We affirm – at these critical moments for Egypt and her neighboring countries – that the Revolution and its free men and women will stand steadfast in all streets and squares of raging Egypt, protesting in the face of an illegitimate coup regime that has already killed and jailed all the heroes of resistance and perseverance...
The Alliance assures that failed general Al-Sisi's continuing policy of fabricating crises and conflicts with neighboring countries, while ignoring the Egyptians' escalating problems, will not succeed in distracting the people. The day of treasonous Al-Sisi's end is coming - no doubt...
IS claims deadly suicide car bombings in Libya
"That what is sacred in the world is man" General Mufti of the Syrian Arabic Republic, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun
Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
Yet the Islamists in Egypt are a good example of why secularism is far from finished The appeal of Islamist politics is gradually diminishing as the wider public begins to understand their real intentions. ...
The sudden profusion of religious television channels are unmasking their lack of political awareness or in-depth religious knowledge. Arabs can see how these groups utilise absurd discourses and antagonistic tones; blaming and insulting minority groups, demeaning women and threatening seculars and liberals.
While they give themselves the legitimacy to accuse others of apostasy (the Takfiri doctrine), they overlook that they are creating rejection by Muslims and non-Muslims, and by believers and non-believers. ...
In the short term, Islamist movements have failed to respond to the objectives of the people. Their credibility has been questioned as they repeatedly alter their narratives and alliances; seeking political supremacy or demanding Sharia by force.
"Bashar al-Assad opened the country up to foreign trade, to tourism within the country and from abroad, to freedom of movement and of education for both men and women. Before the protests started, the number of women in the professional world had been constantly increasing, the university was open to all, and there was no discrimination on the basis of sex. The country was at peace, prosperity was on the rise, and human rights were respected.
A common home and fatherland to many ethnicities and 23 different religious groups, Syria has always been a place where all were free to believe and live out their creed, all relationships were characterized by mutual respect.
The freedom that is purportedly being brought to us by the rebels is precisely what this rebellion has taken away from us. (Gobal Research 5-1-2015)
Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, reason or moral intuition, and not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance (which is the source of religious ethics).
Secular ethics comprises any ethical system that does not draw on the supernatural, such as humanism, secularism and freethinking.
Secular ethics frameworks do not necessarily contradict theological value systems. For example, the Golden Rule or a commitment to non-violence, could be supported by those within religious and secular frameworks. Secular ethics systems can also vary within the societal and cultural norms of a specific time period. (Wikipedia Info)
Four years into the Libyan civil war and the revolution that toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, thousands of Libyans remain displaced in their own country as political, social and economic problems continue to worsen.
In economic terms the situation is grim. All major infrastructure projects, which were in progress when the war erupted — many were in their final phase — have been suspended and looted as foreign investors who flocked to Libya before 2011 have left the country with no prospect of returning any time soon. Libya faces bankruptcy as its only source of hard currency, oil production, has fallen to one-quarter of what it was four years ago.
Green became the national color of Libya under Gaddafi. It symbolized the predominant religion of Islam as well as Gaddafi’s “Third Universal Theory” as expounded in his Green Book, his book of political writings, published in 1975.
"Nationalism is the basis for the survival of nations. Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin. Minorities, which are one of the main political problems in the world, are the outcome. They are nations whose nationalism has been destroyed and which are thus torn apart."
Libyan society has been moredivided than it ever has been. It will take years to get back the social harmony and peaceful way of life Libyans enjoyed before February 2011, as the war has wreaked havoc on daily life of almost every Libyan family.
The tribal society used to have a well-entrenched frame of reference, where religious and social norms were observed and respected by all. Disputes and quarrels used to be settled amicably outside the court system thanks to wise elders who were respected and enjoyed high esteem.
This unwritten code of conduct has disappeared and is being replaced by another in which groups without social roots and lacking any social cohesion dominate. They are mostly armed gangs and social outcasts who call themselves “thawar” and have arms ready to use whenever they like.
Libyan social life itself has been badly hit, as reflected in the increasingly weak family relations, even within the same family.
The country is also facing a multitude of political problems. Libya now has two governments, two parliaments and two armies...
While both sides are quarreling and fighting, ordinary Libyans are descending into despair and hopelessness, especially the youth. It is no surprise that extremist organizations, armed gangs and militias find plenty of recruits. Young people, in particular, are vulnerable to drug addiction, radicalization and social alienation.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday evening that his government has decided to privatize economy and hand over the enterprises to the people:
'In order to achieve economic development, independence, a blossoming economy, employment opportunities for the young people, and public welfare there is no way, but to go ahead with comprehensive development plan in economic, cultural, political and social domains.'
The president added that the basis for the government's policies is to cede national economy to the people... He said that in addition to economic development, Iran is in need of cultural and political development, as well.
He said that if such development (be) achieved, the government would have to share the people in the country's affairs entirely.
'The government must fulfill the job of supervising, guiding, and playing the mediator's role between the state and the private sector.
He made it clear that it is not acceptable for the government to be both the planner and the executor of the plans. 'There will be no blessing in such omnipotent role,' he said.
He expressed dismay at the difficulties related to the state bureaucracy and said that the people must be given the chance to undertake the country's affairs.
'The government and the parliament cannot all alone handle the country's affairs and in order to make the people smile and gain God's satisfaction, the people must come together to move ahead,' said Rouhani.
Flashback 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson & The Great Society
The purpose of protecting the life of our Nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a Nation.
For a century we labored to settle and to subdue a continent. For half a century we called upon unbounded invention and untiring industry to create an order of plenty for all of our people. The challenge of the next half century is whether we have the wisdom to use that wealth to enrich and elevate our national life, and to advance the quality of our American civilization.
Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth.
For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.
The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all... The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community...
It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods. (Speeches, 22-5-1964)
Turkey does not place a high priority on fighting Islamic State jihadists and as a result foreign fighters are able to travel through the country into Syria, U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper said Thursday.
When asked, Clapper told senators he wasn't optimistic Turkey would take a more active role in the war against the IS group. "I think Turkey has other priorities and other interests," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Turkish government was more concerned with Kurdish opposition and the country's economy, the director of national intelligence said.
The effect of Turkey's approach was to allow a "permissive" climate for foreign recruits heading to Syria to take arms for the IS group, he said.
"And of course, the consequence of that is a permissive environment... because of their laws and the ability of people to travel through Turkey en route to Syria," Clapper said.
"So somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 percent of those foreign fighters find their way to Syria through Turkey."
New York, SANA – Syria stressed that any measures that might be taken to stop the humanitarian suffering of needy Syrians would be patchy and insufficient as long as the relevant counterterrorism resolutions of the UN Security Council are not yet put into effect.
This Syrian point was made clear by the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari on Thursday... He cited particularly resolutions no. 2170, 2178 and 2199, stressing that those should be enforced in full coordination and cooperation with the Syrian government.
Fighting terrorism, al-Jaafari said, demands putting an end to the practices of the “Turkish-Qatari-Saudi-Israeli alliance” which is providing support, funds and arms to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Jabhat al-Nusra, Free Army and other terrorist organizations.
