latest development in a rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad that has gathered significant momentum in recent weeks.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid Al Falih, who himself was one of the first senior Saudi official to visit Iraq after decades earlier this year, said on Twitter that he and Jabar Al Luaibi had discussed “the importance of uniting the efforts of all countries for market stability.”
The Saudi Press Agency said on Thursday that Mr Al Luaibi met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who also controls oil policy - that the pair discussed “joint opportunities in the economic fields in general and energy in particular, including the opening of land ports, direct flights and encouraging trade exchange and investments from the Saudi private sector.”
The kingdom is seeking ways to increase its influence in Iraqi politics, including by engaging with Shiite political figures who are themselves looking to balance Iran’s influence and position themselves ahead of parliamentary elections next year.
Baghdad is looking to Saudi and other GCC countries to play a significant part in funding and supporting the physical and economic reconstruction of Sunni Arab areas of Iraq.
Extremists distort the peaceful messages of Islam to achieve their goal, tweeted IWC (Ideological Warfare Center, supervised by the Ministry of Defense) on its Twitter account, which also posted the correct English translations of some Islamic terms.
One of the tweets said that some have a misconception about the meaning of the Arabic word ‘kafir’ and this has led them to develop the wrong idea about the true Islamic principles and values, which attach great importance to good words.
The Qur’an says: “And speak to people good words” (2:83)
The tweets explained the meaning of the Arabic infinitive noun ‘kufur’, saying that lexical meaning of the word refers in Arabic to the act of covering or hiding something, while its contextual meaning, e.g. in religious contexts, refers to the act of denying and not believing in any religion..
If you do not believe in someone’s religion or do not believe in his opinion, then you are kafir, because you refuse to acknowledge the existence of his religion or refuse to accept his opinion.
Similarly, a Muslim who does not believe in another’s religion can be described as ‘kafir’.
Anyone, Muslim or not, who does not believe in someone else’s religion [or opinion] can be described as ‘kafir’. That is why all approved translation copies of the Qur’an use the word ‘disbeliever’ as equivalent of ‘kafir’.
The real confusion happens when ‘kafir’ is translated wrongly as ‘infidel’ and when the Arabic word ‘torhiboon’, which means ‘threaten’ or 'frighten" , is translated wrongly as ‘terrorize’ in the following Qur’anic text: “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify your enemies.”
syria - aleppo 2014 - anti-assad rebels
Dr. Theodore Karasik, an international affairs expert, believes the IWC plays an important role in exposing the misleading methods and false allegations of extremists and terrorists, noting that it is important for the center to focus on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Karasik praised the IWC’s efforts to fight terrorism through discussion and discourse, holding Muslim Brotherhood responsible for encouraging young men to carry out suicide bombings and political assassinations.
He stressed the important of the center in educating youth about extremist ideas through different programs that expose the recruitment methods used by terrorists.
Flashback: Syria militants spreading Islamophobia
Leader of Lebanon's Tawheed Movement, Wiam Wahab called Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti a "Retard". The attack was directed at Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh and Muslim Brotherhood cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi and called on the two to “clean their mouths before talking about Hizbullah's resistance.” (youtube, 8 august 2014)
Damascus, SANA – Presidential Political and Media Adviser Bouthaina Shaaban stressed the need for establishing specialized research centers with the aim of launching a modern Arab developmental, intellectual project in light of the recent events which took place during the past few years.
Shaaban attended the signing ceremony of the 2nd edition of her book: “Edge of the Abyss.. Homeland Document” as part of the 29th Book Fair’s activities at al-Assad National Library in Damascus.
She underlined the importance of a transparent re-reading of the events to which Syria has passed through.
Shaaban noted that the Book Fair’s main objective is to focus on reading due to its key role in strengthening culture and improving thinking skills to face the conspiracy and begin the reconstruction process of the country.
'The Edge of Abyss – The historical account of the talks between late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and former US President Henry Kissinger" is published by Bisan publishing House in Lebanon and it is available in Arabic and English. It includes 349 pages and consists of 10 chapters and two appendices on the Syrian-US relations following the October Liberation War.
Reading is not limited to reading books (or screens these days). It encompasses other states of existence such as nature, visual arts and music. Just as a book tells us many things, nature also speaks to us. If we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see, nature can teach us profound lessons about beauty, balance and harmony.
