Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)
An especially dangerous threat to liberty occurs when members of the press collude with government agencies instead of monitoring and exposing the abuses of those agencies. Unfortunately, collusion is an all-too-common pattern in press coverage of the national security state’s activities. The American people then receive official propaganda disguised as honest reporting and analysis.
"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries. What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."
Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002
Joe Biden & Truth - 2009
US Vice President Joe Biden said that the new administration would seek the
unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported
the goals of the government.
The Vice President's address was greeted with loud cheers by the several hundred CIA employees who gathered for the swearing in ceremony in the foyer of the Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Standing before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We
expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not
what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman. 20-2-2009)
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign
ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid
to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation
that is afraid of its people …
The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men. …
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." John F.Kennedy
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."
"The globalists wants to make the world unipolar in order to move towards a globalist non-polarity, where the elites will become fully international and their residence will be dispersed throughout the entire space of the planet.
Accordingly, for the salvation of people, peoples, and societies, the Great Awakening must begin with multipolarity.
This is not just the salvation of the West itself, and not even the salvation of everyone else from the West, but the salvation of humanity, both Western and non-Western, from the totalitarian dictatorship of the liberal capitalist elites.
And this cannot be done by the people of the West or the people of the East alone. Here it is necessary to act together. The Great Awakening necessitates an internationalization of the peoples’ struggle against the internationalization of the elites. Multipolarity becomes the most important reference point and the key to the strategy of the Great Awakening.
"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...." "For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."
About political holism
Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.
Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance. At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)
Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)
Egypt has transferred two dozen ancient mummies from the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo, where they had been exhibited since the early 1900s, to a new museum in southern Cairo.
The transfer took the form of an extravagant royal parade, which was watched by tens of millions of locals and hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
The 40-minute royal procession invoked feelings of historical greatness, as those following the event watched the remains of kings and queens more than three millennia-old taking a journey to a new home in the southern part of the Egyptian capital.
The event saw the transfer of 22 royal mummies, 18 kings and four queens, to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, a vast new facility located in Fustat. The remains of the ancient royals were placed inside glass boxes full of nitrogen, to mimic the conditions inside the Egyptian Museum, where they had been exhibited for the last 120 years.
Egyptians had not seen anything of this greatness or scale before, except perhaps for the 2006 journey of the colossus of Ramses II from Ramses Square in downtown Cairo to the site of the Grand Egyptian Museum, near the Giza Pyramids.
The mummies transported included those of Seqenenre Tao, who ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt in the 17th Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period.
They also included the mummies of Amenhotep I, a king of the 18th Dynasty, who was the first to separate his mortuary temple from his tomb, and Ramses II, the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty.
Others being transferred were the mummies of Ahmose-Nefertari, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Seti I and Merneptah.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received the mummified royals at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation after inaugurating the main hall of the museum.
"The museum will give visitors an insight into all historical phases, from the ancient Egyptian phase to the Islamic phase, passing through the Coptic and Roman phases," Mahmud Mabrouk, the general supervisor of the museum, told Middle East Eye.
"It also contains the works of some contemporary Egyptian artists and sculptors, which document the development of life in Cairo."
The museum is one of a series of facilities constructed in the last few years to exhibit antiquities belonging to the different historical phases in Egypt.
Egypt is also preparing to open the Grand Egyptian Museum at the foot of the Giza Plateau. The museum, which has been under construction for over a decade, will house over 100,000 artefacts. It will be the largest in the region.
Intisar El-Sisi, the spouse of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, said she feels proud of belonging to the ancient Egyptian civilisation and the amount of effort exerted by the ancient Egyptians to impress the world.
"Today Egypt celebrates an exceptional and unique event of its kind: the transfer of royal mummies to the National Museum of Civilisation in the city of Fustat, in a scene that expresses the greatness of the ancient civilisation that did provide humanity and still does, with a unique and diverse legacy, contributing to its progress and prosperity," she wrote on her Facebook account.
The Pentagon recently asked Congress for an astronomical $27 billion budget increase to support a massive military buildup in Asia as part of its new Indo-Pacific plan, which calls for a substantially more aggressive military stance against China.
With the US already ranking first in military spending worldwide and holding more than 290 military bases in the Asia-Pacific region alone, this aggressive buildup is being proposed at the most financially precarious moment in US history.
According to the Congressional Budget Office report released this month, federal debt is projected to reach 102% of GDP by the end of 2021 before surpassing its historical high of 107% in 2031 and going on to nearly double to 202% by 2051.
How can the Biden administration sell such an expensive foreign policy proposal to the American public in these economically depressed times?
By publicly stoking moral outrage and militarism in the US – as well as throughout the Asia-Pacific region – in the name of launching a crusade ostensibly in defense of human rights.
This strategy was on full display when Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed bipartisan political rhetoric about the “Chinese threat” during his visit to Asia last week. In a stream of condescending self-righteousness, he unleashed a deluge of recrimination against China and North Korea while pontificating on American exceptionalism.
