Does that mean we should give up and just continue to live with this reality? Of course not. Surely, achieving limited development here and there is not the solution we are looking for. In my opinion, we desperately need drastic changes that preserve our established values which we all agree on. The rest should be changed and improved.
I believe that the most important aspects of change in this regard have to do with creating more options for our students. The more varied opportunities we make available to them, the higher their creativity and achievement levels will get.
If you were to monitor the production lines of a daily newspaper, you would find that some copies are destroyed because they are imperfect.
Israel's Education Ministry: Don't promote humanism
In Humanism of the Other, Emmanuel Levinas argues that it is not only possible but of the highest exigency to understand one's humanity through the humanity of others. |
Based in a new appreciation for ethics, and taking new distances from the phenomenology of Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl,and Merleau-Ponty, the idealism of Plato and Kant, and the skepticism of Nietzsche and Blanchot, Levinas rehabilitates humanism and restores its promises. (University of Illinois Press).
"I am so outraged!", A.B Yehoshua told Walla! News. "This is an excellent book that should be a best-seller and read by many people. It describes thing with sensitivity and truthfulness and this rejection seems absurd to me and unacceptable."
Novelist Haim Be'er also slammed the move, alluding to it as a political ploy by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to regain the trust of Jewish Home voters following his comments about the Duma suspects.
"I must say from my knowledge of the Am Oved [publishing house] he did the book a huge favor," Be'er asserted. "Tomorrow, God willing, Am Oved's book merchants will take the out the books that haven't been sold and it will become a bestseller." ... "I'm jealous Dorit Rabinyan won what I didn't win; let them disqualify me," Be'er added sarcastically.
In a more straightforward reaction, poet Natan Zach simply blasted the Education Minister as "a moron. What can you do against morons? Morons are the majority. We are the minority."
Moron: a foolish or stupid person - a person having an intelligence quotient of between 50 and 70, able to work under supervision.
While Islam and Christianity can be easily understood as belief systems, (Ezra-based) Judaism actually defies the notion of belief all together.
Judaism is an obedience regulative system. The Judaic universe is ruled by ‘mitzvoth’ (commandment), a set of 613 precepts and directives ordered by God.
In opposition to Christianity and Islam that build from spiritual and heavenly precepts in worship to a transcendental God, the Judaic subject subscribes to strict earthly and material observance. While the Islamo-Christian is wrapped in God’s loving and the spirituality of the sublime and divinity, the follower of Judaism is judged by his or her ability to adhere to hundreds of rigorous earthly orders.
But if Judaism is not a belief system, what kind of system is it? Does the Judaic subject believe in anything at all?
The answer is yes: the Jew believes in ‘The Jews’ and the Jews believe in ‘The Jew.’ ... In pragmatic terms, the Jew sticks to the ‘chosen people’ and, together the ‘chosenites’ uphold a collective sense of choseness.
The Jews don’t believe in God, they believe in themselves - the Jews believe in ‘The Jew’ and vice versa.
Within this peculiar troubled family affair, the Jew is free to dump God, as an author can freely re-write or at least re-shape his or her own narrative. But the Jew can never dump the Jews as much as the Jews can’t allow ‘The Jew’ to go free.
And what about God, can he be emancipated, can he choose another people? Certainly not.
Unlike the Jew who is free to dump God while clinging to a Jewish identity, the Jewish God is merely a Jewish protagonist. God can’t go anywhere, he is stuck with ‘his’ chosen people forever.
Choseness, so it seems, is hardly a heavenly gift, it is in fact a curse. It confines the Jew in a realm of self-imposed commandment and materiality. Instead of beauty, holiness and the pursuit of the divine and the sublime, the rabbinical Jew is left with an earthly obedience scheme that is sustained by a rigid tribal setting. ‘The Jew’ and ‘The Jews’ are bound in a set of mutual affirmations in which God serves an instrumental role.
Some may rightly argue that this spectacular bond between the Jews and ‘The Jew’ is essential for an understanding of the dichotomy between Judaic tribalism and the universal appeal of Islamo-Christian beliefs.
The Judaic crude intolerance towards dissent serves as an example of the above. Throughout their history, Jews have proven themselves hostile toward their nonconformists... While in the case of Christianity and Islam dumping God suggests turning one’s back on a remote supernatural entity, in the case of Judaism, such an act is interpreted as a disbelief in the tribe...
Due to the lack of a divine transcendental entity, Jewish religions have always regarded criticism as rejection of the tribe. Jewish religions, whether Judaism, Bolshevism or Holocaust, are equally intolerant towards criticism and dissent.
Tragically enough, intolerance of dissent has become a universal Western political symptom. Incidentally, Christianity, Islam, religion and divinity in general are also under attack within the context of contemporary Western discourse.
Is this a symptom of the Jerusalemification of our Western universe? Is the emergence of the tyranny of political correctness a coincidence? And if we are becoming Jews, is there any room for the hope that our universe may, at some stage, embrace a universal ethos once again? Can we once again believe in something? Or do we have to wait for a new Jesus figure to resurrect our trust in the human spirit and humanity in general?
Flashback: A rifle and a bible - The survival of the tribe
Raanan Gissin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s top adviser and spokesman (2001-2006), says that Sharon — a secular Jew — has long been calling for more Jewish text study in the secular schools. Without this foundation, Gissin says, young Israelis “don’t grasp that the Jewish people have lived here continuously for 4,000 years, that we have a right to be here, and therefore are more likely to feel disconnected to the land. What they don’t understand is that even when we make compromises in our ancestral homeland for peace, there are places Israel can never give up because they are part and parcel of who we are.
"Judaism as we know it began to evolve in the time of the Second Temple, i.e., the fifth century BC. Thereafter, the principal separation, namely, between Jews and «Gentiles», became entrenched, as the religious leaders Ezra and Nehemiah forbade inter-marriage between Jews and other people. (Until the time of the Second Temple there was constant inter-marriage between the Israelites and their neighbours.)
Ranaan Gissin 2010: "When my great parents,came from Russia in a hundred and fifty years ago, my grandfather came with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in another, and his hand was extended to the Arabs who lived here. Some did make business with him and others who fought him had to meet the wrath of his rifle, and that’s how you live in the Middle East." (Source)
There was very little to celebrate in the Arab world last year. The raging wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya destroyed homes, displaced thousands and killed many more. Terrorism was rampant, the threat of extremism and sectarianism was prevalent and discrimination against women continued.
The region will remain in chaos and there will be no peace if we do not begin to seriously put our house in order and begin to admit our failures and shortcomings. Let the new year’s resolution be to put an end to conflicts and empower Arab citizens to pursue peace and prosperity and a future of hope and not despair.
The Arab youth today have lost faith in their elders and do not know where to turn. They remain vulnerable and that is why many are easy prey for Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) and other terrorist organizations which provide them with false promises and hope for a better future.
It is very critical during these difficult years of turmoil to build character in our youth and give them the strength to persevere and overcome the threats and dangers within.
The Arab has always been known for his brave character and chivalry even in the most adverse situations. This is what we need to revive in Arab youth. They need to regain their pride and dignity.
Every child should have the opportunity to receive a good education and every graduate should be able to pursue a career without any barriers or prior restrictions of gender, class, religion or ethnicity.
Asma Assad, meeting students, 2012 - 2013, 2014
Realizing Arab dreams and aspirations will be more difficult for future generations. Many remain skeptical because they are convinced that hard work and determination do not guarantee success. The greed and abuse of power that is practiced by some in Arab societies is slowly eroding their hopes and ambitions. Inflated expectations have frustrated many and the modern wealth structure that perpetuates racial and class inequalities between people of different ethnic backgrounds is a source of discontent...
We live in a world where business interests control all matters and the wealthy decide our future. Something must be done to put a stop to policies that support the influence of the rich and the powerful with agendas and selfish interests.
Every state has an obligation to allow for political freedom as well as to enforce law and order and every business leader has to share the responsibility of serving society and addressing public needs.
Love is not by words, but by actions and feelings.
Be a light, a smile, a song, and a guide for the paths of others.
Our dream, for all Times, is the unity of all nations.
All the disagreements will disappear; it is enough that you are human...
The Arab Dream (1998)
We are used to hearing conspiracy theories on a great many subjects. When it comes to the Middle East, however, it is difficult to describe plans and projects as mere conspiracy theories. Because we have seen some of the scenarios planned for the Middle East over the course of time actually be made a reality...
Let us remember the New Middle East project drawn up by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, one of US President Clinton’s advisers, in 2006. In a paper titled “Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look,” published in the Armed Forces Journal, Peters said that the borders of the Mideast need to be re-drawn to spread democracy and stem terrorism.
Accordingly, the Middle East needed to be divided further into almost 20 components. This virtual map, in which Iraq was divided between Shiites and Sunnis, a state of Kurdistan was established, the borders of Armenia were extended and states belonging to Azeris and Baluchis in the north of Iraq were set up, and in which the borders of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan were re-drawn, was in fact created in line with an objective, and appears to have proved itself as we enter 2016...
Assad is the enemy of the WestThe Friends of Syria - diplomats from 11 Western and Gulf Arab pro-rebel-nations - met in Paris 12-1-2014
Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant
"There are no separate cultures, there is but one single culture in the world, namely the culture of mankind".
Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, Strasbourg 15-1-2008
Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun: "I am Sunni in practice, Shiite in allegiance. My roots are Salafi, and my purity is Sufi."
Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence
Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence, especially in the central province of Homs, where academics and officials are targeted in a tactic reminiscent those used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their armed uprising between 1976 and 1982.
The Saudi government executed 47 longtime prisoners who had be sentenced to death over terrorism and general revolting against the government.
It was a smart move.
