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)
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)
Palestine Chronicle correspondent in Gaza, Mahmoud Ajjour, spoke with Mohammed Jamal A’ram, 25, who sells balloons in the streets of Gaza City. A’ram’s business received several blows in the last two years.
First, Israel increased the restrictions on balloon exports to Gaza as a result of the Great March of Return. Then, the COVID-19 lockdown made it impossible for him to sell his only product to the children of the besieged Strip.
But things are looking up for A’ram, as the ongoing celebration of what many Palestinians perceive to be a victory over the Israeli military in its latest war on the Strip is making the young man’s balloons once again popular in the Rimal neighborhood.
The Palestine Chronicle caught up with A’ram. This is what he told us:
“I am single. I live with my parents. I am 25 years old. I am trying to raise money to get married. I am a balloon salesman, I can’t find any other job. Even the balloons are now hard to find because of Israeli restrictions. Children love balloons, the moment a child gets hold of a balloon, the child smiles. Simple things make children very happy.
“I work every single day for many hours, days in which I don’t work I have no income, and sometimes have no money for food. When the war started, I stayed home, we were all very stressed out, not only because of the war outside, but also because we ran out of money. The war destroyed so much in Rimal, the entirety of Al-Shrouq tower, many shops and businesses. With the shops gone, people stopped coming here. Very few families are now roaming the streets to buy my balloons. But thanks to God, business is picking up again. “I am back, and I am hopeful that the future is better. At the end of the day, there is nothing to this life but surviving with dignity. I will do my best.”
Presidential candidate Nasser Hemmati has described the harsh sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States as one of the country’s “most fundamental problems,” blaming the restrictions for more than have of the economic woes facing the nation.
On a Sunday evening (May 30) TV show, Hemmati, generally viewed as a Moderate figure close to the Reformists, said more than 50 percent of the current economic issues had been caused by the sanctions, which he said had “abruptly” cut the country’s foreign exchange earnings to one sixth of what they had been earlier.
Under such circumstance, “it is clear that [the sanctions] are effective. How could it be said that they are not effective?” said Hemmati, who was the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) until earlier in the day. “The sanctions have negatively affected the prices to a great extent. The bans have had the biggest impact on the country’s economy,” he said. “Some want to deny this, but they are wrong.”
Many believe, however, that the country’s economic difficulties are, for the large part, due to the administration’s mismanagement.
The presidential candidate, a senior economist, referred to pledges by his rivals to significantly increase cash handouts to people, saying such promises are only “populistic and could not be trusted.”
Hemmati was apparently reacting to presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei’s pledge for an increase in cash handouts to the Iranian people from the current monthly 455,000 Iranian rials (1.9 US dollars) to 4,500,000 — an increase of 10 times.
He also defended his performance as the CBI chief and said, “I think I was successful. If I keep working as president as powerfully as before,…the country’s economic situation would definitely improve.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani ended Hemmati’s tenure as CBI governor, days after he began campaigning for the June 18 presidential election.
An amalgam of parties from across the political spectrum reached agreement Wednesday night to form a government that spells the end of Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 years as prime minister.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid struck deals with his partners in the so-called coalition for change with less than an hour to go before a midnight deadline. For the first time in Israeli history, the coalition agreement includes an Arab party [the Islamist party Ra'am].
Raam would be the first independent Arab party in government, and the first Arab party of any kind in a right-leaning government.
Info: Ra’am shares many legislative priorities with the Joint List, the amalgamation of Arab parties of which it used to be a part: Passing and implementing a government plan to uproot organized crime from Arab communities, improving local infrastructure, and annulling the 2018 Nation-State Law are among them.
But the party is also guided by a deeply conservative Islamic ideology and holds a virulently anti-gay outlook. While most Arab Israelis hail from northern cities and towns, Ra’am’s base is among the traditional Bedouin communities in the southern Negev desert. Party officials have regularly disparaged gay people with an Arabic slur meaning “perverts.” (Times of Israel, 25-3-2021)
Lapid met Wednesday night at the negotiation headquarters at Kfar Maccabiah near Tel Aviv with Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas and Yamina head Naftali Bennett in a last-ditch effort to resolve outstanding issues.
Ra'am chairman Mansour Abbas demanded that the government's guidelines not include laws in favor of the LGBT community.
The coalition deal hinged on support from eight parties from across the political spectrum, as each faction's seats are required to reach the support of the 61 lawmakers needed to form a majority government.
Yesh Atid has 17 seats; Benny Gantz's Blue & White has eight seats; Labor, Yamina and Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu each have seven; Gideon Saar's New Hope and Meretz under Nitzan Horowitz have six apiece; and Ra'am has four. Yamina's agreement with Yesh Atid states that Bennett will serve as prime minister for the next two years in a rotation with Lapid.
Desmond Tutu was chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Beliefnet conducted an email interview with him...
What is God’s dream, and how was it imparted to you?
God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.
In God’s family, there are no outsiders, no enemies. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Buddhist, Hutu and Tutsi, Pakistani and Indian—all belong. When we start to live as brothers and sisters and to recognize our interdependence, we become fully human.
This dream can be found throughout the Bible and has been repeated by all of God's prophets right down to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
Is it realistic to say there are no enemies when we are involved in a war?
God’s love is too great to be confined to any one side of a conflict or to any one religion. People are shocked when I say that George Bush and Saddam Hussein are brothers, that Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon are brothers, but God says, “All are my children.” It is shocking. It is radical. But it is true.
Aren’t some people simply beyond redemption?
We in South Africa had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and we had the most devastating revelations of ghastly atrocities. We could describe them as monstrous, even demonic. But even these torturers remained children of God, with a possibility of being able to change. After all, a thief on the cross was able to repent and Jesus promised that thief, "You will be with me in paradise." Jesus didn't say, “Look at what kind of life you have led up to this point.” All of us have the capacity to change...
The LGBT community - particularly in the Arab world - continues to face many challenges. Here are 7 books penned by Arab authors that will give you more insight into the issues facing the LGBT community, the challenges, and the double lives they sometimes have to lead for fear of persecution... (Chris Hedges, 19-12-2014)
Joe Biden Backs Same-Sex Marriage
By MICHAEL BARBARO, NYT May 6, 2012
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Sunday that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriages and was heartened by their growing acceptance across the country, a position that moves well beyond the “evolving” views that President Obama has said he holds on the issue.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Biden invoked some of the same language that advocates of same-sex marriage use, speaking of family, equality and love.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Mr. Biden said, while noting that the president, not he, sets policy on such matters. Mr. Biden called the debate surrounding the issue a simple question of “who do you love?” and “will you be loyal to the person you love?”
“That’s what all marriages, at their root, are about,” he said, “Whether they’re marriages of lesbians or gay men or heterosexuals.”
Muslim Brotherhood’s true colors on display
as Arab Islamist party joins Jewish nationalists in Israeli coalition Arab News, June 04, 2021
Mansour Abbas, leader of Israel’s United Arab List, a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired party, is likely to face a few difficult decisions over the coming weeks and months if, as seems likely, he and his party form part of a new governing coalition in Israel.
Late on Wednesday, it was announced that Abbas had agreed to join a coalition jointly led by Yair Lapid, of the centrist Yesh Atid party, and Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yemina.
The irony of an Islamist political party eagerly closing ranks with Yemina, an alliance of Jewish nationalist parties, has not been lost on Palestinians or the wider Arab world.
“The news was not surprising. Brotherhood affiliates have always used all means to achieve their political goals,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News.
“Mansour Abbas’ decision to work with Naftali Bennett is not surprising when you consider that he has cooperated with Netanyahu for several years now,” Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst of Israel/Palestine affairs at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told Arab News.
“Abbas has a lot more in common with some of the right-wing religious Jewish political parties than with the left-wing (more secular, liberal) Palestinian ones,” Zonszein said, referring to the Joint List alliance of Arab parties.
If Abbas becomes a minister, he will be the first Arab politician to take a seat at the Israeli Cabinet table. Jewish-Israeli politicians and voters previously have viewed such participation as a step too far in compromising the Jewish nature of the state.
“On the one hand, a Palestinian party entering the coalition is significant as it breaks a taboo and sets a precedent for the future,” ICG analyst Zonszein told Arab News.
“On the other, there is as yet no reason to believe it will lead to the fundamental changes in discriminatory and destructive state policies against Palestinian citizens.”
Mansour Abbas hails from the Islamic Movement, which was established in 1971 along the lines of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood group. Its primary aim is the Islamization of Arab society, which it pursues through religious outreach and a vast network of charities. The group split into two branches in 1996 over the question of whether to participate in politics.