Instead of taking a fresh direction on behalf of the new administration and sending a message that America’s top diplomat is intent on finding common ground in Asia, Blinken made clear that the Biden administration will hew close to the fundamentals that have guided the prevailing policy of containment reflected most recently in Bush’s Axis of Evil, Obama’s Pivot to Asia, and Trump’s confrontationalism.
Public support for the Indo-Pacific plan will depend on amplifying to the extent possible the threat from the East using time-tried methods of demonizing “threatening Others”, such as China, North Korea.
As militarism, racism and xenophobia go hand in hand, this will inflame anti-Asian sentiment and scapegoating–a trend that is already well under way due to bipartisan political rhetoric about origins of Covid-19 and the rise of China. Anti-Asian sentiment has already risen to unprecedented levels in 2020, with crimes against Asians increasing by more than 150% in the past year.
A thousand years ago, when money meant coins, China invented paper currency. Now the Chinese government is minting cash digitally, in a re-imagination of money that could shake a pillar of American power.
It might seem money is already virtual, as credit cards and payment apps such as Apple Pay in the U.S. and WeChat in China eliminate the need for bills or coins. But those are just ways to move money electronically.
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have foreshadowed a potential digital future for money, though they exist outside the traditional global financial system... China’s version of a digital currency is controlled by its central bank, which will issue the new electronic money.
Beijing is also positioning the digital yuan for international use and designing it to be untethered to the global financial system, where the U.S. dollar has been king since World War II..
Asked in recent weeks how digitized national currencies such as China’s might affect the dollar, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell have said the issue is being studied in earnest, including whether a digital dollar makes sense someday.
The dollar has faced challengers before—the euro, to name one—only to grow more important when rivals’ shortcomings became apparent. The dollar far outstrips all other currencies for use in international foreign-exchange trades, at 88% in the latest rankings from the Bank for International Settlements. The yuan was used in just 4%.
Digitization wouldn’t by itself make the yuan a rival for the dollar in bank-to-bank wire transfers, analysts and economists say. But in its new incarnation, the yuan, also known as the renminbi, could gain traction on the margins of the international financial system.
It would provide options for people in poor countries to transfer money internationally. Even limited international usage could soften the bite of U.S. sanctions, which increasingly are used against Chinese companies or individuals.
The U.S., as the issuer of dollars that the world’s more than 21,000 banks need to do business, has long demanded insight into major cross-border currency movements.
This gives Washington the ability to freeze individuals and institutions out of the global financial system by barring banks from doing transactions with them, a practice criticized as “dollar weaponization.”
American sanctions on North Korea and Iran for nuclear programs hobble their economies... The Treasury’s database of sanctioned individuals and firms—the “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List”—touches virtually every nation on earth.
Beijing is especially discomfited by a fast-expanding part of the sanctions register: more than 250 Chinese names, including politicians the U.S. accuses of atrocities against ethnic minorities or of curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.
The digital yuan could give those the U.S. seeks to penalize a way to exchange money without U.S. knowledge. Exchanges wouldn’t need to use SWIFT, the messaging network that is used in money transfers between commercial banks and that can be monitored by the U.S. government.
The chance to weaken the power of American sanctions is central to Beijing’s marketing of the digital yuan and to its efforts to internationalize the yuan more generally. Speaking at a forum last month, China’s Mr. Mu, the central bank official, repeatedly said the digital yuan is aimed at protecting China’s “monetary sovereignty,” including by offsetting global use of the dollar.
The US Senate’s new legislation, the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, lays out a wide-ranging strategy for the first time to contain China’s global expansion, providing a significant milestone as the relationship between the two economic and hi-tech superpowers deteriorate.
“The legislation will have a profound effect on every Chinese technology firm,” said Cameron Johnson, an adjunct faculty instructor at New York University and a partner at Shanghai-based Tidal Wave Solutions.
“This includes in terms of developing new technologies, global investment strategies, selling into US-allied countries, receiving support from the Chinese government, and how the country’s technology market interacts and influences global governance and standards-setting.”
China, according to the 283-page bill, “is close to its goal of becoming the global leader in science and technology”.
It indicated that China’s drive to become a “manufacturing and technological superpower” and to promote “innovation with Chinese characteristics” has come at the expense of human rights and long-standing international rules of economic competition. That presents a challenge to US national security as well as the security of its allies and like-minded countries, it said. The US Senate’s initiative casts the country’s competition with China as the most important front
in a generational struggle between democracy and autocracy, coming on the heels of President Joe Biden’s pledge to thwart Beijing’s ambitious plans.
The new bill, which was crafted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is up for discussion on April 14, is not expected to surprise China at all.
“China will definitely study this legislation in detail,” said Edison Lee, an equity analyst at Jefferies Hong Kong who covers China’s telecommunications industry. “But China is fully prepared [for the proposed strategy]. This is not anything worse than the Trump era. China has already given up on the US.”