Art works can evoke sublime feelings in us so that we can go beyond form to reach meaning. They can also teach things through "shock therapy." Music can be a mentor for those who want to experience meaning beyond words. These are all different forms of reading in our quest to discover ourselves and our place in the great chain of being.
Reading is essentially an act of unveiling and attaining meaning that comes in different forms...
This approach is firmly enshrined in the Islamic tradition. The very first revelation that was sent to Prophet Muhammad was "Iqra!" meaning both "read" and "recite."
This suggests that we read the Quran as a sacred book but also seek to gain insight into the inner nature of things through it.
The Quran urges people to read the signs within their souls and the universe so that they can be better human beings by using their intelligence and appropriating virtues. Those who fail to read in this sense basically accept to live under their true potential to become full human beings.
"A few years ago, I read a great French novel entitled “The Thibaults” (Les Thibault in French) by Roger Martin. Great novels from France, Russia and other countries, where eminent novels have been written, depict realities of life..." Ali Khamenei, 9-5-2005
Read also: Ali Khamenei & The Book of Love and Feeling
From, "Who Is Ali Khamenei?" by Akbar Ganji,
Foreign Affairs, September/October 2013 issue.
Pro-Qaddafi football star welcomed back to Tripoli by Haithem Tajouri
Meeting the journalists in his tent he told of how he admired former US Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and of other world leaders he admires like "Egypt's late Gamal Abdul Nasser, India's Mahatma Gandhi, Sun Yat-Sen of China and Italy's Garibaldi and Mazzini."
He spoke of his favourite book The Outsider by British author Colin Wilson and others he likes such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and Roots.
The outsider is the seminal work on alienation, creativity and the modern mind-set. First published over thirty years ago, it made its youthful author England's most controversial intellectual.
Colin Wilson Quote
"Here was I saying, in The Outsider: 'Look, you've got to stop being self-pitying, somehow you Outsiders have got to stop being the miserable Outsiders saying you don't want anything to do with this lousy material world, because if you don't do something about this lousy material world, nobody else will.
The Hebrew Bible and Alec Ross’ Industries of the Future are among the books that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has been reading this summer.
On his official Facebook page, Netanyahu wrote on Tuesday:
" Even Prime Ministers find time to read. Here is a partial list of my summer reading. Some of these books I am rereading, others I am reading for the first time.
I encourage everyone to read more books. Post your summer reading below. The more wisdom we expose ourselves to, the more we will progress as a civilization.
Other works on Netanyahu’s list were: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow; World Order by Henry Kissinger; Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World; Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail; and Samuel Katz’s The Aaronsohn Saga.
Netanyahu's Favorite Book: ‘Industries of the Future’:
The Hebrew Bible [tribalism] and Alec Ross’ Industries of the Future [universalism] are among the books that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has been reading this summer.
-- Knowledge@Wharton: As robots and codification and all of these other industries that you identify in the book become more prominent, how do you feel that’s going to change the world balance of power?
-- Ross: The principle political and economic binary of the 20th century was right versus left. In the 21st century, I think it’s open versus closed, defining open as upward economic mobility not confined to elites; social and cultural and religious norms not set from a central authority and broadly rights respecting for women, minorities of all type and what have you.
I believe that the centers of innovation and the wealth creation and job creation that come from that will be in the more open societies for the industries of the future... The more open societies will be those that compete and succeed most effectively.
You’ve got to be a committed lifelong learner. You’ve got to be adaptable. Otherwise you’re going to be left behind even if your country is producing substantial growth.
-- Knowledge@Wharton: In the last chapter of the book, you share advice for parents. Even if they are decades away from college or a few years away, what do you suggest?
-- Ross: The last chapter of The Industries of the Future [is] called “The Most Important Job You’ll Ever Have.”
The most important job you’ll ever have [is] being a parent. I interviewed the scores of people who have been very successful in business, and said, “What are the skills and attributes that today’s kids need? I’m all in favor of language learning — for tomorrow’s economy?”
There are a handful lessons in there from foreign language-learning to interdisciplinary learning to making sure that kids are as multiculturally fluent as possible, because they are going to be working in a world where the frontier economies are becoming developing economies and the developing economies are becoming developed economies..
I’m all in favor of language learning — foreign languages and computer languages. Even if the computer languages that kids are learning are not necessarily those that’ll be used in 15 years, it still teaches you a way of thinking. It teaches you a way of problem-solving and an above-average coder has got a couple of decades’ worth of employment in front of him.
-- Knowledge@Wharton: What would your advice be to older folks?