The more radical northern branch, led by the firebrand cleric Raed Salah, rejects participation in Israeli politics and has been accused of having close ties to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that also emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood. Salah has been arrested on a number of occasions, and is currently in jail after being convicted of inciting terrorism. Israel outlawed his group in 2015, accusing it of inciting violence. The southern branch, to which Abbas belongs, has adopted a conciliatory stance toward Israel and is focused more on socio-economic issues than the conflict with the Palestinians. It has allied with secular and left-wing Arab parties in past elections, but has broken with them on issues related to its religious conservatism, such as support for LGBTQ rights.
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)
Gaza Artist Osama Abu Hamra has many talents. But he is popular among the Gaza kids for face painting.
The Palestine Chronicle caught up with Abu Hamra while sitting in the ruins of a cafeteria, which was bombed by Israel during its latest war on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Abu Hamra shared with us a few thoughts about his life as an artist, about the war, and about his hopes for the future:
“Nothing makes children happier than face painting. These are the most popular drawings that kids ask for: Peacocks, Unicorns, Mickey Mouse, and the Victory Sign with the colors of the Palestinian flag.
“My dream is to become famous and to exhibit all of my artwork at home outside Palestine. I want the world to know that Palestine has so many talents. The most difficult part of the war was the fear that anyone was a target, that life could end in a single second. But in Gaza, we have trained ourselves to accept fate and to confront our fears.”
Two weeks before the controversial June 18 presidential election in Iran, the country's reformist parties do not have their own candidate. Nor has any one of the reformist parties and political organizations put its weight behind the two non-hardliner candidates among the seven hopefuls endorsed by constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council.
“Why have you isolated the great figures of our society … the ones who brought up the dialogue of civilizations? Hassan Rouhani, 2017
On Wednesday, the left-wing proreform clerical organization, the Militant Clerics Association headed by former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, supported the view of the reformist umbrella organization not to back any candidate.
It also condemned the non-elected Guardian Council's measure of not endorsing the qualifications of any one of the reformist candidates named by the organization. The reformists had named 14 candidates for the election, but only 9 of them registered in May. None of them got through the Guardian Council's tight vetting net.
So far, however, the reformist parties and political organizations have ignored two approved candidates, former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and former vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh, who are not labeled as hardliners.
Iran's reformist papers Sharq and Etemad wrote on Wednesday that the reason for ignoring the "unwanted reformists" could be the fact that they never asked the big wig reformists to lend their support to them. On the other hand, the two politicians were not included in the list of 14 reformist candidates named by the umbrella organization in the first place.
But the real reason could be the disappointment reformists experienced when they twice backed Hassan Rouhani in 2013 and 2017.
Once elected, Rouhani failed to deliver on any of his promises to reformists and their political base. No liberalization took place and instead the hardliners cracked down on dissent more than ever before. This time around they do not want to back a candidate with anything less than full reformist credentials.
Based on anecdotal accounts during the past week the leaders of the right-of-center Executives of Construction, a proreform party Hemmati co-found in mid 1990s, have been calling on reform leaders and influential clerics to lend their support and blessing to him.
The efforts must have failed, as party leader Gholamhosein Karbaschi and another member of the party's political office held a meeting with one of the Green Movement leaders under house arrest, former Majles Speaker Mehdi Karroubi to garner support for Hemmati, the papers said. Mehdi Karroubi did not put his weight behind Hemmati either.
Although it is getting terribly late for Hemmati and Mehralizadeh to secure the support of reformists, election watchers still believe that even last-minute support could change the scene.
A poll by the Iranian Students Polling Agency (ISPA) taken May 26-27 shows a drop of 7 percent in those saying they would “definitely vote” or "likely vote" in the June 18 presidential elections, down to 36 percent from 43 percent in a poll taken May 16-17. The poll found 37.7 percent saying they would “definitely vote”, as well as 7.7 percent saying they were “likely to vote." But ISPA, a government agency reduced the total to 36 percent to allow for variables such as "conservatism of some respondents in answering pollsters on the phone" and "those who refuse to cooperate.”
The reluctance of many respondents to vote might be attributed to several factors, including the election watchdog Guardian Council's disqualification of several candidates most likely to challenge front-runner Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi).
According to the latest ISPA poll, Ebrahim Raeesi had the backing of 43.9 percent of those saying they will vote or are likely to vote. Among the other six candidates, Mohsen Rezaei (Rezaee), the secretary of the Expediency Council, was second with 3.7 percent. Low turnout in elections will be seen as a lack of support for the country’s leadership.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has always cited high turnout as proof of the Islamic Republic’s legitimacy. The lowest presidential turnout was 54.6 percent in 1989.
Israel’s new president Isaac Herzog is beloved by U.S. liberal Zionists because, as one of them said yesterday, he is a moderate Laborite who might cool Israeli tensions at a time of chaos.
Myself I was surprised by Herzog’s appearance at J Street this year, in which he admonished American Jews for allowing anti-Zionism to gain a footing in our community. The speech was both conservative and condescending. Among his ideas are these:
Isaac Herzog, 2019: "..the Jewish Agency promotes the International Bible Quiz in all Jewish communities around the world..."
–American Jews have not a “clue” about Israeli Jews’ experience and are uninformed when they criticize Israel for its response to Palestinians. Israel wants peace but has no “partner” for peace, and Palestinians shower Israel with rockets.
–American Jews have a responsibility as members of the global “Jewish nation” to support Israel.
–Anti-Zionism is just as dangerous to Jews as rightwing antisemitism that killed 12 people at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway. The 2019 attacks on Jews in Jersey City and Monsey, N.Y., were both fostered by the left, Herzog says — though the claim is patently false.
–There won’t be a two-state solution any time soon but any talk of one state with equal rights is anathema, and American Jews need to fight that talk.
Herzog’s ideas are all but indistinguishable from a rightwing Zionist’s. This goes to show why Israel’s parliament is today overwhelmingly rightwing; Herzog reflects mainstream Jewish Israel.
But let’s hear from Herzog.
Here he is telling J Street in 2017 that Israel has “two major strategic threats.” One is outside, the “vile enemy of Iran.” The other is “inside” — the idea that Israel and Palestine could be one state. Herzog called on American Jews to fight that:
"We should object vehemently to any option of a one-state solution. We should object to a Jewish Arab state...
For this we need you. For this I call upon you. For this I tell you, don’t give up..."
Speaking at UCLA in February 2020, Herzog said that Israel gives American Jews meaning in life.
“The relationship [between Israel and American Jews] developed with… ahavat yisrael– love of israel, that is… perhaps the source of the strength of the state of Israel and of the American Jewish community.”
Herzog expressed alarm about a possible a split between the American and Israeli Jewish communities: “If we miss this opportunity we may lead our nation to one of its biggest tragedies.” "We need to be “one strong united nation of Jews around the world.”
In that UCLA appearance, Herzog said that the leftwing critique of Israel is just as dangerous as rightwing antisemitism.
Speaking to a Vancouver Jewish outlet two days ago, Herzog linked the BDS campaign targeting Israel for human rights abuses with antisemitism...
Yamina chairman and designated prime minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday appealed to Benjamin Netanyahu to let go of premiership and allow the country to “move on".
Bennett made the remarks during a press conference, updating the media on his efforts to form a new government with the “coalition for change”, that would see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ousted after 12 years.
“In a few days we will swear-in a new government. It is not a catastrophe nor is it a disaster. It is nothing but a change of government, as is normal in every democratic country,” said Bennett.
“Israel is not a monarchy, no one has a monopoly on who will rule. Every government, when it becomes withered and corrupt after many years, is eventually replaced and so on. It is the natural, healthy course of action in every normal country.”
Bennett later addressed the wave of threats that have been made against him, his party and other members of the coalition for change, as well as pressure put on Yamina and Gideon Saar's New Hope to torpedo the formation of the new government.
“It is fine, you can talk against [the government], write against it and protest against it. Not every objection to the government is incitement, and yet, legitimate conduct is one thing, worrying conduct is another,” he said...
Bennett also sent a message directly to Netanyahu: “Free the country so it can move on. Do not leave nothing but charred earth behind you."
Bennett dismissed claims made by Netanyahu and some of his supporters that the emerging government is left-wing. "It is actually ten degrees further to the right than the current one,” he said.
“A government headed by me, a right-wing man, wearing a kippah, a government with a center-right majority in the cabinet and other forums, is not a 'left-wing government'. It's not 'us vs them'. No one here is an enemy,” he added...
Bennett also criticized Netanyahu for claiming he refused to form a government with the Arab party Ra’am and its chair, Mansour Abbas.
“We all understand that he is not telling the truth. After all, I was part of the negotiations to form a government led by Netanyahu with Ra’am, and I know exactly what Netanyahu promised them,” Bennett said.
“After all, all our negotiations with Ra’am were based on what the Likud had already promised them, only we were a little tougher and more conservative...."