Presidents of Israeli universities released a joint letter Friday criticizing the government’s decision to withhold the country’s most prestigious prize from a scholar over his political views, saying it “severely harms free speech and free thought.”
Israel’s top court on Thursday upheld Education Minister Yoav Gallant’s move to block Oded Goldreich from receiving this year’s Israel Prize in mathematics and computer science over claims he supports the Palestinian-led international boycott movement targeting Israel, allegations he denies.
“Denying a person a prize due to their political beliefs contradicts the basic principle of the Israel Prize and severely harms free speech and free thought,” the letter said.
“Your decision creates the difficult impression that only those who ‘toe the line’ will be rewarded, and anyone who dares express a political opinion outside of the consensus will be punished.”
The letter (addressed to Gallant, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party) said the presidents do not endorse Goldreich’s political views but that he should be able to express them “without fear.”
Gallant tweeted Friday that Goldreich’s alleged support for the boycott movement “spits in the face of the state of Israel” and may violate laws against such activity. He said authorities needed time to determine whether Goldreich’s rejection of the boycott movement is “sincere.”
Last month, Goldreich and hundreds of other academics signed a petition calling on the European Union to halt funding for Ariel University, which was established inside a settlement of the same name in the West Bank. The scholars said it legitimized settlement activity, which is seen by the Palestinians and much of the international community as an obstacle to peace.
Wikipedia info: Yoav Galant (born 8 November 1958) is an Israeli politician and former commander of the Southern Command in the Israel Defense Forces. Galant began his military career in 1977 as a naval commando in Shayetet 13. In the 1980s, after six years of active service, he moved to Alaska and worked as a lumberjack. He then returned to the navy and served on a missile boat (including a position as deputy-commander of INS Keshet) and again in Shayetet 13. In 1993 he took up command of the Menashe (Jenin) Brigade of the West Bank Division.
After serving for three years as commander of Shayetet 13, Galant moved up to command the Gaza Division. In 2001 became the Chief of Staff of the GOC Army Headquarters. Galant attained the rank of a major general when he became the Military Secretary of the Prime Minister in 2002.
In 2005, Galant was appointed as commander of the Southern Command. During his tenure (that lasted until 21 October 2010), the Israel Defense Forces embarked on Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Galant commanded the operation. In January 2015, he entered politics, joining the new Kulanu party. After being elected to the Knesset, he was appointed Minister of Construction. At the end of 2018, he joined Likud. He now serves as the Minister of Education.
On Saturday, Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received his Tunisian counterpart, Kais Saied, at the Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace. Saied is currently on a three-day official visit to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Presidency spokesman, Bassam Rady. This is the first visit of the Tunisian President to Egypt since he assumed office in October 2019.
In a statement, the spokesman said that El-Sisi and Saied discussed bilateral relations and joint cooperation, especially concerning security, economic and investment issues.
They agreed on the need to intensify joint coordination on the Libyan issue, given that Egypt and Tunisia share direct borders with Libya. During the talks, the Egyptian and Tunisian Presidents reiterated their unwavering support to the new authority in Libya.
They vowed to stand alongside the Libyan people in order to establish the foundations of peace and stability, to safeguard Libyan national capabilities as well as institutions and to put an end to all forms of foreign interference.
Iraq said it supported efforts to restore Syria’s membership of the Arab League, 10 years after it was expelled for a crackdown on protesters...
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi received Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Saturday on a visit to Baghdad. They discussed Syria and other regional issues such as the war in Yemen and Lebanon's economic crisis.
The prime minister's office said Iraq “supports initiatives to end the conflict in Yemen and for Lebanon to overcome its difficult circumstances, as well as Syria's return to the Arab League". "Iraq stands by the means of internal dialogue to resolve the war," it said.
Iraq is one of several countries in the region that did not cut ties with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's government after 2011.
Syria was expelled from the Arab League that year. At the time, Lebanon and Yemen voted against the league's decision and Iraq abstained.
But several Arab states have now backed calls to re-admit Syria to the league as a means for opening up a regional track to the peace process.
Mr Al Kadhimi said that an effective presence of the Arab League was important for the region, stressing that Iraq is looking forward to the convening of the next Arab summit.
"The Arab League has an important role to play in promoting constructive rapprochement, overcoming differences, and consolidating efforts between active regional states that are historically linked," he said.
Founded in 1945, the Arab League has been criticised for ineffectiveness during regional disputes and crises.
"The Arab League is passing through a critical stage due to the lack of funding and the difficult conditions that some Arab countries are going through," Mr Aboul Gheit said. He affirmed the league's support for Iraq and praised the government's recent initiatives to engage with the region.
Mr Aboul Gheit also met Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, who stressed that Syria’s “instability impacts Iraq’s security”. "The unstable situation in Syria is affecting us," Mr Hussain said during a press conference with Mr Aboul Gheit.
In recent weeks, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, called for Syria to be readmitted to the league to ensure a regional effort in mediating an end to the civil war.