-- Ross: I think that anybody from middle schoolers to people toward the end of their professional careers, hopefully can draw something from The Industries of the Future.
One of the things that I would simply say is I’m such an evangelist for lifelong learning. The idea that [learning] somehow stops in your 40s or your 50s, I simply don’t buy or buy into…
I say the 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak. One of the key things is to give up on the kind of control that you’re most comfortable with and begin to understand that a lot of the ground shifting under your feet is going to shift whether you like it or not and to understand and accept that we’re going to be living in a world of ever-faster‒paced change.
Open society - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The open society is a concept originally suggested in 1932 by the French philosopher Henri Bergson and developed during the Second World War by Austrian-born British philosopher Karl Popper.
Bergson describes a closed society as a closed system of law or religion. As such it is static, like a closed mind.
Bergson suggests that if all traces of civilization were to disappear, the instincts of the now-closed society would remain for including or excluding others from it.
In contrast, an open society is dynamic and inclined to the ideal of moral universalism.
Popper saw the open society as standing on a historical continuum reaching from the organic, tribal, or closed society, through the open society marked by a critical attitude to tradition, up to the abstract or depersonalized society lacking all face-to-face interaction transactions.
In open societies, the government is expected to be responsive and tolerant, and political mechanisms are said to be transparent and flexible. Advocates claim that it is opposed to authoritarianism.
Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, which this year was on April 24, is a time for remembering the Holocaust and learning its historical lessons.
Yet there are two ways of approaching those lessons – one is universal and the other particular.
Most of Israel’s educational system has chosen to forgo the universal message of the need to promote human rights and stand up against oppression wherever it is practiced.
Instead the particularistic message Israeli schoolchildren have always received is that the Jews are eternal victims.
Indeed, “Israel and its strong army are the only things preventing another genocide by non-Jews.”
Very few Israeli educators have dared break with the official point of view [state ideology]. However, those few who have describe a systematic “misuse of the Holocaust [that is] pathological and intended to generate fear and hatred” as an element of “extreme nationalism.”
Flashback 2002: A rifle and a bible - The survival of the tribe
Raanan Gissin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s top adviser and spokesman (2001-2006), says that Ariel Sharon has long been calling for more Jewish text study in the secular schools. Without this foundation, Gissin says, young Israelis “don’t grasp that the Jewish people have lived here continuously for 4,000 years, that we have a right to be here...
The key to such a process of indoctrination embedded within the educational system is the maintenance of a closed information environment.
Any ideology represents a closed information environment. By definition it narrows reality down to a limited number of perspectives.
Ideology also invites hubris, rationalized by nationality or religion and their accompanying peculiar take on history.
It becomes the goal of an ideologically managed educational system to promote political loyalty and the hubris it seems to justify. The current terminology for this condition is “exceptionalism.”
All of this is a far cry from the way education is idealized...
-- Aristotle: “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr., “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.”
-- Albert Einstein: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
latakia 2015 construction - aleppo 2013 destruction
The Syrian Defense Ministry is conducting an awareness-raising campaign on returning to civilian life among gunmen of the moderate and irreconcilable opposition in the capital city’s suburb of East Ghouta, where a de-escalation zone was set up nearly a month ago, Syrian General Fauz Mustafa told reporters.
"We can see a teacher and children at school, and here are militants who teach their children how to handle weapons. We ask them what they want their children to be like, like this or like that," the general explained commenting on the visual images prepared by the Syrian Defense Ministry circulated online.
According to Syrian military officials, during the hostilities in East Ghouta, they distributed more than a million leaflets. They also have a loudspeaker mounted on an armored vehicle.
Leaflets were dropped from a helicopter and distributed among civilians heading for East Ghouta through the Russian military police checkpoint located there. It is assumed that local residents some of whose relatives or friends are gunmen can persuade them to surrender.
The nation’s primary and secondary students rank among the lowest in the developed world in standardized math, science and reading exams, the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research reported in its “Education Report Card,” released for publication on Wednesday ahead of the new school year.
Despite having far more school days than any other developed country, Israel scored among the lowest in core subjects in 2016, according to the OECD.
The “report card,” based on research compiled by Tel Aviv University Prof. Dan Ben-David, found that in a compilation of data put out by the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, and Israel’s National Authority for Educational Measurement and Evaluation from 2015, the average achievement score for Israeli primary students was in the bottom five percentile among 25 OECD countries.
The average score for Israeli students was 291, while the average of Japan, the top scoring country, was 369. “The weakest Israeli pupils score below the weakest pupils in each of the other developed countries,” Ben-Daid said on Tuesday.
“The future ability of these children to attain the skills needed to successfully contend with a global, competitive economy is severely handicapped by the poor level of education that they are receiving today.” [...]
Half of Israel’s students are getting a Third World education, he said, noting that, in addition to the haredi boys, Arab students also are not being provided with the tools and conditions to move ahead.
“Even without the haredi boys, the average score of the remaining Jewish children is below most of the developed countries,” he added. “The education that Israel provides to its Arabic-speaking children is below that in many Third World countries. In fact, Arab Israeli pupils attained a lower score than the average scores in most of the predominantly Muslim countries participating in the exam.”
To prevent a future downward spiral, Ben-David recommends defining a core curriculum that is uniform and mandatory for all students; changing how teachers are chosen, trained and compensated; and reorganizing the Education Ministry.
Turkey’s Unit International which signed a drilling deal last week with Russia's state-owned Zarubezhneft and Iran's Ghadir Investment Holding says the contract is worth $7 billion.
The drilling in Iran will take place at three oil fields estimated to hold 10 billion barrels of reserves and produce 100,000 barrels per day and a large natural gas field with a production capacity of 75 billion cubic meters per day, the company said on Tuesday.
Unit did not name the field but said its reserves are enough to meet Turkey's gas demands for the next 150 years, with the production equal to 1.5 times the 50 billion cubic meters of gas which Turkey imports annually.
The drilling agreement marks a new dawn in cooperation between Iranian, Russian and Turkish companies, reflecting on the rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics in the region.
Over the past two years, Turkey and Russia have climbed down from a collision course over the former’s downing of a Russian bomber in Syria to cooperate on implementing a ceasefire in the Arab country with the help of Iran.
Russia has lifted a trade ban on Turkey, while keeping sanctions on imports of most Western food and drink in place in retaliation for wide-ranging Western sanctions.
Moreover, the fallout in diplomatic relations is widening from the West’s support of Turkish dissidents and Washington’s backing for Kurdish militants in Syria which Ankara views as a security threat.
And with Iran also being under US sanctions, Tehran, Ankara and Moscow might be finding chemistry for an alliance of sorts which explains their first ever joint venture signed in Moscow last Tuesday.
Flashback: Turkey Downs Russian Fighter
The Syrian Investment Agency (SIA) and the Syrian-Chinese Businessmen Council signed on Tuesday a joint work program aimed at promoting the investment opportunities available in Syria.
Director General of the SIA Inas al-Umawi said that the program comes to complement the Authority’s efforts in encouraging investments and diversifying and directing them towards the promising sectors and overcoming all bureaucratic obstacles that stand in the way, in addition to adopting regional planning to guide projects in appropriate directions.
She noted to the important and effective role of the Syrian-Chinese Business Council in the development of joint investment and the strengthening of cooperation relations, especially with the imminent launch of the Damascus International Fair, calling on Chinese investors to visit Syria and learn about the investment climate and administrative measures and incentives and seize the opportunity to invest in the country.
The Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin said that the Chinese government has a consistent policy of promoting and developing political, economic and trade relations with Syria, indicating that there is a strong desire on the part of Chinese businessmen to participate in the reconstruction projects in Syria. He expressed confidence that the trade exchange between the two friendly countries will continue to increase along with the increased achievements of the Syrian Arab Army against the armed groups, adding that Chinese businessmen will participate in Damascus International Fair, which will open two days later. He added that the great economic progress in China coincides with the Chinese government’s aspiration to increase the volume of cooperation and investment with the countries of the world, especially Syria, which has not stopped trading with it for the last seven years despite the crisis it is going through, noting that it is his duty to work on “building a bridge between the two peoples and the two governments and expanding the investments between China and Syria.”
DAMASCUS, (ST) Syria is getting ready to welcome delegations from 43 countries participating in the 59th Damascus International fair as preparations for launching this important economic cultural and social event are almost finished including maintenance works, decoration activities and the uploading of goods.
The fair, which is to be held on August 17-26 at Damascus Fairground after a five-year stop because of the terrorist war imposed on the Syrian state and people, has been the Syrian economy's main window to the world since its establishment in 1954.