A top campaign adviser to Naftali Bennett suggested in an interview on US television on Sunday night that Bennett has evolved beyond his past inflammatory comments, and will continue to do so when he becomes prime minister. George Birnbaum, a US political consultant and strategist who worked for Bennett’s campaign ahead of the 2021 Israeli national election, appeared on “The Mehdi Hasan Show” on MSNBC to discuss Bennett’s expected ascension to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Questioned by Hasan about Bennett’s past rhetoric and his strong opposition to a Palestinian state, Birnbaum said he expects that, as prime minister, Bennett will adopt a more moderate approach.
Ariel Sharon caused the biggest upheaval in Israeli politics in nearly three decades by resigning as leader of the ruling Likud party yesterday, saying that Likud is unfit to run the country. The prime minister announced the launch of a new party, National Responsibility.
Mr Sharon said that in leaving the party he had helped found he was putting the good of the country ahead of his personal political interests: "After great hesitation I decided to leave the Likud. The Likud in its current format cannot lead Israel to its national aims..."
“He certainly has been very hawkish in the past,” Birnbaum said, “but I’ve seen him evolve as a leader, as a politician, as a man, and I think the weight of leading a country like Israel is on his shoulders, he’s feeling it, and I think he’s going to be very responsible.” Birnbaum, who previously worked for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and once served as his chief of staff, compared Bennett to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, a hawk and strong settlement supporter who later orchestrated the 2005 disengagement from Gaza.
“Rhetoric is easy when you’re not in power. It’s a little bit different when you have to govern, and you do now have the weight of people’s lives on your shoulders, the decision-making power to either promote peace or promote war,” Birnbaum said.
Hasan asked Birnbaum about Bennett’s history of remarks about Palestinians, including past comments to Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi that “when you were still swinging from trees, we had a Jewish state here” and an assertion that he had “killed many Arabs in my life and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
In response, Birnbaum pointed to Bennett’s agreement to serve in a coalition alongside Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am Party. “Both of them had to put the interests of the State of Israel ahead of their own personal interests,” said Birnbaum.
Asked about the possibility of a two-state solution, Birnbaum said it was not something he had discussed with Bennett over the past year. But he suggested a “change in the status quo” was a possibility.
In an official response, the Yamina party claimed that Birnbaum’s comments “were his own opinion and made in his name only. He no longer advises us. Bennett’s values remain and will remain as they are.”
In a ferocious attack on Tuesday, the leaders of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties United Torah Judaism and Shas denounced Yamina leader and likely incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett as “evil.”
Bennett: "Haredi MKs won’t teach us what Judaism is"
Speaking in the Knesset in a joint press conference, Interior Minister and Shas leader Arye Deri, UTJ chairman MK Moshe Gafni and Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman (UTJ) said reforms to religion-and-state issues laid out in coalition agreements drawn up by the nascent government would destroy the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
Yamina’s draft coalition agreement with Yesh Atid includes commitments to decentralize conversion from the Chief Rabbinate to municipal chief rabbis, reform the kashrut supervision market and elect a religious-Zionist chief rabbi.
“The name of the evil shall rot,” Gafni said in reference to Bennett and his proposed changes in religious matters. “We won’t allow in any way Judaism or those things connected to the religious and haredi community for the continuation of religious life to be harmed,” he said in a fiery speech. “We won’t allow it. There will be a war on every detail. This evil man who is a partner to these agreements won’t be able to do anything.”
Gafni compared Bennett to the biblical figure of Korach, who rebelled against Moses and was swallowed up by the earth. He called on Yamina voters and the religious-Zionist public to excommunicate Yamina MKs and officials.
“Eject these people from your midst,” Gafni said. “They should be cut off and banished; you should not have an inheritance with them.” “We will remove this evil government from the land,” he added. “Don’t try and deceive us. Don’t talk to us. Get out of our sight.” Deri denounced the proposed reforms as “the uprooting of religion from the state.”
“It now turns out that due to personal lust for power and ambition, the government led by Bennett will throw away all the values that were sacred to the people of Israel for thousands of years,” he said.
“The Jewish state is in danger,” Deri said. “The State of Israel is changing its appearance and identity. The government headed by Bennett will destroy and ruin everything that we have preserved of the Jewish character and identity of the country, which enables life together over the last 73 years together.” Litzman said the putative coalition was “an extremist, left-wing government without values or a moral compass,” adding that “everything Jewish is being wiped out.”
“I call on Bennett to remove his yarmulke,” he said. “It is great impertinence; he should take his yarmulke off after signing these things.”
Bennett denounced the fierce broadside by the haredi leaders. “Haredi MKs won’t teach us what Judaism is,” he said. “To the haredi citizens of the country, I say you have nothing to worry about...”
The Korah Story
No Equality In The Promised Land Of Moses Wikipedia info
The Levite Korah son of Izhar joined with the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On, son of Peleth and 250 chieftains of the Israelite community to rise up against Moses. Korah and his band asked Moses and Aaron why they placed themselves above the rest of the community, for the entire congregation is holy. [..]
God told Moses and Aaron to stand back so that God could annihilate the others. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and implored God not to punish the whole community... Just as Moses finished speaking, the earth opened and swallowed them, their households, and all Korah's people.... And a fire consumed the 250 men offering the incense. (The Book of Numbers, 16:1–18:32)
How did Benjamin Netanyahu manage to serve as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister?
The cliched explanation of Netanyahu’s success in politics is that he is a ‘survivor’, a hustler, a fox or, at best, a political genius.
However, there is more to Netanyahu than mere soundbites. Unlike other right-wing politicians around the world, Netanyahu did not simply exploit or ride the wave of an existing populist movement. Instead, he was the main architect of the current version of Israel’s right-wing politics.
If Ben Gurion was the founding father of Israel in 1948, Netanyahu is the founding father of the new Israel in 1996. While Ben Gurion and his disciples used ethnic cleansing, colonization and illegal settlement construction for strategic and military reasons, Netanyahu, while carrying on with the same practices, changed the narrative altogether. For Netanyahu, the biblical version of Israel was far more convincing than secular Zionist ideology of yesteryears.
By changing the narrative, Netanyahu managed to redefine the support for Israel around the world, bringing together right-wing religious zealots, chauvinistic, Islamophobic, far-right and ultra-nationalist parties in the US and elsewhere.
Netanyahu’s success in rebranding the centrality of the idea of Israel in the minds of its traditional supporters was not a mere political strategy. He also shifted the balance of power in Israel by making Jewish extremists and illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories his core constituency. Subsequently, he reinvented Israeli conservative politics altogether. He also trained an entire generation of Israeli right-wing, far-right and ultra-nationalist politicians... Indeed, a whole new generation of Israelis grew up watching Netanyahu take the right-wing camp from one success to another. For them, he is the savior.
His hate-filled rallies and anti-peace rhetoric in the mid-1990s galvanized Jewish extremists, one of whom killed Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former Prime Minister who engaged the Palestinian leadership through the ‘peace process’ and, ultimately, signed the Oslo Accords.
On Rabin’s death in November 1995, Israel’s political ‘left’ was devastated by right-wing populism championed by its new charismatic leader, Netanyahu, who, merely a few months later, became Israel’s youngest Prime Minister.
Despite the fact that, historically, Israeli politics is defined by its ever-changing dynamics, Netanyahu has helped the right prolong its dominance, completely eclipsing the once-hegemonic Labor Party. Under his reign, illegal Jewish colonies expanded unprecedentedly, and any possibility, however meager, of a two-state solution has been forever buried..
In his apparently final speech as prime minister of Israel before a new government is sworn in Sunday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed his fury on Naftali Bennett and vowed to work tirelessly to topple the new coalition.
“I will fight daily against this terrible, dangerous left-wing government in order to topple it,” Netanyahu said at the conclusion of his lengthy speech in the Knesset plenum. “With God’s help, it will happen a lot earlier than you think it will.”
In comments warning Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah that he is not going anywhere, he declared in English: “We’ll be back soon!”
Netanyahu labeled Bennett’s Yamina party and the New Hope party as “fake right” and accused them of betraying the will of the voters in joining a government with centrist, left-wing and Arab parties.
Netanyahu asserted that Bennett will not and cannot counter the existential threat posed by Iran.
“Bennett doesn’t have the capabilities and he doesn’t have the governmental support to allow him a real defense [against Iran],” Netanyahu continued.
“The prime minister of Israel needs to be able to say no to the president of the United States on issues that threaten our existence,” Netanyahu went on...
“Who will do that now? Prime Minister Yair Lapid?… This government does not want and is not capable of opposing the United States.”
The outgoing prime minister also aired some of his disagreements with the Biden administration.
“The new US administration requested that I save our disagreements on the Iran nuclear deal for behind closed doors, and not share them publicly,” Netanyahu said. “I told them I won’t act that way.”
Netanyahu said that the Biden administration has already requested a settlement building freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and he slammed the decision to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem that serves Palestinians...
All 27 members of Israel's 36th government gathered with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at President Reuven Rivlin's official residence in Jerusalem for the traditional official photograph.