His client list included political extremist Lyndon LaRouche; several followers of the Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh; former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was on death row for killing a Philadelphia police officer; and Lori Berenson, an American who was imprisoned in Peru for aiding a Marxist revolutionary group. His most notorious client was Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Clark also defended Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of former Serbia and Yugoslavia, who died while being tried for genocide by a United Nations tribunal at The Hague; Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Rwandan pastor who was found guilty of engineering a massacre of ethnic Tutsis inside his church; and Karl Linnas, an elderly former commander of a Nazi concentration camp.
“You don’t go after septuagenarians 40 years after some god-awful crime they’re alleged to have committed,” Mr. Clark once said, speaking of Linnas. “If you do, then what it really means is, if we find you, we’ll kill you, so act accordingly. It means that we’re going to be condemned to eternal conflict, which is my great concern. We’ve got to find a way to end wars.”
Mr. Clark called his legal work an extension of his 1960s Justice Department efforts to defend civil rights. “People are guaranteed fairness under the constitution,” he told the Dallas Morning News in 1996. “And the constitution doesn’t say you only get fair treatment under certain conditions.”
He wrote the best-selling 1970 book “Crime in America” about the root causes of crime and the failures of the correctional system.
For Clark, crime emerged from the dehumanizing effects of poverty, racism, ignorance, and violence. He argued that America needed to address those problems through education and rehabilitation rather than resorting to prisons, which he saw as criminal hothouses that only exacerbated the problem.
Dresden, Vonnegut, Clark
On 5 February 2015, Webster Geneva faculty member, Dr. Maryvelma S. O’Neil attended the inauguration of an exhibition at the Military History Museum in Dresden that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the catastrophic firebombing of the medieval city by RAF and USAAF bombers at the end of the Second World War.
The theme of the exhibition was Schlachthof 5, Dresdens Zerstörung in literarischen Zeugnissen, Eine Ausstellung zum 13. Februar 1945. Dr. O’Neil contributed an essay on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, the most famous account of the devastation of Dresden, which he experienced firsthand as a young American POW billeted in a municipal slaughterhouse during the attack. Dr. O’Neil’s essay was dedicated to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who knew Vonnegut personally.
Clark’s suggestion, that Vonnegut’s anti-war novel should serve as the centerpiece of the commemorative exhibition, was well heeded...
"When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead. So it goes..." Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works.
His breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The book's anti-war sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War and its reviews were generally positive.
Vonnegut was an atheist, a humanist and a freethinker, serving as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association.
In his autobiographical work Palm Sunday, Vonnegut says he is a "Christ-worshipping agnostic"; in a speech to the Unitarian Universalist Association, he called himself a "Christ-loving atheist". However, he was keen to stress that he was not a Christian.
Vonnegut was an admirer of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beatitudes, and incorporated it into his own doctrines. He also referred to it in many of his works. In his 1991 book Fates Worse than Death, Vonnegut suggests that during the Reagan administration, "anything that sounded like the Sermon on the Mount was socialistic or communistic, and therefore anti-American"
In Palm Sunday, he wrote that "the Sermon on the Mount suggests a mercifulness that can never waver or fade."
However, Vonnegut had a deep dislike for certain aspects of Christianity, often reminding his readers of the bloody history of the Crusades and other religion-inspired violence. He despised the televangelists of the late 20th century, feeling that their thinking was narrow-minded. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
"Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression.
The signers of this statement call on the people of the US to resist the policies and overall political direction that have emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose grave dangers to the people of the world."
"We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers. We believe that all persons detained or prosecuted by the United States government should have the same rights of due process. We believe that questioning, criticism, and dissent must be valued and protected. We understand that such rights and values are always contested and must be fought for." (1-3-2003)
The Biden administration announced its intention last Thursday to bring back US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN Agency that provides comprehensive humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
Although US President Joe Biden is not willing to pay the amount that was cut by his predecessor former president Donald Trump in 2018, his willingness to “restore credible engagement” has been welcomed by the Palestinians and by UNRWA and opposed by both Republicans in the US and Israel. (Washington used to pay UNRWA more than $300 million, but it is now willing to restore only $235 million.)
“We plan to restart US economic, development and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.
He added that US foreign assistance “serves important US interests and values” and that it was “committed to advancing prosperity, security and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians in tangible ways in the immediate term, which is important in its own right, but also as a means to advance towards a negotiated two-state solution.”
He said his country would support the Palestinians with a package worth $75 million, which will go to both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while $10 million will be earmarked for peacebuilding programmes through USAID, the US overseas development agency.
UNRWA will have access to $150 million to meet its commitments in giving humanitarian support to the Palestinians.
The agency has provided socio-economic backing to Palestinian refugees since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Serving about five million Palestinian refugees, it provides multi-dimensional assistance in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Its programmes are directed towards the roughly 830,000 Palestinian refugees living under the poverty line, covering 45,870 emergency cash-for-work opportunities, counselling for 25,000 refugee children and “summer fun weeks” for 120,000 children to “mitigate the impact of both conflict and poverty on students’ physical and mental health and on their learning and development.”