The U.S.-led coalition ran more than six hundred airstrikes on Kobani — eighty per cent of all its bombings in Syria—which cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Kobani has certainly paid a price. Fighting and bombings have destroyed half the city, which now has no economy, let alone electricity. There is little left for the forty thousand residents who fled; many may remain refugees for some time. (The New Yorker, 27-1-2015)
Al-Jaafari dismissed the claims of some countries that they care for the Syrian people, reminding that some of those measures which are imposed by the EU include the Syrian civil aviation sector as well as the ministers of humanitarian relief, electricity and national reconciliation.
He also demanded a halt to the politicization of the humanitarian issue in Syria, a conduct he said appears evident in various reports put forth by the UN General Secretariat itself.
He went on saying that while it was the terrorist groups’ crimes which have driven the Syrians out of their home areas and turned them into displaced or refugees..., those same Syrians are being used as cards to exert political pressure on the government and justify intervention plots.
Those who really want to help the Syrian refugees, al-Jaafari said, must work first of all on helping them return home in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has repeatedly stressed its readiness to secure all the basic needs for them.
From March 1-3, over 10,000 AIPAC supporters will descend on the nation’s capital.|
The meeting comes at a time when the relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at an all-time low. Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress right after he speaks at the AIPAC conference is seen by the White House as a direct attempt to undermine the president and his administration’s nuclear talks with Iran.
AIPAC’s support of the Israeli prime minister over the US president is turning AIPAC into a Republican-biased lobby...
Here are ten reasons to pray for AIPAC’s decline:
- 1. AIPAC wants to sabotage nuclear talks with Iran. AIPAC – like the Israeli government –has no faith in the complex negotiations under way between Iran and the US... It pushes for greater sanctions on Iran...
- 2. Israeli settlements violate the Geneva Conventions and can be prosecuted within the International Criminal Court as “gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
- 3. AIPAC supports the horrific Israeli invasions and siege of Gaza. AIPAC supported the Israeli offensive during the summer of 2014 called “Operation Protective Edge.” ... AIPAC also supported the prior two invasions of Gaza and the siege that has left the 1.8 million residents of Gaza living lives of intense poverty and misery.
- 4. AIPAC’s call for unconditional support for the Israeli government threatens our national security. The United States’ one-sided support of Israel, demanded by AIPAC, has significantly increased anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East...
- 5. AIPAC makes the US a pariah at the UN. AIPAC describes the UN as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the US government to oppose resolutions calling Israel to account...
- 6. AIPAC feeds US government officials a distorted view of the Israel-Palestine conflict... AIPAC hosts members of Congress—and many of their spouses—on a free junket to Israel to see precisely what the Israeli government wants them to see.
- 7. AIPAC attacks politicians who question unconditional support of Israel. AIPAC keeps a record of how members of Congress vote... Members of Congress who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat in re-election bids.
- 8. AIPAC attempts to silence all criticism of Israel by labeling critics as “anti-Semitic,” “de-legitimizers” or “self-hating Jews.”
- 9. AIPAC lobbies for billions of US taxdollars to go to Israel instead of rebuilding America... This money goes to the Israeli military to maintain, in high-tech fashion, the apartheid system of oppressing Palestinians.
10. Money to Israel takes funds from world’s poor. Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, but thanks to AIPAC, it gets more US taxdollars than any other country.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange.
CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.
BENGHAZI (Libya) - A once-retired general leading a sweeping offensive against Islamist forces has been named Libyan army chief, the speaker of the country's internationally recognised parliament announced Monday.
"I've chosen Major General Khalifa Belgacem Haftar for the post of commander-in-chief of the army after promoting him to the rank of lieutenant general," Aguila Salah said, adding that Haftar would be sworn in before parliament.
The internationally backed legislature created the post of army chief under a new law passed last week.
Last May, Haftar launched an offensive against Islamists in the country's east, prompting the then-government to accuse him of trying to stage a coup.
But after Islamists seized the capital following elections in June and the parliament fled to the country's far east, the internationally recognised authorities have gradually allied themselves with him.
Last month, they formally requested that he and 129 other retired officers return to active service.
Since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Gathafi in a NATO-backed uprising, Libya has been awash with weapons and opposing militias are battling for control of its cities and oil wealth.
Fajr Libya, a coalition of militias that seized Tripoli and which backs a rival government based in the capital, has rejected any political settlement that includes Haftar.
The Palestinians are to lodge their first complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes at the International Criminal Court on April 1, a senior official told Agence France-Presse on Monday.
"One of the first important steps will be filing a complaint against Israel at the ICC on April 1 over the (2014) Gaza war and settlement activity," said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
On January 2, the Palestinians moved to formally join the Hague-based court in a process which is due to take effect on April 1, setting the scene for potential legal action against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.
Israel reacted furiously, and quickly moved to cut off millions of dollars in monthly tax payments it collects on behalf of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, exacerbating an already severe financial crisis.
The Palestinians are also planning to sue Israel over its policy of settlement building on land they want for a future state.
Under international law, all Israeli construction on land seized during the 1967 Six-Day War is viewed as illegal and a major stumbling block to efforts to end the decades-long conflict.
While politicians in the election campaign have been calling on the haredi public to “share the burden” and serve in the IDF, Rabbi David Yosef, one of the sons of the late Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and a member of the Shas rabbinical committee, said Saturday night that religious Jews were thus carrying two burdens – that of serving in the army of defense of Israel, and that of serving in the “army of G-d.”
“They want us to share the burden,” he told listeners at a lecture Saturday night. “Where is this sharing of the burden? Why are we the only ones who must carry the burden of the Jewish people, of the holy Torah and the commandments?”
Continuing on that theme, Rabbi Yosef continued on to the next portion of his talk. “Anyone who does not observe the commandments is endangering our existence in the Land of Israel more than the Arabs.
Rumi, Sufi philosopher
I am not of the East, nor of the West...
I have put duality away, I have seen the two worlds as one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call
(Divan-I Shams-I Tabriz, II)
How do we define who is a born Jew and who is not? If one of your parents is not Jewish, are you still Jewish?
The original and current Jewish definition of a born Jew is someone whose mother is Jewish.
Even though the Torah forbids a Jewish woman to marry a Gentile man, if she does, her children will still be Jewish.
The Torah also forbids a Jewish man to marry a Gentile woman, and if he does, his children by that woman will not be Jewish.
Having a Jewish heart and Jewish feelings does not make someone Jewish. One has to be Jewish according to Jewish Law.
No universal 'god', but a tribal 'god'.
When the Torah speaks of the Law against marrying a non-Jew (Deuteronomy 7:3), here is what the Torah says:
Do not intermarry with non-Jews; do not give your daughter to his son, and do not take his daughter for your son. For he will cause your son to turn away from Me, and they will worship the gods of others..
Ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of my address to Congress tomorrow is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten the survival of Israel.
Iran is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran is training, arming, dispatching terrorists on five continents. Iran envelopes the entire world with its tentacles of terror. This is what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. Imagine what Iran would do with nuclear weapons.
And this same Iran vows to annihilate Israel. If it develops nuclear weapons, it would have the means to achieve that goal. We must not let that happen.