The Saudis are in trouble over their war on Yemen. After nine month of bombing the hell out of the country there is no chance that the aim of their war, reinstalling their proxy government in Sanaa, will be reached anytime soon. Meanwhile Yemeni forces raid one Saudi town after another. The Saudi regime change-projects via Salafi jihadists in Iraq and Syria are also faltering. The low oil price make it necessary for the Saudi government to introduce taxes on its people. New taxes are hardly ever popular.
To divert from these problems the Saudis decided to get rid of a bunch of prisoners. Many of the 47 killed were truly al-Qaida types who had blown up buildings in Saudi Arabia and wanted to violently overthrow the Saudi government.
Four of the killed were of Shia believe and one of those was the prominent rabble rousing Shia preacher Nimr Baqr al-Nimr from the majority Shia eastern Saudi province Qatif.
Al-Nimr had called for the Shia youth in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to raise up against the government. He called for the overthrow of all tyrants not only in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but also of the Assad government in Syria. He was no Iranian stooge but defended its regime.
Al-Nimr said he was against violence but several of the demonstrations he had called for ended with dead protesters and policemen. It was quite astonishing that the Saudi government let him preach for so long. A Sunni cleric in Saudi Arabia would likely have been put into jail and killed for much less revolutionary talk.
A U.S. diplomat talked with al-Nimr in 2008. A cable available through Wikileaks summarizes:
Al-Nimr described his and al-Mudarrasi's attitude towards Islamic governance as being something between "wilayet al-faqih," in which a country is led by a single religious leader, and "shura al-fuqaha," in which a council of religious leaders should lead the state.
Al-Nimr, who conducted religious studies for approximately ten years in Tehran and "a few" years in Syria, stated that all governance should be done through consultation, but the amount of official power vested in the hands of a single official should be determined based on the relative quality of the religious leaders and the political situation at the time.
A system led solely by religious judges or clerics is not really democratic. From that interview it also seems that al-Nimr had no clear picture of what he really wanted. His point was to always "side with Allah and 'the people', never with the government" independent of who or what was right or wrong...
The Saudi government's patience ended when al-Nimr disparaged the death of the dead interior minister and crown prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in June 2012. He stated that "people must rejoice at [Nayef's] death" and that "he will be eaten by worms and will suffer the torments of Hell in his grave".
That did him in. A-Nimr was imprisoned and sentenced to death.
There was concern that actually killing al-Nirm would increase Sunni-Shia tensions. Several governments and the United Nations had warned that doing so would increase sectarian strife.
Well, that is the point!
The Saudi government's legitimacy depends on financial largess and on being sectarian. Raising the sectarian bar by provoking a Shia reaction only helps the Saudis to rally the Wahhabi Sunni clerics and people to their side. The killing of a prominent Shia also gives cover for executing the al-Qaeda types. These do have many sympathizers within Saudi Arabia and killing them without killing al-Nimr would have led to protests or worse by the Sunni radicals. Even with this cover some al-Qaeda type entities outside of Saudi Arabia threatened revenge.
The Iranian government and Shia organizations in Iraq fell for the trick and protest against al-Nimr's execution. It allowed some organized gangs in Tehran to storm the Saudi embassy and to set it on fire. This was exactly what the Saudis rulers needed and wanted.
Nimr Al-Nimr has been a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah since 2008. He studied for about ten years in Tehran and also studied in Syria.
He initially followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussaini Shirazi and as of 2008, followed Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi al-Modarresi.
Al-Modaressi & the Islamic Action OrganizationAl-Modaressi was the leader of the Iran-based Islamist paramilitary organization, the Islamic Action Organization (also known as Islamic Amal). The Organization was conceived of as a ‘secret revolutionary avant-guard’ to spread Khomeini-inspired revolution throughout the Arab world. Al-Modaressi was chosen to lead the Organization by Ayatollah Khomeini. It was responsible for numerous actions in Iraq in the 1980s including suicide bombings.
In 1980, the Islamic Action Organization sought to assassinate Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, which helped precipitate the Iran-Iraq war.
The Islamic Action Organization under Al-Modarresi’s leadership was one of the founder groups of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an attempt by the Iranians to bring together Iraqi Shia Islamist factions under one leadership. Al-Modarresi was not chosen to be SCIRI’s leader, instead another Iraqi cleric, Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim, became its commander. SCIRI’s Badr Brigade fought for Iran in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
Al-Modarresi was aligned with radicals within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but their influence waned in the second half of the 1980s as more moderate clerics like Sayyid ‘Ali Khamenei and ‘Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani came to the fore. As Khamenei and Rafsanjani sought to develop better relations with Persian Gulf Arab states, the Shiraziyyin and Al-Modarresi were marginalised.
With the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by American-led forces in 2003, Al-Modarresi along with other Iran-based clerics returned to Iraq. The Islamic Action Organization became an Iraqi Shia Islamist political party with Al-Modaressi as its leader. The party contested the Iraq 2005 general election as was part of the National Iraqi Alliance of pro-Iranian Shia Islamist parties including SCIRI, the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iraqi National Congress. (Wikipedia info)
The principal events that touched off the rapid deterioration in relations occurred during the spring of 1980. In April the Iranian-supported Ad Dawah attempted to assassinate Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz.
In September 1980, border skirmishes erupted in the central sector near Qasr-e Shirin, with an exchange of artillery fire by both sides. A few weeks later, Saddam Hussein officially abrogated the 1975 treaty between Iraq and Iran and announced that the Arvand-Roud (Shatt al Arab) was returning to Iraqi sovereignty.
Crimes that led to Al-Nimr’s execution:
Nimr Al-Nimr, had been convicted of committing eight crimes and delivering numerous hostile and fiery speeches since 2002 which led to the death and injury of several police officers.
Sheikh Nimr execution & international law
Iran's president Sunday condemned the Saudi execution of a Shiite cleric but also denounced attacks on the Sunni kingdom's embassy and consulate as "totally unjustifiable" after protesters stormed the compounds.
"The actions last night by a group of radicals in Tehran and Mashhad leading to damage at the Saudi embassy and consulate are totally unjustifiable, as the buildings should be legally and religiously protected in the Islamic Republic of Iran," Hassan Rouhani said.
At least 44 people were arrested late Saturday for storming the diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad after Saudi Arabia announced it had executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and 46 other men on "terrorism" charges.
In Tehran protesters threw petrol bombs and stormed the embassy. The kingdom's consulate in Mashhad, Iran's second biggest city in the country's northeast, was also set on fire.
"I have no doubt that the Saudi government has damaged its image, more than before, among the countries in the world -- in particular (among) Islamic countries -- by this un-Islamic act," Rouhani said in a statement. Yet, the people of Iran "will not allow rogue elements" to use the incident and "carry out illegal actions that damage the dignity of the Islamic republic establishment", he added.
"I call on the interior minister to identify the perpetrators of this attack with firm determination and introduce them to the judiciary... so that there will be an end to such appalling actions once and for all."
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday officially severed ties with Iran over the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, following the execution of Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Al-Nimr.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a news conference Iran’s diplomatic mission and related entities in Saudi Arabia had been given 48 hours to leave. He said Riyadh would not allow Tehran to undermine the Kingdom’s security. He added that all Saudi diplomats and staff have arrived in the UAE from Iran and are on their way to the Kingdom.
Adel Al-Jubeir called Tehran a regional menace for its smuggling of arms and explosives and its previous harboring of Al-Qaeda militants. He said the aggressive statements of the Iranian regime encouraged the attacks on Saudi missions, adding that Iran has a history of supporting terrorism, citing its support to the bloody regime of Bashar Assad.
Earlier, a ministry spokesman accused Iran of sponsoring terror and undermining regional stability.
“The Iranian regime is the last regime in the world that could accuse others of supporting terrorism, considering that (Iran) is a state that sponsors terror, and is condemned by the UN and many countries,” he said in a statement to SPA.
Iran has offered “many Al-Qaeda leaderships safe haven since 2001” in addition to “offering an Iranian passport” to a Saudi suspect involved in 1996 bombings in the Kingdom who was arrested last year, the ministry said. It criticized Iran’s “flagrant interference in regional countries, including Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as Syria where it has directly intervened through its Revolutionary Guard and Shiite militia”...
Flashback 2013: Rise of Saudi-backed Islamic Front a disaster for Syria
Saudi Arabia’s breach of ties with Iran will extend to cutting air traffic between the countries, ending commercial relations and barring its citizens from travel to the Islamic republic, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters on Monday.
Iranian pilgrims will still be welcome to visit Makkah and Madinah, Jubeir said in an interview, adding that Iran must behave like “a normal country” instead of “a revolution” and respect international norms before ties could be restored.
Head of Iranian parliament’s research center Kazem Jalali slammed the attack to the Saudi missions in Iran as a wrong and impulsive act.
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, he criticized the act of a few self-willed persons who attacked Saudi embassy on Sunday. He said what they did was wrong and violated diplomatic norms.
He said Iran was duty-bound to observe regulations regarding immunity of diplomats. So such behavior just discredits Iran within the world public opinion.
He said diplomats are considered as the guests of the country hosting them and their presence should be respected according to the international standards except the ones who might indulge in espionage actives against the host country. Even at such cases, he said, the case should be dealt with through proper channels not by self-willed acts.
Was Al-Nimr a peaceful opposition figure? Of course not. Was he a leader of Shiites? Absolutely not...
Al-Nimr was an extremist Shiite Saudi preacher. He was exactly like Al-Qaeda theorist Faris Al-Shuwail, and Sunni extremist preacher Hamad Al-Humaidi.
None of the three committed murder, but they were convicted by the judiciary based on the law of criminalizing incitement to violence, as they incited their followers to commit murder and were involved in other activities that are based on practicing violence.
Al-Humaidi’s group kidnapped and killed US citizen Paul Johnson, and kept his head in a fridge in the house where they were arrested. Although it was not Al-Humaidi who slaughtered Johnson, his followers committed the crime based on his instructions...
Abdulaziz Al-Toaili’e, a Sunni figure and Al-Qaeda’s media broadcaster, was also among those executed. He did not kill anyone himself, but was involved in recruitment and armament operations and incited against others.
Al-Nimr was an extremist preacher, not a political leader. Like leaders of Sunni extremist organizations, he incited others to pursue armed opposition and fight, and helped them by collecting arms and funds...
According to the Saudi judicial system, Al-Nimr is legally responsible for the incitement, recruitment and crimes that his followers committed because of him.
These crimes are many. His followers deliberately killed six policemen in separate incidents and dozens were injured. They killed three civilians and arbitrarily opened fire on foreign workers to obstruct work — a Bangladeshi national was killed in the incident. They opened fire on a car belonging to the German embassy, and the vehicle burned as a result. The two diplomats in the car survived the attack and the perpetrators were later arrested.
Our problem, or rather the world’s problem today, is extremist clerics who lead destructive acts and threaten peace everywhere. It makes no sense to ask Saudis to execute Sunni religious leaders, and let other implicated clerics be...
Extremist clerics & Syria
"Our problem, or rather the world’s problem today,
is extremist clerics who lead destructive acts and threaten peace everywhere..."
Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would restore ties with Iran when Tehran stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work "very hard" to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat.
When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters: "Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own."
He added, "If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran. We are not natural-born enemies of Iran."
On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh's example.
It is now openly discussed even in mainstream media the fact that Turkey has been intimately involved in fomenting and supporting the war on Syria, with its ultimate goal of the overthrow of the Syrian government and its replacement by a compliant proxy aligned with Turkish President Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beyond just the war itself, Turkey has been implicated in a wide variety of crimes (some constituting war crimes) which cast Ankara in a very bad light: a supporter of terrorism, a criminal government engaging in acts of aggression against its neighbors and other world powers, the repression of journalists and others who have brought the truth to the light of day, among many others.
The criminality of the Erdogan government can be roughly broken down into the following categories: aggression against sovereign states, material support for international terrorism, and systematic violation of human rights.
Turkey’s central role in each and every aspect of terrorism in Syria must be the starting point of any analysis of Turkey’s grave crimes.
President Erdogan has not been shy about calling for regime change in Syria, but his position has been far more than merely rhetorical; Erdogan’s government has played a very direct role in the sponsorship, arming, facilitation and military backing of everyone from the Free Syrian Army to Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh).
In 2012, the New York Times confirmed that the CIA was sending weapons and other military materiel into the hands of anti-Assad forces from the Turkish side of the border, using their connections with the Muslim Brotherhood to do so.
However, it has also come to light that Turkish intelligence has been front and center in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al-Nusra Front and others. This fact was exposed by Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet, who now faces a potential life sentence...
In 2012, Reuters revealed that Turkey, “set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border… ‘It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,’ said a Doha-based source.”
This information was confirmed by Vice President Joe Biden in his spectacular foot-in-mouth speech at Harvard University where he stated:
Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends… [and] the Saudis, the Emirates, etcetera. What were they doing?…They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.
Joe Biden: Turks, Saudis, UAE Funded, Armed Al Nusra, Al Qaeda
It is important that we make a distinction between Islam as a set of teachings, values, principles and legislations, and between the reality of Muslims in the past and in the present.
Islam – as a set of rituals and beliefs (dīn) – has continued to be conscientiously practised, whereas in the teachings of Islam the affairs of this world (dunyā) have not been fully inculcated. Our scholars have left us devoid of a tradition of political thought
The scholars of Islam did concern themselves with rulings on human interactions and with all manner of mundane matters, but only for the purpose of making these conform to the Sharīʻa.
Indeed they laid stress on the importance of worldly affairs being conducted in security, fairness and justice; but this interest of theirs was simply part of their preoccupation with religion and was not for the sake of the dunyā per se...
Our scholars were preoccupied with making reality conform to the teachings of Islam and were not interested in growth or the development of reality.
Our heritage is in fact replete with expressions of disdain for anyone occupying oneself with worldly affairs or taking an interest in them.
For example, in his treatise Degrees of Knowledge, Ibn Hazm holds that anyone who occupies himself in anything other than the sciences of the Sharīʻa has simply become foolish, short-sighted and a menace only to himself:
"His primary interest should be a knowledge of what is it that brought him into this world and whither he will go when he exits; if he remains in ignorance of the Sharīʻa and occupies himself with other things he has become short-sighted and oppressive to his own self."
Such expressions are by no means exceptional; traditional writings are stuffed with similar sentiments. Even Ibn Khaldūn, who was possessed of a brilliant mind, ridiculed those who occupied themselves with philosophy and experimental sciences such as chemistry – which he considered to be little more than a form of sorcery...
Flashback: Isil bans philosophy, chemistry in Syria schools
Gulf News, 15-8-2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) extremist group has banned the study of philosophy and chemistry in schools in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa and established an “Islamic curriculum” for students, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Friday.
The Isil asked teachers and school directors to “prepare an Islamic education system in the schools of Raqqa”, which would be reviewed by a board of education appointed by Isil.
The “Islamic experts” belonging to the Isil decided to exclude chemistry and philosophy from the educational programme because “they do not fit in with the laws of god”, the SOHR reported.
The Isil promised adequate wages to teachers and principals after the government of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad stopped paying their salaries following the takeover of Raqqa by Islamist rebels.
We strangled originality, persecuted original thinkers and burned their books!
Objectivity does demand that we grant that some Arab original thinkers may be commended for their having participated in awakening the European mind towards the close of the Middle Ages – at the forefront of whom one may mention Ibn Rushd, al-Kindī, al-Rāzī, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn al-Nafīs, al-Fārābī, Ibn Sīnā, Jābir ibn Hayyān. But these and other geniuses like them the Arab environment looked down upon, while the European environment celebrated them. Europe understood the value of the creative thinking demonstrated by these individuals, whereas we – even in our flourishing eras – dismissed their ideas and prohibited their circulation. In fact we strangled originality, persecuted original thinkers and burned their books!
One fearful point that itself would justify an objective, profound study and a precise analysis, is the fact that every attempt – past and present – to augment the role of reason and science in our cultural, social and political life has led to a contrary result.
Hatred of reason has only become more prevalent and the antipathy has accumulated over generations on account of the fact that rational orientations were never accepted and their associated activities halted.
Their exponents vanished from the scene and their works became scattered, so that generations no longer had any knowledge of them other than what they heard from their opponents and detractors...
As a result of the centuries-long indiscriminate war waged against rationalist thinkers they almost vanished for good. When some of them were rediscovered, interest was confined to a few individuals, academics and researchers, whereas works opposing or outright warring against rationality continued to enjoy wide circulation – to the point of becoming the most important ingredient of our culture and education.
These anti-rationalism works were, and still are, taught at every stage in our educational system with the result that generations have been programmed to be hostile to reason and to fear rational thought.
The greatest catastrophe to befall Islam and the Muslims is the catastrophe that has conscripted the Arab Nation against reason from our earliest history.
The consummate refusal of rationality and the war against enlightenment has locked all doors and windows against any attempts at illumination. The problem is not merely a war against Ibn Rushd and the burning of his books, nor is it merely the expulsion of other prominent proponents of reason; Arab Islamic history has built up an entire culture at odds with rationality.
Our culture has ended up stamped with this mustering against reason – not only lining up against specialists but inducing all students to hate reason, abhor thinking and imagine that this is what the Islamic religion demands of them.
The emotions of the entire Muslim Nation have been conscripted to this cause. It is directed not against the Muʽtazila school or any specific sects or tendencies that support the role of reason in the interests both of religious and mundane affairs, rather it is directed against the rationalist orientation in toto, down to its last detail.
Generations have now been raised abhorring reason, wary of thinking, fearful of rationality, harbouring hatred against rational thinkers and warring against them.
Ibrahim Albleahy is a Saudi liberal writer, thinker and philosopher who is currently a member of the Saudi Shura Council. Albleahy has held a range of positions in government and business throughout his life. Aside from his position on the Shura Council, he is involved in a variety of organizations in Saudi civil society. While he is a devout Muslim, he is highly critical of the way Islam is publicly practiced and the degree to which modern Muslim societies are governed by it. He blames the failure of Arab societies to develop and innovate on their refusal to learn from other civilizations or to criticize the principles of their own society.
President al-Assad: Targeting teachers and schools
Damascus, (SANA) –On the occasion of Teacher's Day, President Bashar al-Assad and Mrs. Asma al-Assad received a number of teachers who were threatened by the armed terrorist groups but continued fulfilling their teaching duties.
President al-Assad congratulated the teachers and hailed the great sacrifices offered by the educational sector in Syria during the crisis, considering that targeting teachers and schools is revealing the reality of those who are waging the war on Syria and proving that the Syrians are involved in a war against ignorance and obscurantism. He lauded the courage of the teachers who were not terrified by the threats of the armed terrorist groups and who were aware that those who threatened them want to stop the educational cycle in Syria through preventing students from receiving knowledge and drowning them into the darkness of ignorance...
“Human beings are members of a whole,
Iran: Sa’adi National Day to be celebrated in Shiraz
Iran is planning to celebrate the classical medieval Persian poet and mystic Sa’adi National Day during various ceremonies in Shiraz.
In the view of the new Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, Iran has become the most substantial threat facing Israel since signing a nuclear accord with the six powers.
Tehran still calls for Israel’s annihilation regardless, while upgrading its military capabilities and deepening its grip on the region, he said. “The tools Iran uses to achieve its ends are tentacles of terror.”
Cohen takes over from Tamir Pardo who ends his five-year term as head of the Mossad. The new director is a veteran of Israel's external security service, having risen through the ranks after joining the Mossad at the age of 22. More recently, he served as national security adviser to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Cohen, a 54-year-old father of four, was born to a modern Orthodox family in Jerusalem, and lived near the Netanyahus. His father, a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, was a veteran of the pre-state Irgun paramilitary force.
In the Mossad, Cohen was the only religious candidate in the organization’s case-officer course. As a Mossad case officer, he was charged with recruiting and handling spies — the very heart of the clandestine organization. “The Mossad wasn’t necessarily part of my dreams. The Mossad came to me, and in simpler words they enlisted me to their ranks,” he said.
Cohen, who no longer wears a skullcap, rose up through those ranks, commanding the Tzomet department, in charge of all case officers; and serving as the deputy head from 2011-2013, when he left for the National Security Council. One of his operational nicknames was “the model” for his famously stylish and immaculate appearance.
“I am a Jerusalemite. I am from Rehavia, not far from where the prime minister grew up, I grew up, next door to one another, more or less. I remember the family, the Netanyahus,” he said.
Cohen praised the Or Etzion Yeshiva high school, a religious academy runned by rabbi and former MK Haim Druckman.
“This yeshiva brings about outstanding Zionism. Rabbi Haim Druckman, who I knew as head of the yeshiva, always spoke about three things: the Torah of Israel, the state of Israel and the land of Israel — and sometimes that order was reversed. On that triumvirate we grew up...”
Gush Emunim (bloc [of the] faithful) was an Israeli messianic, right-wing activist movement committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. While not formally established as an organization until 1974 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, Gush Emunim sprang out of the conquests of the Six-Day War in 1967, encouraging Jewish settlement of the land based on the belief that, according to the Torah, God gave it to the Jewish people.
The ideological outlook of Gush Emunim has been described as messianic, fundamentalist, theocratic and right-wing. Its beliefs were based heavily on the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, who taught that secular Zionists, through their conquests of Eretz Israel, had unwittingly brought about the beginning of the Messianic Age, which would culminate in the coming of the messiah, which Gush Emunim supporters believe can be hastened through Jewish settlement on land they believe God has allotted to the Jewish people as set forth in the Hebrew Bible. (Wikipedia info)
Russian President Putin attends Christmas service
The community of God with man
The Protection of the Mother of God lies in her being the Mother of God. The Mother of God is that point on earth in which Incarnate God was realized, the point in which He, who had eternally been in God, found His temporary form of existence.
In order for the immemorial idea of Theosis (deification, attainment of likeness to or union with God) to be accomplished, God, when creating man, instilled in him His Image and His Likeness. Thereafter, God’s revelation to the world has been in human form: It became possible to talk about God, that is to say about His love, His beauty, His truth, His freedom, by looking upon man.
The arson attack on Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran that prompted Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties with Iran was initially seen as a victory for hardline opponents of President Hassan Rouhani.
The violence has undermined the president's efforts in the Middle East and beyond to bring Iran out of its relative isolation -- exemplified by last year's deal with world powers on its nuclear programme... The row has reduced opportunities for Rouhani to engage with Arab states -- several Saudi allies also cut or reduced ties -- and benefited those who want to stop his efforts at rapprochement.
But given that the violence "will likely only have costs for Iran" Rouhani may seek to confront the issue, said Mohebbian, a moderate conservative who has advised top politicians. "Maybe this should be the start of something to manage the radical people, whose actions are not rational," he said.
Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the recent violence had limited the space for diplomacy on regional crises.
"This seemed to be the result that hardliners in Saudi and Iran wanted," she said, noting that Riyadh knew Nimr's execution would "bear costs" with Shiite governments but it was a price it seemed willing to pay.
February 25 2011, 11,15am
The Libyan leader told Mr Blair that the country's civil war was run by al Qaeda terrorists trying to control the north African coastline.
He said: 'It is a jihad situation. They have arms and are terrorising people in the street... Not decided to face them with force, asking their families to convince them to lay down arms. Can't reason with them. 'They keep saying things like Mohammad is the profit. Similar to bin Laden. 'They are paving the way for him in north Africa. They (jihadists) want to control the Mediterranean and then they will attack Europe.'
Gaddafi told Mr Blair that if he was removed from power terrorists would take control of the region and urged him to 'explain to the international community'.
He said: 'We are not fighting them, they are attacking us. The story is simply this: an organisation has laid down sleeping cells in North Africa, called the Al-Qaeda Organisation in North Africa. The sleeping cells in Libya are similar to dormant cells in America before 9/11'.
Four hours later, at 3.45pm, the ex-Labour leader called back but Colonel Gaddafi became increasingly irate and demanded Mr Blair visit him 'see the truth'. Gaddafi repeatedly asked him if he 'supported' terrorism and al Qaeda.
But Mr Blair told him: 'If you have a safe place to go you should go there, because this will not end peacefully unless that happens. You have to leave the country'.
Gaddafi 2011 - B-H Levy & Rebels 2011 - Islamists honoring Al-Arour & BIn Laden 2012
Gaddafi told Mr Blair his plan for him to leave sounded like 'colonisation' and said he was ready to arm his people to fight any outside intervention. He said: 'There is no bloodshed here. It is very quiet. But if you want to reap Libya, we are ready to fight. It will be like Iraq.'
Warning that the situation could pass 'the point of no return' within days, Mr Blair told Gaddafi that 'this is the last chance to resolve this peacefully'. 'The violence needs to stop and a new constitution needs to take shape', he told the Libyan leader, adding that people would be 'content' if they saw he was standing down.
Gaddafi compared the situation in Libya to campaigns of extremist violence in Afghanistan, Algeria, Nigeria and Pakistan and challenged Mr Blair: 'Do you support al Qaeda? ... Are you supporting terrorism?'
Blair responded by saying: 'No, absolutely not, the important thing is how do we get to a point where this thing can end in a peaceful way?'
The fraught conversation continues, before ending with Gaddafi telling Blair to 'just leave us alone', as the former Prime Minister urged him to 'keep the lines open'.
Why did it happen? How did a group of criminals come out of this idealistic group - Religious Zionism - which is committed to the State of Israel?
The truth is quite simple and even embarrassing. The chances of the Jewish settlement project in [the West Bank] of succeeding were unclear from its very beginning, and there are different opinions about it internally and externally.
Its main problem was and remains that those who led it and went with clear conscience to the place most populated with Palestinians never thought about having to shape a diplomatic plan which would determine its borders and the political status of the Palestinians living there...
Religious Zionism has no plan. It is not engaging in political negotiations. The discourse it is holding is not with reality but with God and with the commitment to the Land of Israel... We hear rabbis talking about the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria while using all kinds of halachic definitions which have nothing to do with a democratic regime, with the era we live in and with the civil principles guiding the State of Israel.
The comprehensive policy towards the Palestinians in [the West Bank], which has been adopted by Religious Zionism since the start of the settlement, is to ignore their existence. Perhaps they will somehow disappear.
If you go to the large Zionist-religious public you will discover that most members of the young generation are unaware of the international dispute over their future. As far as they are concerned, it is definitely Israeli land, and the Arabs living there are not welcoming us because of their viciousness and theft. God promised us the land and it is our holy duty to hold on to it.
With such a dominant discourse, when the realpolitik is completely mixed with a biblical and halachic discourse alongside frustration over the fact that the State of Israel is not being run "according to the Torah" and does not determine its values, borders and agenda according to a biblical agenda, there is no wonder that the most frustrated people decide to act.
We are talking about a group of young religious people, who honestly believe in the Jews' superiority over the Arabs, a superiority they learned about at home.
Pay attention to the "Revolt" group's plan: Appointing a king, building a temple, eliminating idolatry, expelling the gentiles and religious coercion in the public domain. Their entire language is out of touch with modern reality in an embarrassing and depressing manner. I don’t know what the solution is.., and I'm not sure that an Israeli withdrawal from the territory and the establishment of a Palestinian state are a good solution. But we clearly need a realistic plan.
In order to implement any realistic plan, we must disengage from the zealots: The rabbis, their students and their supporters. Complete and full detachment. If only I were certain that the religious public is capable of such a move.
The Revolt Group - Radical Ideology
Owen Davis, International Business Times 3-1-2016
The Revolt took shape in October 2013, Israeli security forces said, when its founders laid out their guiding principles. Members imagined a campaign of violence against Arabs and officials that would topple the democratic government of Israel and allow a king to emerge.
Their ideology called for the expulsion of all non-Jews, by death if necessary, and the building of a third temple at the site of the Dome of the Rock, considered holy to Muslims. The site is also where King Solomon’s temple once stood.
In practice, The Revolt has consisted mostly of members 15 to 21 years old, Israeli security forces said. They live a vagabond lifestyle, many concentrated in Jerusalem and the West Bank where youth groups have long used vigilante means to back illegal settlements. But The Revolt’s lack of formal hierarchy, Israeli authorities said, makes its attacks tough to prevent.
During the past two years, The Revolt’s members have carried out a string of arson and vandalism attacks. The most recent of these incidents occurred in December, when they threw gas grenades into a home in the Palestinian town of Beitillu.
The group has hereditary and symbolic ties to historical right-wing groups. Ettinger, who is regarded as a motivating force in the group, is the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a radical militant group the FBI has identified as carrying out terrorist attacks.
The group’s name echoes the title of Menachem Begin’s memoirs, also called “The Revolt.” Begin, who later became prime minister of Israel, led a Zionist paramilitary organization called the Irgun in the mid-1940s.
Most religions are cultures of acceptance. There is poverty, hunger and disease on earth because that is the way the world is; that is how God made it and wants it...
That isn’t Judaism at all. When it comes to the poverty and pain of the world, ours is a religion of protest, not acceptance.
God does not want people to be poor, hungry, sick, oppressed, uneducated, deprived of rights, or subject to abuse. He has made us His agents in this cause. He wants us to be His partners in the work of redemption.
That is why so many Jews have become doctors fighting disease, lawyers fighting injustice or educators fighting ignorance. It is surely why they have produced so many pioneering (and Nobel Prize-winning) economists...
Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev said it well: “Don’t worry about the state of someone else’s soul and the needs of your body. Worry about the needs of someone else’s body and the state of your own soul.”
Alleviating poverty, curing disease, ensuring the rule of law and respect for human rights: these are spiritual tasks no less than prayer and Torah study.
Palestinians and Israelis alike have become increasingly convinced that the two-state solution is no longer an option due to Israel’s policies which continue to see settlements built across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
It is important to consider that the two-state solution was never really a serious option in any case in the minds of Israel’s leadership and public. All that was proposed was a Palestinian Authority with limited security and economic responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This was planned in order to divest Israel of its legal and moral responsibilities to provide the Palestinians with healthcare, education and other basic necessities as the occupying power.
Instead, Israel wanted to occupy and maintain full control, especially the area known as Area C which covers around two-thirds of the West Bank, without having to bear the full cost of the occupation. It also wanted to maintain its control over border crossings, Jerusalem, the airspace, the water sources and other Palestinian resources.
Fragmented Islands - Concentration Camps
If both the one-state and two-state solutions are not possible, there rermains only one option, which will be very attractive to most Israelis. This would see Israel isolating the Palestinian communities in the West Bank and removing them altogether from Jerusalem.
Tthe Palestinians would live in fragmented and dismembered islands in a sea of Israeli settlements, and hemmed in by a strong military presence, separation walls and settler-only bypass roads.
What's a concentration camp?
New World Encyclopedia
A concentration camp is a large detention center created for political opponents, specific ethnic or religious groups, civilians of a critical war-zone, or other groups of people.
Inmates are selected according to some specific criteria, rather than individuals who are incarcerated after due process of law fairly applied by a judiciary.
Today no government or organization ever describes its own facilities as such — using instead terms such as "internment camp," "resettlement camp," "detention facility," and so forth — regardless of the actual circumstances of the camp, which can vary a great deal.
In such a "concentration camp," a government can "concentrate" a group of people who are in some way undesirable in one place where they can be watched—for example, in a time of insurgency, potential supporters of the insurgents could be placed in such a facility where they cannot provide them with supplies or information.
Concentration camps single out specific portions of a population based on their race, culture, politics or religion. Usually, these populations are not the majority but are seen as causing the social, economic, and other problems of the majority.
The function of concentration camps are to separate the perceived problem, this "scapegoat" population, from the majority population. The very call for a population division labels the interned population, stigmatizing them.
Concentration camps have been used for centuries, but none have ever yielded positive results: The structure is based on the domination and subordination of smaller groups who hold limited social power.
This kind of imposed dominance results in an immediate illusory solution to larger social woes, but creates cultural conflicts and rifts that may take generations to repair.
Former MK Yaakov Katz published on Thursday a statistical study which showed that over 400,000 Jews live in [the occupied West Bank].
According to the study, the five largest cities are Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, and the local council area of Givat Ze’ev. All five have more than ten thousand residents. The combined population of those five cities is over 193,000 people, making up some 48 percent of the total number of Jewish settlers.
Approximately 125,000 residents are haredi, which makes them almost 30 percent of the population. The majority of the haredim live in four cities and towns. Modi’in Illit has 64,000, Beitar Illit has 52,000, Immanuel has some 4,000 and the Tel Zion neighborhood in Kochav Yaakov has 5,000. Given the rate of childbirth in the haredi population, it is not hard to believe that within the next few years, one in three people who live in [the West Bank] will be haredi.
With regard to secular community, towns that identify as secular include Ma’aleh Adumim with 40,000 residents, Ariel with 20,000 residents, and Givat Ze’ev with 17,000 residents. There are considerable religious populations in each of these cities, so that number is slightly less than 100,000 and places the percentage at close to 22 percent.
The number of National-Religious Jews who live in [the West Bank] is approximately 190,000. 47 percent of the Jewish population of [the occupied West Bank].
The West Bank has an estimated population of 2,676,740 (July 2013). More than 80% are Palestinian Arabs, and approximately 500,000 are Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, including about 192,000 in East Jerusalem, in Israeli settlements, built on the 43% of the West Bank which Israel has allocated to local settler councils.
The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, illegal under international law.
The International Court of Justice advisory ruling (2004) concluded that events that came after the 1967 occupation of the West Bank by Israel, including the Jerusalem Law, Israel's peace treaty with Jordan and the Oslo Accords, did not change the status of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as occupied territory with Israel as the occupying power. (Wikipedia info)
A poll published on Friday by the Israeli right-wing Makor Rishon suggests that 44 per cent of Israelis accept the gradual imposition of Israeli law in the occupied West Bank, while 38 per cent object. Jews and Arabs took part in the poll, said the religious newspaper, which was representative of the Israeli public at large.
The same poll showed that 47 per cent of the Israelis object to the imposition of Israeli law on Area C, which is under Israeli security and administrative control based on the Oslo Agreements. This area covers more than 60 per cent of the West Bank. Only around 34 per cent of those polled accepted this. A slightly higher number, around 37 per cent, accepted the imposition of Israeli law only on the settlements in the occupied West Bank (which are also illegal under international law), whereas 47 per cent objected.
Amongst the Haridim, the most religious Jews in Israel, the poll showed that 61 per cent accept the imposition of Israeli law on all of the occupied West Bank. This is also true of 60 per cent of Israeli youth.
About 69 per cent of those polled who identified themselves as right wingers would accept gradual annexation, as would 18 per cent of those who self-identified as leftists.
Members of the Palestinian Fatah movement hailed the government of Bashar Al-Assad and the Egyptian army during a celebration of its 51st anniversary in Damascus, Quds Press has reported.
The secular movement attacked Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood during the event, which was attended by Fatah officials from Syria and the occupied West Bank, as well as regional Ba’ath Party leader Arkan Al-Shofi.
Surrounded by a heavy security presence, the speakers at the celebration stood under two large portraits of Syrian President Assad and Fatah’s leader — and Palestinian Authority President — Mahmoud Abbas.
West Bank Fatah leader Jamal Mohsin spoke to the audience about the daily suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. He described the Israeli prime minister as the “leader of universal terror" who receives full support from the United States.
He insisted that any regional coalition which does not blacklist the Israeli occupation is “not right”, pointing out that Israel wants neither a Palestinian state nor even a tiny state in the Gaza Strip.
Mohsin praised the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, accusing the movement of forging a coalition with the United States and Turkey to establish a state in Gaza. “All hail the Egyptian army which undermined the conspiracy and ended the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,” he said.
The Fatah official claimed that the Brotherhood is directed by Turkey, Qatar and NATO. In closing, he criticized “the sedition” of Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and accused Al-Jazeera of “trying to corrupt the ideology of the Arab nation.”
Jamal Abu Mohsin has been the mayor of Tubas since being elected in 2005. Tubas is a Palestinian city in the northeastern West Bank, located 21 kilometers (13 mi) northeast of Nablus, a few kilometers west of the Jordan River. A city of over 16,000 inhabitants, it serves as the economic and administrative center of the Tubas Governorate.
Qaradawi: with ex-emir Qatar - Egypt speech - in/on Turkey
Pan-Arabism vs Pan-Islamism
Some groups within the PLO hold a more pan-Arabist view than Fatah, and Fatah itself has never renounced Arab nationalism in favour of a strictly Palestinian nationalist ideology.
Some of the pan-Arabist members justifying their views by claiming that the Palestinian struggle must be the spearhead of a wider, pan-Arab movement. This said, however, there seems to be a general consensus among the main Palestinian factions that national liberation takes precedent over other loyalties, including Pan-Arabism, Islamism and proletarian internationalism.
Pan-Islamic sentiments embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious movements provoked conflict with Palestinian nationalism.
About 90% of Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, and while never absent from the rhetoric and thinking of the secularist PLO factions, Islamic political doctrines, or Islamism, didn't become a large part of the Palestinian movement until the 1980s rise of Hamas.
In the case of Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian nationalism has almost completely fused with the ideologically pan-Islamic sentiments originally held by the Islamists. (Wikipedia info)
Osama Qawasmi, a spokesman for Fatah, said, "Hamas is going through very difficult times after it has abandoned its historic strategic allies, and following the Arab Spring, particularly in Egypt."
Speaking to Al-Monitor, Qawasmi said, "The safest way for the Hamas movement to persist is for it to give up being a part of the global Muslim Brotherhood, which has failed when it comes to managing political affairs in the countries that witnessed the Arab Spring."
He continued, "For years, Hamas has neglected the national project according to purely partisan agendas and considerations. The movement has always bet on foreign regimes and an attempted coup against legitimacy."
Amin Maqbool, the secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and a member of the movement's reconciliation delegation, stressed, “Today Hamas has become weaker because they lost their allies in the region, and Egypt has accused the movement of participating in the bloody events there." He notes that these developments should serve as a lesson for Hamas to work to achieve reconciliation.
Maqbool went on to say that Hamas — which has opted for armed resistance against Israel, an approach that is not followed by the Muslim Brotherhood — will once again "realize the special nature of the Palestinian situation through reducing their reliance on the global Muslim Brotherhood, following a moderate policy aimed at reconciliation, and engaging more in the Palestinian political system."
"This anti-Semitic act represents the pure evil of the Iranian regime," Danon said Tuesday. "Denying the Holocaust is one of the most powerful expressions of anti-Semitism...” he said.
The competition, which is held under the auspices of the municipality of Tehran, made an international call for participants to submit cartoons ridiculing and denying the Holocaust. The winner of the competition will receive a prize of $50,000.
Ambassador Danon wrote in his appeal to the UN Secretary General: “At the end of the month, the UN will mark the International Day of Commemoration of the Victims of the Holocaust.... One member state will be hosting a contest which desecrates the memory of [the victims of the Holocaust]. The United Nations must resolutely stand up against this hatred and harshly condemn this heinous act.”
This cartoon contest has been held in Iran in the past by the “Iranian House of Cartoons” with significantly smaller prizes.
We Don't deny Holocaust, We are not Antisemite, But we have 3 important questions about Holocaust:
The tensions created by the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate within Israeli society have extended to the Diaspora (Jews living outside Israel).
Ironically, this is taking place at a time when many Israelis are returning to their [religious] roots. Although Tel Aviv remains outwardly a hedonistic, secular city, the secular Ashkenazi outlook that dominated Israeli society is in decline, and even setting aside haredim (the ultra-Orthodox), Israelis today have become increasingly more traditionally inclined and religiously observant.
The past decades have witnessed the emergence of observant Jews at all senior levels of society. There has been a dramatic revolution in the Israel Defense Forces with national-religious soldiers now occupying senior positions, assuming roles in combat units parallel to what their kibbutz predecessors did in the early years of statehood. There is even a thirst for spiritual values among secular Israelis, accompanied by a major revival of the study of Jewish texts.
Yet simultaneously, there is revulsion and rage at the corruption, extortion and political leverage imposed by powerful haredi political parties and their rabbis.
Unfortunately, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have effectively exploited their political leverage to assume control of the Chief Rabbinate, which, ironically, they themselves have always despised.
Current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and his Sephardi counterpart, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, [..] are narrow-minded bureaucrats completely dominated by the most extreme ultra-Orthodox elements who seek to impose their stringent religious interpretations upon the entire nation.
Today these rabbis are creating significant tensions throughout Israeli society by their lack of compassion and the inflexibility with which they administer issues relating to personal status. As a monopoly, they are able to wield their power and ignore the current conditions facing Jews in a modern Jewish state and instead impose the most rigid interpretations...
Regrettably, progress made by the previous government to bring about changes on personal issues such as conversion, marriage and divorce and integrating haredim into Israeli society were nullified by the new government, now dominated by the haredi parties.
Over the past few years, the Chief Rabbinate has sought to determine the eligibility of Orthodox rabbis outside Israel to conduct conversions and marriages, effectively extending its authority beyond Israel and attempting to assume control of all Jewish life on a global basis...
The Israeli Chief Rabbinate is seeking to impose itself as the sole arbiter of Jewish law throughout the Jewish world. In effect it is setting itself up as a Jewish Vatican – something utterly unprecedented in our history....
Flashback: British Chief Rabbi Sacks asks to stop printing of his controversial book|
by DOUGLAS DAVIS, Jerusalem Post, 13-11-2002
British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has asked his publisher, Continuum, to stop promoting and printing The Dignity of Difference until he has completed revisions for a second edition.
Bezalel Rakow and Joseph Dunner, leaders of Britain's haredi community, declared that the book is "irreconcilable with traditional Jewish teachings" in an advertisement published in London's Jewish Chronicle.
British chief rabbi revises controversial book
In the second edition of “The Dignity of Difference,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks removed statements suggesting that Christianity and Islam are as valid as Judaism.
To the dismay of many British Jews, Sacks backed down and let it be known in November that he would issue a revised edition of his book — which, perhaps ironically, is subtitled “How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations.”
In his preface to the new edition, Sacks wrote that some people maintained “that certain passages could be understood in ways incompatible with Jewish belief...
Historian Geoffrey Alderman says the real issue was showing who’s boss. “This was the world of Torah Orthodoxy telling Jonathan Sacks, B.A., PhD., that he was a very small player and they were big players.”
The last time a country decided to dump the dollar in the oil business, the US destroyed it. Now India, the world’s third largest economy, and Iran have agreed to settle their outstanding oil dues in rupees. What’s more, the two countries may conduct all future trade in their national currencies.
This follows an agreement between Iran and India in mid-2011 in which both sides decided to settle 45 per cent of India’s oil import bill in rupees and the remaining 55 per cent in euros. In March 2012 the two countries inked the Rupee Payment Mechanism that allowed India to buy crude oil in its national currency. Iran then used the funds to buy products from Indian manufacturers.
India and the US may have come closer in recent years, but that hasn’t blinded New Delhi to the toxic nature of America’s currency as well as manipulation by Britain.
The US is literally writing its own cheque with its unrestrained printing of the dollar, the bedrock of America’s post-war hegemony. It is the reserve currency status of the dollar that allows the US to fund its endless wars and topple governments with impunity.
Across the Atlantic, the Bank of England is involved in interest rate fixing of an order of magnitude that makes corruption in developing countries look puny by comparison.
Such financial manipulations and currency debasements are negatively and cyclically impacting the global economy. In fact, it suits the West to have periodic booms and busts because it keeps the emergent economies in turmoil. It keeps poor countries poor and the emergent ones stuck in what’s known as the “middle income trap”.
Indian negotiators have actively pushed dollar-free trade at the annual meetings of the BRICS group. This group of five major economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is actively engaged in speeding up the process of increasing mutual trade in national currencies.
The BRICS have already launched a Contingency Reserve Arrangement to enable the five member states to swap currencies. Another key advantage of using national currencies in trade and investment is that businesses do not have to hedge against two different currencies. Transition to trade in national currencies will also protect countries from the volatility of a particular currency...
As a country that greatly benefits from – and exploits – the dollar’s reserve currency status, the end of dollar dominance will mean a sharp decline in American incomes and the ability to project power overseas.
JEDDAH: Despite Iran’s criticism of Saudi Arabia’s judiciary, its own courts would have given Nimr Al-Nimr death sentences for the same charges, according to a legal expert.
Lawyer Ahmed Al-Jamaan Al-Malki told a local publication that Al-Nimr, one of the men executed in the Kingdom recently for terrorism, would have received two death sentences for two charges.
This would be for calling for the government’s overthrow and allegiance to Wilayat Al-Faqih (Rule of the Jurist). According to Iranian Criminal Law endorsed in 1992 these are seen as treasonous acts. He said that Article 504 of Iranian Civil Law regards these as acts of aggression.
Article 504 - Anyone who effectively encourages combatants or those in military forces to rebel, escape, surrender, or disobey military orders, with the intention to overthrow the government or to defeat national forces against the enemy, shall be considered as mohareb; otherwise [if he does not possess the intention] he shall be sentenced to [..] imprisonment.
Moharebeh in Iran has been translated variously as "waging war against God," "war against God and the state," "enmity against God." It is a capital crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
IThe term is widely used by Iran's Islamic Judiciary, citing Sharia law, and is "usually used against those who take up arms against the state," and usually carries the death penalty.
The term is used in articles 183 to 196 of Iran's criminal law. The cases that fall under this term typically require involvement in armed criminal activities, e.g: taking up arms for terrorism and disruption of public safety (article 183), membership in groups conducting armed uprising (article 186), supporting groups planning to overthrow the government by force using weapons and explosives.
Articles 190-191 state that a judge can give a person convicted under one of these crimes capital punishment. Peaceful and unarmed opposition to government does not fall under this term. (Wikipedia)
Shiite al-Qatif suffering from its own, Shiite equivalent of ISIS?
Mansour Alnogaidan, Al-Arabya, 8-1-2015
* In 2009, Al-Baqi’ cemetery witnessed clashes among Shiite and Sunni pilgrims, arising from differences between the two sects concerning graveside rituals. Shiite Muslims frequent al-Baqi’, home to the graves of members of the Prophet’s family whom they revere. The clashes widened—and in their wake, Sheikh Nimr delivered a series of sermons in which he called for Shiite-majority areas to secede from the kingdom and establish a government based on the Iranian revolutionary model of “Wilayat al-Faqih” (“The Rule of the Jurist”). The sermons placed Nimr on a list of men “wanted” by Saudi police, and he went into hiding.
* By mid-2012, Al-Awamiya, the second largest township in al-Qatif, had seen a year and a half of protests and violent, sometimes lethal clashes between demonstrators and police, claiming lives on both sides, but mostly Saudi police. Security forces arrested Nimr after overtaking him in a car chase. Passengers in the car were armed and shooting at police.
* On December 13, 2014, Tawfiq al-Sayf, a Saudi writer and intellectual who took off the clerical robe years ago and is one of the most prominent Shiite in the country declared that Shiite al-Qatif is suffering from its own, Shiite equivalent of ISIS... Sayf also asserted that during Nimr’s two years in hiding, he had been inciting, organizing, and steering the turbulence al-Qatif witnessed..
High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein called on Iran on Wednesday to release a spiritual figure sentenced to death at the weekend and end its longtime "problematic" use of executions.
Mohammad Ali Taheri, a writer and founder of the spiritual movement Erfan e-Halgheh (Inter-Universalism), was arrested in 2011 and given five years in prison on charges of insulting Islamic pieties. He was accused of apostasy, battle against God, insult of the prophet, etc.
Taheri, held in Tehran's Evin prison, was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court on Saturday on a charge of "fesad fel arz" (corruption on earth).
"For an individual to be sentenced to death for peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, religion or belief is an absolute outrage -- and a clear violation of international human rights law," Zeid said, calling on Iran to drop the charges and free Taheri forthwith.
Under international law, including a key civil and political rights pact ratified by Iran, the death penalty may be applied only for "the most serious crimes," generally interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional murder.
21-12-2015: Iran's Supreme Court overruled the death sentence against Mohammad-Ali Taheri. The Iranian supreme court at Branch 33 had reportedly refused to ratify the death penalty against Mohammad-Ali Taheri, the Iranian physician. It is said that the case was submitted to the Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court for possible reconsideration. (iranian.com)
TEHRAN (FNA)- Leader of Jund al-Sham terrorist group Abu Walid al-Shishani (Murad Margoshvili, a Georgian national) announced that his forces are no more able to prevent advance of the Syrian army and popular forces.
Appearing in a video message on Wednesday, Shishani referred to the dire situation of his forces in Syria, and underlined that they cannot prevent the Syrian army's advance in Lattakia province's outskirts any more. He also said that the preparedness and number of his forces have decreased.
He made the remarks after the Syrian army and the popular forces captured and imposed full control over more than 300 square kilometers of lands in the Northern parts of Lattakia province.
On October 7, the Syrian army started its massive operations with the backup of the Russian air force in Lattakia province to prevent the terrorists from advancing towards the city of Lattakia.
The Syrian army and the Hezbollah fighters have purged terrorists from over 300 square kilometers of land in Lattakia in the past three months. After gaining control over the city of Idlib (the Wester neighbor of Lattakia), the terrorists started heavy attacks on Lattakia province with the help of Turkey and advanced military hardware and equipment. But the army and popular forces prevented the terrorists from achieving their goals in Lattakia province.
The Syrian army's capturing of the strategic city of Salma on Tuesday was a bad defeat for the terrorists. The terrorists have now withdrawn to other cities in the Western parts of Lattakia.
Jund al Sham (Soldiers of the Levant), a Salafi jihadist group in Syria, announced its formation in the Syrian city of Homs on Dec. 23, 2012.
The group’s emir is identified as Abu Suleiman al Muhajir; his nom de guerre — Muhajir, or ‘immigrant’ — indicates he may be a foreigner. His real identity is unknown. Abu Suleiman al Muhajir’s short statement indicates that the group is focused on jihad in Syria:
"After the hoards of the al-Assad gangs, and their Rafidah [Shi’ite] allies, united and attacked Muslims in Syria, it became incumbent upon the monotheists from among the Sunnis who chose the path of jihad and fighting the disbelievers in all their forms and types, to unite on supporting the truth..., while rejecting disbelief..."
The Sunni Muslim Jund al-Sham is believed to have first emerged in Afghanistan in 1999, established by Syrians, Palestinians and Jordanians with links to the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who later became leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and was killed in a U.S. airstrike.
BAGHDAD — Sunnis are saying "sign me up" now that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has approved the appointment of 40,000 Sunni fighters to the Popular Mobilization Units, a force that was once almost exclusively Shiite.
Iraqi parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri had said in June, “Sunnis find it difficult to join the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units, and the door is not open for them to be part of it.” But the Iraqi government believes it has become necessary to officially involve Sunni fighters in the war against the Islamic State. Abadi’s decision could help change the public image of the Popular Mobilization Units as a Shiite fighting organization.
It seems that the units' image began shifting even before Abadi’s decision. Karim al-Nuri, the group's spokesman, told Al-Monitor, “Thousands of Sunni fighters joined the ranks of the Popular Mobilization Units months ago.” He described their presence as positive and necessary and said, “We believe that areas must be liberated by their residents, who know the geography and details relating to the people who joined the ranks of IS, and know information about the organization’s locations and weapons caches."
Nuri added, “Sunni volunteers are nothing like some Sunni politicians who are trying to discourage the morale of the fighters in the war against terrorism and offend some of them. [The volunteers] believe in the importance of defending their homeland."
The Iraqi parliament last year approved a draft law to create a National Guard. Adding Sunni fighters to the Popular Mobilization Units could set the stage for the force to become the core of the National Guard.
Sheikh Asham Subhan Khalaf al-Jubouri, who commands Sunni fighters in the Popular Mobilization Units' Salahuddin Brigade, told Al-Monitor, “Abadi’s approval of the official presence of Sunni fighters in the Popular Mobilization Units is positive.”
Jubouri, speaking by phone from the Hamrin Mountains region in northern Iraq, added, “The Iraqi government will be responsible for arming Sunni fighters and paying their salaries. We will be under the command of the Popular Mobilization Units’ officials under the current leadership. We will be directly linked to both the units’ leadership and the Iraqi army’s operations command."
Hagel said, the United States should have learned from the chaos that followed the abrupt removal of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi that taking out [Arab] leaders without knowing who will take their place is not the best solution.
“We have allowed ourselves to get caught and paralyzed on our Syrian policy by the statement that 'Assad must go,'” Hagel said, adding, “Assad was never our enemy.”
Asked by Al-Monitor what it would take to bring stability to Syria [..] Hagel said it would require working with the Russians, Iranians and Saudis. “All have to come together with enough common interest to stabilize things,” he said.
Hagel was admonished by the White House and ridiculed by many when he called the Islamic State a “threat beyond anything we’ve seen” in the summer of 2014, after IS had just taken Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.
On Jan. 13, he suggested that events had vindicated him. IS, he said, is the “most spectacular nonstate actor we’ve seen” due to its use of social media, ample finances and sophisticated military tactics. “It was a force we had never been up against and we didn’t know how to deal with it,” Hagel said.
He offered no solutions, however, beyond working with regional and other powers to stabilize Syria and shoring up the Iraqi government.
More than 10,500 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces are fighting today against the Daesh terrorists (ISIL/ISIS) alongside the Syrian armed forces, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Sergei Rudskoy said.
"Troops of the Syrian Democratic Forces alongside the Syrian Army have been playing an increasing role in the fight against terrorism. Currently, the total number of these units are 10,500 strong," he said.
According to him, over the past few days, opposition groups led by Ayman Al-Ghanim Flyat advanced eight kilometers in the direction of Raqqa, which is considered the "capital" of Daesh terrorists...
Moreover, the Syrian opposition provided the Russian Armed Forces with information about every fifth terrorist target, Rudskoy noted: "Over the past five months we have established cooperation with the troops of the patriotic opposition. They provide the command of the Russian aviation group with information about terrorist targets in combat zones..."
Love for one's ancestry, culture or homeland is the root meaning of patriotism. Derived from the Greek kputrios ("of one's fathers") or patris (one's fatherland") the Oxford English Dictionary defines a patriot as "one who disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly exerts himself to promote the well-being of his country." Anything that celebrates your country or makes it stronger is a great display of patriotism.
One of the main strongholds of Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization in Syria – Salma in the province of Latakia – has been freed with active help from the opposition, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, told reporters on Friday.
“In the north of Latakia province, three settlements were freed with active participation of the Desert Falcons militia, including the main stronghold of militants and capital of mountainous Latakia – the city of Salma,” Rudskoy said.
Syrian government forces also took ten settlements in the province of Hama, he added....
According to the security official, over 200 settlements were liberated from the Islamic State terrorists since the launch of the Russian operation in Syria.
“In just 100 days of the Russian aerospace force’s operation in Syria, 217 settlements were won back from ISIL and more than 1,000 square kilometers of the territory were liberated,” Rudskoy said. “People are returning to Syrian towns and to resume peaceful life,” he added.
The recent executions of convicted terrorists in Saudi Arabia sent a strong signal that the Kingdom will not tolerate any violence or terrorist activities on its soil...
Terrorists continue to radicalize the youth of all nationalities, persuading them to go to Syria to work with their organizations. They have been particularly successful in recruiting members through social media. Terror groups rely on Twitter and Facebook to reach out to potential recruits among our youth and those in the rest of the world.
Community leaders need to address the social ills that have led Saudi youth to join Daesh and turn hostile against their community and environment. It is important to engage the young in the global fight against terror and encourage their participation in programs with innovative ideas to counter terrorist destructive designs and violent attitudes....
Meanwhile, both the state and academic institutions have a responsibility to inform and educate the public about the danger that lies within. The role of educators cannot be stressed enough in this process. Government efforts to upgrade the skills of educators and to instill in them the Muslim values of moderation and tolerance are vital initiatives to combat the prevalent sectarian and racist divide that poses a dangerous threat to our security and social stability...
The public should be more alert and more involved in confronting the toxic mentality of Daesh sympathizers among us. A stronger sense of patriotism and better citizenship should be encouraged.
Extremism is fundamentally an ideological crisis. It needs to be addressed more openly and effectively by moderate rhetoric and less inflammatory language so as not to further radicalize and incite different groups against each other.
The Syrian army is preparing for its biggest operation since the beginning of the conflict to recapture the country's second city of Aleppo.
Aleppo, formerly Syria's commercial hub, is now divided between government control in the west and militant control in the east. Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, are based in the areas ruled by foreign-backed terrorists.
By recapturing Aleppo, the Syrian army plans to broaden its security zone around the city and and prevent terrorists from receiving supplies and reinforcements from the suburbs.
“This will be the biggest military operation in Syria since the beginning of the war,” the French news agency AFP quoted one Syrian army commander as saying. He said the army is battling on seven fronts around the city to choke up militant supply lines and surround them on the eastern part of the city.
Syria's armed forces are slowly advancing south and southeast of the city. On Friday, the official SANA news agency said government forces had liberated three villages on the city’s eastern suburbs following heavy clashes with Takfiri Daesh terrorists. The recent operations are part of a push by the Syrian forces to clear the broader province of Aleppo of terrorists.
Seymour Hersh, one of America’s best-known investigative journalists has said that United States Military has recognized Russia’s military professionalism and success in Syria. Russians have acted in a very professional manner and managed to strengthen the Syrian Army, while US policy in the region has remained inconsistent, Seymour Hersh said.
“Americans have not recognized one thing above all: Syria, like Iraq and Libya, was a secular ally of the West, with moderate Sunnis. And we have intervened into these countries, overthrown their governments, and thus helped those whom we view now as our worst enemies — ISIS or Daesh and all the other extremists,” the journalist said in an interview with the German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN).
Hersh argued that Americans’ hatred for Syrian President Bashar Assad has no logical reasons. The Syrian leader repeatedly tried to build a good relationship with the US, while Syria’s intelligence services provided Washington with hundreds of documents, warning about extremists attacks against the West and the US in particular.
Hersh claimed that after 9/11, the US should have enhanced its cooperation with Moscow because “Russians know exactly what the terrorists threat is”.