While some ministries were to hold ceremonies to mark the handover of responsibilities, Benjamin Netanyahu declined to offer this courtesy to his replacement Bennett. Instead the former prime minister, who left office Sunday after 12 years, was holding a private meeting with Bennett.
After the new cabinet was approved in the Knesset by a one-vote majority on Sunday, Bennett said his government's first task was to heal the rifts in Israeli society.
"The difficulties of forming a unity government are behind us, now the citizens of Israel look upon us," Bennett said. "Now we must prove ourselves and work together in unity and cooperation to mend the rift among the public and return the state to proper governance after debilitating internal squabbles..." Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that mutual trust and friendship was the basis of the new coalition and would ensure its continued survival.
Iran Elections 2021
Candidates face each other in first televised debate
Nasser Hemmati: Promises by rivals cannot be materialized Tehran News, June 6, 2021
Nasser Hemmati who was boasting of his academic career as a professor of economics accused his rivals of not knowing even the A, B, C of economics and thereby they cannot manage the country.
He also said the economic promises given by his presidential rivals cannot be realized because the country does not have the necessary resources.
“I am economist. We don’t have necessary sources (money) and I don’t lie to win votes. Many of the promises given by the Mrs. cannot be materialized. He said as the central banker he is aware of details of the country’s economic situation.
The former chief banker said it is unfair to blame the central bank for all the problems. He promised to make the “cake of economy greater and distribute it more fairly.” “We need economic reform.”
Hemmati also said he was dismissed as central banker due to differences with President Rouhani.
He rejected that he represents Rouhani in the presidential campaigns, saying, “I am not the representative of Mr. Rouhani. I was dismissed from the central bank because of differences of opinion that I had with him.”
Hemmati added that Rouhani also suffers from lack of knowledge about economics. “He also had your problems and did not have economic views and this was my problem.”
He defended his record as the governor of the central back, saying he took over the post when the foreign currency market was highly volatile.
Hemmati said if it was not because of economic shrewdness the Iranian economy would become like Venezuela. “I prevented a Venezuelization of the economy.” On why the value of dollar in the face of national currency have increased by about seven times, he said in the normal conditions Iran had an income of 50 to 60 billion dollars, but over the past three years the flow of income has been reduced to 9 billion dollars.
He said based on these nine billion dollars the value of dollars should have increased to 55000 tomans per dollar but is now about 22,000 tomans. He accused his candidates for the current economic situation by refusing to approve the FATF.
Flashback: Iran’s FATF debate heats up.
Moderates and hardliners at odds again over contentious Financial Action Task Force legislation as US sanctions against Iran remain in place. By Maziar Motamedi, AL-Jazeera, 3 Mar 2021
The FATF is a global intergovernmental organisation tasked with devising standards on combating money laundering and “terrorism financing”. Iran and North Korea are the only two countries on its blacklist. “All countries have adopted [FATF standards]. Right and left. West and east. If it’s something bad then why has everybody gone for it?” president Hassan Rouhani said.
“This is no joke. This is the people’s right. This is people’s lives. This is connected with the pockets of every single person.”
Rouhani also said that while the adoption of the two bills may not solve all the country’s problems, but officials who opposed them should consider how they would explain to the people how not ratifying them will hurt the country. As part of Iran’s action plan with the FATF, initially agreed upon more than six years ago, the country had to finalise four pieces of legislation.
Two were passed by a reformist-heavy parliament and approved by the powerful constitutional vetting body, the Guardian Council, in 2018 and 2019.
But disagreement between the parliament and the council over the two remaining bills meant that they were handed to the arbitration body, the Expediency Council, where they remained dormant for about two years.
In December 2020, as hopes for restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers were on the rise, Rouhani wrote a letter to [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who agreed to revive talks on the bills at the Expediency Council.
The council was supposed to announce its final vote on the legislation before the end of the current Iranian calendar year on March 20, but its secretary Mohsen Rezaei said on Wednesday the vote had been deferred to after the new year holidays. Rezaei told a news conference that the council had been asked to approve the legislation by the government on the grounds that Iran should be in good standing with the FATF in the face of an imminent lifting of US sanctions in order to revitalise its international banking ties.
According to Press TV’s findings, presidential candidate and current Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raeisi enjoys the highest support — 55.6% — among voters.
Mohsen Rezaei ranks at a distant second with 5.5%. The two Reformist candidates in the election, Nasser Hemmati and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh, enjoy 2.1% and 0.7%, respectively.
Voter support for the other candidates is as follows: Sa’eed Jalili, 2%; Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, 1.9%; and Alireza Zakani, 0.7%. 23.2% of the voters were still undecided.
Senior Pakistani and Afghan scholars have signed the “Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan,” paving the way to resolve the crisis there by sponsoring negotiations between warring factions and rejecting all acts of violence and extremism.
The historic signing in Makkah was attended by Sheikh Dr. Noor Al-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s minister of Islamic affairs and tolerance of religions, and Sheikh Mohammed Qasim Halimi, Afghanistan’s minister of Hajj, endowments and guidance.
Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL) and president of the Association of Muslim Scholars, attended the signing at the end of the Islamic conference. This was held under the banner of the Muslim World League and the auspices of Saudi Arabia, gathering together for the first time senior scholars to achieve reconciliation among the Afghan people.
The declaration seeks a final and comprehensive solution to the Afghan conflict by supporting the reconciliation process between the warring parties in Afghanistan and reaching common ground by tackling political, social, economic and other related issues.
Al-Issa said that this should be achieved through joint action to stop the bloodshed in Afghanistan and by putting the Afghani people on the path of peace, reconciliation, stability and progress. Halimi said that the Qur’an considered reconciliation the ideal solution for many conflicts and disagreements.
He stressed that reconciliation among Islamic peoples was a religious, human, civilizational, economic, social, political and psychological necessity for any Muslim society. Qadri said: “Our religion calls for harmony and unity, and supports international cooperation...
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says documents revealing the severity of the economic war launched against Iran during past years through the imposition of tough sanctions must be made public to inform the entire world of the inhumane crime committed by the former US president, Donald Trump, against the Iranian nation.
Rouhani made the remarks in a Tuesday meeting with his administration’s economic coordination staff, in which the impact of the economic war launched by the United States against the Islamic Republic and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on Iran’s economy were discussed. The United States began imposing heavy economic sanctions against Iran in 2018 after former US President Trump scrapped the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed between Tehran and major world powers.
“In order to enlighten all the people, documents related to the imposition of the economic war [on Iran] must be made public...” Iran’s president said.
He added, “Under normal circumstances, the crime against humanity is associated by the general public with war and military confrontation, but sanctions and economic war must be also considered and registered as a silent crime against humanity.”
“In addition to documenting Trump’s crime, which impeded development and progress of a country and a nation and inflicted great harm on people's livelihood and even their health and medical needs, the resistance [of the Iranian nation] and details of [Iran's] handling of the [US] economic war must be documented for the world as well," Iran's president said.
TEHRAN — Promising greater openness at home and outreach abroad when he was elected in 2013, Iran's outgoing moderate President Hassan Rouhani comfortably won a second term but leaves office as a deeply unpopular figure. Ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi is widely expected to win the presidency on record-low turnout this coming Friday - an outcome that would set in stone the disappointment of the Rouhani years, marked by crushing economic woes.
Rouhani "wanted above all to liberalise the Iranian economy and develop the private sector's role... by attracting foreign investment," said Thierry Coville, a researcher at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) in Paris. But that strategy was "totally trampled" by former US president Donald Trump.
Trump slapped sanctions on Iran that choked the economy to an unprecedented degree, including by seeking to stop all the country's oil exports.
Iran's economy contracted by more than six percent in both 2018 and 2019, according to the IMF, leaving a bitter taste for the crowds who had swelled into the streets in jubilation when the nuclear accord was first agreed.
The economic malaise has since been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many Iranians struggling to get by.
Targeted incessantly by criticism from ultraconservatives, who accuse the government of "ineffectiveness", particularly over its handling of the pandemic, Rouhani was left very much on the back foot.
Meanwhile, reformists in his coalition criticised him for abandoning many of his election pledges, particularly in the realm of civic and personal freedoms.
Rouhani has also been criticised for his failure to obtain the release from house arrest of Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karoubi, leaders of a protest movement against the re-election of populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
He was unable to win an end to a ban on Twitter and Facebook, despite his promise to do so, and most of the web remains accessible in Iran only via VPN. And while the moral police are nowadays less visible on the streets, a movement opposed to obliging women to wear a veil in public spaces was rapidly crushed in 2018.
"The educated middle class of the big cities is overall very disappointed in Rouhani," Thierry Coville told AFP. "People understand what has happened but they would have expected that he would put up more resistance against the advance of the radicals," Coville added, referring to the ultraconservative camp.
Summit on Science and Technology
Iraqi Minister calls for setting a roadmap for technology transfer Shafaq News, 2021-06-16
The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Nabil Kadhim Abdul Saheb, announced in a statement today that Iraq participated in the second Islamic Summit for Science and Technology, held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation....