I plan to speak about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that's devouring country after country in the Middle East, that's exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons, lots of them.
As prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there's still time to avert them...
In a dark, and savage, and desperate Middle East, Israel is a beacon of humanity, of light, and of hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel and the United States will continue to stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family. We're practically mishpocha.
Netanyahu's Gaza Wars
Gaza War may refer to any of three conflicts between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip: Gaza War (2008–09), also known as Operation Cast Lead, 2012 conflict, also known as Operation Pillar of Defense and 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge. (Wikipedia info)
Barack Obama 2004: "Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? "
E Pluribus Unum"A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother.
If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work.
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one." (Convention Speech 2004)
Tehran, March 3, IRNA – A senior official at the Foreign Ministry said Iranophobic speech of the Zionist regime Prime Minister at the US Congress was part of his campaign for the upcoming legislative elections.
Spokeswoman of the Foreign Ministry Marziyeh Afkham made the remarks while commenting on the anti-Iran address of Benjamin Netanyahu to the US lawmakers which coincided with the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and the Gtoup 5+1 in Switzerland.
It was a completely “deceitful show and a part of electoral campaign made by radicals in Tel Aviv,” Afkham said.
She added that Netanyahu’s speech “indicated his weakness and extreme isolation of the radical groups even among their supporters.
“This is also an effort to impose their radical and irrational agenda on international policy.”
She said 'constant lying of Netanyahu about goals and purposes of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is very much boring and not new.'
In his address to the US Congress today, the Zionist leader warned them of what he claimed to be making a bad deal with Iran.
However, the White House described his controversial statements as unhelpful. Shortly after the Israeli prime minister ranted against the ongoing Iran nuclear talks, President Barack Obama told reports that Netanyahu 'did not offer any viable alternative.”
|Netanyahu honors Jabotinsky|
Benjamin Netanyahu is an unscrupulous, scheming, vile man who has taken the meaning of “chutzpah” to new heights in his display of unseemly and undiplomatic behavior.
That no world leader has yet demanded that he and his regime be made to answer for its brutally criminal, scandalous policies time and again compels us to recognize how grievously weak and flawed the ‘international community’ is, and by extension, how depraved those leaders are whose actions are considered most synonymous with it...
What we are watching today is yet another media-political circus for the sake of narrow sectarian interests.
Jennifer Loewenstein is a human rights activist and faculty associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Netanyahu, "a person who thrives on chaos and conflict"
By Gholamali Khoshroo (Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations)
New York Times - Opinion Pages, 3-3-2015
UNITED NATIONS — In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
Despite that, alarmist rhetoric on the theme has been a staple of Mr. Netanyahu’s career. In an interview with the BBC in 1997, he accused Iran of secretly “building a formidable arsenal of ballistic missiles,” predicting that eventually Manhattan would be within range.
In 1996, he stood before Congress and urged other nations to join him to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability, stressing that “time is running out.” Earlier, as a member of Parliament, in 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years.
In front of world leaders at the United Nations in September 2012, Mr. Netanyahu escalated his warnings by declaring that Iran could acquire the bomb within a year.
Mr. Netanyahu has consistently used false alarms and outlandish claims both to serve his domestic political maneuvering and to create a smoke screen that relegates the Palestinian question to the margins.
His rhetoric has intensified in proportion to the international pressure on Israel to stop the settlement activity and end the occupation of the Palestinian territory...
Since Israel’s prime minister appears to be a person who thrives on chaos and conflict, we fear that he may have further plans to poison the atmosphere and sow discord among those involved in this historic effort...
Albert Einstein, Manhattan Opera House 22-4-1935:
Revisionists are an obstacle to peace
Declaring that the Revisionists are “inner enemies,” Prof. Albert Einstein urged the establishment of friendly relations with the Arabs and warned against viewing Palestine merely as a place of refuge.
“Under the guise of nationalist propaganda,” Prof. Einstein said, “Revisionism seeks to support the destructive speculation in land; it seeks to exploit the people and deprive them of their rights.
Revisionism is the embodiment of those harmful forces which Moses with foresight sought to banish when he formulated his model code of social law.
Furthermore, the state of mind fed by Revisionism is the most serious obstacle in the way of our peaceable and friendly cooperation with the Arab, people who are racially our kin.”
“The Jews,” he continued, “must beware of viewing Palestine merely as a place of refuge.
The young men and women who went there before and after the World War [..] envisaged the creation of a Jewish commonwealth which would approximate the traditional ideals of justice and selfless love of man-kind more closely than did the European countries from which they came, and it is in that spirit Jews should regard Palestine for the future.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the Iranian nuclear negotiators will never accept a deal that may violate the right of the Iranian nation.
The president said that Iran is ready to demonstrate further transparency. However, he added that if the negotiations are after depriving Iran of its inalienable right to nuclear technology, Iran will not accept an agreement.
Iran wants a deal that will benefit Iran, the region, and the whole world, Rouhani said. He said that the outcome of the negotiations would help settle the crises caused by extremism across the region and the entire world.
President Rouhani said that the world is satisfied with the progress in negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.
Only the occupying regime of Qods (Israel), which sees its survival in continuation of war, occupation and invasion, is angry with Iran talks making progress, Rouhani said.
People of the world and the American nation are so wise that they will not allow a war mongering regime to mislead them, he said.
Question: In a sense, the tide is changing because probably there are some people thinking that even though it’s a bad solution, it’s better to deal with Bashar al-Assad than to deal with the worse solution which is going to be the Islamic State.
President Assad: I don’t think the general public thinks about the second part, it’s about the first part, about what’s happening and how everything we said in Syria at the beginning of the crisis they say later.
They said it’s peaceful, we said it’s not peaceful – these demonstrators, that they called peaceful demonstrators – have killed policemen.
Then it became militants. They said yes, it’s militants. We said it’s terrorism. They said no, it’s not terrorism.
Then when they say it’s terrorism, we say it’s Al Qaeda, they say no, it’s not Al Qaeda.
So, whatever we said, they say it later. That created a lot of suspicion in the West. They want to come to understand this part. Why are you saying whatever Syria was saying in the beginning?
Of course, in the West, the propagandists, whether officials or media, they added something to the real story; that ISIS and al-Nusra was created by Assad, or it’s because of his policy, and so on.
Question: Mr. President, let me quote, “the Syrian people aspire more freedom, justice, human rights. They aspire to more plurality and democracy.” Your Foreign Minister said this in the Geneva conference. However, the state of Syria is perceived differently in the West. Till now, it’s perceived as brutal, ruthless, dictatorial, and it’s not just a question of image, so how is it possible to convince the people that…?
President Assad: This is illogical and unrealistic, because how can somebody who kills his people and oppresses his people be supported by the same people? How? Tell me about this contradiction. Look at it from the outside. Is it palatable, can you understand? It doesn’t.
Question: Let me just try to… you started four years ago with peaceful demonstrators that were repressed, then you are blamed, your government is blamed, for a lot of allegations of human rights violations in your own ranks, repression... You have allegations that you have used chemical weapons. You have allegations of using the barrel bombs till now, and so, the human rights reports watcher about Syria...
President Assad: You are talking about massive propaganda for four years...
McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made an unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border... He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. .. [The FSA leaders] praised the McCain visit and criticized the Obama administration... (DB 27-5-2013)
President Assad: Exactly, that’s what happened. Because, how do you have ISIS? Suddenly? You don’t have ISIS suddenly, you don’t have armaments suddenly, you don’t have al-Nusra Front suddenly. It’s a long process, you can’t have it just in few weeks. Suddenly, everybody is talking about ISIS.
Go back to our statements from the very beginning, and you can see that the evolution of the events was going in that regard from the very beginning, and we said that. They didn’t want to listen; they wanted to listen to their statements. That’s what I say.
Question: You blame Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia for being the backbone of the jihadists? You have the proof?
President Assad: Very simple; what is the ideology of ISIS? What is the ideology? It’s the Wahhabi ideology...
Second, Erdogan is Muslim Brotherhood. He’s a very staunch advocate of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology which was the first organization in the history of Islam, in the beginning of the last century, who promoted violence in implementing political agenda.
Question: This is your first interview with a journalist from a Portuguese-speaking country. Do you expect anything from these countries?
President Assad: I don’t expect; I hope. I hope the first thing, which is very simple, just for the officials to tell their people the truth, the unbiased truth, without any preconceptions. Just tell your people the truth, and they’ll be able to analyze it.
Second, we hope from Portugal as part of the EU to look at the Czech Republic. A small country, ten millions, but it was very wise in dealing with the crisis in Syria. They have their embassy here, they can tell what’s going on on the ground, because isolationism is not a policy.
Flashback 2011: Meir Dagan doubts 'Arab Spring'
Yoav Zitun, 21 juni 2011
Former Mossad chief says Arab regimes being destabilized by 'preexisting rifts, conflicts' which are now taking form of protests, violence...
"Difficult times are destabilizing regimes all around us. They have received labels such as 'Arab Spring' and 'Democratic Tsunami', but I would recommend not making too much of labels and definitions because a deeper look reveals rifts and conflicts that existed before and which have been swept under the rug, but are now bursting out in the form of protests and in many places purposeful violence," he said.
But Dagan also allowed for a sliver of optimism, saying that Sunnis may replace the current regime in Syria.
"They may not be lovers of Israel, but there is no doubt this would harm Hezbollah, weaken it, harm the strategic backing it receives from Syria, minimize the Iranian influence in the field, increase influence by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States on it, and increase chances it will open up to the West," Dagan said...
Dagan also finds Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood threatening to regional calm. "Here it is also correct to say that Israel is not alone," he said. "This situation requires regional cooperation and the challenges we face are also those of neighbor states and the entire free world." (YetNews 2011)
Assad issues decree on multi-party lawSyrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree which will authorize a multi-party political system in the country.
Press TV, 4 Augustus 2011
Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Thursday that the president issued Legislative Decree No. 100 for 2011 on Parties Law and Legislative Decree No. 101 for 2011 on General Election Law.
The decree paves the way for the establishment of political parties and allows them to function alongside the country's Baath Party...
Assad's decree means the law can take effect immediately without approval of the Syrian parliament.
Last month, the Syrian government adopted a draft law on multiple political organizations, which was “aimed at enriching political life, creating a new dynamic and allowing for a change in political power.” The decree prohibits parties founded on the basis of “religion, tribal affiliation, and regional interests.”
Syria has been experiencing unrest in past months with demonstrations held both against and in support of the government. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces killed four civilians and injured dozens of others in several cities across the country on Wednesday. The government blames the deadly violence on armed gangs.
Libyan Blues - by Daniel Pipes
22 augustus 2011
Many are ready to party about the political demise of ... Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi as rebel troops move into Tripoli. I am not partying. Here's why not.Read more here: Middle East News 2011
The NATO intervention in March 2011 was done without due diligence as to who it is in Benghazi that it was helping.
To this day, their identity is a mystery. Chances are good that Islamist forces are hiding behind more benign elements, waiting for the right moment to pounce..
Should that be the case in Libya today, then .. Qaddafi will prove to be better than his successors...
I hope I am wrong and the rebels are modern and liberal. But I fear that a dead-end despotism will be replaced by the agents of a worldwide ideological movement. I fear that Western forces will have brought civilization's worst enemies to power.
A Turkish Patriotic Party delegation met with Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syrian Arab Republic in Damascus. Hassoun emphasized the importance of secularism in his speech.
Grand Mufti Hassoun said “We never use the term ‘Islamic State’. We use Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman States. The Sultans killed their brothers in the name of state, not in the name of Islam.”
Grand Mufti Hassoun also said “I am a secularist Mufti. I support the separation of religion and politics. If someone asks me about my sect, I say, I’m neither Sunni nor Shi’ite. I’m a Muslim. Islam unites. I am the Mufti of all Syrians, I mean Muslims, Christians and also atheists. Countries like Turkey and Syria strongly need secularism to survive.”
"You are the Mufti that Ataturk desired"
The Patriotic Party Chairman Doğu Perinçek, speaking after the Grand Mufti Hassoun, said “You are the Mufti that our great leader Ataturk desired.
Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran need secularism for living under peace and tolerance together with all sects.”
Perinçek also said “I promise you that we will strengthen the secularism in Turkey...”
Secularism in Turkey: Secularism (or laicity) was first introduced with the 1928 amendment of the Constitution of 1924, which removed the provision declaring that the "Religion of the State is Islam", and with the later reforms of Turkey's first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which set the administrative and political requirements to create a modern, democratic, secular state, aligned with Kemalism.
The current Constitution of 1982 neither recognizes an official religion nor promotes any. Turkey's "laïcité" describes the state's stance as one of "active neutrality."
Turkey's actions related with religion are carefully analyzed and evaluated through the Presidency of Religious Affairs." (Wikipedia info)
The Knesset's Finance Committee Chairman, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), has set up a national forum of rabbis to help connect Israel's wide traditional population with the national-religious public.
Members of the forum include such prestigious rabbis as Rabbi Shimon Cohen of Beersheva, Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg of Tzfat, Rabbi Uri Sharki from Jerusalem, Rabbi David Turgeman from Dimona, Rabbi Shimon Biton from Beit Shean, Rabbi Yonatan Adoar from Petah Tikva and Rabbi Rahamim Nassimi from Beit Shemesh.
The forum also received the blessing of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and a member of the Israel's Chief Rabbinate Council.
The forum of rabbis will gather in Jerusalem for a conference Sunday to garner the interest of traditional voters.
The conference was organized by several activists and organizations working in conjunction with Jewish Home MKs, as led by Slomiansky.
"It is important for the rabbis to say aloud to all you - a large group of people who represent a wide public - that Jewish Home is your home," Slomiansky stressed at the event.
Religious groups are infiltrating
secular politics in Israel.
Saleh Naami, Middle East Monitor 24 June 2012
A reflection of the growing influence of religion in secular parties was the result of a meeting convened two months ago by the Executive Committee of the ruling Likud party, led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Prime Minister was embarrassed when religious members of the Executive managed to persuade a majority to refuse Netanyahu's initiative to appoint a person loyal to him at the head of the Committee. The religious members wished to appoint a figure even more extreme than Netanyahu's candidate...
