Saddam's Death, 70 (april-may 2016)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 69: march-april 2016 and Page 71: may 2016
and The Temple Revolution
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries.
What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."

Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002

Washington 2009: Joe Biden said that the Obama administration would seek the unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported the goals of the government.
Standing in the foyer of the CIA agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Joe Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman, Telegraph, 20-2-2009)

"Knowledge is a natural right of every human being which nobody has the right to deprive him of under any pretext except in a case where a person himself does something which deprives him of that right. Ignorance will come to an end when everything is presented as it actually is and when knowledge about everything is available to each person in the manner that suits him." Muammar Gaddafi (in: The Green Book)

"There is only one antidote against propaganda, and that is a relevant sense of history and a strong collective memory. When we remember the lessons from the past, and when we remember what happened even a few days ago, then the job of the propagandists and their warmongering bosses, becomes much more difficult." (Paul de Rooij, PalestineChronicle 1-4-2003)

Saddam Hussein: "Zionism [..] has transformed into an imperialistic claw used against the Arab nation. Zionism has partnered wit imperialism and participated in its economic and political plans. Moreover, it relies on its unfounded, historical belief for the purpose of destroying the Arab nation... This means maintaining the weak state of the Arab nation...
Zionism regards unity of Arabs as contradictory to its existence. Therefore, Zionism's line of defense is based on the principle that the Arab nation must be broken....
It is necessary for Zionism to revive all the old historical frictions that took place in the path of nationhood, so it can use them [..] to break up the fabric of Arab nations." (The Saddam's tapes, 1978-2001, page 67)

Vladimir Jabotinsky: Don't give them hope.
No Mercy, No Compassion, No Justice

"Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach. That is our Arab policy; not what we should be, but what it actually is, whether we admit it or not. ..."
"We all demand that there should be an iron wall. Yet we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about "agreement" which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall, but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous...."
"What is impossible is a voluntary agreement. As long as the Arabs feel that there is the least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter..." Vladimir Jabotinsky, in The Iron Wall (1923)

"A lot of rulers today still view principled people, who persist in defending their noble and just causes and who refuse to compromise at the expense of their peoples, their nations, the honour of their cause, their integrity and their principles, as a burden on them.
The policy of the United States still finds in this kind of genuine, honest and loyal people an obstacle before their evil and futile ambitions towards the world and humanity at large..." Saddam Hoessein, Oath and Speech, INA 17-10-2002

Index Page

"America controls the world, we control America. Never before have Jews exerted such an immense influence on the center of world power. But this tendency troubles me.
We are like a gambler, who bets all his money and his future on one horse. A good horse, a horse with no current competitor, but still one horse. The neo-cons will cause a long period of chaos in the Arab and Muslim world. The Iraqi war has already shown that their understanding of Arab realities is shaky. Their political assumptions did not stand the test, only brute force saved their undertaking.
Some day the Americans will go home, but we shall remain here. We have to live with the Arab peoples. Chaos in the Arab world endangers our future.
Wolfowitz and Co. may dream about a democratic, liberal, Zionist and America-loving Middle East, but the result of their adventures may well turn out to be a fanatical and fundamentalist region that will threaten our very existence." Uri Avnery, CounterPunch 10-4-2003

"The Jews always defined themselves as 'the compassionate sons of the compassionate'. They believed that compassion is a Jewish invention and quoted the old texts (such as the Sabbath injunction in the Ten Commandments, ordering Jews to relieve their slaves and draft animals every seventh day.)
The new Hebrew society that was created in this country was always proud of its "mutual responsibility", the fact that nobody went hungry in our society, that the incapacitated, sick, old and unemployed were protected by the whole of society.
Once, when I was asked what being a Jew meant to me in my childhood, I mentioned compassion, together with seeking justice, hating violence, striving for peace and loving education." Uri Avnery, 21-4-2003

"Before the creation of Israel, when speaking about our future state, nearly all of us here used the words "Hebrew State". This is what we shouted in innumerable street demonstrations, this is what was written in the newspapers and demanded in political speeches. (Uri Avnery, 14-5-2016)

"The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say." (Bashar al-Assad, 9-11-2012)

"Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after over 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square.

So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars. Launching war doesn’t make you a great power." (Bashar Al-Assad, 26-1-2015)

President Bashar, 'Le Figaro' interview 3-9-2013:

"How can the parliamentarians convince the French public that their country is secular, yet at the same time it supports extremism and sectarianism in other parts of the world? How can France advocate for democracy but yet one of its closest allies – Saudi Arabia – is still living in medieval times?"
"My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality."

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”

Saadi Shirazi
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent.
Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy.
Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.

At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

British Labour MP suspended for saying Hitler supported Zionism
Ynetnews, 28-4-2016

Former London mayor and British Parliamentarian Ken Livingstone was suspended by his own Labour Party after he sparked an outcry on by claiming Hitler supported Zionism on Thursday.
In a BBC Radio interview, Livingstone was asked to comment on the scandal that erupted after his party member Naz Shah called to "relocate" Israel to the United States, and responded, "It's completely over the top but it's not anti-Semitic. Let's remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."
He added that, "The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians."
The Labour MP asserted that there was "well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticized Israeli policy as anti-Semitic."

More than 20 MPs called for Livingstone to be removed from the party, including shadow cabinet member Luciana Berger and London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan.
Livingstone later claimed in an interview with Sky News that he was merely "stating historical facts."

Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real world phenomena.

Zionism And The Third Reich
By Mark Weber,, 2-8-2003

Six months after Hitler came to power, the Zionist Federation of Germany (by far the largest Zionist group in the country) submitted a detailed memorandum to the new government that reviewed German-Jewish relations and formally offered Zionist support in "solving" the vexing "Jewish question."

Zionism believes that the rebirth of the national life of a people, which is now occurring in Germany through the emphasis on its Christian and national character, must also come about in the Jewish national group.
For the Jewish people, too, national origin, religion, common destiny and a sense of its uniqueness must be of decisive importance in the shaping of its existence...
We believe it is precisely the new [National Socialist] Germany that can [..] take a decisive step toward overcoming a problem which, in truth, will have to be dealt with by most European peoples ...
Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses in the cultural domain...

Berlin, Germany, 1936, The opening meeting of the ZVfD (German Zionist Federation)
Yad Vashem Photosarchive

On the basis of their similar ideologies about ethnicity and nationhood, National Socialists and Zionists worked together for what each group believed was in its own national interest.
More and more German Jews turned to Zionism during this period. Until late 1938, the Zionist movement flourished in Germany under Hitler.
The Encyclopaedia Judaica notes. A Zionist convention held in Berlin in 1936 reflected "in its composition the vigorous party life of German Zionists."

The SS was particularly enthusiastic in its support for Zionism. An internal June 1934 SS position paper urged active and wide-ranging support for Zionism...
SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler toured Palestine together for six months to assess Zionist development there.
Based on his firsthand observations, von Mildenstein wrote a series of twelve illustrated articles for the important Berlin daily Der Angriff that appeared in late 1934 under the heading "A Nazi Travels to Palestine."
The series expressed great admiration for the pioneering spirit and achievements of the Jewish settlers.

People cannot be reduced to ideas, social structures, or mystical oneness
Leo Sjestov & Personalism, a spiritual form of individualism

Shestov rejects any mention of "omnitudes", "collective", "all-unity." As he explains in his masterpiece Athens and Jerusalem:

"Why forever speak of "total unity"? If God loves men, what need has He to subordinate men to His divine will and to deprive them of their own will, the most precious of the things He has bestowed upon them? There is no need at all. Consequently, the idea of total unity is an absolutely false idea....It is not forbidden for reason to speak of unity and even of unities, but it must renounce total unity - and other things besides. And what a sigh of relief men will breathe when they suddenly discover that the living God, the true God, in no way resembles Him whom reason has shown them until now!"

Although a Jewish philosopher, Shestov saw in the resurrection of Christ a victory over necessity.
He described the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus as a transfiguring spectacle by which it is demonstrated that the purpose of life is not "mystical" surrender to the "absolute", but ascetical struggle:
"Cur Deus homo? Why, to what purpose, did He become man, expose himself to injurious mistreatment, ignominious and painful death on the cross?
Was it not in order to show man, through His example, that no decision is too hard, that it is worth while bearing anything in order not to remain in the womb of the One? That any torture whatever to the living being is better than the 'bliss' of the rest-satiate 'ideal' being?"

Lev Shestov (1866-1938) is a Russian-Jewish philosopher of existentialism. Variously described as an irrationalist, an anarchist, a religious philosopher, Shestov's themes were initially inspired by Nietzsche until he found a kindred spirit in Kierkegaard.
Among his contemporaries he entertained long-standing philosophical friendships with Martin Buber, Edmund Husserl and Nikolai Berdyaev.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (18 March 1874 – 24 March 1948) was a Russian Christian universalist mystic (personalist) and Christian anarchist political philosopher. In Berdyaev's view, the only way of escape from the many forms of slavery (spiritual, economic, political) lies in thefuller realization of personality:
At the basis of a social world-concept of personalism lies not the idea of equality nor the idea of justice, but rather the dignity of every human person, which should receive the possibility to realise itself.

See also: Page 52, march 2015

Gilad Atzmon: "The Left is a dead concept"

For years I have suggested that the Left is Jewish by proxy, but Corbyn’s Labour exceeds the realm of proxy. Corbyn’s Labour is now unequivocally a spineless club of Sabbos Goyim.
The Labour party’s policies are now compatible with Jewish culture: intolerant to the core and concerned primarily with the imaginary suffering of one people only. These people are not the working class, they are probably the most privileged ethnic group in Britain. Corbyn’s Labour is a Zionist Occupied Territory.
I would have never believed that Jeremy Corbyn would engage in such colossally treacherous politics. I did not anticipate that Corbyn would become a Zionist lapdog. Corbyn was a great hope to many of us.
I guess that the time has come to accept that The Left is a dead concept, it has nothing to offer... (26-4-2016)

George Galloway
"The suspension of Ken Livingstone is a crime against Labour. Worse than that, it is a gigantic blunder. The consequences will be grave." (Twitter, 28-4-2016)
"You can't be expelled for telling the truth. Oh, wait! That's what happened to me over Iraq!" (Express, 29-4-2016)

Flashback 2003: Galloway expelled by Labour
BBC, 24-10-2003

MP George Galloway has been expelled from the Labour Party in the wake of his outspoken comments on the Iraq war.
The Glasgow Kelvin member immediately denounced the decision as "politically motivated" and said Labour would rue the day it decided to throw him out. Mr Galloway predicted he would "certainly" contest the next election as an independent and said he might quit to run against Labour in a by-election.
He faced charges relating to a number of television interviews, including one during the war in which he accused Mr Blair and George Bush of acting "like wolves" in invading Iraq.
The charges faced by Mr Galloway were understood to be that: he incited Arabs to fight British troops, he incited British troops to defy orders, he threatened to stand against Labour, he backed an anti-war candidate in Preston.
Mr Galloway said: "This was a politically motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials."

Labour & the Zionist Oligarchs
April 29, 2016 - Gilad Atzmon

Leftists tend to call each other comrade; they shove the word ‘comradeship’ into every political statement. Apparently, they are unable to grasp what comradeship is all about.
Corbyn’s ‘comradeship’ was on display when he failed to stand up for the heroic Ken Livingstone who told the well-established and undeniable truth about Hitler’s support of Zionism and the Havara Agreement...
For some time, I have thought the Left a dysfunctional masturbatory concept. But Corbyn was exciting, he seemed to support the oppressed.
For decades he was the patron of the dysfunctional Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC). Corbyn promised to care for whatever is left of the British working people. He said all the most exciting things but he has delivered the opposite.