The Minister stressed the need to adopt new methods in education, review priorities, and formulate and amending policies responsible for supporting research and development areas, and providing an appropriate environment for innovation.
He affirmed Iraq’s commitment to the principles and objectives stipulated in the Charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and its Science, Technology, and Innovation Program, which extends until the year 2026.
Moreover, the Iraqi Minister called to set a comprehensive roadmap for technology transfer between member states... “Time has come for Islamic countries to work to absorb the rapid growth of knowledge, build an integrated system for scientific research, create centers for technology transfer and localization, build an electronic portal for research cooperation in various sciences and patents, benefit from the scientific energies of Islamic countries, and facilitate the movement of researchers and their reception in research centers and universities, and the establishment of a fund to finance research with high scientific returns”, he concluded.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the principles and objectives enshrined in the OIC Charter, particularly to enhance and develop science and technology and to work for revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world while ensuring sustainable development, progress and prosperity for the peoples of Member States.
- We recognize the centrality of the OIC as a platform to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation between its Member States in the fields of science & technology, innovation, health, education, environment, employment, women empowerment and other areas.
- We acknowledge that promotion of science, technology and innovation is crucial for addressing the contemporary challenges of development, poverty eradication, environment, education for all, climate change, human health, and energy and water resources.
- We are determined to scale up investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels and to ensure that it is accessible for all, particularly to the women and girls...
Not only Should Congress repeal the
2002 Authorization for use of Force in Iraq,
it should Apologize for that Pack of Lies Juan Cole 06/17/2021
Jacob Pramuk at CNBC reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Biden White House are backing an attempt to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the Bush administration to launch the Iraq War.
The repeal is driven in part by the Trump administration’s use of the 2002 AUMF to justify its January, 2020, assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, then head of the Qods Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, at Baghdad International Airport. Biden’s White House maintains that the US is no longer engaged in any military activities requiring the 2002 authorization.
The US is down to only a couple of thousand troops in Iraq, who appear mostly to be engaged in training Iraqi troops or helping with mop-up operations against the remnants of the ISIL terrorist mini-state in northern Iraq.
A standing authorization for the use of military force such as those passed in 2001 (regarding the September 11 attacks) and 2002 is a very bad idea and probably unconstitutional.
The constitution makes Congress responsible for declaring war, and Congress in the modern era has a bad habit of turning over its prerogatives to the president.
Not only should the Iraq War authorization be repealed, but it should be apologized for, since it was full of embarrassing untruths that permanently stain America’s escutcheon...
Former US President Donald Trump, in an interview with the Brooklyn-based ultra-Orthodox weekly Ami, criticised American Jews for not voting for him in larger numbers during the US's last presidential elections despite his unprecedented support for Israel.
"American Jews don't love Israel enough," Trump told the weekly in comments published on Wednesday.
"You know what really surprises me? I did the [Golan] Heights, I did Jerusalem and I did Iran - the Iran deal was a disaster, right? And I also did many other things," he said, referring to his decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over Syria's Golan Heights and occupied East Jerusalem, as well as his withdrawal from the nuclear deal... Trump, suggesting all Jews should inherently support Israel, said "it just seems strange" that his pro-Israel moves did not result in American Jewish support for his campaign: "I believe we got 25 percent of the Jewish vote, and it doesn’t make sense," Trump said.
“Jewish people who live in the United States don’t love Israel enough,” the former president reiterated. "Does that make sense to you?" he asked while noting that he considered the Orthodox community, which has seen growing support for the Republican party, as an exception. "I’m not talking about Orthodox Jews," he said.
As Ami’s pre-election poll foretold and multiple data have since corroborated, Donald Trump garnered 83% of the Orthodox Jewish vote in the 2020 election, a notable surge from the 54% who voted for him in 2016. (AMI info, 16-6-2021)
Trump's comments were not the first time he suggested that Jewish Americans should automatically support Israel. In August 2019, he declared that "any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty".
It was unclear whether he was accusing Jewish Democrats of being disloyal to the United States, to Israel or to him as president....
A poll, conducted by Data for Progress, a progressive polling firm, sought to capture public opinion on a question that is increasingly dividing Democratic lawmakers: whether US aid to Israel should be withheld if Israel does not meet certain conditions.
Asked whether they would support or oppose a bill that “would stop Israel from spending US taxpayer dollars on: the military detention of Palestinian children; the seizure or destruction of Palestinian property and homes; or, support for Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory,” 55% of respondents said they would support it and 29% said they would oppose it, according to the poll.
Democrats were far more inclined to restrict the aid. Broken down by party, 72% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, and 36% of Republicans supported the bill.
The reference in the poll question is to a bill introduced in April by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, that so far has garnered 27 Democratic co-sponsors in the US House of Representatives.
McCollum’s bill requires State Department and General Accounting Office reports to Congress on how Israel spends US assistance but has no enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance. Two liberal pro-Israel groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now, back the bill.
Betty McCollum: Political positions
Betty Louise McCollum (born July 12, 1954) is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 4th congressional district, serving since 2001. She is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). McCollum has consistently supported the rights of members in the LGBTQ community. In a speech opposing the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, McCollum said, "Gay and lesbian Americans are citizens who must never be treated as second-class citizens". She has supported the interests of the elderly with regard to preserving Social Security. In a position paper McCollum defended her position on Social Security, writing, "We can secure the future of Social Security with common sense and a shared, bipartisan commitment to economic security and fiscal responsibility for all Americans. This is my commitment, and you can count on me to work to protect Social Security.
In July 2019, McCollum voted against a House resolution introduced by Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois opposing the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel. In April 2021, McCollum introduced the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living under Israeli Military Occupation. The bill requires the State Department to file an annual report to Congress detailing the extent to which US aid from the previous fiscal year was used to bankroll any of the aforementioned activities.
Ebrahim Raeisi won the June 18 presidential election with a landslide victory, defeating his three other rivals with a wide margin.
Raeisi, Mohsen Rezaei, Abdolnasser Hemmati, and Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi were competing in the Friday elections.
Some 90 percent of the total 28,600,000 ballots have been counted so far and Raeisi has succeeded to win 17,800,000 votes, the Interior Ministry election headquarters said.
Rezaei, Hemmati, and Qazizadeh have also won 3,300,000 votes, 2,400,000 votes, and 1,000,000 votes, respectively. Senior MP Mostafa Mirsalim, who ran for president in the 2017 elections, said people elected a person for president who is very brave in uprooting corruption.
Flashback - Theran Times, June 7, 2021
Raeisi: President has no ‘shortage of authority’
Speaking at a televised program on Monday, presidential contender Ebrahim Raeisi said that the president has no “shortage of authority” in Iran, but whoever becomes president must consider coordination with other branches of government (Parliament and Judiciary) under the supervision of the leadership.
“The frustration of the people due to some actions and the invitation of many different strata made me enter the election arena,” he said.
Raeisi said that the 40-year management has given him the knowledge to solve problems, and he wants to solve the problems by acting eagerly alongside the people.
“I told some presidents who were at the end of their term to see the constitution, to see the powers of the president, the powers given to the president by the constitution.
I suggested to some gentlemen to read the constitution once and then step into the field of elections,” the presidential contender stated.
Raeisi also said that the world economy cannot be put on hold.
“We will interact with the world. Iran's influence in the region, along with active diplomacy in the economic field will be one of our plans.
The principle of interaction with other countries is certain, but it is not logical to tie the country's progress to it..,” he pointed out.
Raeisi went on to say that today sanctions under the “maximum pressure” strategy by the U.S. have not bended Iran. “What we see in the country today has nothing to do with sanctions, it is related to internal mismanagement. Sanctions have created problems, but they are more about mismanagement,” he remarked.
In response to the question whether he has unemployed people in his family, he said, "Yes, we also have unemployed people; it is impossible not to have an unemployed member in the family." The top judge said unemployment, housing and health issues are the major problems Iranians are facing right now.
Raisi was born into a religious family in Mashhad, Iran’s second biggest city and home to some of its most sacred sites. He lost his father at the age of five, but followed his footsteps to become a cleric.
As a young student at a religious seminary in the holy city of Qom, he took part in protests against the Western-backed Shah.
After the 1979 Islamic revolution, Raisi’s contacts with top religious leaders in Qom made him a trusted figure in the judiciary. He was deputy head of the judiciary for ten years before being appointed prosecutor-general in 2014. Raisi ran in presidential elections in 2017, criticizing pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani for signing a deal with the United States and other powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions. In a fiery election speech, Rouhani accused Raisi of being a pawn of the security services and said Iranians would not vote for “those who have only known how to execute and jail people”.
Raisi said last year that the trials of political prisoners in 1988 were fair, and he should be rewarded for eliminating the armed opposition in the early years of the revolution.
Last June, Raisi said “internal threats to the Islamic Republic are more dangerous than external threats”, a clear signal that he would not tolerate dissent.
Raisi: "women should be encouraged
to work and help society move forward"
Jamileh Alamolhoda, daughter of Ahmad Alamolhoda, is an associate professor at Shahid Beheshti University.
She married to Ebrahim Raisi in 1983.
Jamīleh Alamolhodā, Iranian pedagogist,
wife of Ebrahim Raisi
Yet Raisi, a father of two, has in the past surprised many by his unconventional initiatives.
Although his father-in-law, a hardline cleric, banned concerts in Mashhad, Raisi met an Iranian rapper during his election campaign and said music can be used to promote religious ideas.
He is also one of the few senior clerics who has publicly spoken about his wife, Jamīleh Alamolhodā, a university professor, saying women should be encouraged to work and help society move forward.
Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail
Social reforms open doors for female musicians Arab News, 20-6-2021
Saudi female musicians and performers are hitting the high notes and creating crowd-pleasing beats for Saudi fans.
Jazz and blues, rock, rap and many other genres have been explored by Saudis, but now more Saudi women are making their way to the performance stage, thanks to social reforms that mean career choices that once were taboo are now supported by many.
Lamya Nasser, a 33-year-old facility and travel management officer, began recording her music in 2008, long before the social reforms, as part of the first Saudi female rock band the Accolade. Music can be the fuel to our soul and regenerate our energy. We can translate our pain and express ourselves through music,” she said.
In 2018, Nasser went solo and continues to share her performances on Instagram @Lamya.K.Nasser. She recently joined a new recording studio under the name of Wall of Sound.
Former reporter and jazz and blues singer, 33-year-old Loulwa Al-Sharif (@loulwa_music) has been singing for seven years. The larger-than-life singer has been the talk of the town for years, delivering high and low notes with passion.
“I tried working in different fields since I was 17, and decided to leave journalism three years ago to work on what I’m passionate about,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.
“I was one of very few women performing six years ago. It was a little difficult. There were talented females, but no one was singing live in front of an audience. I was maybe the first or second,” she said. “It was hard, but a lot of people were supporting me.” She described music as raw emotion. “Blues is real emotion and jazz is unpredictable, I love how unpredictable it is from the sound of the piano — there are no rules, and the lyrics from blues music are so real.”
Al-Sharif hopes to educate the new generation on jazz and blues through her performances.
“I chose to sing it back then because not many from the new generation listen to jazz and blues, so I really wanted to bring it back and for people to enjoy it.”
Thousands from across Turkey travelled to Istanbul on Saturday to protest against the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, as gender-based violence increases and the erosion of women’s rights continues.
On March 20, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a midnight decree that annulled Turkey’s ratification of the convention, legislation designed to protect women signed by 45 countries and the European Union in 2011. The country is due to withdraw officially on July 1.
Holding signs that read “masculinity is more deadly than coronavirus” and “real men are feminists”, protesters of all ages braved the strong summer sun in the city’s Maltepe district to demand a reversal of the decision ahead of the deadline.
Activists and lawyers claim the decree is incompatible with constitutional law and around 130 groups joined the demonstration. Small marches have taken place regularly since the announcement, but the recent normalisation of Covid restrictions now allows mass gatherings.
Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention has been highly criticised by the European Union and human rights advocates.
Education of women is not restricted in our country to the primary stages, nor has women's employment been restricted to minor responsibilities. Iraq's five universities include a large proportion of female students and a number of women have acquired high qualifications in medicine and engineering. Some women are now teaching in the universities. Women in Iraq have also reached high positions in the government and become ministers and directors general. ...
The complete emancipation of women from the ties which held them back in the past, during the ages of despotism and ignorance, is a basic aim of the Party and the Revolution. Women make up one half of society.
Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated. (Chapter 1)
Strengthening the economic status of women through both legal rights and social conventions is part of the liberation process.
Strengthening and expanding the conditions which prohibit polygamy is also part of that process. The same can be said about limiting divorce with additional restrictions and wider and stricter conditions.
The expansion of education and the provision of equal opportunities for men and women is another move in that direction. More important than anything is the liberation of women through active work and sincere participation in the reconstruction of society... Antifeminist acts and ideas should be extensively condemned by men as well as by women in every section of our people. (Chapter 4).
The Revolution and Women in Iraq was published in 1981 by the Translation and Foreign Languages Publishing House-Baghdad.
Iran’s president-elect Ebrahim Raisi is perhaps most notorious for his involvement in the mass execution of dissidents in Iranian prisons in 1988, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war.
Thousands of leftists, many of them members of the Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK) but also many communists, were killed after the executions were signed off by a commission that included Raisi, then deputy prosecutor general.
In 2018, Raisi defended his involvement in the executions, saying they were fair and necessary to tackle attacks by the MEK and others on supporters of the 1979 Islamic revolution:
"In Tehran, there were 100 to 120 assassinations a day on the revolutionary forces and everyone who took a picture of [Khomenei] in the shop, to the president, the prime minister, the head of the Supreme Court and so on...; it’s my honour that I fought against hypocrisy,” he said, using a term commonly used against opponents of the Islamic Republic.
The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran, or the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), is an Iranian political-militant organization. It advocates overthrowing the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and installing its own government.
Its revolutionary interpretation of Islam contrasts with the conservative Islam of the traditional clergy as well as the populist version developed by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1970s. MEK was founded on 5 September 1965 by leftist Iranian students affiliated with the Freedom Movement of Iran to oppose the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The organization engaged in armed conflict with the Pahlavi dynasty in the 1970s and contributed to the overthrow of the Shah during the Iranian Revolution.
It subsequently pursued the establishment of a democracy in Iran, particularly gaining support from Iran's middle class intelligentsia. After the fall of Pahlavi, the MEK refused to take part in the constitutional referendum of the new government, which led to Khomeini preventing Massoud Rajavi and other MEK members from running for office in the new government.
This created conflicts with Ayatollah Khomeini, and, by early 1981, authorities had banned the MEK, carrying out a major "crackdown on the group's members and supporters", driving the organization underground... The MEK sided with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war taking part in several operations against the Islamic Republic, a decision that was viewed as treason by the vast majority of Iranians and that destroyed the MEK's appeal in its homeland
Operations Shining sun, Forty Stars, and Mersad
In 1986, after French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac struck a deal with Tehran for the release of French hostages held prisoners by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the MEK was forced to leave France and relocated to Iraq. The MEK moved its base to Mehran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran took an "extensive aerial bombing campaign to push the MEK from their position," and the MEK retaliated with a bombing spree.
The Islamic Republic launched two military operations against the MEK in 1986-1987 named "Nasr" (one and two). This attack on the MEK "failed to eradicate the guerrilla bases along the Iran-Iraq Kurdish borders". On March 27 of 1988, the NLA ( National Liberation Army; armed wing of the MEK) launched its first military offensive against the Islamic Republic's armed forces.
The NLA captured 600 square-kilometres of Islamic Republic territory and 508 soldiers from the Iranian 77th infantry division in Khuzestan Province. The operation was named "Shining Sun" (or "Operation Bright Sun").
"2,000 Islamic Republic soldiers were killed and $100 million worth of regime weaponry and equipment was captured and displayed for foreign journalists..." On the night of Saturday 18 June 1988, Iraq launched the Operation Forty Stars with the help of the MEK. With 530 aircraft sorties and heavy use of nerve gas, they attacked to the Iranian forces in the area around Mehran, killing or wounding 3,500 and nearly destroying a Revolutionary Guard division. The forces captured the city and took positions in the heights near Mehran, coming close to wiping the whole Iranian Pasdaran division and taking most of its equipment.
Near the end of the Iran–Iraq War, a military force of 7,000 members of the MEK, armed and equipped by Saddam's Iraq was founded.
On 26 July 1988, six days after Ayatollah Khomeini had announced his acceptance of the UN-brokered ceasefire resolution, the NLA advanced under heavy Iraqi air cover, crossing the Iranian border from Iraq. MEK leader Massoud Rajavi hoped to mobilize Iranian opposition and overthrow the Islamic Republic.
As it advanced further into Iran, Iraq ceased its air support and Iranian forces cut off NLA supply lines and counterattacked under cover of fighter planes and helicopter gunships. On 29 July the NLA announced a voluntary withdrawal back to Iraq. The MEK claims it lost 1,400 dead or missing and the Islamic Republic sustained 55,000 casualties (either IRGC, Basij forces, or the army).
1988 execution of MEK prisoners
On 19 July 1988, Iranian authorities isolated major prisons, having its courts of law go on an unscheduled holiday to avoid relatives finding out about those imprisoned.
According to Ervand Abrahamian, "thus began an act of violence unprecedented in Iranian history." Prisoners were initially told that this was not a trial but a process for initiating a general amnesty and separating the Muslims from the non-Muslims. Prisoners were asked if they were willing to denounce the MEK before cameras, help the IRI hunt down MEK members, name secret sympathizers, identify phoney repenters, or go to the war front and walk through enemy mindfields.