UNRWA Chief Philippe Lazzarini said the agency “could not be more pleased that once again we will partner with the United States to provide critical assistance to some of the most vulnerable refugees across the Middle East.” Palestinian Authority (PA) Spokesperson Ibrahim Milhem said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh had welcomed the US announcement, which emphasised US support for a two-state solution and the importance of a return to negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
“We are ready to resume diplomatic negotiations with Israel, with the help of international parties, based on international law and UN resolutions,” he said. “Any solution, however, that does not take into account Palestinian rights as enshrined by international law and UN agreements will fail.”
Manichaeism is a very simplistic idea that even early Christianity rejected as not appreciating the complexities of how the world actually is and the ambiguities, the moral ambiguities that characterize who most of us are in most situations. Glenn Greenwald
US President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the US will begin withdrawing its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan on 1 May, hoping to be fully out by 11 September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. In line with the move, NATO forces will leave Afghanistan on 1 May as well.
Senator Lindsey Graham has warned that President Joe Biden’s commitment to fully withdraw American forces from Afghanistan by 11 September is "paving the way" for another 9/11.
"With all due respect to President Biden, you have not ended the war, you've extended it. You have made it bigger, not smaller," said the senior United States Senator from South Carolina during a Capitol Hill press conference.
Graham claimed that Biden's decision is fraught with a further escalation of the civil war in Afghanistan, creating a volatile environment that may return groups like al Qaeda and Daesh to power.
"The likelihood of this happening again is going through the roof after President Biden's decision today," warned the politician.
Biden announced the decision to pull out US forces totalling about 2,500 from Afghanistan in a televised speech on Wednesday, april 14, from the Treaty Room of the White House. It was the same place where, on 7 October 2001, then-President George W. Bush had announced airstrikes on Afghanistan.
Biden said that the reasons for staying in Afghanistan had "become increasingly unclear", and that the US had "accomplished all that we can militarily".
"I am now the fourth United States president to preside over and American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth," he said.
Biden also called on countries in the region, especially Pakistan, but also China, India, Russia and Turkey, to do more to support Afghanistan.
The new date for complete withdrawal set by Biden pushes back the 1 May deadline established under a peace agreement between then-President Donald Trump and the Taliban in 2020.
Responding to the announcement, the Taliban on Wednesday reiterated they wanted all foreign forces to leave Afghanistan "on the date specified in the Doha Agreement."
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seeks the withdrawal of all foreign forces from our homeland on the date specified in the Doha Agreement. On Twitter, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid warned against breaching the agreement.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 in response to the Taliban's sheltering of the Saudi-born al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Washington believes him to be the mastermind of the deadly 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After US and NATO forces took control of major population centers during the invasion, they nevertheless found themselves mired in a long insurgency against the Taliban.
Syria affirmed its rejection and condemnation of the misleading report released by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) about the alleged Saraqeb incident, stressing that it includes fabricated facts.
“The OPCW released on April 12th, 2021 a misleading report by the so-called Investigation and Identification Team, that Syria and a number of countries have announced it is an illegitimate and incredible team,” Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that this report has included false and fabricated conclusion which represents another scandal for the OPCW and the inquiry teams that will be added to the scandal of the reports of Douma incident in 2018, and Ltamenah in 2017.
It added that this report aims at forging facts and accusing the Syrian government of using toxic materials for an alleged incident in the town of Saraqeb on February 4th, 2018.
“The Syrian Arab Republic condemns, in the strongest terms, what has been included in the report of the illegitimate so-called “Investigation and Identification Team” and rejects all its context,” the statement said.
It added that Syria, at the same time, categorically denies using toxic gases in Saraqeb town or in any city or village, and affirms that the Syrian Arab Army has never used such weapons during most difficult battles carried out against armed terrorist organizations. The statement concluded that the Syrian Arab Republic reiterates that it categorically rejects the use of chemical weapons by any side, at any time or place, and Syria has never used any chemical weapon and can’t use it.
Saraqeb is in the northern Idlib province, a stronghold for rebels and opposition to Assad’s government.
The province is also home to al-Qaida-linked militants. The town has before come under suspected chemical attacks, including in 2016 and in 2013.
The mission also is investigating allegations that poison gas was used in Douma, near the capital Damascus, in a deadly April 7 attack. That attack led to the U.S., France and Britain blaming the Syrian government and launching joint punitive airstrikes targeting suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities on April 14. The organization has not yet issued a report on that attack.
Assad’s forces have repeatedly been accused of using chemical weapons in the civil war. His regime denies the allegations. Rebels also have been accused of using poison gas. (AP News, 16-5-2018)
As Israel struggles to put together a ruling coalition, I was struck by a television report there that a senior ultra-Orthodox rabbi and spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party said he’d prefer a government propped up by Israel’s Islamist Raam party than one with leftist Jewish parties, because Israeli Arab lawmakers were less likely to turn everyone secular.