Thanks to the Jewish Lobby and Jewish donors, the Labour Party is not a free place. It is intolerant, it is oppressive, it is an occupied territory. It cares for one people only and these people are not the working class. They are, practically speaking, a bunch of Jewish oligarchs, by far the most privileged people on this planet.
Next we are going to learn that Corbyn’s Labour will remove Karl Marx from Labour’s heritage for writing 'On The Jewish Question'.
In 1843, Marx realised that “emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.” Marx thought that in order to emancipate the world from capitalism, the world must be emancipated from “Judaism.”

Karl Marx: On the Jewish Question, 1844
Secular Limitations & Money Idolatry

We explain the religious limitations of the free citizen by their secular limitations.
We do not assert that they must overcome their religious narrowness in order to get rid of their secular restrictions, we assert that they will overcome their religious narrowness once they get rid of their secular restrictions.
The question of the relation of political emancipation to religion becomes for us the question of the relation of political emancipation to human emancipation.
The political emancipation of the Jew, the Christian, and, in general, of religious man, is the emancipation of the state from Judaism, from Christianity, from religion in general.
In its own form, in the manner characteristic of its nature, the state as a state emancipates itself from religion by emancipating itself from the state religion – that is to say, by the state as a state not professing any religion, but, on the contrary, asserting itself as a state.

Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist.
Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities. Money is the universal self-established value of all things. It has, therefore, robbed the whole world – both the world of men and nature – of its specific value.
Money is the estranged essence of man’s work and man’s existence, and this alien essence dominates him, and he worships it.
The god of the Jews has become secularized and has become the god of the world. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange...
It is in this sense that [in a 1524 pamphlet] Thomas Münzer declares it intolerable “that all creatures have been turned into property..."

Saddam Hoessein,
on the occasion of the 34th anniversay of the 17-30 july revolution

"He who stands up against injustice, should himself refrain from causing injustice others, and should remember that speaking of justice will be meaningless if capital is allowed rule beyond its limits or influence the process of decision-making.
Political and legal justice remains meaningless without social and economic justice.
The fight against the wolves and the corruptors will not succeed, if they have contacts and partners inside the corridors of government and the palaces of the Sultan.
All of this, in order to be achieved, requires the establishment and protection of justice. Authority must have its sward while power, must have its own mind, eyes and good conscience.

Reinhold Niebuhr: The Misery of Man

The misery of man is derived from his idolatry, from his partly conscious and partly unconscious effort to make himself, his race, and his culture God.
This idolatry is not broken until man is confronted with the real God, and finds his pride broken by the divine judgment, and learns that from this crucifixion of the old proud self a new self may arise, and that this new self has the "fruits of the spirit," which are "love, joy, peace." (Christianity and Society, Spring, 1945, in Love and Justice, p. 129.)

Flashback 2004: The Oligarchs
Or How the Virgin Became a Whore, By URI AVNERY

The "oligarchs" are a tiny group of entrepreneurs who exploited the disintegration of the Soviet system to loot the treasures of the state and to amass plunder amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.
In order to safeguard the perpetuation of their business, they took control of the state. Six out of the seven are Jews.

In the first years of post-Soviet Russian capitalism they were the bold and nimble ones who knew how to exploit the economic anarchy in order to acquire enormous possessions for a hundredth or a thousandth of their value: oil, natural gas, nickel and other minerals. They used every possible trick, including cheating, bribery and murder. Every one of them had a small private army...
After a period of fighting each other, they decided that it would be more profitable for them to cooperate in order to take over the state...
In practice, the oligarchs ruled Russia. One of them, Boris Berezovsky, appointed himself Prime Minister. There was a minor scandal when it became known that he (like most of the oligarchs) had acquired Israeli citizenship, but he gave up his Israeli passport and everything was in order again...

In the end, there was a reaction: Vladimir Putin, the taciturn and tough ex-KGB operative, assumed power, took control of the media, put one of the oligarchs (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) in prison and caused the others to flee (Berezovsky is in England, Vladimir Gusinsky is in Israel, another, Mikhail Chernoy, is assumed to be hiding here.)...

These facts must alarm everybody who cares about democracy -- in Israel, Russia, the United States and elsewhere.
Oligarchy and democracy are incompatible. As a Russian commentator in the TV series said about the new Russian democracy: "They have turned a virgin into a whore." (CounterPunch, 3-8-2004)

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.

Eduard Topol, 1998: "How did it happen that almost all the money in this country has ended up in Jewish hands? Are there really no competent Russian financiers? In old [Tsarist] Russia there were some exceptional Russian commercial figures -- Morozov, Tretyakov.."

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky: "You know, of course there are some very competent bankers among the Russians. But this profession requires a second very important factor -- the will power to do the job. Because of our history Jews know how to lose and then get back up on their feet again. This is probably a result of our historical experience. But even the most talented Russians don't have this ability. They can't take the blow, and they're completely out of the game after their first loss. It's regrettable." (Institute for historical review)

Rouhani allies win second round of Iran parliament elections
Middle East Online, 30-4-2016

TEHRAN - Reformist and moderate Iranian politicians allied with President Hassan Rouhani won second round parliamentary elections, preliminary results said Saturday, capping a remarkable comeback after years of isolation.
The outcome represents a significant realignment of competing factions in the Islamic republic, with conservative MPs losing their dominance and being outnumbered for the first time since 2004.
The result is an implicit public vote of confidence for Rouhani, who won a landslide election victory in 2013 and went on to clinch a historic deal with world powers over Tehran's nuclear programme that lifted sanctions.

Although Iran's parliament has marginal powers -- under the country's theocratic rule clerics can veto legislation -- the result will make economic reforms easier and could also speed up social change demanded by reformists.
Iran does not have rigid party affiliations, making election outcomes notoriously opaque. Some candidates were backed by both camps and others stood as independents. But of the 68 seats being contested Friday, 36 went to the pro-Rouhani List of Hope coalition and 17 to conservatives with just four constituencies yet to be declared, according to official results.
That would give reformists at least 131 seats in the new 290-member parliament, 15 shy of a majority but more than their rivals' 124 MPs. Remaining seats went to independents who could hold the balance of power.

In stark contrast to the first two-and-a-half years of his presidency the result should give Rouhani a supportive parliament. The outgoing conservative-led chamber repeatedly blocked him and even impeached one of his ministers.
Iran's reformists have encouraged foreign investment, support moves for greater diplomatic rapprochement and seek social change and fewer political restrictions at home.

Assad’s focus is still firmly on Aleppo
Josh Wood , The National (UAE), April 30, 2016

Even when Syria peace talks in Geneva were still alive in early April, the Syrian government was already bragging about an impending assault on Aleppo to drive rebels from the city...
To the government, Aleppo remains the major prize at this point in the war. As Syria’s largest city before the conflict began, routing the rebels from Aleppo would be a huge morale boost for supporters of the government.
For the rebels, losing Aleppo would be a disastrous blow. They would no longer have a foothold in any of Syria’s major cities. The rebels would go from holding part of what is perhaps the country’s most important city to only having strongholds in the country’s backwaters.
Symbolically, the rebels have been able to hold on to parts of Aleppo for nearly four years now, long giving the opposition some hope even as some of their other bastions such as Homs fell.
Recapturing all of Aleppo could put the Syrian government in a significantly better position to negotiate an end to the conflict that favours the regime. That is, of course, if they truly want to negotiate an end to the war.

History of "free" Aleppo - Syria:
Occupied by Western-backed ultra-right-wing, hard-line rebels

The government has also remained focused on Aleppo as they believe it is a battle they can now win. The rebels in Aleppo are beaten down, nearly cornered and have little backup.
In the weeks before the February 27 truce brokered by the US and Russia, rebel units around Aleppo suffered major losses as pro-government forces backed by heavy Russian air strikes made lightning gains. Rebel units were thrown into retreat and they quickly lost the main route linking rebel-held Aleppo to the Turkish border. By the time a ceasefire was called, only a narrow strip of territory connected rebels hunkered down in the city with their fellow fighters elsewhere in north-western Syria.

With the ceasefire now dead in Aleppo, the rebels in the city find themselves in the same dire situation. This time however, it appears pro-government forces have put themselves in a better position to take the city by deploying additional troops and Russian artillery to the area. Rebels north of Aleppo have been cut off from the city and are now stuck in a shrinking pocket between Kurdish YPG fighters, ISIL and the Turkish border.
There are also signs that the US may be giving up on rebels in Aleppo as a siege of the city appears imminent.

Last week, US military spokesman Col Steve Warren said “it’s primarily Al Nusra who holds Aleppo", referring to Al Qaeda’s Syria branch Jabhat Al Nusra and adopting a line often repeated by the Syrian government and Russia.
Later on Friday, state department spokesman Mark Toner denied the US was giving up on Aleppo, saying that they hope that if the truces in Latakia and Eastern Ghouta go well, it could pave the way for a reduction of violence in Aleppo.

Syria Islamist rebels under Kurdish fire in Aleppo
ARA News, 1-5-2016

KOBANE – Subsequent to clashes with Islamist rebel groups, Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) destroyed an ammunition warehouse and a military vehicle for the Islamists in the vicinity of the mainly Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, military sources reported on Saturday.
The YPG’s Media Center released a statement, obtained by ARA News, saying: “The terrorists [Islamist rebels] launched an offensive on the areas of the Muthallath, Ashrafiyeh, Youth Housing, Shaqif Housing near the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood in Aleppo city, northern Syria.”
“As they [Islamists] were trying to break into the neighborhood, our units [YPG] were able to deter the terrorists-led attack and destroy a military vehicle in Shaqif Housing area,” the statement reported.
“Then clashes erupted in the Muthallath area and our forces were able to destroy a number of headquarters for terrorists who were using them [headquarters] as warehouses for ammunition,” it said.

In the meantime, militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) tried to break into the Tishrin Dam area in the western suburbs of Kobane in Aleppo province by a bombed car, but the YPG forces were able to detonate it before reaching its target, according to the Kurdish leadership.
With the arrival of the US special forces in the Kurdish-held areas in Syria’s north and northeast, clashes renewed between the YPG forces and ISIS militants in the vicinity of Tishrin Dam as well as near the town of Ain Issa in northern Raqqa, eastern Syria.

Stop the ANTI-INTELLECTUAL Counter-Revolution
Egypt's pope urges educated elite to confront conflicts and terror
Ahram Online, Sunday 1 May 2016

Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II urged intellectuals and the country's educated elite to stand in the face of conflicts and terrorism around the world.
The Pope made his call during the Easter eve service held at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo on Saturday that was attended by some 3,000 people including a slew of top government officials and local dignitaries.
"Humanity needs owners of enlightening ideas, intellectuals, visionaries...and those with constructive knowledge to stand in the face of dark minds that hold back the progress of societies," the Pope said during his sermon.
"What kind of human mind can conceive of wars, conflicts, acts of murder and terror that have prevailed in many places east and west?" he wondered.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the defence minister and other top government officials sent messages of congratulations and representatives to attend the religious celebration, which lasted for hours. Also present were a number of western and Arab ambassadors including those of Canada, USA, Britain and Jordan.

See also: Saddam's death, Page 48


Anti-intellectualism is a trademark of totalitarian regimes -- like the military junta in 1960s Argentina or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, where people could be killed for wearing glasses, a sign, apparently, of intellect...
During their four years in power, the Khmer Rouge overworked and starved the population, at the same time executing selected groups who they believed were enemies of the state or spies or had the potential to undermine the new state. People who they perceived as intellectuals or even those who had stereotypical signs of learning, such as glasses, would also be killed. (Wikipedia info)

There is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism pervasive in American society, especially among the youth. A lot of kids consider it "cool" not to have studied for an exam or having gotten the lowest grade on an exam. Similarly, people who wear glasses in America are often derided as nerds or geeks. The roots of this anti-intellectualism have been studied in great detail, perhaps most famously by Richard Hofstadter's 'Anti-Intellectualism in American Life'.

Anti-Intellectualist: definition
1. a person opposed to or hostile toward intellectuals and the modern academic, artistic, social, religious, and other theories associated with them.
2. a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.