Although religious infiltration of secular parties has been more noticeable in the past three years, it started quietly more than a decade ago in a manner that shows it is part of a scheme designed to exercise the greatest influence on decision-making circles in Israel.
Faced with growing criticism from the far-right over a reported peace deal proposal, Israeli ruling party Likud issued a statement nationwide to synagogues in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out the two-state solution.
“Any evacuated territory will be overtaken by radical Islam and terror groups backed by Iran. Therefore there will be no withdrawals and no concessions. It’s just not relevant,” the statement read.
The Likud statement went on to say that Netanyahu’s 2009 declaration of support for a two-state solution was “annulled” adding that Netanyahu’s entire political career “is the struggle against the establishment of the Palestinian state.”
The statement prompted criticism from the Israeli left, leading Netanyahu to bizarrely deny that he’d ever made such comments as were attributed to him in the statement released by his own party.
Netanyahu is struggling, as usual, with his attempts to campaign on both sides of the fence, positioning himself, for the sake of far-right voters, as an ultrahawk with no designs on peace, and for the sake of centrist voters as a reasonable moderate.
The uncertainties were swept aside on Friday afternoon, when the prime minister, for the first time in ages, gave a press conference on Day Four of Operation Protective Edge. He spoke only in Hebrew, and we are in the middle of a mini-war, so his non-directly war-related remarks didn’t get widely reported. But those remarks should not be overlooked...
He made explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.
He indicated that he sees Israel standing almost alone on the frontlines against vicious Islamic radicalism, while the rest of the as-yet free world does its best not to notice the march of extremism. And he more than intimated that he considers the current American, John Kerry-led diplomatic team to be, let’s be polite, naive.
Netanyahu has stressed often in the past that he doesn’t want Israel to become a binational state... But on Friday he made explicit that this could not extend to full Palestinian sovereignty.
Earlier this spring, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sparked a storm in Israel-US ties when he told a private gathering that the US-Kerry-Allen security proposals weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Netanyahu on Friday said the same, and more, in public...
It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands...
2012: Israel PM Netanyahu Hosts Bible Study
By Julie Stahl, CBN News Jerusalem, June 24, 2012
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has revived a decades-old tradition: Bible study at the Prime Minister's house. The Prime Minister opened the first session of the "Bible Study Club" at his official Jerusalem residence.
"We're studying the Bible and the Bible is the book of the Jewish people, but also the book of universal values," Netanyahu said. "It's the story of the Jewish people and it expresses the hope that we will return to this land."
Netanyahu asked Jewish Bible teacher Micah Goodman to lead the session.
"I communicate Biblical stories and Biblical ideas and how the Bible could guide us in very sophiscticated, modern challenges of Jewish sovereignty in Israel, we have to communicate that to secular Israelis and to religious Israelis," Goodman said.
Netanyahu, his wife, Sarah, and more than a dozen rabbis and scholars studied the book of Ruth...
Netanyahu said he studies the Hebrew Bible with his sons every sabbath.
Micah Goodman, 24-11-2010
" In Israel, in order to solve the Palestinian problem the government has created a coalition with the haredim. They say, ‘You vote with us on issues of land and peace, we’ll give you all the religious issues.’
As a result of being so obsessed with signing the perfect agreement to solve the Arab conflict, we are always sacrificing a secular Jewish character to control by the haredim. I believe that the haredim problem is much more significant than the Arab-Israeli problem."
"Who are you?” the late Muammar Gaddafi once rhetorically asked in a famous speech of his towards the end of his reign; questioning the legitimacy of those seeking to over-throw his government at the time, calling them extremists, foreign agents, rats and drug-addicts.
He was laughed at, unfairly caricatured, ridiculed and incessantly demonized...
But Gaddafi knew what he was talking about; right from the get-go, he accused the so-called Libyan rebels of being influenced by Al-Qaeda ideology and Ben Laden’s school of thought; no one had taken his word for it of course, not even a little bit.
I mean why should we have? After all, wasn’t he a vile, sex-centric dictator hell-bent on massacring half of the Libyan population while subjecting the other half to manic raping sprees with the aid of his trusted army of Viagra-gobbling, sub-Saharan mercenaries?
At least that’s what we got from the Al Jazeera channel and its Saudi counterpart Al-Arabiya in their heavily skewed coverage of NATO’s vicious conquest of Libya.
Al Jazeera is a Doha-based broadcaster owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is funded by the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar.
Al Arabiya is a Saudi-owned pan-Arab television news channel. The channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is majority-owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).
Plus Gaddafi did dress funny; why would anyone trust a haggard, weird-looking despot dressed in colorful rags when you have well-groomed Zionists like Bernard Henry Levy, John McCain and Hillary Clinton at your side..?
In an interview with the western media in February 2011 the late Muammar Gaddafi told his condescending interviewers: “Have you seen the Al Qaeda operatives? Have you heard all these Jihadi broadcasts? It is Al Qaeda that is controlling the cities of Al Baida and Darnah, former Guantanamo inmates and extremists unleashed by America to terrorize the Libyan people…”.
Darnah is now the main stronghold for ISIS in Libya.
This is what Gaddafi had predicted...: “they will turn Libya into another Afghanistan, another Somalia, another Iraq… your women won’t be allowed out, they will transform Libya into an Islamic Emirate and America will bomb the country under the pretext of fighting terrorism...”
Too bad we just laughed his warnings off...
Al-Aroor, Levy, Cameron, Sarkozy, Bin Laden
"We’re living in surreal times. And the question remains unanswered: What is this supreme power that gives the United States the right to make war?"
"We Arabs have a saying: 'He who laughs at the beginning will cry at the end.' After their initial victory the Americans run the risk of a disaster. My advice to President Bush, then, is quite simple: Even for the United States, it would be wise to learn not to go too far."
"Victory will be easy. The Americans have too many missiles, aircraft, and tanks for the Iraqis to bother them much. But this victory will be only temporary, because it will arouse reactions. And not just in Iraq or the Middle East. The results will be felt in Europe and around the globe. Terrorism risks spreading like an epidemic. The powder keg will explode..."
"Everything that’s going on now serves the interest of Osama bin Laden."
Question: In Israel, the far right argues that since the Arab world still wants to throw the Jews into the sea, the Israelis have the right to expel the Palestinians to the East bank of the Jordan. Does this seem like a plausible solution to you?
"The only smart solution would be to create a single state that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace. I’ve even come up with a name for it — Isratine.
We have a model for a state like that in the Middle East: Lebanon. This is a country that has managed to bring together different religions and peoples in a single entity."
"The root of the problem is one side claiming the land over another and gives it its name and that's wrong." "The biased concepts, whether racial or religious, must be abolished". Muammar Gaddafi, 2005
Iran's Assembly of Experts, the clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country's supreme leader, picked an ultraconservative as their new chairman in a surprise appointment on Tuesday.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, 83, was a deputy speaker of parliament after the 1979 Islamic revolution and headed the judiciary for a decade until 1999.
He gained 47 of the 73 votes cast at a closed-door meeting in Tehran, according to the website of state television, citing officials.