That pretty well sums up how polarized Israeli politics is today — and why Israel just held its fourth inconclusive election in under two years and could soon be heading for a fifth, which must be some kind of Guinness world record for democratic electoral haplessness.
Israel’s most important demographic tipping point, is not the one you think — i.e., not just with the Arabs — it’s with its exploding ultra-Orthodox Jewish population, argues Dan Ben-David, a Tel Aviv University economist, who heads the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research.
“Despite currently being the home to some of the world’s best universities and a phenomenal high-tech sector,” explained Ben-David, Israel is a nation where about half of its children — primarily ultra-Orthodox (known in Hebrew as the Haredi Jews), Israeli Arab and non-Orthodox Jews living in the country’s peripheries — “are receiving a third-world education, and they belong to the fastest growing parts of the population.”
Haredi families, he said, now average seven children, and in 50 percent of their households the men do not work, but instead engage in religious study thanks to government subsidies; do not serve in the army; and generally deprive their children of the core curriculum in math, science, computing and reading — “which is mandated by law in every developed country, other than Israel — that could give them economic independence as adults and likely loosen the grip of the religious establishment on them.”
Already today, noted Ben-David, half of Israel’s adult population is so poor that they do not pay any income tax at all. In 2017, just 20 percent of the adult population supplied 92 percent of all income tax revenue, he said.
If that trend continues, he said, Israel will not be able to maintain a first-world economy “that we need to defend ourselves in the planet’s most violent region.”
So, Ben-David said, compelling the ultra-Orthodox community to play by the same rules governing the rest of Israeli society — something very much in the interest of Israeli society as a whole and Haredi Jews, but not in the interest of their rabbis, who want the community cloistered and dependent on them so they can remain in power forever — has become an “existential issue, but one that is preventable, if we get our act together in time.”
For that to happen, though, Ben-David concluded, a majority of all the non-ultra-Orthodox parties that won seats in the last election — right parties, left parties, centrist parties, religious Zionist and Arab parties — would have to agree to create a government together that would “remove Netanyahu, as well as the ultra-Orthodox parties whom he has relied upon and bought off for so many years with massive subsidies to their schools and other religious concessions.”
They would all also have to agree on a set of basic constitutional reforms that would change the political system so that future governments won’t have to keep mortgaging Israel’s future to the ultra-Orthodox for short-term political gains.
“We are barreling down the highway to hell,” added Ben-David, “and we may currently be crossing what may be our final exit ramp.”
An Algerian academic has received death threats while standing trial on blasphemy charges, activists have told The New Arab.
Avicenna: "An ignorant doctor is the aide-de-camp of death"
Islamologist Said Djabelkhir was charged earlier this year with "mocking religion and the rituals of Islam" after questioning some hadiths - sayings of the Prophet Muhammad - and rituals in Islam.
The plaintiffs include Bachir Bouyedjra Aberrezak, a professor at the Djillali Liabes University of Sidi Bel-Abbes along with several lawyers. They claim that Djabelkhir's writings on the Hajj pilgrimage, animal sacrifices on Eid, and other critical comments constitute an "an attack and mockery of the authentic hadiths of the Sunna [the custom and practice] of the Prophet".
Djabelkhir denies this and says he has only questioned the validity of some of the hadiths attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Djabelkhir, who is considered a leading expert on Sufism, has received death threats while awaiting a verdict on his case.
Kacem El Ghazzali, a Moroccan-Swiss writer and Humanist International's representative at the UN, said Djabelkhir's ideas follow those of a long-line of Muslim thinkers who have commented on common beliefs and practices in Islam.
"Said Djabelkhir's approach to certain problematic texts from the Islamic tradition is no different from that of certain Muslim scholars such as Averroes or Avicenna," El Ghazzali told The New Arab.
"He stands in a long line of Muslim thinkers who were marginalised and persecuted for centuries because of their free-thinking. It is a shame that the Algerian judiciary is playing a role of the Inquisition here."
"We strongly call on the Algerian authorities to withdraw the charges against Said Djabelkhir for blasphemy, to abolish existing blasphemy laws, and to guarantee academic freedom," El Ghazzali told The New Arab.
The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) has received the third shrine belonging to the Pharaoh Tutankhamun from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The arrival comes a month after the museum received the Pharaoh’s fourth shrine, which has since been placed in its display case in the hall dedicated to the Boy King’s treasures. Preparations will commence for its display alongside other artefacts belonging to Tutankhamun in the halls devoted to him. Al-Tayeb Abbas, Assistant Minister of Tourism and Antiquities for Archaeological Affairs at GEM, said that the shrine will undergo restoration work. He added that it is made of gilded wood, and was discovered among Tutankhamun’s treasures in his tomb on Luxor’s West Bank in November 1922.
He explained that it was transferred with the rest of the artefacts to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, and have been on display since then.