"Just as love is an orientation which refers to all objects and is incompatible with the restriction to one object,
so is reason a human faculty which must embrace the whole of the world with which man is confronted."

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties"
Erich Fromm

Why I do not want an Islamic state or an Islamic law
Rasha Awad, Almuslih (Arabic for 'The Reformer') website

I am well aware that simply the above title is enough for the inquisition courts to unsheathe their swords, and for fatwas declaring me an infidel to be unleashed, or appeals made for me to repent, and sermons to be delivered – some well-meaning, others apparently religious but in reality harbouring some political manoeuvring.
But I chose this title deliberately, because I believe that one of the reasons for the spread of ‘political Islam’ [..] is the approach of appeasement, the avoidance of confronting it critically and radically, and the at times ‘unconscious identification’ by politicians, and liberal, secular intellectuals with those who promote a discourse of political Islam.

Principal is the question of whether it is possible for a devout Muslim to support secularism and the democratisation of the state, or to interact positively with the achievement of the modern mind.
Whenever Islamists pose questions such as: ‘do you, or do you not, accept the Islamic state and Islamic law?’ My reply, for which I bear personal responsibility, is to say that I totally and unequivocally reject political Islam, for reasons outlined here:

  • -- Firstly: the terms ‘Islamic state’ and ‘Islamic law’ are modern political terms fashioned by ordinary folk and do not, in my view, have any religious sanctity to them that might make me reticent to express my rejection of them. Islam, as I understand it, does not require striving to set up a state that is called ‘Islamic’ and whose primary purpose is to ‘apply Islamic law’.
  • -- Secondly: Muslims have need of the institution of the state in that they are beings that require integrated institutions to perform the functions needed in managing their livelihoods: functions such as providing security, law enforcement, and the organization of public life in its various forms.
    Muslims do not need a state for them to be Muslims! The state is a historical entity which constantly changes and develops in step with the alterations in place and time and as a consequence of demands made over various historical periods by political, economic and social conditions. Indeed, even over a single period a state can vary from one place to another.
  • -- Thirdly: regarding the (modern) state administration and the exercise of (modern) political action there is no such thing as ‘Islamic law’ in the sense of a package of laws, legislation and programmes, starting from the fields of security, defense and politics, of economics and international relations, through to education, agriculture, industry, customs and aviation, or maritime and river navigation, or the environment, electricity and telecommunications, or the infrastructure project management of roads, bridges, airports and so on. For none of these areas are there any programmes, general or detailed, that we could term as ‘Islamically legitimate’, and this is confirmed even by hard-line Salafis and Islamist leaders...
    Yet these fields of activity are the functional contents of the state and the arena of politicians, who put themselves forward for governing and managing the states...
  • -- Fourthly: the emotional blackmail that political Islam practices with its slogans of ‘Islamic state’ and ‘Islamic law’ is itself made up of varying, different, even internecine currents... As a result political Islam has entirely failed to co-exist peacefully even with its own factions. How then can it basically exist at all with Muslim secularists and with non-Muslims?
  • -- Fifthly: anyone who wants Islam to have a major role in people’s lives should know that this can only be achieved when Islam is actively operative in its true function, that is, in the improvement of the behavior of individual Muslims on the scale of moral virtues, such as sincerity, honesty, the fulfillment of agreements, the decent treatment of living beings and inanimate things, the deepening of propensity to the values ​​of justice, freedom, brotherhood and equality, to caring for the poor and needy, the constant awakening of his conscience to all that is good and beautiful and merciful to humankind.

    Islamist parties in Iraq are witnessing a major crisis
    Ali Mamouri, Al-Monitor, 2-5-2016

    NAJAF, Iraq — Islamist parties have dominated the Iraqi political scene since the first elections in 2005 after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
    The Islamist parties’ failure in managing the country has given a boost to secular and civil currents, and the Iraqi street is currently witnessing a significant growth of these currents through the protests that have been going on since last year.

    Some Islamist parties, such as the Islamic Dawa Party, have accused the secularists of intending to destroy religion in Iraqi society.
    In his speech April 9 in Babil province, head of the Dawa Party Nouri al-Maliki said that the goal of the ongoing protests is not reform, but "targeting the Islamist project and Islam itself." He added, "They are saying that Islamists must leave their government positions and go to their mosques and Husseiniyas [Shiite houses of worship]."
    Maliki’s speech came in response to recent demands to form a government of technocrats instead of the current sectarian and partisan quota system... It seems that Maliki is dealing with the current events by trying to scare the citizens away from the secularists and his Islamist rivals who are sympathetic to the reform project put forward by the secularists.

    While the secular currents are the ones that proposed a technocratic government, now the current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has adopted it.
    As prime minister, Abadi has moved closer to the secularists than to the Islamists; he has obtained the support of Muqtada al-Sadr's Islamist current, which supports the idea of ​​a technocratic government.
    Sadr has called for demonstrations in front of the Green Zone, and he has joined the protests there to support a technocratic government.
    In his April 9 speech, Maliki referred to the rapprochement between some Islamists and secularists, saying in a regretful tone that the secularists have found others to echo their “technocrat” argument...
    It is clear that Maliki is defending the so-called Islamist project to preserve the influence and power of his parliamentary bloc in the government and to prevent the rise of rivals, whether or not they are secular...
    Throughout the governments of Maliki and his successor Abadi, Iraq has been managed in a way that no one would call an “Islamist project”... The only common feature among those governments was failure.
    This is what the Shiite authority in Najaf, Ali al-Sistani, has realized. Sistani subsequently withheld his support from all Islamist parties, and the Dawa Party in particular. He criticized these parties and blamed them for the country’s deteriorating security situation and financial crisis... The Islamist parties are witnessing a major crisis. They have lost the support of the religious establishment and are facing a popular protest movement opposing them...

    Secular Ethics

    Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, reason or moral intuition, and not derived from purported supernatural revelation or guidance (which is the source of religious ethics).
    Secular ethics comprises any ethical system that does not draw on the supernatural, such as humanism, secularism and freethinking.
    Secular ethics frameworks do not necessarily contradict theological value systems. For example, the Golden Rule or a commitment to non-violence, could be supported by those within religious and secular frameworks. Secular ethics systems can also vary within the societal and cultural norms of a specific time period. (Wikipedia Info)

    Sistani is a cleric fit for a secularist state
    Ali Abel Sadah, for Al-Monitor 11-1-2013

    Sistani is a cleric fit for a secularist state, for his actions as a religious authority in these disoriented times are balanced and moderate. He quietly and peacefully defies his colleagues by keeping state and religion separate. It is certain that Sistani prefers separation of religion and state, since his position in this regard has been a critical factor in the struggle for religious authority in Najaf.
    Today, with the approach of provincial elections, secularists can be likened to a defeated warrior who needs time to rest and treat his wounds. Meanwhile, better organized and quick to mobilize, the Islamists continue to exert their control over the new Iraq.

    Follow the noble manners
    The Office of SayyidʿAli al-Sistani, 15-2-2015

    Everyone must let go of those sentiments which carry hatred and bigotry. Follow the noble manners. God has made people into different tribes and races so that they may know each other. Do not be overcome by narrow-minded views and personal egos.
    Do you not see how the majority of Muslims today are engaged in self-destruction where they spend their resources, energy, and wealth on killing and destruction of each other?
    They should instead spend their resources and wealth on the advancement of knowledge and multiplying their resources and improve the welfare of the people.

    See also Saddam's Death, Page 54

    Muqtada al-Sadr: Unity & Independence
    by Dan Sanchez,, 3-5-2016

    While many [anti-Saddam-politicians] welcomed and collaborated with their “liberators,” Sadr would have none of it.
    Sadr’s “Mahdi Army” fought to drive out the Western occupiers from Iraq, and succeeded in briefly expelling them from certain towns. In this, the Shia cleric made common cause with much of the Sunni resistance, even voicing support for the Sunni defenders of Fallujah against their American besiegers in 2004.

    After the invasion, Sadr was the leading champion of Iraqi nationalism: for a unified Iraq shared by both Shia and Sunnis, and independent of both the West and Iran.
    The U.S. also affected to want a unified Iraq, but preferred it to be dependent and subservient. And as it turned out, subservience was a higher priority than unity.
    So rather than withdrawing, leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, the U.S. sought to destroy Sadr and his following. Moreover, the U.S. proceeded to do everything you might expect a power to do if it was hellbent on preventing national unity, and instead fomenting national discord. Its de-Baathification policy destroyed the lives of the Sunni leading classes.
    The [right-wing] Shias that the U.S. backed, rather than Sadr’s local patriots, were the expatriates who had years ago fled to Iran where they dreamed of importing [an Islamist Revolution] into Iraq. Then the U.S. engineered an election that guaranteed a hyper-sectarian government dominated by this [anti-secular] coterie.
    After all these divisive policies, the purple fingers of the celebrated first election predictably gave way to the bloodstained hands of a sectarian civil war....
    As in all such wars, the most violent factions of each side came to the fore: the suicide bombing terrorists of Al Qaeda in Iraq on the Sunni side, and the head-drilling death squads of the Badr Brigade on the Shia side.
    Factions within the Mahdi Army were also implicated in the bloodshed. Sadr denounced them as infiltrators and retired to Iran to study theology in 2007...

    Over the years, Sadr’s tactics have evolved: from armed resistance to working within the political system, and now to street protests... Sadr is currently the most anti-sectarian leader of Iraq’s majority Shia population. And sectarian strife is what spawned ISIS and feeds it to this day...
    It is worth noting that the government reforms now demanded by Sadr are also supported by the remaining Sunnis in parliament. And when Sadr addressed the Baghdad protesters the Shia cleric said over the loudspeakers, “This demonstration is the voice of the displaced people and the oppressed Sunnis.”

    Flashback: The Political Program of the (Iraqi) Baath Party
    and its Patriotic Resistance, 24.10.2006

    The Baath and its Resistance present a political program aimed at the liberation of Iraq and attaining its national independence and the unity of its people and territory, in accordance with the priorities and sequences that appear in this document:

    Complete national independence...
    Absolute acceptance of the state and national sovereignty and independence of Iraq and the preservation of the national unity of its people, territory, holy places, and resources, rejecting all calls and laws aimed at partitioning and splitting up Iraq.
    A declaration by the United States of America and its allies that they take responsibility for the war and the occupation and saying that the operation of the occupation of Iraq constituted an act of aggression that had no basis in international legality nor any legal or moral justification and that it took place outside the bounds of international law...
    The cancellation of the law of rooting out the Baath and the recognition of its Iraqi, pan-Arab, and international role.., as a political, intellectual, and social movement with a great humanitarian mission...

    A comprehensive national reconciliation...
    This reconciliation would be preceded by a review and examination by all the active patriotic forces in the Iraqi arena, the practice of criticism and self-criticism on the most extensive scale, and the adoption of the principle ‘May God forgive what has happened in the past,’ dispensing with the policy of revenge and vengeance for revenge, the elimination of subversion, and the settling of scores, not pointing weapons at anyone other than the occupier...
    That is all for the sake of creating a spirit of mutual trust and planting that spirit in the hearts of all Iraqis to be the fundamental guarantee of their participation in the construction of Iraq..., far from any monopolization of power, individual rule, authoritarianism, extortion, or one-upmanship of some over others.

    Violence level in Syria decreases since late February
    Russia’s reconciliation center

    HMEIMIM /Syria/ May 4, 2016 /TASS/ The level of violence in Syria has dropped by several times since the ceasefire came into effect in late February and the number of shellings has decreased by around eight-fold, head of the Russian center for reconciliation Sergey Kuralenko said on Wednesday.
    "Since the creation of the center on February 27 the violence level has decreased by several times. The shellings both from one side and the other - approximately by eight times," Kuralenko told reporters.
    The situation in Syria is stabilizing but tensions remain partly in the northern part of the Latakia province and in Aleppo and also in some areas of the Damascus province, he said.
    The Russian and US military have found an effective mechanism for a ceasefire in Syria - the introduction of the "regime of silence", head of the Russian reconciliation center went on to say.
    "The American side works with the opposition groups. It was able to persuade its charges that it is necessary to observe the silence regime," Kuralenko said.
    According to Kuralenko, 91 populated localities have joined the truce since the Reconciliation center was set up. "To that end, the center’s specialists hold meetings various population groups, the elders, field commanders and administrations. During this time, 214 negotiations have been held. Besides, 52 application forms have been signed with the gunmen who stopped armed stand-off and returned to peaceful life," Kuralenko said.

    Formations of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist grouping took efforts to violate the ceasefire regime in Aleppo by continuing shelling against the government troops and living city sectors. Terrorists carried out shelling with improvised Hellfire-type multiple launch rocket systems against Sheikh Maqsood, Meidan, and al-Suryan. Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists also performed shelling with multiple launch rocket systems against a maternity in al-Muhafaza city sector.

    Russian military get reconnaissance information from Kurds
    TASS News Agency, 4-5-2016

    The Russian military get reconnaissance information from the Kurdish liberation forces and other detachments of patriotically minded opposition, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Wednesday.
    "We receive information, including on the ISIS (the former name for the Islamic State - IS) and its aims, from them," Konashenkov said when asked about the Russian military’s relations with the Kurdish liberation forces. The general said that the Kurds were providing extremely valuable information on the operations, which are under way near Raqqa.
    He added that the Russian military in Syria had been receiving extremely serious reconnaissance information from various detachments of the patriotically-minded opposition." "It is really valuable and deserves attention. But, I would like to re-emphasize that our experts are using their channels to re-check it. Terrorist targets are attacked only after the confirmation has been received," Konashenkov said...
    Konashenkov praised the work of the four-sided center in Baghdad (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia): "It proved itself to be very good in autumn last year and early this year; the information coming from it was valuable indeed," Konashenkov stressed.

    The Russia–Syria–Iran–Iraq coalition (RSII coalition), or the so-called 4+1 (in which the "plus one" refers to Hezbollah of Lebanon), is a joint intelligence-sharing cooperation between opponents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with operation rooms in Syria's Damascus and Iraq's Green Zone in Baghdad. It was formed as a consequence of an agreement reached at the end of September 2015 between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria to "help and cooperate in collecting information about the terrorist Daesh group" (ISIL) with a view to combatting the advances of the group, according to the statement issued by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command. (Wikipedia info)

    Syrian military joins US, Russia-brokered Aleppo truce
    Press TV, Wed May 4, 2016

    “The Syrian military says it will respect a 48-hour Aleppo truce after Russia and the US agreed to extend a cessation of hostilities in Syria to the province,” said a statement issued by the Damascus's army command on Wednesday. The statement added that it would take effect at 1 a.m. local time on Thursday.
    Earlier, Washington and Moscow agreed on extending a shaky ceasefire they had brokered in February to Aleppo, which has been divided between government forces in the west and militants in the east since 2012.
    US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner announced that since the ceasefire went into effect "on Wednesday at 00:01 Damascus time," there has been an "overall decrease in violence in these areas."
    "To ensure this continues in a sustainable way, we are coordinating closely with Russia to finalize enhanced monitoring efforts of this renewed cessation," he added.

  • Rouhani: Education growth necessary
    Mehr News Agency, Wed 4 May 2016

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the development of our country certainly starts with the development of education. Speaking during the ceremony to celebrate National Teacher’s Day [..] Rouhani said “Today we need to illustrate different aspects of Islamic culture and the Islamic Revolution.
    "Ayatollah Shahid Morteza Motahari called Revolutionary Islam a big threat against Islamic Revolution," underlined Rouhani, noting "Islamic Revolution means great social, economic and political mobility in a society on the basis of Islam and Islamic values; however, revolutionary Islam is setting the basis on revolution and fighting and accepts just parts of Islam benefiting these goals." Rouhani assured “someday we will be proud that our society’s education is better than other nations.”

    President Rouhani, noting the importance of learning foreign languages, said the schools all around the country must diversify and qualify the teaching of foreign languages and especially any language that conveys deeper knowledge. "Learning a new language means a new window to global knowledge and understanding..."
    To clarify the importance of strengthening hope within the community, Rouhani asserted nothing is worth more than hope for the future of our country. “If our young generation misses hope, we can never achieve development,” Rouhani said... The educational system must provoke hope, unity, balance and positive energy. “If we are concerned about culture, we have to focus on improving education and training budget.”

    Ali Khamenei Honors Motahhari as Proponent of Islamic Intellectualism
    Mar 8, 2004 (

    Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said here on Monday that Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari was at the helm of Islamic intellectualism during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s.
    In a meeting with members of the International Forum on Ayatollah Motahhari sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), he honored Ayatollah Motahhari for his innovative theories and clarification of Islamic ideology for the young generation.
    He said that Motahhari laid the foundation of the intellectual approach to social issues in line with Islamic ideology and overcame the imported ideologies of the East and the West.
    Motahhari's philosophy examined freedom, freedom of thought, women and women's rights in the context of religion, dialogue among religions, and intellectual and philosophical innovation...

    Ayatollah Motahari: Social freedom and spiritual freedom.
    By Syed Ali Shahbaz (

    Although a master of philosophy, rhetoric, and historiography, Ayatollah Morteza Motahari believed in practical efforts, and took due steps to enlighten the public regarding social and political issues... He held debates with the advocates of the various schools of thoughts including liberalists, secularists, communists, socialists, and other groups...
    Motahari considered freedom to be vital and necessary for all live creatures in order to facilitate proper growth and perfection. For instance, a sprout needs fertile soil to grow and turn into a tree, and similarly it is freedom that facilitates the progress towards perfection, since man has been endowed by God with intellect, willpower, and speech.
    He divided human freedom into two: social freedom and spiritual freedom.
    Regarding social freedom, he has said: Social freedom means that human being should not be exploited by others. Others should not create obstacles in his path of growth or exploit his intellectual and physical capacities to their own benefit. One of the goals of the Prophets of God was to make people aware of social freedom, in order to rid minds of slavish attitudes.

    In Surah Aal-e Imran, ayah 64, the Qur’an refers to two points; the first is the worship of the One and Only God, and the second is not to have slavish tendencies by accepting other humans as overlords:
    "Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah."
    In view of the concept of this ayah, regarding the goal of Prophets, Martyr Motahhari wrote: One of the goals of Prophets is to secure social freedom and campaign against social slavery...
    The reason behind all wars and bloodshed and miseries which exist in the world is because human beings do not respect the freedom of others.

    Beside social freedom, Motahari refers to another type of freedom which plays an important role in ensuring social freedom, and this is spiritual freedom.

    The human being has ethical conscience that helps him distinguish between good and evil, which is so vital for reaching spiritual perfection. In other words, spiritual freedom means overcoming of such negative tendencies as greed and anger. Thus without achieving spiritual freedom one cannot achieve social freedom, and this is what the Prophets of God taught humanity by showing how to observe social rights and refrain from oppressing others.
    According to Motahhari, Prophets were sent by God to teach man to achieve spiritual freedom by preserving human dignity, intellect and conscience, through abstention from carnal desires and selfish attitudes.
    He wrote: The main program of Prophets is spiritual freedom, while the main loss of our era is that we always speak of social freedom but we do not speak of spiritual freedom of human beings.
    In our era, the manmade schools of thought speak no word regarding spiritual honesty, whereas social freedom is impossible to achieve without spiritual freedom.

    Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky orchestra play a concert in the ruins of Palmyra on May 5. The footage also shows the cellist Sergei Roldugin.

    Concert in Palmyra: A sign of hope
    TASS - Society & Culture - May 05, 2016

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Thursday’s concert by Russian musicians in Palmyra as an act of remembrance for the victims of terror and a sign of hope for deliverance from international terrorism. Putin was speaking in a TV linkup with the audience that gathered in Syria’s Palmyra for a concert by the Mariinsky Theater orchestra under Valery Gergiyev.
    He thanked the organizers for this "amazing humanitarian event."

    "I regard it as a sign of gratitude, remembrance and hope - of gratitude to all those who fight with terrorism without sparing even one’s own life; of remembrance for all victims of terror regardless of the place and time of crimes against humanity; and, of course, of hope not just for the revival of Palmyra as a cultural asset of the whole of humanity, but for the deliverance of modern civilization from this terrible ill, from international terrorism," Putin said.

    Syrian army battles Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists
    and their allies battleground city of Aleppo
    Middle East Online, 6-5-2016

    "Victory is coming, the mujahideen (jihadists) have reunited..." (6-5-2016), Shaykh Abdullah al Mohaisany (Saudi preacher who first traveled to Syria in 2013 and who has carried out fundraising and propaganda efforts for Salafi jihadist factions in Syria including Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS).
    ALEPPO - Fighting between Syrian regime forces and Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists and their allies has left more than 70 dead south of the battleground city of Aleppo, a monitor said on Friday.
    Al-Nusra Front and allied Islamists seized Khan Tuman and surrounding villages after less than 24 hours of clashes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Groups involved in the attack included Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, and other factions under the command of the Army of Conquest.
    "At least 43 Al-Nusra and allied fighters, including a local commander, and 30 on the side of the regime and allied militia were killed in the battle," said the British-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria.
    Pro-regime troops had driven the jihadists out of Khan Tuman, located about 10 kilometres (six miles) southwest of Aleppo, in December. "The recapture of the area and surrounding villages means that the regime's lines of defence south of the country's second city have been pushed back," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

    A 48-hour truce in Aleppo between the regime and non-jihadist rebels appeared to be largely holding as it entered a second day on Friday.

    The Army of Conquest (Jaish al-Fatah, abbreviated JaF), is a joint operations room of Islamist Syrian rebel factions participating in the Syrian Civil War. The alliance was formed in March 2015 by Islamist rebel factions mainly active in the Idlib Governorate, with some factions active in the Hama and Latakia Governorates. It is actively supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (Wikipedia)

    The Russian Air Force has begun a series of airstrikes over the strategic town of Khan Touman, targeting the jihadist rebel positions that belonged to Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), Jund Al-Aqsa (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham. These airstrikes tonight were conducted in preparation for a counter-assault at the town of Khan Touman and its surrounding hilltops by the Syrian Armed Forces.
    If the Syrian Armed Forces are unable to reclaim Khan Touman, they will be in serious trouble because this town overlooks the entire area, including the Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-5 Highway). (Al-Masdar News, 6-5-2016)

    Staff of recently-bombed Aleppo hospital stand in solidarity with SAA
    By Zen Adra, Al-Masdar News, 07/05/2016

    The medical staff of al-Dabbit hospital (Western Aleppo), which was bombed by Islamist militates last Tuesday, rallied outside the partly-destroyed facility to voice solidarity with the Syrian Arab Army. The crew called on western corporate media to stop distorting the truth about the real situation in the war-razed city, expressing deep faith in the Syrian Army to protect (Western, army controlled) Aleppo from the attacks of Islamist militants.
    Jihadi fighters in the southern city of Aleppo shelled al-Dabbit maternity hospital with homegrown rockets, killing 3 pregnant women and wounding dozens. A great part of the building was seriously damaged as well. Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and militants in the east since 2012.

    Kerry's Ultimatum to Assad
    Sputnik News, 7-5-2016

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum: either to begin "political transition" or risk the consequences of a new US approach toward ending the Syrian civil war, Tony Cartalucci notes in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook.
    Citing Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press (AP) the geopolitical researcher stresses that the US Secretary of State has even gone so far as to give an ultimatum to the legitimate, democratically elected Syrian government.
    Klapper's report reads: "Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria's government and its backers in Moscow and Tehran on Tuesday that they face an August deadline for starting a political transition to move President Bashar Assad out, or they risk the consequences of a new US approach toward ending the 5-year-old civil war."
    According to the American journalist, the White House is unlikely to authorize the deployment of extra US troops in Syria, instead "US allies like Saudi Arabia might be able to give the rebels new weapons to fight Assad, such as portable surface-to-air missiles."
    It seems Washington is not shy about cooperating with Saudi Arabia and Turkey despite the fact the two realms are up to their eyeballs involved in arming and funding terrorists in the region.
    Cartaculli quotes the Independent report that says the two countries [Saudi Arabia and Turkey] are backing the Jaish al-Fatah group (the Army of Conquest) a joint command structure for Syrian jihadists that includes al-Nusra Front.

    "Considering the verified nature of the so-called 'opposition' in Syria and the verifiable nature of what US foreign policy has done to Libya — leaving it to this day in the hands of state-sponsored terrorist organizations including the notorious 'Islamic State' or ISIS [Daesh] — what the US is essentially demanding of Syria and its allies is capitulation to al-Qaeda," Cartalucci underscores.

    Bashar Assad: "Colin Powell demanded Syria should revise its ties with Russia"
    Sergei Balmasov, Pravda 13-12-2011

    Q: Until recently, you were considered a respectable leader in the West. Why do you think the situation has changed so much?"
    BA: "The current pressure on Syria from the West has not become something unexpected for us. In September 2001, US President George Bush launched a crusade against the countries that were running US-independent policies. The crusade was guised under the struggle against terror. Afghanistan became the first on the list, Iraq followed next. Clouds began to gather above Syria too, and the USA said that Syria was another link in the axis of evil (Iraq-Iran-North Korea).
    "The changes became especially noticeable in 2003, soon after the US and its allies attacked Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Syria and demanded Syria should revise its ties with Russia. He said that Syria's policies with Russia must change by 180 degrees. We were told to terminate all agreements with Russia. They virtually told us to turn our back on Russia.
    "They threatened to conduct aggression against my country otherwise. Powell stated that US troops had already been deployed in Iraq. He said that military hardware and combat aviation could be used against Syria.
    We did not succumb to the pressure and rejected the ultimatum suggestion. They started to put unprecedented pressure on Syria afterwards. We've been able to stand the pressure, and Russia has been helping us a lot here. We are very grateful to Russia for this assistance."

    Hindsight: Reflections on 15 Years of the War on Terror
    Neither Israel nor Palestine were mentioned at all
    By Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative, May 6, 2016

    It’s been almost a decade and a half since 9/11, but the foreign-policy establishment still cannot admit that continuous American intervention in the Middle East has been a failure.
    I recently attended a (Center on national Security's) conference entitled “Hindsight: Reflections on 15 Years of the War on Terror”>
    With a wide range of highly respectable speakers, I naively expected that the panels would conclude that the so-called “global war on terror” had been a misguided project ab initio, that the United States continues to repeat mistakes in its national security policy that promote rather than discourage terrorism—and that the terrorism threat itself has been grossly inflated for largely political and economic reasons.
    Apart from a single comment by a former U.S. Army general who correctly characterized American involvement in the Middle East as an overly robust response to what is in reality a “low threat, low national interests” situation for Washington policymakers, I was greatly disappointed.
    Everyone seemed to accept without any real question the presumption that the United States has a preemptive right to use military force to change foreign governments, ignoring that factor as a source of terrorism and only criticizing those actual interventions that have been badly implemented like Iraq and Libya...
    Neither Israel nor Palestine were mentioned at all in an hour and a half panel discussion on foreign policy “challenges” coming from the Middle East, an omission that one has to consider to be curious.

    There were nearly four hours of more and the same, to include hubristic snapshots of Russia and China as eternal enemies and several comments suggesting that Syria would not be so bad now if “we” had taken down Bashar al-Assad a few years back...
    It occurred to me that the narrative being fed was conditioned by one overriding factor: nearly every speaker benefits personally from the continued existence of the war on terror. They are all part of the establishment and supporters of the Washington foreign policy consensus even if they don’t identify themselves that way.
    Even those academics and lawyers who criticize the war frequently do so in a restrained and high-minded fashion because the status derived from being a player in the continuation of the unending global conflict is as much in their interest as it is in the interests of those who are working for the government or a defense contractor.

    The Center on National Security is a research and education think tank which focuses on issues of national security with particular attention to the legal and constitutional issues raised by domestic and foreign policy in the field. International terrorism, domestic terrorism, foreign affairs, the Middle East, counter-radicalization, the FBI and law enforcement, drones and targeted killings, surveillance law and policy, the evolving military, cybersecurity, and the conflicts that have emerged between the executive branch, the courts, and the Congress are among the areas that have been studied for the past fourteen years...

    Ken Livingstone: 'Creation of Israel was fundamentally wrong'
    Ynetnews, 7-5-2016

    Ken Livingstone has described the creation of the State of Israel as "a great catastrophe" and said Jewish people should have been resettled in the UK and America after the Second World War.
    In an interview broadcast in Arabic by TV station Al Ghad Al Arabi on Wednesday, and posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), he said the creation of Israel had been "fundamentally wrong."
    “The creation of the state of Israel was a great catastrophe,” he repeated. “We should have absorbed the post-World War II Jewish refugees in Britain and America. They could all have been resettled, whereas 70 years later, the situation is still very tense, and there is potential for many more wars....”

    Prior to the creation of the Jewish state, he said, “there were large Jewish communities that never suffered threats or attacks. They lived in peace alongside their Arab neighbors. But all of this was destroyed with the establishment of the State of Israel, and all the Israeli communities in the Arab world were deported to Israel.”
    The veteran politician also blamed Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians for global terrorism...
    “I have always believed that the failure to resolve the (Palestinian) problem fuels the terrorist attacks,” he said. “The West must deal with the injustice, or will continue to fuel terrorism.”

    Uri Avnery - The Original Sin
    Avnery-News, 27-11-2010

    Thanks to the massive support of the Zionist leadership, the “national-religious” camp grew in Israel at a dizzying pace.
    Ben Gurion set up a special branch of the educational system for them, which grew more extremist by the year, as did the national-religious youth movement, Bnei Akiva.
    Members of one generation of the national-religious community became the teachers of the next, which guaranteed an inbuilt process of radicalization.
    With the beginning of the occupation, they created Gush Emunim (“the Bloc of the Faithful’), the ideological core of the settlement movement. Nowadays this camp is directed by Rabbis whose teachings emit a strong odor of Fascism.
    This would not be so terrible if the two opposing religious factions neutralized each other, as was indeed the case 50 years ago. But since then, the opposite has happened.
    There are now three religious educational systems – the national-religious, the “independent” one of the Orthodox, and “el-Hama’ayan (“to the source”) of Shas. All three are financed by the state..
    The differences between them are small, compared to their similarities. All teach their pupils the history of the Jewish people only (based, of course, on the religious myths), nothing about the history of the world, of other peoples, not to mention other religions. The Koran and the New Testament are the kernel of evil and not to be touched.
    The typical alumni of these systems know that the Jews are the chosen (and vastly superior) people, that all Goyim are vicious anti-Semites, that God promised us this country and that no one else has a right to one square inch of its land.
    The natural conclusion is that the “foreigners” (meaning the Arabs, who have been living here for 13 centuries at least) must be expelled - unless this would endanger the Jews.
    From this point of view, there is no longer any difference between the Orthodox and the national-religious, between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Seeing the “youth of the hills”, who terrorize Arabs in the occupied territories, on screen, one cannot distinguish among them anymore – not by their dress, not by their body language, not by their slogans.

    The source of all this evil is, of course, the original sin of the State of Israel: the non-separation between state and religion, based on the non-separation between nation and religion.
    Nothing but a complete separation between the two will save Israel from total domination by the religious mutation....

    "True piety is the characteristic of the being who is aware of his weakness and ignorance.
    Whoever sees God only in an oak or in a tabernacle, instead of seeing Him everywhere, is not truly pious."
    Adolf Hitler, Table Talks (Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier)

    "I know nothing of the Other World, and I have the honesty to admit it. Other people know more about it than I do, and I'm incapable of proving that they're mistaken. I don't dream of imposing my philosophy on a village girl. Although religion does not aim at seeking for the truth, it is a kind of philosophy which can satisfy simple minds, and that does no harm to any-one. Everything is finally a matter of the feeling man has of his own impotence. In itself, this philosophy has nothing pernicious about it. The essential thing, really, is that man should know that salvation consists in the effort that each person makes to understand Providence and accept the laws of nature..."
    "What we must do, is to extract from religions the poison they contain. In this respect, great progress has been made during recent centuries. The Church must be made to understand that her kingdom is not of this world..."
    "I shall never believe that what is founded on lies can endure for ever. I believe in truth. I'm sure that, in the long run, truth must be victorious. It's probable that, as regards religion, we are about to enter an era of tolerance. Everybody will be allowed to seek his own salvation in the way that suits him best..."

    Palestinians & Jewish History
    Alex Grobman, Arutz Sheva, 10-5-2016

    A recent speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reinforces the necessity for PA recognition to ensure genuine peace according to Itamar Marcus, the director of Palestinian Media Watch...
    In a speech in Morocco, Abbas described Jewish history in Jerusalem as a "delusional myth", declaring that Israel is attempting to create a Jewish history "by brute force." (Official PA TV, January 17, 2014).
    This is not the first time Abbas has sought to deny Jewish history. In another lecture, he described Jewish history in Jerusalem as "illusions and legends" and portrayed the Temple in Jerusalem as the "alleged Temple," a phrase employed by the PA to refute that there ever had been a Jewish Temple. (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 2012).
    Whenever an archeological discovery is made with Jewish symbols and Hebrew texts proving Jewish connection to the land of Israel, the PA assures their people that Israel fabricated it distorted it or placed it there to be found.
    At the Munich Security Conference on January 31, 2014, Saeb Erekat asserted that Palestinian Arabs cannot accept Israel as the Jewish state because they lived in the area many years before the Jews. He told Tzipi Livni that "When you say, 'Accept Israel as a Jewish state,' you are asking me to change my narrative.”
    Erekat defended his allegation by saying that his ancestors were the real descendants of the Canaanities and lived in the area for "5,500 years, before Joshua Bin-Nun came and burned my hometown, Jericho."(Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, “Chief Palestinian negotiator: We were here before the Jews,” Israel Hayom, February 2, 2014)...
    PA’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is not a simply an insignificant detail, but part of a strategy to negate thousands of years of Jewish history in Israel in order to deny Israel’s right to exist.

    Judah restored - Jewish History
    Biblical Archeology following the Babylonian Captivity

    Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC.
    Jerusalem was destroyed under an officer of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan. According to the Lachish Letters ((clay tablets with writing in ink, discoverd in 1935), all of Judah was devastated.
    Like the Assyrians, the Babylonians took the influential people of conquered nations as prisoners ('the exile'). With the leaders, scholars, and promising youth in captivity the conquered nation was less likely to rebel later on.
    Judah became a province of Babylon. There was no longer a king, but a governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar. The first governor was Gedaliah. With Jerusalem destroyed, Gedaliah established a new capital at Mizpah.
    The people governed by Gedaliah were called “the poorest people of the land” and were left to cultivate the soil.

    The Hebrew kingdoms Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an local power by the 9th century BCE before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE.
    Israel's southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Judah ('the state of the Jews'), emerged in the 8th century BCE and enjoyed a period of prosperity as a client-state of first Assyria and then Babylon before a revolt against the Neo-Babylonian Empire led to its destruction in 586 BCE.
    The Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah fought constant battles with one another. Besides fighting so many battles with the south, internal rivalries and rebellions existed throughout the rule of the various Houses of the Northern Kingdom.
    Upon the assassination of Gedaliah the people feared reprisal by Babylon. Jeremiah instructed the people to remain in the land and not to fear, for the Babylonians would not retaliate. The people refused to accept his word and made plans to go to Egypt. The number of Judeans who made the trip to Egypt was relatively large (Jer. 43:5-6). Jeremiah went to Egypt as well.
    The migrants came to Tahpanhes (identified as Tell Defenneh), in the eastern Delta of Egypt. Tell Defenneh is located 27 miles south southwest of Port Said. Another area of Jewish occupation outside Judah was located on the island of Elephantine in the Nile River of Egypt.
    These Jews also had a temple to Yahweh. The worship of Yahweh was not pure (they were polytheists), for the names of at least three other deities, who were worshiped by some of the residents, have been found.

    Daniel, along with others of his age, were taken to Babylon in 605 BC. He was elevated to the important position of chief of the “wise men,” upon whom the king depended for counsel. Daniel apparently retained this position for a long time, because years later Nebuchadnezzar referred to him as “chief of the magicians” (Dan. 4:9). At the time of the Persian conquest of Babylon he was still retained by the new regime in a position of high responsibility...
    The Hebrew captives enjoyed freedom of movement in the land of Babylon. The captives were also employed. Nebuchadnezzar had taken craftsmen and artisans, particularly in the captivity of 597 B.C. (2 Kings 24:14-16).

    Persia’s rise to power under Cyrus the Great (559-530), was climaxed by the conquest of Babylonia.
    In 539 BC Cyrus marched on Babylon. Defeat came easy... The Persian monarch treated Babylon with consideration. The city was not looted, nor were the religious or civil institutions changed. The result was that a transfer of allegiance to him was brought about with a minimum of disturbance.
    The Cyrus Cylinder mentions how Cyrus conquered Babylon, returned exiles to their former lands, returned the articles of worship to the sacred cities, and commanded that the temples where they worshiped be rebuilt.
    Cyrus ruled as king for nine years following his Babylonian victory. Finally, in 530 BC, while leading his army into the far north, he was fatally wounded. Cyrus was succeeded by his son, Cambyses II.
    After Cambyses’s sudden death Darius I (522 - 486), one of Cambyses’s officers, assumed command of the army and marched home to put down the insurrection and seize the throne. There was some rebellion in the empire, but within two years, he had the empire back under control. Darius also gave permission to renew the rebuilding of the Hebrew Temple (Ezra 6:1-12).

    The first return to Judah for the exiled Judeans (Jews) came shortly after the Persian conquest of Babylon, 538 BC (Ezra 1:1), led by Sheshbazzar. The second came 80 years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, 458 BC (Ezra 7:7), led by Ezra. And the third came 13 years after the second, in the 20th year of Arta­xerxes I, 444 BC (Neh. 2:1), led by Nehemiah.
    A prime order of business on arriving in the homeland was the rebuilding of the temple. They first erected the altar and reinstated the prescribed sacrifices.

    In Judaism, the qorban is any of a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Torah. The most common usages are animal sacrifice (zevah זֶבַח), zevah shelamim (the peace offering) and olah (the "holocaust)". A qorban was an animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, deer or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist grain, meal, wine, or incense. The Hebrew Bible says that Yahweh commanded the Israelites to offer offerings and sacrifices on various altars.

    The second return was led by Ezra (Ezra 7:6, 10). From Ezra’s confession of the people’s sin in intermarriage with surrounding pagans (Ezra 9:1-15), we know of interaction with neighboring peoples, which seemed to accompany intermarriage.
    Ezra received notable privileges from the Persian monarch in connection with his return. These privileges included authority to take as many of his countrymen with him as desired...
    Ezra’s interest and assigned task was not to build the country materially, as it had been with the first return and would be again with the third, but to build the people socially and spiritually.
    Ezra assembled those who wished to return at the river Ahava. The size of the group is indicated by the number of men, approximately 1500. Upon arrival Ezra began to address the issue of intermarriage of a number of Jews with surrounding peoples. Judah became in practice a theocracy, ruled by a line of hereditary High Priests.
    The third return, that of Nehemiah, came in the 20th year of Artaxerxes I, 444 BC (Neh. 1:1). Nehemiah’s purpose lay in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. The work of rebuilding was completed in only 52 days.

    Yehud Medinata - Aramaic for "the province of Judah"
    Wikipedia Info

    Yehud (Judah) was an autonomous province of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.
    Yehud was considerably smaller than the old kingdom of Judah, stretching from around Bethel in the north to about Hebron in the south (although Hebron itself was unpopulated throughout the Persian period), and from the Jordan River and Dead Sea in the east to, but not including, the shephelah (the slopes between the Judean highlands and the coastal plains in the west). '
    After the destruction of Jerusalem the centre of gravity shifted northward to Benjamin; this region, once a part of the kingdom of Israel, was far more densely populated than Judah itself, and now held both the administrative capital, Mizpah, and the major religious centre of Bethel.
    Mizpah continued as the provincial capital for over a century.
    The position of Jerusalem before the administration moved back from Mizpah is not clear, but from 445 BCE onwards it was once more the main city of Yehud.
    Nevertheless, Persian-era Jerusalem was tiny: about 1500 inhabitants, even as low as 500 according to some estimates. It was the only true urban site in Yehud, the bulk of the province's population living in small unwalled villages.
    This picture did not much change throughout the entire Persian period, the entire population of the province remaining around 30,000. There is no sign in the archaeological record of massive inwards migration from Babylon.

    The Nomadic (Polytheistic) Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews
    Jeff A. Benner,

    Most of the hebrew tribes lived a nomadic lifestyle. A nomad lived in tents and traveled from location to location in search of water and pastures for their livestock.
    In the ancient world, nomadic shepherds were considered to be lower class and disgusting. Nomads were known for being strong and independent. They were cautious about mixing with other peoples, but offered great hospitality to guests.
    The home of the nomad was the wilderness often dry and arid but with an occasional oasis, river, water basin and pastures. He knew where all the water sources were, where pastures were located at different times of the year and all the landmarks which directed him on his travels.
    The nomad lived a very simple life and because of their constant travels they could not carry a great amount of supplies and equipment. His major possession is the tent, made of goat hair, the poles, stakes and ropes for supporting the tent, a curtain to divide the tent into two parts (male and female sides) and a carpet for the floor.
    A nomadic camp consisted of about 25 to 50 members. Any less and it would be difficult to protect the family and any more would be difficult to feed. Usually the oldest member of the family was the head, or chief, of the clan. The remainder of the clan would consist of his brothers, sons, nephews and grandsons as well as their wives. Each clan was an independent entity with the chief as judge and ruler.
    The Nomadic family consisted of the beyt (house, family), mishpechah (clan) and matteh (tribe). The family, children, parents and grandparents, all resided in one tent. The clan consisted of the extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, all residing in one camp and may contain as many as 50 to 100 tents laid out in a circular pattern.
    When the clan becomes too large for one area to support, the tribe splits into two clans (see Genesis 13). All the clans (all being descended from one ancestor) may cover hundreds of square miles making up the tribe.

    The Hebrew 'God' Yahweh
    Huffington Post, 25-5-2011

    Yahweh was an ancient Near Eastern tribal deity. Yahweh is believed to have been one of the children of the Canaanite deity El Elyon (God Most High).
    The best evidence suggests that Yahweh did not begin as the “only true God” of later Jewish monotheism; he did not begin as the creator of the world. Yahweh began as a young, up-and-coming tribal deity whose prowess among other gods mirrored Israel’s aspirations vis-a-vis surrounding tribes and nations.
    The Hebrews were polytheists. There are various stages in Israel’s progression from polytheism to monotheism. Yahweh begins as a junior member of the divine pantheon. After Israel became a monarchy, Yahweh gets a promotion to head of the pantheon, taking his father Elyon’s place.
    Over time, Yahweh and Elyon are conflated, they sort of merge into one god. At this stage Yahweh starts to be seen as creator-god. But in this period, Israel still believes in other gods; it’s just that they’re not supposed to worship other gods because they owed their allegiance to Yahweh, their patron deity.
    Of course, Yahweh was believed to have had a wife, Asherah, and it is clear that Israelites worshiped her as Yahweh’s consort.
    This seems to have been acceptable orthodoxy until the seventh century BCE or so. At that point, prophets like Jeremiah began to polemicize other gods, calling into doubt their very existence.
    The idea that Yahweh alone is God is solidified during the Babylonian exile in the sixth century... This is when official Israelite religion finally became monotheistic.

    Al-Qaeda leader calls on Islamist rebel groups to unite in Syria
    By Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News, 08/05/2016

    In an online audio statement earlier today, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri pleaded with Islamist forces in Syria to unite against their common secular foes.
    “We have to want the unity of the Mujahideen in Sham (Syria) so it will be liberated from the Russians and Western crusaders. My brothers … the matter of unity is a matter of life or death for you,” Zawahiri said.
    While especially praising the al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, he also rather ironically condemned the Islamic State fighters as “renegade extremists”.

    In 2013, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS fought under one banner and were considered part of the armed Syrian Opposition (see picture: McCain meeting the Mujahideen in Syria). However, clashes erupted between the two jihadist groups in early 2014 with the Islamic State quickly expelling rebel forces from eastern Syria and most of northern Syria.
    In the audio statement, Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also urged rival jihadist factions in Syria to “unite or risk death”.
    The al-Qaeda leadership can boast many allegiances in Syria; these groups include not only the al-Nusra Front but also most notably Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar ash-Sham.

    Senator John McCain visited rebels in Syria, may 2013. McCain entered Syria through Turkey, and remained in the country for several hours. While in Syria, McCain met with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, according to Mouaz Moustafa with the Washington-based Syrian Emergency Task Force that was involved in planning the trip. He spent about an hour meeting with Free Syrian Amry commanders from various parts of the country including Aleppo, Homs, and Idlib. (CNN, 27-5-2013)

    Truce in Aleppo, Lattakia Extended for 48 Hours: Syrian Army
    Al-Alam News, 10-5-2016

    The truce in Aleppo and its countryside has extended for 48 hours as of 1.00 AM on Tuesday until 24 PM Wednesday, General command of the Syrian army and armed forces announced on Monday. Later, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces extended on Monday the truce in the countryside of Lattakia for 48 more hours.
    The General Command said in a statement that the truce in the countryside of Lattakia is extended for additional 48 hours as of 01:00 Tuesday, May10, 2016 till 24:00 Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
    Earlier, the General Command announced truce on April 30, 2016 to preserve the cessation of hostilities agreement which included Eastern Ghouta, Damascus and northern countryside of Lattakia for 72 hours which was extended later, SANA reported.

    IRGC: Syrian Army, Allies to Retake Khan Touman
    & Other Areas from Terrorists Soon
    FARS News Agency, 10-5-2016

    TEHRAN (FNA)- Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami underlined superiority of the Syrian army and its allies over the terrorist groups, and said the recently-occupied regions, including Khan Touman, will be won back soon.
    "The situation in Khan Touman is a tactical change and development and doesn’t have any strategic effect on the entire battlefield (of Syria)," Salami told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday.
    Noting that Iran is certain about the future of the war in Syria, he said, "We consider the Syrian government as a part of the resistance front and we are in full control of the situation."
    Salami underscored that the Syrian forces and their allies will make their best efforts to take back Khan Touman and other areas occupied by terrorists in recent days. He also said that the situation in the battlefield and political scene in Syria is moving to the opposite direction of what the interfering powers, including the US, Europe and their regional allies want.

    The Syrian army alongside the National Defense Forces and Hezbollah fighters regained full control over the town of Khan Touman in December. Ever since then the city has fallen back to the terrorists twice, with the second time being last weekend.
    Following an unsuccessful truce that was repeatedly violated by the terrorist groups, the Al-Nusra Front - the Syria arm of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group - could relocate some 20,000 terrorists to Northern Aleppo via Turkey's soil to launch a large-scale attack on pro-government positions in several key cities in Aleppo province, including Khan Touman in the Southwest.

    UNSC Rejects Russia’s Call to Blacklist Jaish Al-Islam, Ahrar Sham
    Al-Manar News (Lebanon), 11-5-2016

    Russian request to add two Syrian militant groups to a United Nations terror blacklist was rejected by Britain, France, the United States, and Ukraine, diplomats said on May 10.
    Russia had requested that Jaish Al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Ahrar Al-Sham be added to the sanctions list because of their ties to Al-Qaeda and the ISIL Takfiri groups that already have been blacklisted.UNSC
    Adding names to the UN sanctions list requires a consensus decision by the 15-member UN Security Council, however, and objections were raised by the United States and three other current council members.
    A spokesperson for the US mission to the UN told AFP that the designation would have had "damaging consequences" for the cessation of hostilities that the United States and Russia are trying to piece together in Syria...
    A Security Council diplomat told AFP that isolating the groups from the mainstream opposition would result in a more hard-line stance and drive them away from the search for a political settlement of Syria's five-year civil war.

    Jaish Al-Islam is a member of the coalition of opposition groups known as the Higher Negotiations Committee that is participating in Syrian peace negotiations in Geneva.
    Ahrar Al-Sham is among the most powerful extremist groups in Syria, but it did not join the opposition coalition and it has known ties to the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's blacklisted Syrian affiliate.
    Moscow did not comment directly on the rejection of its bid at the UN on May 10, but it warned that Russia still considers any opposition group that collaborates with the Al-Nusra Front to be a fair target for Russian and Syrian forces.

    Jaish al-Islam is one of the many Islamist rebel organizations in Syria fighting to depose Bashar al-Assad. (It has a very simplistic political program: "Assad is the devil. Kill the devil and life will be good").
    Jaish al-Islam joined six other militant organizations to found the Islamic Front in December 2013. Saudi Arabia initiated the unification of the brigades making up Jaish al-Islam in an attempt to counter the influence of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Damascus. It has acted as an advocate and intermediary for the organization, urging the U.S. to supply the group with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles... Finally, in addition to its influence in forming Jaish al-Islam, Saudi Arabia reportedly played a large role in the establishment of the Islamic Front.

    "The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave....
    That is why we have to focus on the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say." (Bashar al-Assad, 9-11-2012)

    Sergei Ivanov, spokesman for the Russian reconciliation center:
    "People in Syria are born to work the land, trade and raise their children"
    TASS News Agency, May 11, 2016

    AL-SAMRA /Syria. A group of gunmen controlling the area near the village of al-Samra in Syria’s Hama province has joined the agreement on reconciliation and ceasefire and handed over its weapons to representatives of the Syrian government.
    The agreement brokered by the Russian Center for reconciliation was signed by the village’s elders, Hama Province Governor Ghassan Omar Khalaf and Chairman of the security commission in Hama General Muaffak Asaad, spokesman for the Russian reconciliation center Colonel Sergei Ivanov has told reporters.
    According to the document, representatives of this populated locality must stop hostilities and ensure the work of the federal authorities and law enforcement agencies in the village.
    The villagers who previously took part in the fighting alongside the illegal armed groups handed over their weapons to the competent authorities and were able to return to civilian life.
    Before the signing of the agreement Sergei Ivanov addressed the villagers saying that Russia sees how much the Syrian government is doing to restore peaceful life in the country and provide its citizens with everything they need. Russia supports this process in every possible way:
    "People in Syria are born to work the land, trade and raise their children. The government fully assists them in this. We want the Syrian people to live in peace, harmony and teach their children," Ivanov added.

    Muaffak Asaad assured the villagers that the Syrian army would ensure security in Al-Samra and protect it from terror attacks. "We call on all citizens, residents of this village to return to their homes, to their land, to their work. We, on the part of the government, will do everything possible to ensure the village’s life, and the Syrian army will ensure your safety and protection," the general said.
    Maner Hussein al-Hasan, one of the gunmen who laid down their arms, said he had fought alongside the Ahrar al-Sham group for two years. However, he realized that he had chosen the wrong path and decided to return to his family. "As for other militants in other units, I think they will follow our lead. They send signals that they will too soon return to peaceful life," the former gunmen said.

    Majorities of Muslim Arabs in N. Africa want a Separation of Religion and State
    By Juan Cole | May. 11, 2016

    It turns out a lot of Muslims want a separation of religion and state, according to a new poll by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Arab Observatory. They polled people in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
    Although the respondents reported themselves to be, in the main, personally religious and to put a high value on the practice of Islam, majorities in all five states support the separation of religion and state. In Tunisia, the percentage rose to an astonishing 73%.
    Except for Morocco, majorities also thought the interference of religious leaders in politics had a negative impact on the whole.
    Again, the Tunisians are off the charts on this issue, with 3/4s of them feeling this way.
    People think Islamic ideals and values are a positive, they just don’t want clerics intervening directly in civil politics.

    People in all five countries also have extremely negative views of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), associating it with terrorism, barbarism and murders and massacres. It is clearly a tiny, very marginal movement, even in Libya, where it has a small toehold.

    Sarkozy (France), Cameron (UK), Levy (Zionism) supporting political islam (inclusive Al-Qaeda) in Libya

    International community needs to focus on Takfiri ideology: Iran
    Press TV, May 12, 2016

    Addressing a UN Security Council open debate on countering terrorism, ​Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam Hossein Dehqani said Tehran has long been consistent in fighting terrorism.
    Iranians of all ages and affiliation, particularly the youth, have been consistent in rejecting and fighting violent extremism, ranging from the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Daesh and other similar forces in Yemen, Iraq and Syria,” he said.
    Iranians have also tried to help fight extremists on the ground, and provide a path to combat their ideology, including through promoting ‘dialogue among civilizations’ and ‘world against violent extremism’.
    Dehqani said Takfiri ideology lies at the "very core of the predicament that we now face," adding "the international community needs, first and foremost, to focus on this vicious ideology" and its opponents. Takfiri proponents, he said, seek to instill hatred and anger in the hearts and minds of the youth everywhere in the Muslim world and beyond....

    Dialogue among Civilizations
    Mohammad Khatami's Address to Seton Hall University, 9-11-2001

    Our call to Dialogue among Civilizations is an invitation to replace the discourse of violence and hostility with a discourse of mutual understanding and reason.
    Any dialogue among civilizations and cultures is incumbent upon taking into consideration the most fundamental cultural and civilizational element, that is religion, beyond historical prejudice and fanaticism.
    In such a dialogue, we should emphasize bright points of essential concordance, and leave aside divisive issues, which derive not from the essence of religions but only from historical factional conditions and only when fanaticism prevails over fairness.

    Leaders, scholars and thinkers in our world today play a key role in nurturing the common human yearning for truth, understanding and compassion, and in freeing us all from historically conditioned prejudice.

    One cannot but wonder in bewilderment at the insurmountable gap between Jesus Christ who was all for love, beauty, freedom and compassion on the one hand, and the appalling character of a cardinal who sides with Satan and whom Dostoyevsky mockingly calls "the Chief Inspector" in his Brothers Karamazov.

    Grand Inquisitor: "Under my rule, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance"

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his famous novel 'The Brothers Karamazov', gives a powerful portrayal of the distinctiveness of Jesus’ way of loving.
    In an extended parable of the “Grand Inquisitor” within the novel, Dostoyevsky tells of Jesus’ appearance in Spain in the late Middle Ages at the height of the Great Inquisition, when the church was cracking down on “heretical” Christians and Jews, putting hundreds of the unorthodox to death.
    Jesus circulates among the poor, fearful, and suffering masses, offering compassion, healing, unconditional mercy, and acceptance. He does not say much, but people recognize him and soon crowds follow him and marvel at his kindness.
    The Cardinal, who is the Grand Inquisitor, observes Jesus and immediately has him arrested and taken away.
    The Grand Inquisitor then challenges Jesus, accusing him of not having genuinely loved humankind. The Inquisitor bases his accusation on Jesus resisting the three temptations of the devil in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry.
    These three are the temptation to turn stones into bread, the temptation to cast Himself from the Temple and be saved by the angels, and the temptation to rule over all the kingdoms of the world.
    The Inquisitor states that Jesus rejected these three temptations in favor of freedom, but the Inquisitor thinks that Jesus has misjudged human nature. He does not believe that the vast majority of humanity can handle the freedom which Jesus has given them.
    The Inquisitor explains why Christ was wrong to reject each temptation by Satan. Christ should have turned stones into bread, as men will always follow those who will feed their bellies. Casting himself down from the temple to be caught by angels would cement his godhood in the minds of people, who would follow him forever. Ruling over all the kingdoms of the Earth would ensure their salvation, the Grand Inquisitor claims.

    The Inquisitor says that under him, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance. Though he leads them only to "death and destruction", they will be happy along the way. He states that "anyone who can appease a man's conscience can take his freedom away from him". (Wikipedia)

    Saudi FM: Fighting al-Qaeda now a priority in Yemen
    Saudi Gazette, Saturday, 14 May 2016

    Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Friday that the priority in Yemen is no longer to wage a war against the Houthis but to fight al-Qaeda.
    In an interview in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Jubeir said Al-Qaeda and ISIS are two terrorist organizations and they need to be contained. Le Figaro said Jubeir’s statement is evidence of a change in the situation on the ground in Yemen.
    Jubeir added: “Al-Qaeda and ISIS are terrorist organizations. However, the Houthis are Yemenis and are our neighbors with whom one can hold talks.”
    He expressed optimism about the ongoing talks in Kuwait between the Houthis and the government.
    In tweets from his official account, Jubeir said whether we disagree or agree with the Houthis, they remain a part of the social fabric of Yemen.
    He also said in another tweet: “ISIS and al-Qaeda are terrorist organizations that should not be given the chance to exist neither in Yemen, nor in any other part of the world.”

    Obama: ‘Ignorance is not a virtue’
    Al-Arabya|AFP, Monday, 16 May 2016

    US President Barack Obama, speaking to students at Rutgers University, criticized the populist campaign of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, decrying “anti-intellectualism” and noting that “ignorance is not a virtue.”
    Obama did not specifically name the brash New York real estate developer during his remarks at a university graduation ceremony in New Jersey, but it was clear he was referring to the candidate who is running on a slogan of “Make America Great Again!”
    The Democrat told students not to pine for an American golden age of years past, saying, “The good old days were not all that good,” as he pointed out problems with racial discrimination, poverty and lack of equality for women.
    “The world is more interconnected than ever before and it is becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change things,” Obama said...
    Obama noted that no wall could stop outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, or help the United States remain competitive in a time of globalization. “Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders and blame our challenges on immigrants, that does not just run counter to our history as the world melting pot,” Obama said. “It contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe.”
    The US president also denounced politicians who hold themselves up as examples of straight-talkers but shun political correctness.
    “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about,” he said. “That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

    Netanyahu: Iran ‘preparing another Holocaust’
    Al-Arabya|AFP, 15 May 2016

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced an anti-Israel cartoon contest themed around the Holocaust, accusing Iran of denying and belittling it as well as “preparing another Holocaust.”
    The exhibition, totaling 150 entries from 50 countries, with many entries deriding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s Middle East policies, opened Saturday in Tehran.
    “Over the weekend Iran convened a special Holocaust-denial cartoon contest,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting. “We raise this here because it must be understood what our problem with Iran is,” he said.
    “It is not just its policy of subversion and aggression in the region; it is the values on which it is based. It denies and belittles the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust.”
    The Iranian government has distanced itself from the contest, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said was organized by a non-governmental organization without any support from the authorities.

    iranian cartoonists on the web

    Bill Clinton: 'I had a deal the Palestinians turned down'
    By Juan Cole | May. 15, 2016

    Former President Bill Clinton on Saturday claimed “ I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state”, and maintained that he secured an agreement, which the Palestinians turned down.
    In fact, no such text was ever presented to the Palestinian side, and then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak kept flaking out on commitments previously made, leaving the Palestinian negotiators with nothing to agree to. Negotiator Aaron Miller later admitted, “There was not a formalized, written proposal that covered the four core issues.
    There was no deal on the table. None of the issues were explained enough in detail to make an agreement, though the Israelis made an interesting argument on Jerusalem.”

    Memo To: President Bill Clinton
    From: Jude Wanniski, 12-11-2004

    Dear Mr. President: I know it still grates on you that despite your best efforts you could not bring off a conclusive peace agreement between the Israelis and the Arabs, but I do regret you using the occasion of Yasir Arafat's death to blame him for the failure.
    In the last three years, since he has been virtually imprisoned in his West Bank compound by Ariel Sharon, he has scarcely been able to keep up with knowledge of the venomous attacks on him in New York and Washington by those who bear the real responsibility for the breakdown of the peace process.
    Now that he is dead, it is even easier for people to forget the courageous efforts he made in his lifetime in bringing the Palestinian nation to accept the idea of a permanent state of Israel existing on 78% of the land Palestinians once claimed as their own.
    It is shameful now, given what is on the record, that supposedly serious people are saying at his passing that he never really wished for peace with Israel, when it is the Likud Party that is officially on record opposed to the very idea of a Palestinian state.
    I particularly regret your insistence that Arafat walked away from the Camp David offers that were made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 when in fact the talks continued at Taba, Egypt until the end of January 2001, a week after you left office, with his team and Prime Minister Barak's diplomats coming very close to a conclusive agreement.
    Of course, in order for there to be a conclusive agreement, Barak would have had to defeat Sharon in the elections that followed a month later, complete the negotiations, and get the agreement through the Knesset. But Barak lost and Sharon flushed down the toilet all that work that you helped initiate in 1993 with the Oslo Accord.
    It is amazing to me, Mr. President, that you know this is exactly what happened, and yet you blame Arafat for the loss while he is being buried. (Wanniski Website 12-11-2004)

    Yasser Arafat & Sharon's visit to the Haram al-Sharif

    - Q: Many Israelis, if not the majority, are certain that you did not really mean to reach a peace agreement, and that you had planned the intifada in advance, and exploited Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount.
    - Arafat: "I went myself with Abu Ala, Abu Mazen and Dr. Saeb Erekat to the house of Barak (in Kochav Yair). Amnon Shahak was there, Shlomo Ben-Ami was there, Yossi Ginosar, Gilad Sher, Danny Yatom and Danny Avraham. I begged him `Please remember what had been declared on Har Habayit by your hero Moshe Dayan, that which had been declared [regarding the ban on Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount]' ...
    Why [Sharon] didn't make this visit when he was the second man after Netanyahu? Why he didn't make the visit during Begin? Why now?
    Please. I begged him [Barak] in front of all the others. Please not to do it." ( By Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz 20-6-2002)

    The Mitchell rapport:

    In late September 2000, Israeli, Palestinian, and other officials received reports that Member of the Knesset (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon was planning a visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Palestinian and U.S. officials urged then Prime Minister Ehud Barak to prohibit the visit. Mr. Barak told us that he believed the visit was intended to be an internal political act directed against him by a political opponent, and he declined to prohibit it.
    Mr. Sharon made the visit on September 28 accompanied by over 1,000 Israeli police officers. Although Israelis viewed the visit in an internal political context, Palestinians saw it as highly provocative to them.... Thus began what has become known as the “Al-Aqsa Intifada”...

    Mohammed Dahlan: Ehud Barak blocked the attempts to reach agreement

    I took part in the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000 and was one of those who fought hardest to reach an agreement - indeed, I had to put up with accusations from others in the Palestinian delegation that I was too keen to reach a deal. But I was the first to refuse what had apparently been offered (apparently, because nothing was in writing). Contrary to subsequent claims, there was no serious offer made at Camp David, no solution floated that we would have regretted passing up.
    The talks at Taba four months later, where there was a serious dialogue, were a different matter. If we had been offered at Camp David the kind of outline package we reached at Taba, we could have had a deal. But Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, blocked the attempts to reach agreement because Israeli elections were two weeks down the line. (The Guardian, 2-7-2002

    Yossi Beilin: Ariel Sharon decided to terminate the peace process

    It is easy for many Israelis to cling to the belief that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasir Arafat "everything" while Arafat answered him with the intifada. And indeed, Mr. Barak did make a considerable peace offer in July 2000 at the Camp David summit. However, it must also be remembered that by December 2000, Mr. Arafat had agreed to the Clinton peace plan, as did Mr. Barak. Both men did so with reservations, and this act of compromise occurred at the height of the intifada.
    But instead of accepting the successful talks that had taken place between Israel and the Palestinians at Taba in Egypt in January 2001 as a way toward a final settlement, Ariel Sharon decided, after being elected prime minister, to terminate the peace process. He has never concealed his opinion that the Oslo process was wrong. So he brought it to an end with the help of Shimon Peres and the Labor Party. (Yossi Beilin, New York Times, 30-3-2002)

    Saudi Arabia & The Palestinian Homeland
    Arab News, 16 May 2016

    Sunday, May 15, marked the 68th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) — the Palestinians’ dispossession and loss of their homeland.
    Observing Nakba Day is important for the Palestinian people. Almost every family has a story to tell about that day in 1948 when so many Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in less troubled lands.

    From the beginning, the Kingdom supported the Palestinian cause during all its stages as well as on the political, economic, social and military levels. This was due to its duty stemming from its creed and religion, its conscience, and its Arab and Islamic loyalty.
    During the reign of King Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia supported the Palestinian struggle against the Jewish occupation, which continued until its peak in 1948... The first Saudi king was keen to highlight the lawful rights of the Palestinians...
    The Kingdom was the first among Arab countries to support the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1969... One of King Faisal’s most significant acts was the halting of oil exports in 1973 to Western countries which supported the Zionist entity.

    The support of Saudi kings for the Palestinians continued during the reign of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz.
    The King Fahd Plan for Peace was announced at the Arab Summit in the Moroccan city of Fez in 1982...
    The King Fahd Project specified that Israel withdraw from all Arab territories occupied in 1967 including Jerusalem, to dismantle Israeli settlements built on Arab land after 1967, to guarantee freedom of worship for all religions in the holy places, to affirm the lawful rights of the Palestinian people and to compensate those who do not wish to return.
    The West Bank and Gaza would have a transitional period under the supervision of the United Nation which would see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, allow all states in the region to live in peace and with the United Nations or member states to guarantee the implementation of these provisions.
    Saudi Arabia presented a second initiative for the resolution of the problem; it was known as the King Abdullah Initiative and was announced at the Beirut Summit in 2002.

    1985: US & Israel reject the Fez plan

    Most points in the Fez plan are unacceptable to Israel, including the idea of giving back all of the West Bank to Jordan, the Golan Heights to Syria and East Jerusalem to the Arabs. The Israelis and the Americans also reject the idea of a separate Palestinian state.
    The United States, when it uses the term ''legitimate rights,'' means that the Palestinians should have a say in their future....
    Mr. Reagan in his initiative called for negotiations eventually leading to an association between Jordan and an autonomous Palestinian region... (New York Times, 14-2-1985)

    Sharon: free in his grave

    "My strength has nothing to do with political apparatus.
    I get my strength from nature, from flowers."

    What happened to the 2002 Arab Peace Plan?
    By Tariq A. Al Maeena, Gulf News, 5-3-2016

    The Arab street overwhelmingly embraced the new peace initiative in that it was simple yet comprehensive. The intent was peace within the region. Unfortunately, history is not always kind to messengers of peace. The sitting Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who was elected in 2001, had (as true Zionist believer & warrior) a deep-seated hatred for anything Palestinian.
    A year earlier, with peace talks in progress with western powers, Sharon had purposely inflamed emotions when he invaded the Muslim world’s third holiest shrine, accompanied by more than 1,000 members of the special forces, with the intent to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of the delicate peace talks... That calculated provocation by Sharon gave rise to the Second Intifada and flushed all hopes for peace down the drain.
    So when the peace plan was offered to Israel during his tenure as the Israeli prime minister, Sharon stone-walled all overtures while his government set to annex more land and build more illegal colonies, in spite of ineffectual protests from western governments and the UN.

    This practice is currently flourishing under Sharon’s successor, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose ideology matches that of Sharon and who is also committed to wipe the Palestinians off the face of the map. His agenda is not one of achieving peace, but hegemony over the region.

    “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”
    Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

    Zionist activist Bernard-Henri Levy supports the Kurdish cause
    By Fiachra Gibbons, Times of Israel, May 17, 2016

    French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy made a dramatic late entry into the Cannes film festival Monday with a “close-up look” at the Kurds’ battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq... The 67-year-old philosopher — long a supporter of the secular Kurdish cause — filmed battles between Kurdish autonomous region forces and the jihadists for “Peshmerga.”
    His producers said the film, which will be premiered on Friday, was shot on the front lines around Kirkuk and Sinjar, and that they used drone cameras to get images from inside the IS-held city of Mosul. “The film is a homage to the brave (Kurdish) men and women who are defying death to become the world’s rampart against the Islamic State,” Margo Cinema said in a statement.
    Levy said he wanted the film to give a “moral recognition” to a Kurdish homeland “on this the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement (between France and Britain during World War I) that set in stone the dismemberment of the Kurdish people into four different countries.” An estimated 25 to 35 million Kurds are spread between Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. “This film pleads that the injustice done to the ‘People of the Mountains’ be remedied,” he added.

    Levy, a major media figure in France known by his initials “BHL,” is credited with persuading former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to help Libyan rebels topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
    His film about his role in putting an international coalition together to help the rebels, “The Oath of Tobruk,” was also a late entry to the festival the following year. The film industry bible Variety noted that “followers of global politics will be surprised to learn that Bernard-Henri Levy is responsible for the downfall of Gaddafi.”

    "The intervention in Libya [..] has created two million refugees, hundreds of thousands of corpses, and a terrorist state.
    One might suppose that a little re-thinking of interventionism would be in order..." David Horowitz, 16-5-2016

    Flashback 2011: The Kurdish connection
    Four states hostile to Israel will have to fall apart
    Guy Bechor, YNet News, 3-8-2011

    Rather than securing Mideastern hegemony, Turkey itself may fall apart. This is the case after the Kurdish leadership in the country declared on July 15 the establishment of a democratic Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey, with its capital in Diyarbakir. When Erdogan heard about the declaration he was furious, as the possible future implication of this is Turkey’s collapse.
    In Syria, that very same day, we saw another important development. For the first time, a Kurdish liaison committee was established that brings together all the new Kurdish parties in Syria on the basis of the “Kurdish people’s unity.” They demand Kurdish autonomy in the wake of the Assad regime or at least a federation within Syria.

    Slowly, the pieces of the Turkish puzzle in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran are connecting into a giant state that will be home to 18 million people.
    At this time already, the Kurdish region of Iraq is in fact a state with its own flag, leadership and sovereignty...
    And another thing: The Kurdish state will be a close ally of Israel, just like South Sudan. The Kurds are close to Israel and view it as a twin sister with a difficult history and non-Arabic identity.
    What we see are four states hostile to Israel in one way or another that will have to fall apart in order to give rise to an ally of Israel.

    A gift for Israel
    Times of Israel, 10-8-2013

    While Turkey, Iraq, and other countries balk at indications of increased Kurdish self-rule, an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East would be a gift for Israel, many Kurdish and Israeli experts believe.
    “Kurds are deeply sympathetic to Israel and an independent Kurdistan will be beneficial to Israel,” argued Kurdish journalist Ayub Nuri in July. “It will create a balance of power. Right now, Israel is one country against many. But with an independent Kurdish state, first of all Israel will have a genuine friend in the region for the first time, and second, Kurdistan will be like a buffer zone in the face of the Turkey, Iran and Iraq.”
    The Kurds are the world’s largest stateless nation, numbering well over 30 million spread across Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq, according to figures in the CIA Factbook, though exact population numbers are hard to pin down...
    The Americans “want to keep the political map of the region as it is,” noted Saadi. On this issue, Israeli interests run counter to the current American position.