Yazdi, described in Iran's official Who's Who as rightwing, takes up a position vacant since October 2014, when Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani died following a heart attack.
Officially comprised of 86 religious figures elected by the people, the Assembly of Experts chooses the supreme leader and monitors his actions.
One of the more hard-line clerics in Iran has called President Hassan Rouhani’s Citizens’ Rights Charter initiative “incompatible with Islam,” called for a study of any connections between the 2009 election protests and people who have studied in Britain and warned that the administration was mishandling the nuclear negotiations.
In an attack on Rouhani’s education in Scotland, Mesbah Yazdi told the board of directors of the National Defense University today, “The foundation for the 2009 sedition was formed in London and the people who founded that sedition are educated in England.” He called for a study of Britain’s policies, fearful of what he sees as its strategy to educate Iranian politicians and spread Western ideas inside Iran.
Mesbah Yazdi said that those who are educated in Britain have “similarities in thinking to one another,” adding that Rouhani’s proposed Citizens’ Rights Charter holds that “a Baha’i and a Muslim, a revolutionary and an anti-revolutionary, are equal — it comes from that thinking.”
There have been Jews in Iran for more than 2,500 years. Many left the country after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power. Khomeini said Iran wanted to destroy Israel, but he also issued a fatwa, a religious decree, saying that Iranian Jews were different to those in Israel and should be considered an integral part of the Islamic Republic.
In the first two to three years of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), about one-third of Iran's 80,000 Jews left for Israel, Europe, and the U.S. IRI broke its relations with Israel.
Iran adapted a pro-Palestinian policy declaring that Israel and Zionism must be destroyed. IRI also encouraged the foundation of Hizbollah in Lebanon by supporting it with money, arms, and military advisers. Any tie with Israel was considered war against Islam. (Jewish Virtual Library)
Sion Mahgrefte is the head of the Jewish community in Esfahan. He declined to comment directly on political matters, especially in the current heated environment, but he did say that the members of his community felt very much at home in Iran.
"Israel and Iran are countries," he said. "And we consider ourselves Iranian Jews, not Israeli Jews. So the hostilities between Israel and Iran do not affect us."
While Sion Mahgrefte is adamant that they have no problems with their Shia neighbors, he does acknowledge that friends living abroad often worry about them.
"Of course sometimes people we know who live in Israel or elsewhere are very concerned about us, and they tell us we are crazy to live here," he says. "But then we tell them how things are and they calm down."
"We have proposed a just and democratic solution [for the problem]. All the Palestinians—the current residents, as well as those who had to flee [in 1948] but have preserved their Palestinian identity—whether Jew, Muslim, or Christian, must take part in a well-monitored and trustworthy referendum, and choose the political structure of the country. All the Palestinians that have suffered for years as refugees must return home and take part in the referendum, and then in drafting a constitution and holding elections. It is only then that peace will prevail."
Although Khamenei thinks otherwise, his proposal really is utopian. How can he expect his proposal to find acceptance when Israel denounces a two-state solution — a proposal supported by the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations — and rejects returning to the 1967 borders?
If Khamenei is truly concerned about Palestinians, he must not talk about destroying Israel.
His statements about destroying Israel are false and inhumane, and have been taken advantage of by the Israelis, so much so that the Palestinian problem has almost been forgotten.
A more respectable strategy would be for Khamenei to defend the two-state solution, be on the side of the Middle East Quartet, and isolate Netanyahu as a target of criticism.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is “an out-and-out leftist, everything about him is an impersonation,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Makor Rishon.
Netanyahu ruled out the possibility of establishing a unity government with Labor, and made clear that he would not sit in a government headed by Yitzchak Herzog.
"If people do not go out and vote Likud, an upheaval is possible,” he said... "There is a concentrated effort – political and financial – to bring about the downfall of the Likud government under me and its replacement with a leftist government under Tzipi and Buji [Herzog],” Netanyahu explained.
Yair Lapid himself told Army Radio Wednesday: “There are zero chances that we will recommend Binyamin Netanyahu, everyone understands this, because I think that he shouldn't be the next prime minister.
We need to understand that there is a change here. There is no more Right and Left...
There is Right, center and Left...
Most of the public is in the center; it is sane, pragmatic and reasonable.”
Wikipedia Info: We will change nothing!
In a May 19, 2013 interview with New York Times correspondent Jodi Rudoren, Lapid said that:
1.".. Israel should not change its policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank in order to revive the stalemated peace process"
2."..Jerusalem should not serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state"
3."..he would not stop the so-called “natural expansion” of settlements in the West Bank, nor curtail the financial incentives offered Israelis to move there"
4."..the large swaths of land known as East Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and later annexed must stay Israeli because “we didn’t come here for nothing.”
Yair Lapid 10-10-2013: Don't ask for justice
"The Palestinians and the Israelis have two different conceptions of peace: the Palestinians justice, the Israelis security
Security is how we, Israel, define it. Security is no Right of Return. Security is a united Jerusalem under full Israeli sovereignty.
Until the Palestinians give up on their concept of justice, like they did with the Right of Return, yet still cling to uselessly with Jerusalem, they will not have a state of their own.
The Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol on Monday derided “mezuzah-kissing” Jews as “fools”.
The remarks came in defense of Israeli painter and political pundit Yair Garbuz, who caused an uproar for saying two days ago at a rally in Tel Aviv that “amulet kissers and pagan worshipers” are controlling the country.
The mezuzah is a small parchment scroll affixed to the doorpost and containing the text of the “Shema Yisrael” prayer. Religious believers commonly kiss the fixture upon entering or leaving a room or building.
Garbuz had told thousands of demonstrators in Rabin Square that the country had been taken over by “handfuls” of extremists.
“They told us, and wanted us to believe,” that right-wing extremists were merely a “handful,” Garbuz said, along with “the thieves and bribe-takers,” “the corrupt and hedonistic,” “the destroyers of democracy,” “those who think democracy is the tyranny of the majority,” and “the kissers of amulets, idol-worshipers, and those who prostrate themselves on the graves of the saints.”
“If all these are just a handful,” Garbuz continued, “how does this handful rule over us? How is it that without anyone noticing or interfering, this, the handful became a majority?”
In a video message Naftali Bennett warned leftists like Yair Garboz.
“All of a sudden I realize what these elections are all about,” he said. “Will Israel continue to be a Jewish state? There are two world views here between two elites.
There is the old elite, who feel that 'their' state is being stolen away. This is the elite that artists like Garboz belong to, who feels free to stand before tens of thousands of people and sully everything that is holy to the Jewish people.
“Then there is the great and large group that is connected to their Jewish roots,” Bennett said...
“In these elections, we will decide what kind of country we want. Judaism will win, the 'primitive fools' and 'mezuzah kissers' are going to win.”
What is the definition of idolatry?
Answer: The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true, universal God.
Exodus 20: And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God.." “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them..."
Make an altar of earth for me.. Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.
God: "Honor me wherever you live, and I will be with you,
and please, make simple altars of earth..."
"There is only one meaning of life: the act of living itself."
"If I am what I have and if I lose what I have who then am I?"