Abbas added that the remaining shrines will be successively transferred, and will be displayed according to the set display scenario in the halls dedicated to the Pharaoh’s treasure.
Sabah Abdel Razek, Director General of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, said that the third shrine is 3.40 metres in length, 1.92 metres in width, and 2.15 metres in height. It weighs about 1,142 kg, and features a frieze on the walls. It also features a double door closed with a royal seal.
The shrine consists of a ceiling decorated with a winged sun disk and eight birds with the titles of the king placed under them, and on the inside there are inscriptions on the ceiling.
In addition to this, the shrine contains a gate with inscriptions and texts from the Book of the Dead and decorated on the inside. At the top of the door is a winged sun disk surrounded on the right and left side by a group of signs.
In a letter sent today, Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) denounced J Street for employing “an antisemitic double standard.” It rejected as slanderous charges made by the long-controversial organization against Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and accused J Street, rather than Klein, of demonstrating ugly bias.
CJV Info: "The group was launched a month after Donald Trump took office, by a handful of Orthodox rabbis seeking to speak out on current issues from a standpoint they describe as Torah-based, “authentic” Jewish values.
The founders, most of them from the New York-New Jersey area, come from the ranks of the Orthodox Union, a synagogue and lobbying organization; Young Israel, a synagogue movement, and the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel, which focuses on advocacy.
“They feel more powerful now because they voted for the winner,” said Samuel Heilman, chair of Jewish studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, noting that now these right-wing Orthodox think they can “speak for everyone.” The CJV’s statements are a mix of typical conservative positions, expressions of support for the Trump administration and rebukes of liberal Jewish groups.
The political leanings of American Jews are clear. Seventy-one percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while only 24% chose Trump. Newcomer the CJV is likely to cater to the beliefs and worldview of the more extreme conservative faction among the conservative Jews..." Nathan Guttman, Forward,10-11-2017
The letter by CJV—the largest rabbinic public-policy organization in America—was sent to Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. It was prompted by a petition from J Street and allies demanding that ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) be expelled from the umbrella organization..
In the letter, the CJV defended Klein from J Street's accusations of bigotry, writing: "the complaint asserts that it is “bigoted” to describe Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as hating Jews and supporting terror. It simply presumes that Mr. Klein’s objections are connected to their identity characteristics."
"Rep. Tlaib recently called Israel 'racist' because the Palestinian Authority refused to work with Israel to obtain vaccines for its citizens..."
“For far too long, radical, partisan organizations that partner with and assist Israel’s enemies, like J Street, have gotten away with slandering anyone who represents or defends Israel,” asserted CJV Vice President Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld. “Fundamental justice obliges us to speak out against these false and hypocritical charges of bigotry.” CJV highlighted J Street’s hypocrisy in demanding censure of Klein for “bigotry” while inviting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to address its national conference earlier this week.
“That J Street accuses Mr. Klein while simultaneously honoring Mr. Abbas,” averred the rabbis’ letter, “reflects an antisemitic double-standard of the first order.”
This is not the first time that J Street, which describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace,” has been accused of antisemitic bias. Last year, the group used a photoshopped montage of Jewish advisors and Benjamin Netanyahu standing over a seated Donald Trump, which then-U.S. Envoy on Antisemitism Elan Carr castigated as amplifying “#Antisemitism and crude anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” regarding Jewish control of government.
“There is no denying the antisemitic undertones in this case,” attested Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of CJV’s Rabbinic Circle: “If any group should be expelled from a coalition of Jewish organizations, it should be J Street..."
Turkish talks with Egypt next week could forge renewed cooperation between the estranged regional powers and help efforts to end the war in Libya, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. Relations have been strained since the 2013 ousting of late Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi, who was a close ally of Erdogan’s government.
Recently, however, Turkey has begun working to rebuild ties with Egypt and Gulf Arab states, trying to overcome differences which have left Ankara increasingly isolated in the Arab world.
Intelligence chiefs as well as foreign ministers of both countries have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May, Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview.
“Given the realities on the ground I think it’s in the interests of both countries and the region to normalise relations with Egypt,” he said.
“Rapprochement with Egypt...will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt,” Kalin said.
He said Turkey would discuss security in Libya, where a United Nations-backed transitional government took over last month, with Egypt and other countries.
But despite a U.N. call for all foreign forces to leave the country, he indicated that Turkish military officers and allied Syrian fighters would be staying in Libya.
“We have an agreement that is still holding there with the Libyan government,” he said, refering to a 2019 accord which paved the way for decisive Turkish intervention in support of the Tripoli-based government.
The sequence in which the United States and Iran return to compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is first and foremost a matter of "sense of justice," said Wang Qun, Chinese envoy to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, on Tuesday.
Wang made the remarks after attending the latest meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission.
The meeting was chaired by Enrique Mora, the deputy secretary general and political director of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.
The Joint Commission's negotiations on getting the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA have entered the fourth week, said Wang, stressing that "it will be a very important week."
The negotiations have made some important progress, whereas some significant differences are yet to be ironed out, Wang noted.
"China believes that the issue of the sequence in which the United States and Iran resume the implementation of the JCPOA is first and foremost a matter of sense of justice," Wang said. "The cart shouldn't be put before the horse."
"The current Iranian nuclear crisis was caused by the former U.S. government, which unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and exerted extreme pressure on Iran," Wang said.
"Therefore, the United States should first remove all illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran and third parties. This is the key to the success of the negotiations."
"All parties must continue to focus on and resolve this core issue first. At the same time, the Joint Commission should also consider how to verify the U.S. lifting of sanctions," Wang added.
iranian cartoons & donald trump
Before the talks, Wang, together with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Vienna) Mikhail Ivanovich Ulyanov, held a trilateral meeting, fully exchanging views on key issues concerning the United States and Iran returning to compliance with the JCPOA.
Also on Tuesday, the Chinese envoy met with Mora from EEAS and exchanged views on pushing forward the current negotiations. Wang stressed that China supports the European Union in playing an active role as the coordinator in the negotiations.
Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday struck a conciliatory tone towards the kingdom's arch-nemesis Iran, saying he sought "good" relations, after sources said the rivals held secret talks in Baghdad. The two countries, locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance, cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom's execution of a revered Shiite cleric.
"Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran," Mohammed bin Salman said in a television interview broadcast late Tuesday.
"We do not want Iran's situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow... and to push the region and the world towards prosperity."
He added that Riyadh was working with regional and global partners to find solutions to Tehran's "negative behaviour."
That marks a change in tone compared to Prince Mohammed's previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fuelling regional insecurity.
The prince did not mention any negotiations with Tehran.
The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting had been held on April 9.
An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to AFP, while a Western diplomat said he had been "briefed in advance" about the effort to "broker a better relationship and decrease tensions."
Riyadh has officially denied the talks in its state-backed media while Tehran has stayed mum, asserting only that it has "always welcomed" dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
The initiative comes at a time of shifting power dynamics, as US President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear deal that was abandoned by Donald Trump.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels.
In his interview, Prince Mohammed renewed calls for a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels.
In a televised speech on Sunday evening, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the role of Iran’s elite Quds Force in helping Iran pursue active diplomacy in the West Asia region:
“The Quds Force is the biggest effective factor in preventing passive diplomacy in the West Asia region,” he said, noting the Force has materialized Iran’s independent and dignified foreign policy in the region. “The Quds Force has been able to put into action the independent policy of the Islamic Republic in the region, which is based on honor...” Ayatollah Khamenei pointed out that the Quds Force has protected Iran from being a subordinate to the West. “The Westerners insist that the country’s foreign policy be inclined toward them,” he noted.
Khamenei stated that during the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties Iran was a subject state under the influence of the West. The Islamic Revolution brought Iran out of this Western domination, a move that prompted the Westerners to pursue policies aimed at subjugating Iran.
He noted, “The Western countries persistently want the foreign policy of Iran to come under their flag. They have been wanting this for years.
Therefore, when the Islamic Republic establishes ties with China, they become upset, [and] when it establishes relations with Russia, they become upset.”
According to Khamenei the West also puts pressure on Iran’s “hapless” Arab neighbors to prevent them from improving relations with Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei said there were several occasions when some of Iran’s Arab neighbors wanted to improve relations with Iran but the American prevented them from doing so.
“They oppose any of our diplomatic efforts. Thus, we cannot act passively in the face of their demands. We must act independently, proactively, and ably,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.
The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood announced Sunday that it has converted into a non-governmental organization. In a written statement, the organization said it has changed its name to the Resurrection and Reform Society.
"We declare to all Libyans that, with the grace and help of Allah, the community has turned into an association called the Resurrection and Reform Society in order to revive the call of the community to obey the middle way approach and teachings of Islam,” it said on its social media page.
The decision was taken at its 11th convention, where many workshops and “dialogue tours” were held, and the group will convey its message by working intensively in various public areas in Libya, it added. Abdurrezzak Sergen, a former member of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the organization's political wing, the Justice and Construction Party, told Anadolu Agency that the group had decided that its work should only be within Libya..
Sergen noted that after this decision, the organization had no connections outside of Libya, it was not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, and it became a society that only works within the country.
Middle Way Islam
"Thus We have appointed you a middle nation.” (Qur’an, Surah Baqarah, 2:143)
Wasatiyyah Islam is defined as ‘Middle Way’ Islam, characterised neither by liberal nor radical religious thought.
Wasatiyyah Islam promotes tolerance, balance, equality, consensus, reformism, and all things that take the middle path to materialise khairu ummah (the best people).
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course..; if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. Bukhari:39
Narrated `Aisha: Allah's Messenger said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little." Sahih Bukhari, chapter: 68, Hadith no: 6020
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: "(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" The companion replied that the report was indeed true.
The Prophet then said: "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night... Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you."
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