The Mojahedin who gave unsatisfactory answers were promptly taken to a special room and later hanged in batches of six.
Following Operation Mersad, a military attack on Iranian forces by the MEK, a large number of prisoners from the MEK were executed along with many other individuals from other leftist opposition groups.
Khomeini used the MEK's invasion as a pretext for the mass execution of thousands of MEK members "who remained steadfast in their support for the MEK" and other leftists in Iranian jails through a fatwa. Under International law, the killings were considered a "crime against humanity". The commissions including judicial, prosecution, intelligence and prison officials proceeded executions that were not approved by their own existing legislation, and sentenced prisoners to death despite any proven "internationally recognized criminal offence". Iranian authorities have dismissed the incident as "nothing but propaganda", presenting the executions as a lawful response to a small group of incarcerated individuals who had colluded with the MEK to support its 25 July 1988 incursion.
Iran's President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said people during the recent presidential election voted for change and stressed that the focal point in all developments especially in economic areas should be justice.
The President-elect made the remarks while addressing people in a ceremony to mark the birth anniversary of the eighth Shiite Imam Reza (AS).
In another part of his speech, Raisi stressed that "just as people voted for change in this election, there must be change in the country." He said people through their votes expressed their desire for formation of an efficient government.
He went on to underline that "as a government, we should not allow the slightest right of the people to be lost..."
The President-elect emphasized the need for preserving the dignity of the people and observing economic justice... He said that unhealthy administrative practices, corruption, oppression and any unjust behaviours are against human dignity. In Islamic system the government is people’s servant, not a haughty master and all state officials must consider themselves people’s servants, he said.
“We as the government should not allow the slightest right of the people to be trampled on, and I as the representative of the people will not allow any of the people’s rights to be denied,” he added.
In a coordinated campaign of seizure, the United States has blocked the domain of several Iranian official news websites as well as regional media outlets close to Iran.
The move drew criticism from free speech defenders who called the U.S. move a muzzling of freedom of expression.
Late on Tuesday, the websites of a number of Iranian news media outlets, most notably the English-language Press TV and the Arabic-language Al Alam, as well as regional media outlets close to Iran, were blocked with a message showing that the websites were seized by the government of the United States.
“The domain presstv.com has been seized by the United States Government in accordance with a seizure warrant...as part of a law enforcement action by the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the message on Press TV website read.
The websites of Iran's Arabic-language Al Kawthar television network, Yemen’s al-Masirah TV channel and Bahrain's Lualua television network were also among the targeted outlets.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the matter and referred it to the Justice Department, which later issued a statement confirming the seizure of Iranian websites. The statement alleged that the targeted websites were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and Kata’ib Hizballah of Iraq.
“Today, pursuant to court orders, the United States seized 33 websites used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU) and three websites operated by Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), in violation of U.S. sanctions,” the statement said.
In an echo of the Trump administration’s allegations against Iran’s news organizations, the Justice Department accused IRTVU and others like it of being “disguised as news organizations or media outlets” and targeting “the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.”
“Thirty-three of the websites seized today were operated by IRTVU. The 33 domains are owned by a United States company. IRTVU did not obtain a license from OFAC prior to utilizing the domain names. Three additional websites seized today were operated by KH,” the statement continued.
This is not the first time that the U.S. targets Iranian news organizations or media outlets allegedly affiliated with Iran. Under Trump, the U.S. seized dozens of websites operated by Iranian entities or non-Iranian groups. Among these websites, was the Fars News. Press TV has also been targeted many times by U.S. social media and internet services companies. Technology giant Google has targeted Press TV at least seven times, blocking the English-language news network’s access to its official YouTube account without any prior notice.
Iran condemned the U.S. move against Iranian news websites, calling it “illegal” and “bullying.”
Mathias Doepfner, chairman of Axel Springer, instructs employees to look for work elsewhere if they object t his decision to fly the Israeli flag on the business’s headquarters: Find another place to work.
“I think, and I’m being very frank with you, a person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job,” Mathias Doepfner, the chairman of Axel Springer, said in a conference call last week with thousands of his employees around the world, Israel Hayom reported Monday. Doepfner has described himself as a non-Jewish Zionist.
The flag was raised last month as Hamas and Israel exchanged fire for 11 days, resulting in more than 250 fatalities, mostly on the Palestinian side. Many protests against Israel in Europe and beyond featured incitement against Jews and Israel. On its website, the publisher lists five “Principles and Values.” The second states: “We support the Jewish people and the right of existence of the State of Israel.”
Wikipedia info Axel Springer SE is a German digital publishing house which is the largest in Europe, with numerous multimedia news brands, such as Bild, Die Welt, and Fakt and more than 15,000 employees.
It generated total revenues of about €3.3 billion and an EBITDA of €559 million in the financial year 2015. The digital media activities contribute more than 60% to its revenues and nearly 70% to its EBITDA.
Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, the company is active in more than 40 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures, and licensing. It was started in 1946/1947 by journalist Axel Springer. Its current CEO is Mathias Döpfner.
The Axel Springer company is the largest publishing house in Europe and controls the largest share of the German market for daily newspapers; 23.6%, largely because its flagship tabloid Bild is the highest-circulation newspaper in Europe with a daily readership exceeding 12 million.
The administration of President Joe Biden is walking back on Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as "Israeli territory".
A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged in remarks to the Washington Free Beacon website that the territory belongs to no one, and its control could change depending on the region's ever-shifting dynamics.
Back in February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken first raised questions about the Biden administration's view on the matter. At the time, Blinken would only say the Golan Heights “remains of real importance to Israel's security”, but that its formal status remained unclear. Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of its 1967 Six-Day War on Arab countries....
Tel Aviv unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.
In March 2019, Trump signed a decree recognizing Israeli “sovereignty” over the occupied Golan during a meeting with then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.
David Milstein, former special assistant to the US ambassador to Israel under Trump, said the reversal of US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights region signals “an unconscionable betrayal of our close ally Israel”.
“Our allies depend upon the United States keeping its commitments,” Milstein told the Free Beacon, adding, “But now Secretary Blinken has re-injected the dangerous and delusional idea the US could support pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights in the future.”
The US Department of State reiterated on Friday that the Biden administration has no intention to reverse its stance that Israel holds sovereignty over the Golan Heights, underscoring that any reports saying otherwise are false.
The declaration came less than 24 hours after a report published by the Washington Free Beacon indicated that the US was on the verge of rescinding recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the region. While much of the international community has refused to recognize Israel’s claim on the region, the US serves as the only country to offer its support. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, informed congressional lawmakers during a recent hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the matter of the Golan Heights remains unchanged, but that it is “an issue that the administration is still working on.”
INFO United Nations Security Council resolution 497, adopted unanimously on 17 December 1981, declared that the Israeli Golan Heights Law, which effectively annexed the Golan Heights, is "null and void and without international legal effect" and further calls on Israel to rescind its action.
Israel did not comply with the resolution and after lengthy discussions on 20 January 1982 the USA vetoed a Chapter VII resolution that called for action by the international community against Israel.
Then on 5 February 1982 an emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by 86 votes to 21 a resolution calling for a boycott of Israel. The US and many other Western states voted against...
US-Congess news: 73 Dems want a reversion
to the discourse of international law Juan Cole 06/26/2021
73 Democratic Congressional representatives (about one third of the Democrats in Congress) wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday urging him formally to withdraw from Trump’s so-called “deal of the century,” which actually authorized Israel unilaterally to steal large swathes of Palestinian land. They want an outbreak of frank talk and a reversion to the discourse of international law.
The Palestinian Territories are militarily occupied by Israel. Not only are the Palestinians an occupied populations, these representatives say, Israel’s squatter-settlements in Palestine are illegal. The settlemensts are illegal, by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Except in the anti-Palestinian US, this point of law is disputed nowhere in the world.
BAGHDAD - Egypt's president arrived in Baghdad on Sunday on a first official visit by an Egyptian head of state in over 30 years, for tripartite talks with Jordan and Iraq to deepen economic and security cooperation. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi was greeted by Iraq's President Barham Salih upon arriving Sunday morning. It marked the first time Egypt's president paid an official visit to Iraq since the 1990s when ties between both countries were severed after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
Jordan's King Abdullah II arrived shortly afterwards; he and el-Sissi then met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The meetings are seen largely as an attempt to neutralize Iran's influence across the region.
Al-Kadhimi also aims to shore up regional alliances and bolster Iraq's standing in the Middle East as a mediator, after it recently hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia focusing on the war in Yemen.
“This visit is an important message to our people that we are mutually supportive and unified to serve our people and the people of the region,” al-Kadhimi said, according to a statement from his office.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a press conference following the meeting that a wide range of topics had been discussed, including economic and political cooperation, large-scale industrial projects, and trade in medicine and agricultural pesticides.
Iraq has already signed key economic and trade agreements with both Jordan and Egypt.
In the Baghdad summit, the three leaders stressed the need to, "activate efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace that meets all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and allows them to obtain their legitimate demands for an independent state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, per international law and resolutions of international legitimacy."
"Resolving the conflict based on resolutions of international legitimacy is the only way to achieve a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace in the region," the leaders said, noting, "Israel must stop all actions that undermine the chances of achieving a just peace, including those aimed at changing the historical and legal situation in Jerusalem and its Islamic and Christian holy sites."
The leaders praised Egypt's role in, "ending the recent round of escalation in Gaza and halting Israeli military operations," expressing appreciation for "Egypt's determined efforts to stabilize the ceasefire and work to sustain the truce."
1. "The multipolar world is becoming reality. Attempts to ignore this reality by asserting oneself as the only legitimate decision-making centre will hardly bring about solutions to real, rather than farfetched challenges.
Instead, what is needed is mutually respectful dialogue involving the leading powers and with due regard for the interests of all other members of the international community. This implies an unconditional commitment to abide by the universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including respecting the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their domestic affairs, peaceful resolution of conflict, and the right to self-determination."
2. "Apart from encroaching on international law, the “rules” concept also manifests itself in attempts to encroach on the very human nature.
In a number of Western countries, students learn at school that Jesus Christ was bisexual. Attempts by reasonable politicians to shield the younger generation from aggressive LGBT propaganda are met with bellicose protests from the “enlightened Europe.”
All world religions, the genetic code of the planet’s key civilisations, are under attack. The United States is at the forefront of state interference in church affairs, openly seeking to drive a wedge into the Orthodox world, whose values are viewed as a powerful spiritual obstacle for the liberal concept of boundless permissiveness."
Our call to Dialogue among Civilizations is an invitation to replace the discourse of violence and hostility with a discourse of mutual understanding and reason.
Any dialogue among civilizations and cultures is incumbent upon taking into consideration the most fundamental cultural and civilizational element, that is religion, beyond historical prejudice and fanaticism.
In such a dialogue, we should emphasize bright points of essential concordance, and leave aside divisive issues, which derive not from the essence of religions but only from historical factional conditions and only when fanaticism prevails over fairness.
Leaders, scholars and thinkers in our world today play a key role in nurturing the common human yearning for truth, understanding and compassion, and in freeing us all from historically conditioned prejudice.
One cannot but wonder in bewilderment at the insurmountable gap between Jesus Christ who was all for love, beauty, freedom and compassion on the one hand, and the appalling character of a cardinal who sides with Satan and whom Dostoyevsky mockingly calls "the Chief Inspector" in his Brothers Karamazov.
Grand Inquisitor: "Under my rule, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance"
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his famous novel 'The Brothers Karamazov', gives a powerful portrayal of the distinctiveness of Jesus’ way of loving.
In an extended parable of the “Grand Inquisitor” within the novel, Dostoyevsky tells of Jesus’ appearance in Spain in the late Middle Ages at the height of the Great Inquisition, when the church was cracking down on “heretical” Christians and Jews, putting hundreds of the unorthodox to death.
Jesus circulates among the poor, fearful, and suffering masses, offering compassion, healing, unconditional mercy, and acceptance. He does not say much, but people recognize him and soon crowds follow him and marvel at his kindness.
The Cardinal, who is the Grand Inquisitor, observes Jesus and immediately has him arrested and taken away. The Grand Inquisitor then challenges Jesus, accusing him of not having genuinely loved humankind. The Inquisitor bases his accusation on Jesus resisting the three temptations of the devil in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.
These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them.
The Inquisitor explains why Christ was wrong to reject each temptation by Satan. Christ should have turned stones into bread, as men will always follow those who will feed their bellies. Casting himself down from the temple to be caught by angels would cement his godhood in the minds of people, who would follow him forever. Ruling over all the kingdoms of the Earth would ensure their salvation, the Grand Inquisitor claims.
The Inquisitor says that under him, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance. Though he leads them only to "death and destruction", they will be happy along the way. He states that "anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him". (Wikipedia)
The Head of the political bureau of Hamas (Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement), Ismail Haniyeh, met with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah today.
According to the Lebanese movement's Al-Manar TV, the two leaders discussed the latest developments related to resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Also on the agenda was how to build on the recent victory in the Sword of Jerusalem battle by "utilising all capabilities in a bid to reach the final and decisive victory against the occupation."
Hamas and Hezbollah reiterated the depth of the "brotherly relations" between the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups, as well as their importance for the consistency of the axis of resistance.
Haniyeh arrived in Lebanon on Monday for a visit scheduled to last for several days. He is expected to meet with Lebanese official and non-governmental figures.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today, in what has been called an historic visit as the first official trip by a senior Israeli minister to the Gulf state.
After landing at Abu Dhabi airport this morning, the alternate prime minister and foreign minister stated on his Twitter account that he is "Making history..."
"Proud to represent the State of Israel on its first official visit to the United Arab Emirates. Thanks for the warm welcome."
As part of his visit, Lapid is set to inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Israeli consulate in Dubai.
Although other Israeli officials and ministers have previously visited the UAE, Lapid is the most senior minister to visit Tel Aviv's new ally.
Reuters: "Israel wants peace with its neighbours - with all its neighbours. We aren't going anywhere. The Middle East is our home," Lapid said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Abu Dhabi high-rise office serving as a temporary embassy.
"We're here to stay. We call on all the countries of the region to recognise that and to come to talk to us," he said.
Brought together by shared worries about Iran and hopes for commercial boons, the UAE and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel last year under so-called "Abraham Accords" crafted by the administration of then U.S.-President Donald Trump. Sudan and Morocco have since also moved to establish ties with Israel.
Lapid and his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan discussed building on the accords to achieve peace and strengthen security in the region...
They signed an agreement for economic and commercial cooperation, which an Israeli spokesman had earlier said would be the 12th since last year's move to forge ties.
Josef Avesar has proved one thing with his experimental Israeli Palestinian Confederation (IPC) plan, which he came up with several years ago: If you leave it up to the people, and remove the politicians, the chances of achieving peace will be so much greater.
Avesar has shown that, when you bring Israelis and Palestinians together on an equal platform of mutual respect, peace is very possible.
You will still have divisions in a confederation, but it makes it far easier to bring the majority of moderate voices together and neutralize the extremists, who counter their small numbers with violence and hate.
I watched this week as 75 members of the IPC achieved more in a 90-minute video conference than all of the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations since Anwar Sadat’s 1979 surrender — a total of 42 years of tragic turmoil and heightened frustration. The IPC has summarized the entire conflict into one primary goal: To focus on the principle of equal rights.
From there, Israelis and Palestinians can disagree on the issues without violence and work together on the foundation of a true democracy — that the majority, not extremist violent fanatics, rules. Equality is the real issue that is absent from the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis.
As a consequence, the idea of a confederation — in which the two sides come together with their individual identities and narratives intact, while agreeing to recognize each other and work together with one voice to bring about peaceful change — is very attractive.
In other words, the two-state solution, in the IPC’s mind, is dead. That was hammered home by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who was a guest speaker during this week’s meeting. Levy noted that the two-state solution is a dream that was destroyed by extremists on both sides and that Israel’s government never intended to implement it or even support it. The Israeli government “never meant to go for the two-state solution,” he said. The IPC believes that, once you achieve equality, you begin a process — a chain reaction — that leads to justice, which then leads to peace.
It was refreshing to listen to the IPC’s members, who have elected their own separate (Israeli and Palestinian) “confederated” presidents and parliament.
The current so-called peace process is a deception that doesn’t exist. The Israelis live in total denial of the reality of today’s relationship with the Palestinians. The latter live under a brutal occupation and apartheid system that denies them basic rights, but most Israelis don’t care.
The one-state solution that the IPC advocates is not the same as that often advocated by anti-Israeli extremists who want to take control. What the IPC advocates is a construction in which both the Israelis and the Palestinians have equal voices...
In compromise, not all injustice will be mitigated and Palestinians and Israelis will have to live with the fact that history has imposed some realities that cannot change. Realism means resetting and restarting everything, looking forward rather than always looking back at the ugly, painful past.
"The confederation is not a one-state solution. The Israeli and Palestinian governments would remain sovereign and independent of each other. The division of land between the Israeli and Palestinian states would remain subject to negotiations between the two governments.
The confederation is not tied to the ultimate outcome of such negotiations. Such an arrangement would be necessary whether the Israelis and Palestinians agree on the division of land or not. A confederation is a third government designed to enhance the lives of the Palestinians and the Israelis, in the same way that the EU is designed to enhance the lives of the Germans and the French, for example. (Josef Avesar, in: The Israeli-Palestinian Confederation Proposal)
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