However, better late than never: the “US military has now recognized the Russian military’s success in Syria,” Seymour Hersh said. Referring to his sources in the US military and the intelligence services, Hersh said, that Americans have great respect for Russia’s armed forces and especially for Russian General Valeri Gerasimov.
In the journalist’s opinion, Putin pursues a “clever” policy in the Middle East. The Russian leader managed to strengthen the Syrian Army and made it capable of fighting.
Nevertheless, the US has continued to maintain its tough stance against Russia and Hersh doesn’t understand the motives behind this. "I cannot understand why Obama has such an anti-Russian stance...."
Former Ambassador of India in Damascus V.P. Haran confirmed that the Syrian war started not as result of an uprising against the Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, but was instigated from the outside, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.
According to Haran, external forces played a key role in fueling the Syrian conflict. The opposition in the country had supporters, including al-Qaeda and the Gulf States, which contributed to the destabilization of the country.
"Much of this was instigated from the outside, namely by the Gulf States," the diplomat said, stressing that back in 2009 "Syria was a peaceful country without any hidden tensions."
According to the diplomat, the Syrian economy was doing well at that time and the average growth rate was more than 5 percent. The unemployment rate reached 8 percent, but unemployed Syrians could find work in the Gulf States. All in all life in Syria was very peaceful, Haram explained.
"Public order had never been a problem. My female colleagues told me that they could wear jewelry and go home alone by two o'clock in the morning and feel safe. In some districts, restaurants were open until five o'clock in the morning. You never had the feeling that there would be trouble in the streets," the diplomat said.
Haran argued that Bashar al-Assad has always been a popular leader and therefore he is still in power. There is no adequate internal opposition and many of the problems in Syria come from foreign sources that are trying to get rid of the inconvenient regime, the ambassador explained, reminding that 67 percent of the entire Arab world had chosen Assad as the most popular Arab person voted in 2009.
President Bashar Al-Assad: personality of the year 2009, according to CNNarabic Internet Edition, with a 67 percent of all the votes, in less than a month of a free click-and-vote-for opinion poll.
Earlier, on May 19, 2009, President Bashar Al-Assad was voted for as the most popular Arab Leader, according to a major survey of public opinion in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), released by the Brookings Institution and Zogby International.
The situation in the country deteriorated in 2011 following the "Arab spring" when it came to protests in various parts of the country. The chaos emerged in a number of the country's provinces such as Latakia, Homs and Hama.
"Aleppo remained calm and this was what really bothered the opposition. The opposition could not force people in Aleppo to revolt against the regime, so they sent [their own] people to Aleppo..."
Aleppo is/was Syria's largest city and the country's industrial and financial centre.
For the first year of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo saw neither the large-scale protests nor the deadly violence that shook other towns and cities.
However, it became a key battleground in July 2012, when rebel fighters launched an offensive to oust government forces and gain control over northern Syria. In February 2012, the city was rocked by two bomb attacks on military intelligence and police compounds that left 28 people dead. Then, clashes between armed rebels and government forces began to be reported with increasing frequency in nearby areas of Aleppo province.
The battle for the city of Aleppo began in mid-July 2012. The rebels made swift gains, seizing control of several pro-opposition districts in the north-east, south and west. By the end of the month, the fighting had intensified and spread to the historic city centre, even reaching the gates of the Old City, a Unesco World Heritage site.
In September 2012, a blaze swept through the ancient souk after clashes in the vicinity, while in April 2013 the Great Mosque's 11th Century minaret was reduced to rubble.
But the rebel advance was not decisive and Aleppo remains firmly divided into opposition and loyalist controlled sectors, with some parts of the city changing hands on a daily basis. (BBC News, 28-4-2014)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on Saturday, confirming that Iran honored commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Under the JCPOA, limits are put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all nuclear-related economic and financial bans against the Islamic Republic.
President Hassan Rouhani said everyone is happy with implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) except Zionists.
Addressing the Iranian parliament on Sunday morning, the President said no one suffered any defeat neither in nor out of Iran due to the nuclear agreement except for the Zionists, those who are seeking to sow discord within the Islamic Ummah and also extremist lobbies inside the United States.
He said the JCPOA will pave the way for Iran to move towards progress, interaction with the world and coordination... Removal of sanctions is a great opening for Iran’s economy as it will provide access to international banking services as well as high-tech resources to Iran and will enable the country to absorb direct foreign investment and increase its non-oil exports.
He went on to reiterate the importance of avoiding focusing on any marginal issues in a bid to help better implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Now in the post-sanctions era, he said, the government is going to focus on working out productive ways to use the released assets to enhance economy, adding that joining the global economy will be part of our foreign policy.
According to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal represents a "dangerous moment" for America...
"This is a dangerous moment for America and our allies. We need to hold Iran to the commitments it made when it accepted the JCPOA," AIPAC, America's most influential pro-Israel lobbying organization, stated following the implementation of the Iran deal. The statement stressed that "Congress and the executive branch must also live up to their own commitments," which means it has to respond to Iranian violations of the JCPOA "with certain, swift and severe penalties."
The organization also noted it is necessary to shut out the possibility of Iran building up "its ability to pursue regional dominance" as a "terrorist state".
"Iran can repatriate tens of billions of dollars from frozen foreign accounts, fueling its efforts to expand its reach across the region. The international community will dismantle its elaborate sanctions regime, and Iran will start down the path to legitimize its illicit nuclear program," the statement reads.
AIPAC also asserted that Iran demonstrated its irresponsibility in the past when it violated mandatory United Nations Security Council resolutions by conducting prohibited ballistic missile tests.
When two suicide bombers walked into a secret military meeting and detonated their explosive vests they killed one of the most controversial rebel commanders on Syria’s southern front, a man who was held to be central to efforts by ISIL to seize control of the south.
By the time a pair of Al Qaeda suicide bombers killed him, Mohammad Al Baridi – more commonly called Al Khal, or “the uncle” in Arabic – was one of the most hated and feared rebel commanders on Syria’s southern front.
In the summer of 2012, just over a year into the revolt, Al Khal helped to found the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade, a band of rebels with a centre of influence around Jamleh, near the occupied Golan Heights and Syria’s de facto border with Israel.
Under his rule moderate rebels were assassinated, moderate clerics kidnapped, smokers arrested and thrown in public cages for weeks at a time and music banned at weddings – all part of a campaign to implement the strict interpretation of Islamic law championed by ISIL.
Al Khal’s increasingly radical views put him sharply at odds with much of the population in south-west Deraa, where, centred on the village of Jamleh, he had established an outpost of ISIL ideology. On November 15, as news spread of his death earlier that day, there were celebrations in villages that had suffered during his reign.
Al Khal, and the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade which he led, was not always so closely tied to ISIL however.
Little more than a year ago, he signed pledges to respect democracy and human rights, and even publicly thanked Israel for providing medical aid to Syrian refugees and fighters.
Flashback 2013: We have no beef with Israel, Syrian Islamist rebel group says|
The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which operates near the border,
praises Israel’s medical assistance for refugees, fighters
Ilan Ben Zion and Agam Rafaeli, Times of Israel, July 1, 2013
Speaking with The Times of Israel by telephone in Arabic, a spokesperson for the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade — the militia that kidnapped UN peacekeepers in March and May — said, “We are only here to fight Assad; we want nothing from Israel and we want Israel to know this.”
Israel has not done enough to “understand” the reasons behind Palestinian terror, according to former President Shimon Peres.
In an interview he gave German magazine Der Spiegel before his recent heart attack, Peres sounded an apologetic note for the Arab terror against Israel.
“This terror is a revolt,” he told the magazine. “Many young people are attracted today by the totalitarianism of terror. What we have in Israel is part of this development – but at the same time it is different. There need to be two states, but there is only one. This contributes to the fact that young Palestinians are against us. Israel often does not see the real reasons. Israel does not see this as a protest. It sees the killing.”
Peres undermined Israel's accusations that Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas bears responsibility for the terror as the person at the head of the PA's incitement machine. “Abbas is a very courageous man,” said Peres. “I met him often and negotiated with him directly. He wants peace and he fights terror.”
The only solution, Peres said, is a true two-state solution. “I believe that Israel is in a transitional phase,” said Peres. “I do not think that we will be able to eternally avoid a diplomatic solution, which will be the two-state solution. Nothing else will do.”
Netanyahu has been based on trying to have it both ways, by proposing a kind of "1.5-state solution" in the form of a demilitarized Palestinian state, which is further controlled by the Israeli military. "That is not acceptable," said Peres in response. "The whole world wants a two-state solution.”
Eventually – when Netanyahu leaves office – that is what will take place, Peres hinted broadly. “Governments are not elected for eternity. They are temporary..."
"Peace is in our interest"
Indian FM places wreath at Arafat's grave
Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon sought to clarify that "Iran is our main enemy, after I heard voices saying different things."
The defense minister was likely referring to comments made by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at the conference on Monday, who declared that "there are opportunities in the nuclear agreement with Iran. Hezbollah - that is the most serious threat."
Tehran, he said, "is a rogue regime with designs on a regional hegemony. Hezbollah is Iran's proxy, with the ability to declare war. Iran currently has terror infrastructure in place in five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and both in South and North America."
The nuclear agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and world powers, the defense minister said, "pushed back the clock from three months to one year. If Iran feels economically secure, it can breakout and produce a bomb even faster."
Ya'alon doesn't put much stock in the Russians' ability to retake Syria from jihadists - including ISIS - who took over large swaths of land.
"The Russians thought they'd get to the Euphrates River in three months," he said, noting the Russian army is not reaching its goals and failing to achieve much in the Golan Heights.
"There are achievements in the fighting against ISIS - led by the US," Ya'alon said. "ISIS is suffering serious defeats in Iraq and Syria."