"God," a Hasidic master remarked, "does not say that 'it was good' after creating man; this indicates that man was not finished." It is man himself, guided by God's word as voiced by the Torah and the Prophets, who can develop his inherent nature in the process of history.
The essence of human evolution lies in man's emergence from the incestuous ties to blood and soil into independence and freedom. Man, the prisoner of nature, becomes free by becoming fully human.
In the biblical and later Jewish view, freedom and independence are the goals of human development, and the aim of human action is the constant process of liberating oneself from the shackles that bind man to the past, to nature, to the clan, to idols...
Can he do without such absolutes? Is it not a question of choosing between better or worse absolutes, that is to say, between absolutes which help his development and those that hinder it? Is it not a question of choosing between God and idols?
In his book Psychoanalysis and Religion Erich Fromm draws a distinction between two types of religion: authoritarian (being a slave of idols, projection of God in man-made things) and humanistic (fighting idols, finding God in yourself). He writes:
“The essential element in authoritarian religion and in the authoritarian religious experience is the surrender to a power transcending man. The main virtue of this type of religion is obedience, its cardinal sin is disobedience..."
“Humanistic religion, on the contrary, is centered around man and his strength. Man must develop his power of reason in order to understand himself, his relationship to his fellow men and his position in the universe.
"Religious experience in this kind of religion is the experience of oneness with the All, based on one’s relatedness to the world as it is grasped with thought and with love."
Why would anybody care what Netanyahu thinks?
What Netanyahu thinks matters for the same reason that it matters what Republicans think or, for that matter what, ninety-five percent (or more) of the Democrats in Congress think — about Iran or anything else.
Their ideas are not worth taking seriously, not by a long shot. But their powers and offices are.
This is how it is in modern “democracies.” There is no shortage of people with ideas that merit consideration. But, with rare exceptions, those people are consigned to the margins of political life. Their views almost never affect public policy – not directly anyway, and not in a timely fashion...
Sound, progressive ideas are seldom taken seriously. They are as welcome in the halls of power as antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are welcome in modern hospitals.
This is not how it is supposed to be; but, then, the real world of democracy and democratic theory have never been on the same page. The gap has lately become more than usually cavernous, but the problem has always been with us...
Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu, bringing Joe Biden, normally AIPAC’s most fawning subject, and the rest of his administration along.
It was not a clean break; that has yet to come. Instead, proclaiming their support for Israel, the refuseniks fabricated lame excuses.
Obama said he didn’t want to interfere with the Israeli election...
Nancy Pelosi showed up, but her co-thinkers said that they objected to the violation of diplomatic protocol; that when a foreign leader addresses Congress, the visit should be arranged through the White House, not the speaker of the House.
Bernie Sanders, nominally a socialist and officially an “independent,” bought into this excuse too. So did the other Great Progressive Hope of “the democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” Elizabeth Warren...
Meanwhile, the realization that America has no business giving Israel’s leaders carte blanche to do what they want to Palestinians and to neighboring states is spreading.
So is the idea that Israeli efforts to influence American politics are outrageous.
The US Congress will be the last to figure it out...
ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.
In a conversation, conducted by telephone, Benjamin Netanyahu complained at what he called an unprecedented, “almost Soviet-style” campaign to oust him, waged with immense funding from overseas, and advanced aggressively in local media.
Asked whether the Obama administration should be counted among those who want to see him gone, Netanyahu said dryly that this didn’t require a tremendous leap of the imagination.
"There is an effort by leftist NGOs throughout the world, and left-leaning tycoons and consultants from various political parties, including from the United States, to try to bring down the Likud and me.
They say so openly. They are conducting a campaign with tens of millions of dollars under the banner, ‘Anyone but Bibi.’ They understand that if I’m gone, the right will collapse. And that’s what they’re trying to do."
"They’re trying to get Boujie and Tzipi in government here, because they realize that they will capitulate to all the dictates the international left wants to impose on Israel.
They’re not doing it because they care about the cost of living in Israel. They care about getting Israel to retreat to the ’67 lines, to divide Jerusalem, and to accept this deal with Iran. I oppose them, and therefore I’m in their way."
"The important thing is to recognize that the (Likud-led) national camp in Israel doesn’t have tens of millions of dollars, a slew of international consultants and cooperative organs of the press here on a vast scale, as Yedioth (Ahronoth) and Ynet are providing, with no holds barred." ...
"It’s almost Soviet-style. It’s organized, first of all, locally by (Yedioth’s) Noni Mozes. He uses tactics that no one uses, that Israel Today never uses — investigations, pressure, threats, unlike anything found anywhere."
"We haven’t seen anything like it. And yet despite this fantastic campaign of slander and vilification, the majority of the public wants me as prime minster."
Q: People prefer you to Herzog as prime minister, and yet your party is not doing well enough to guarantee that. Why is that?
Currently (some people) think they have the luxury of voting for other parties. Some of these parties will take their votes to the left. Lapid definitely will go to the left, (with the votes of) some people who would like me to be prime minister. Kahlon and Liberman could definitely go left. They don’t deny it. So they could be taking those votes away. And (there are) voters for Bennett and Shas who might think they have a choice to vote for those parties and still get me as prime minister. But in fact they won’t. The only way they’ll get me as prime minister is if the Likud gets sufficient votes. Those that want me as prime minister have to vote for my party, the Likud.
Flashback 2005: Ariel Sharon resigned as leader of the Likud party
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 it was unfit to run the country. The prime minister announced the launch of a new party, National Responsibility.
"After great hesitation I decided to leave the Likud. The Likud in its current format cannot lead Israel to its national aims ... Remaining in the Likud means a waste of time in political fighting," Sharon said.
"The task in front of us is to create a base for a peace agreement in which will we will create the permanent borders of the state while demanding the cessation of terror."
Bibi’s Congress Speech|
Remixed by Noy Alooshe, 4-3-2015
"Their idea of diplomacy is submission, is capitulation," he said of Herzog and Livni. "Whatever the outside pressures are we have to submit to them!"
"The international Left and local Left aren't stupid. They know that I do not concede. They know that I stand our ground. They know that they have to knock me and Likud out - that's why their campaign is 'anyone but Bibi!'"
It is hammered into us that the history of Jewry has been brought to an end and that Israel is its end point. Israel functions as an eraser of Jewish history, of memory, of languages, of traditions and of Jewish identities. Israeli politics is not only criminal against the Palestinian people. It claims to be the heir of Jewish history when it has misrepresented that history and betrayed it. Israel knowingly puts the Jews in danger wherever they find themselves. And it transforms them into robots summoned to justify the unjustifiable.
Devout Jews who emigrate to Israel rarely encounter there the religion that they have practiced for centuries. The national-religious movement is dominant.
This integrationist current has transformed the character of religion. A ‘chosen people’ never meant one having more rights than others but, on the contrary, one having more obligations.
Among the precepts, there is ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ was never meant as the inspiration for the ethnic cleansing now taking place but was an expression of eagerly ‘anticipating the Messiah’.
The settlement on this land (of Israel/Palestine) before the arrival of the Messiah and a fortiori the creation of a Jewish state was forbidden.
For secular Jews, the dominant values of Israel are the antithesis of their understanding of the values of Judaism.