Re-launching the fair indicates the Syrian economy's recovery. It is a sign that Syria the security situation is getting better in the country thanks to the gains made by the Syrian Arab army and its allies in the fight against terrorist takfiri groups nationwide.
Over decades, the fair achieved great successes that were enough to classify it as the pearl of the Middle East fairs.
It wasn't only a window for the Syrian economy to the world but also a very important economic window for the Arab countries and a means to unify the Arabs even amid their political differences.
According to the Public Establishment for International Fairs and Exhibitions, the countries which are officially participating in the fair through their embassies are the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of India, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Lebanon, State of Palestine, the Russian Federation, the Republic of south Africa , the Republic of Sudan, the Republic of Yemen, the Republic of Abkhazia, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Federative Republic of Brazil, the Sultanate of Oman and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
A collection of independent and private companies from Foreign and Arab countries are also taking part in this event and exhibit their products.
Obama, Mandela & Gaddafi
Former President Barack Obama’s response on Twitter to the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend is now the most liked tweets ever. On Saturday night, Obama quoted former South African President Nelson Mandela in a series of tweets:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion...” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
Flashback 2011: Obama & The Arab Spring
"The Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa turned the stable state of Qatar into an international center for intelligence agencies, whose task was to support nefarious activities that firstly indulged his ego and aberrant ambitions, and then served to benefit Western institutions. "
"The Obama-Muslim Brotherhood project dubbed as the ‘Arab Spring’, which has been supported by the Government of Hamad, is blatant proof of all the calamitous consequences that still lie before us, in the destruction of entire nations, the killing of millions of innocent people and a fallout that is still unfolding." Ahmad al-Farraj, Al-Arabya 17-8-2017
Farmers in a designated de-escalation zone in the Syrian province of Daraa began gathering
what is reported to be the area's first harvest in six years. [Fars News Agency, 17-8-2017]
An annual US State Department report on religious freedom is strongly criticizing key US allies, notably Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, for their lack of religious freedom and admonished Israel to respect its non-Orthodox citizens.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared unusually willing to go after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain about the matter, saying both nations need to stop discriminating against their substantial Shi’ite minorities and embrace a greater degree of religious freedom for all citizens.
Bahrain has struggled mightily with having such a large Shi’ite minority, violently cracking down on protests demanding equal rights and equal protection under the law. In general, Bahrain has presented such unrest as Iranian plots.
Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite minority is a smaller percentage, but potentially a dangerous one because they live in the nation’s most oil rich areas. Here too, the Saudis see any sign of unrest at their status as second-class citizens as proof of Iranian influence, and are quick to execute demonstrators as “terrorists.”
The US report said the Iranian government "continued to harass, interrogate and arrest Bahais, Christians, Sunni Muslims and other religious minorities and regulated Christian religious practices closely to enforce the prohibition on proselytising."
Tillerson charged that Iran had used "vague apostasy laws" to execute 20 members of religious minorities over the past year.
Iran considers it an unrealistic, baseless, unfounded and biased report which has only been made with the intention of certain political gains," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi hit back on the ministry's website. He said Washington should focus on improving its own record of discrimination, particularly regarding its Muslim population.
Quran, Gospel & Individual Freedom
Body-Science and Soul-Science
Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem on Thursday received on Thursday a delegation from the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce which will be participating in Damascus International Fair, headed by Chairman of the Federation Ahmed el-Wakil.
Al-Moallem welcomed the Egyptian delegation, reviewing the historical ties binding the two brotherly people in Syria and Egypt, stressing the importance of developing the economic relations between the two countries.
Al-Moallem briefed the Egyptian delegation on the latest developments in Syria and the Syrian Arab Army’s achievements towards realizing stability to the country as soon as possible, hailing the Syrian people’s resilience and rallying around their leadership.
He pointed out that Syria and Egypt are facing one regionally and internationally-backed common enemy, that is the Takfiri terrorism, which necessitates unifying efforts to eliminate it.
For the first time in seven years, a Syrian plane has flown into Benghazi’s Benina airport. The cargo plane initiated what is supposed to be a regular cargo flight between Damascus and Benghazi, although today Syrian officials were also reported on board. The flight is also the first foreign one to Benghazi since the airport closed three years ago during the clashes there.
It is believed to have been promoted by the Russians to help the Assad regime break out of its isolation in the Arab world.
Libya cut diplomatic ties with Syria in the wake of the 2011 revolution.
However, Russia is Syria’s closed friend in the Arab world and (Libyan National Army commander) Khalifa Hafter has been promoting himself as a close ally for Russia. Earlier this week he was in Moscow trying to persuade the Russians to relax the international ban on providing weaponry to Libya.
libya - benghazi 2011 - islamist rebels, burning gaddafi's green book
Gaddafi: The Green Book
The port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon wants the world to know it's ready for business.
British safety managers are training local hires to operate heavy machinery and Chinese technicians are running diagnostics on two new container cranes that tower over the harbor, just 28 kilometers (18 miles) from the Syrian border.
After six years of civil war in Syria, markets across the Middle East are anticipating a mammoth reconstruction boom that could stimulate billions of dollars in economic activity. Lebanon, as Syria's neighbor, is in prime position to capture a share of that windfall and revive its own sluggish economy.
Battles still rage in Syria's north and east, and in pockets around the capital, Damascus, but the survival of President Bashar Assad's government now appears beyond doubt. That is introducing an element of stability into forecasts not seen since 2011, when the war broke out.
The World Bank estimates the cost to rebuild Syria at $200 billion. For Lebanon, that could be just the stimulus it needs,,
"Lebanon is in front of an opportunity that it needs to take very seriously," said Raya al-Hassan, a former finance minister from northern Lebanon who now directs the Tripoli Special Economic Zone project that's planned to be built adjacent to the port.
Lebanon has officially sought "dissociation" from the Syrian war so as not to fuel rancor among political parties split between those aligned with Damascus and those against it. But there is also an air of inevitability about the re-normalization of relations, as Assad looks, for the short-term at least, to stay on in power.
Syria's chief champion in Lebanon, Hizbullah, which is fighting alongside Assad's forces, evinces little doubt.
"Our national interest is for the border between Lebanon and Syria to be open ... because, tomorrow the routes will open to Iraq and to Jordan and we want to be able to transport Lebanese goods," Hizbullah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a speech this week.
Europe and the United States are hesitant to finance the reconstruction projects so long as Assad remains in power. But Russia, China, and Iran, as well as investors in Lebanon and the Middle East, are showing no signs of hesitation.
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) supports the idea of establishing local reconciliation committees as they could help achieving the political settlement of the ongoing crisis in Syria, Tarek Ahmad, an SSNP member, told Sputnik on Thursday.
"If they fit with the interests of Syria as a state, these local committees will help. If they are established according to the law, they will be helpful. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party as well as the Syrian government were always very supportive of any steps that may lead to political settlement and national reconciliation," Ahmad said.
On Thursday (17-8), the Russian reconciliation center in Syria proposed to establish local reconciliation committees in Syria’s de-escalation zones comprising members of both government and armed opposition.
The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has opposed local reconciliation deals in the country, stating that they should not serve as a substitute for wholesome political settlement.
"It was predictable that they would react this way. This kind of local committees and the process of reconciliation that takes place on the ground take away their jobs.
They do not have any connection with the forces on the ground; they just try to influence the process giving orders from the hotels, from the capitals such as Riyadh, Istanbul or Cairo," Ahmad said.
"When it comes to real work, and I am talking about real work for people on the ground, such as providing them with food and medication, it has been done by the Russians and by the Syrian government.
All what HNC was doing for the last seven years was just words and dreams and plans to divide Syria," Ahmad added.
Wikipedia info: With over 100,000 members the Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the second largest legal political group in Syria after the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party.
In Lebanon, it has been a major secular and highly organised elite party in the political history of the country for over 80 years.
During the course of the Syrian Civil War the party has seen its relevance increasing in Syria, where almost 8000 fighters of the Party's armed branch, the Eagles of the Whirlwind, fights alongside the Syrian Armed Forces against Syrian opposition and the Islamic State.
President Donald Trump on Friday fired chief strategist Stephen Bannon in the latest White House shake-up.
"White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Friday. "We are grateful for his service and wish him the best."
Bannon became the latest key figure to abruptly depart a White House that has been chaotic from its first days in power and already has lost a chief of staff, a national security advisor, two communications directors and a chief spokesman.
Trump's presidency also has been dogged by ongoing investigations in Congress and a special counsel named by the Justice Department into potential collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, something both Trump and Moscow deny.
"People are looked at as commodities"
Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness.
It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost...
He believes the capitalism of the “Judeo Christian West” is in crisis:
“If you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did. And I think that’s incredibly important and something that would really become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today..
People are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief.”
Read also: Power Religion and Humanistic Religion