Where does one find in the Jewish tradition the racism, the chauvinism, the militarism, the negation of the existence and of the dignity of the other?
What is there in common between what great Jewish intellectuals (Einstein, Freud, Arendt, Kafka, Benjamin …) represented and the war criminals who run Israel?
What has Israel done with their memory and that of those who struggled against fascism and colonialism (Marek Edelman, Abraham Serfaty, Henri Curiel …)?
Hannah Arendt's Vision of Israel
Arendt had been a tireless advocate for Jewish victims and for the existence of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, but she envisioned the homeland as a federated, pluralistic, democratic, secular state -- a homeland for Palestinians and Jews coexisting peacefully as neighbors without an official state religion.
This may seem a pipe dream now, but in early Zionism this was called the "general" view.
The reception of her book 'Eichmann in Jerusalem' was perhaps the most vituperative literary event of the twentieth century... The hostilities revolved around the book's subtitle, A Report on the Banality of Evil, and its criticism of the dominance of anti-Arab Jewish nationalist sentiment dominating Israeli politics.
Arendt was frightened by the insight that the most awful, reprehensible crimes might be committed by ordinary people.
This in turn made her suspicious of the prosecution's caricature of Eichmann as "the monster" responsible for the suffering of the Jewish people, as well as impatient with the use of a judicial proceeding to rehearse the story of Jewish suffering before the world and especially before young Israelis in an orchestrated political celebration of militarism as the only way for Jews to be safe in a world populated with hate-filled, Jew-killing monsters.
Better, she thought, for young people to see that in the long run, the survival of Israel depends on finding a path to peace with its neighbors. (How Hannah Arendt Was Labeled an “Enemy of Israel”, Tikkun 2010)
"Politicians are not spiritual or social leaders, they are the people's representatives in the Knesset where laws are passed and the country is led in practice."
"Whether or not they are stringently religious, just as long as they strengthen the image of the country as the Jewish State and enhance the ability to keep the Torah's commandments and study the Torah, build the land and encourage the feeling of Jewish solidarity – we must stand behind them."
Q: What is the relationship between the political and spiritual leaders, how much authority does the political leader have?
"I see the political leader as a messenger. He must do the will of those who sent him... If he forgets that, we will forget him.
Obviously, there are fields that politicians understand better than rabbis, but there are fields that require rabbis..."
Q: Do you feel that Naftali Bennett is that kind of leader?
"I absolutely think that has been the case up to now... I have concluded after many conversations with him, that when it comes to questions of religion and state, he definitely listens to the advice of leading rabbis who have formed an advisory group that meets with him, and carries out their guidance when it comes to those issues".
Q: Does the Rabbi agree with Bennett's plans to lead the state of Israel?
"First of all, one must note that leading the nation has many facets – our head of state must face world leaders with assurance. I don't see anyone who can do that better and present the view that Israel belongs to the Jewish people - and the Jewish people to Israel..."
"In contrast to all the rumors that people spread, Bennett managed to block everything that the rabbis told him to..."
Q: There are claims that these consultations with rabbis are just for cover, and that afterwards the Jewish Home MK's do as they please.
"That is false and malicious slander. I want to state emphatically that not only do we see the results of the consultations in practice, we also see that there is sincere willingness to carry out the rabbis' directions."
Q: Should religious Zionists concentrate on keeping the country's existing Judaism-related laws intact (known as the "status quo")?
"We must not be only on the defensive and try to preserve the 'status quo', we must take the initiative.
The Jewish State Law was a good example - it is of prime importance that this country be defined as a Jewish state because ideas of unfettered democracy are eroding that concept bit by bit.
This is a good period to bring up this concept - despite all the talk of 'rights', our population is becoming more and more traditional..."
Zalman Baruch Melamed is the spiritual mentor of Arutz Sheva.
Something interesting happened in the past three months. In the final days of the Netanyahu-Lapid-Livni government, Netanyahu was in a high and strong position. He had an approval rating of 77% as prime minister. He felt like he was on the top of the world...
The moment he decided to call elections, Netanyahu shifted to the right. Instead of a national leader, we got a nationalistic leader. His approval rating began dropping by tens of percentage points.
Interestingly, the final stage of the right's campaign erases the difference between Netanyahu and the Bayit Yehudi, Tkuma and Yachad parties.
On Sunday evening, they all participated in the same (right-wing) rally.
It was a rally against a compromise. A rally in favor of one big state. A rally in favor of a binational state. A rally which befits the margins of the right. A rally which places Israel in a defying stand not only against Europe, but also against the American administration and the majority of US Jews.
|Shardad Rohani conducts Tehran symphony orchestra and choir The best-known song from Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' is “O Fortuna” (“Oh Fortune”).. It frames the revelry of the three main movements with a stark warning about the power of luck and fate, offering the ancient image of a wheel of fortune that deals out triumph and disaster at random. (source)||
Tehran Symphony Orchestra back from hiatus
In a snap election to Israel's 120-seat parliament on Tuesday, the Likud beat centre-left rivals the Zionist Union by 30 seats to 24.
The Palestinians slammed Israelis for voting for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party, saying they had chosen "occupation and settlement building" over peace talks.
"Israel chose the path of racism, occupation and settlement building, and did not choose the path of negotiations and partnership between us," senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Yasser Abed Rabbo told Agence France Presse.
"Ahead of us is a long and difficult road of struggle against Israel," Abed Rabbo said.
"We must complete our steps to stop security coordination (with Israel) and go to the Hague tribunal to move against settlements and Israel's crimes in its war on Gaza."
In the final stages of the campaign, Netanyahu ruled out the establishment of a Palestinian state if reelected... He also pledged to build thousands of homes for Jewish settlers in annexed Arab east Jerusalem to prevent future concessions to the Palestinians.
The Likud party said that Netanyahu has spoken by phone to the party leaders he hopes to form a coalition with — the Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett, Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon, Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, Shas’s Aryeh Deri, and United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman.
If all those party leaders agree to join up with Likud, Netanyahu would be able to form a coalition of some 68 seats, retaining power after an election that was seen by many as a referendum on his rule. The prime minister said he hopes to set up a coalition in the coming two-three weeks. (Times of Israel 18-3-2015)
"They are blind guides leading the blind,
and if one blind person guides another,
they will both fall into a ditch."
The first conclusion that arose just minutes after the announcement of the exit polls was particularly discouraging: The nation must be replaced. Not another election for the country's leadership, but general elections to choose a new Israeli people – immediately.
If after six years of nothing, if after six years of sowing fear and anxiety, hatred and despair, this is the nation's choice, then it is very ill indeed.
If after everything that has been revealed in recent months, if after everything that has been written and said, ... if after all this the Israeli people chose Netanyahu to lead for another four years, something is truly broken, possibly beyond repair.
The results are indicative of the direction the country is headed: A significant proportion of Israelis has finally grown detached from reality...
If Netanyahu is the next prime minister, then Israel has not only divorced the peace process, but also the world.
Piss off, dear world, we're on our own. Please don't interfere, we're asleep, the people are with Netanyahu.
Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist, writing opinion pieces and a weekly column for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz