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
"A lot of rulers today still view principled people as a burden to them"
"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
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon
"Having principles is necessary in any talks, as they constitute a reference for the process of negotiating..." "Since the beginning of Geneva 3 talks, the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic proposed a paper of principles that forms a basis for the talks. [...] There have been no real talks until this moment and the paper of principles has not been answered to.." Bashar al-Assad, speech 6-6-2016
"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.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
"The majority of people who imitate philosophers confuse the true with the false, and they do nothing but deceive and pretend knowledge, and they do not use what they know of the sciences except for base and material purposes...
And if they see a certain person seeking for the right and preferring the truth, doing his best to refute the false and untrue and leaving aside hypocrisy and deceit, they make a fool of him and mock him."
Omar has often been called the 'Voltaire of the East', and cried down as materialist and atheist. As far as purity of diction, fine wit, crushing satire against a debased and ignorant clergy, and a general sympathy with suffering humanity are concerned, ‘Omar certainly reminds us of the great Frenchman; but there the comparison ceases. Voltaire never wrote anything equal to ‘Omar’s fascinating rhapsodies in praise of wine, love and all earthly joys, and his passionate denunciations of a malevolent and inexorable. (Klik voor bron)
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.
Looking back to the mass killing in Orlando, Thierry Meyssan reminds us that the conflict between Daesh and the Syrian Arab Republic is above all a struggle between two forms of society, one dominated by men, the other equal in rights.
It is also the occasion to underline the fact that the Syrian civilisation has a long yet little-known history of the integration of homosexuals, which Daesh is attempting to destroy.
Daesh and the Baath party – two conceptions of society
The massacre of homosexuals is not the prerogative of Daesh alone, it is a practice of numerous sectarian groups who claim to be followers of various religions, and more particularly that of Islamist groups... More generally, a large number of Jews, Christians and Muslims consider that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a «sin», while admitting that you do not choose who you fall in love with. From an ethnological point of view, the condemnation of homosexuality in the name of these religions is concomitant with a view of a society in which men dominate women. It does not exist in societies where individuals are equal in rights.
As I wrote a year ago, «the support for Daesh among certain populations has nothing to do either with the Qur’an or the class struggle. It is the revolt of a disappearing way of life, a violent society dominated by men, against a way of life which is respectful of women and which practices birth control.»
It should be noted here that contrary to an image that has been imposed without ever having been discussed, the Syrian Arab Republic has never persecuted anyone for motives concerning their private life. All crimes, real or imaginary, that have been attributed to the Republic are exclusively linked to the repression of Islamists, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or more recently their extensions, al-Qaïda and Daesh...
Even though the dispositions of the Code Pénal of 1949 have not been repealed, the party of President Bachar el-Assad, the Baath, has developed a form of culture almost unique in an Arab country, based on the respect for differences.
Although the founders of the Baath party were inspired first by the French Revolution, their ideology is above all the fruit of the Syrian culture. And contrary to other Arab countries, Syria has a long tradition of respect for different life-styles.
Syrians do not consider the question of homosexuality from the angle of tolerance or intolerance, but from the angle of privacy. Thousands of years of civilisation have taught them that they can only survive in this region of the world by living together, and they can only manage that by respecting the private life of each and all.
The Quran and sexuality
Islam presents itself as an intervention by God to clarify the theological confusion which reigned in Arabia. The Qur’an, adopting the myth of Genesis, evokes on six occasions the myth of Sodom and Gomorrha. These verses have only recently been interpreted to condemn the «crime of Lot», and to advocate the stoning and killing of homosexuals by throwing them from roof-tops.
In reality, the myth of Lot does not apply to relations between people of the same sex, but stigmatises both the non-respect of hospitality and rape, which the Bedouins considered as a mark of enslavement. Besides, the Qur’an does not condemne Lot – whom it presents as one of the prophets of Islam – nor his visitors, who ultimately reveal themselves as angels, but the inhabitants of Sodom, who practised MOB-rule....
Many artists from the golden age of Islam celebrated homosexual love, and several caliphs openly displayed their relations with other men (for example Al-Amîne, Al-Muʿtasim and Al-Wathiq).
MOB-rule: Control of a political situation by those outside the conventional or lawful realm,
typically involving violence and intimidation
Today, Daesh is campaigning against those who practice the «crime of Lot».
On the 24 August 2015 the UN Security Council held a meeting concerning the executions that the terrorist organisation has praticed on homosexuals in Iraq and Syria.
Nonetheless, several members of the Council hesitated to condemn these exactions by the jihadists. Angola (80 % Christian) and Chad (mostly Muslim) asked their ambassadors not to participate in the meeting, while other members of the Council demanded a closed session, so that there would be no written report of the meeting, and the Council would abstain from any public conclusion. As a result, we do not know if it examined only the exactions committed by Daesh, or if it extended its investigations to other jihadist groups.
Today, members of the UN Security Council held their first Arria-formula meeting on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues, particularly in the context of ISIL’s crimes against LGBT individuals in Iraq and Syria. This historic event recognizes that the issue of LGBT rights has a place in the UN Security Council.
Around the world, the UN has documented thousands of cases of individuals killed or injured in brutal attacks simply because they are LGBT or perceived to be LGBT. This abhorrent practice is particularly widespread in ISIL-seized territory in Iraq and Syria, where these violent extremists proudly target and kill LGBT individuals or those accused of being so. No one should be harmed or have their basic human rights denied because of who they are and who they love.
We would like to thank Chile for co-sponsoring this event with us. The United States will continue to raise the plight of targeted LGBT individuals around the world and work to protect their basic human rights.
Samantha Power (United States Ambassador to the United Nations): “In too many parts of the world, denying LGBT rights is still seen as moral and just. Laws are used to criminalize LGBT persons, rather than to prosecute the people who violate their rights. That must change."
Al-Jaafari 2014: Terrorist organizations in Syria sought to eliminate
existence of Syrian women as human beings
New York, SANA Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al Jaafari pointed out that for three years, members of the Salafist-Wahhabi terrorist organizations have committed gang rapes against thousands of Syrian women, and these organizations sought with full support of Arab, regional and international governments to eliminate the existence of the Syrian woman as a human being, changing her into a method for entertaining terrorists and imposing their dark ideology on them.
He clarified that this obscurantist ideology has imposed restrictions on women inside their families, in the way they dress, in education and within their society through Sharia court verdicts that contradict with the level of Constitution-ensured dignity and freedom the Syrian women were enjoying throughout the past decades...
Al-Jaafari said that the Syrian women have paid the price of the terrorist attack against Syria, particularly due to the close-minded ideas of the takfiri ideology and the fatwas which humiliate women and deprive them of their rights, achievements and their active role in the Syrian society. (Syrian Arab News Agency, 14/10/2014)
The world might remember him as a despot, dictator and murderer, but at least one virtue will stick out: that Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, took good care of women. Not only did he support them, he also believed in their abilities and emancipation, moreover in a society where being a woman is normally associated with getting the back seat. Wearing heavy make-up and military fatigues, Gaddafi’s female bodyguards, better known as the Amazonian Guard, were synonymous with his presence. He paraded them as a symbol of his belief in women’s emancipation and their role in the defence of their country. He also had a team of female nurses led by his long-time Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska. Central to Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution was the empowerment of women. His new regime made efforts to advance female emancipation. The new government encouraged women to participate in Libya’s political life and several cabinet posts were allocated to them. Women were also able to form associations.
"The habit of accepting the temple mount tradition as fact has fatally perpetuated a blindness
regarding all the descriptions of the temple which testify against such an assumption." Marilyn Sams in 'The Temple Mount Myth'
Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau joined a growing list of Israeli politicians who are calling for the Third Temple to be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He suggested the Messianic vision could be realized without touching Muslim structures at the site by simply building a new structure alongside the existing Muslim buildings that stand on the site of the previous two Jewish Temples.
In an interview two weeks ago on the Knesset Channel, the Chief Rabbi said that, according to the measurements for the Temple described by the sages, the Third Temple would not take up the entire Temple Mount Compound and there would be plenty of room for “Jews, Christians, Muslims, everyone.”
The Chief rabbi spoke with great emotion about the powerful influence the Temple had on the world and how it is sorely lacking today.
“I can’t tell you exactly what was in the temple, but the truth is that when you see the prophets, the writings, the sayings of the sages, you understand that whoever went there came back full of inspiration, emotion, joy and satisfaction, so I yearn for those days,” he added.
Rabbi Lau’s statement comes just a few weeks after an unlikely series of political events led to Rabbi Yehuda Glick becoming the newest Likud Member of Knesset. Glick is a prominent advocate for equal rights for all faiths to pray on the Temple Mount.
The pro-Temple movement has been quietly growing in the government. Two years ago, acting foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely said in a television interview that she dreams of seeing the Israeli flag fly over the Temple Mount, calling the site the “center of Israeli sovereignty.” Her statement angered her boss, Netanyahu, who was busy assuring the world that Israel had no intent to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. Three years ago, Uri Ariel, a member of the Knesset for 'The Jewish Home' (HaBayit HaYehudi) and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, called for building the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. “We’ve built a lot of synagogues,” Afriel said, ” But it’s about time we built the real Temple”
Though his remarks were considered inflammatory and extremist at the time, as more public figures in Israel stand up for the Temple Mount, perhaps this will soon become the norm.
For decades now, a group of Israeli zealots has been busy planning for a new Jewish Temple to be built.... They are stitching garments for priests and making the necessary preparations for animal sacrifices. Until recently, they were considered simply a curiosity. Not anymore.
Several cabinet ministers and Knesset members have entered the holy enclosure to pray, contrary to the status quo. Throughout the Islamic world, this has aroused alarm. Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in Israel proper are furious.
Netanyahu promised King Abdallah II to restore quiet. But he is doing the opposite.
Jesus turned water into wine. Netanyahu is turning water into gasoline and pouring it on the flames.
Sefer Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus, is at the center of the Torah, not only spatially, but also spiritually. More than any other single book, Vayikra sets the tone and establishes the central themes of biblical and rabbinic Judaism throughout the ages.
The central focus of Vayikra is on establishing a sacred community — “a nation of priests” whose daily deeds perfect the world under God’s rule. By establishing an ideal community, Vayikra recognizes that deeds speak far more eloquently than words, that living in a holy community can provide a sense of God’s presence far more pervasive than more ethereal approaches.. At the center of this central book lies a preoccupation with animal and vegetative sacrifice...
To understand our own sacred heritage as Jews, to appreciate the religious perspective that emerges from the Torah, the Talmud, and most later Jewish writings, we must come to an understanding of the centrality of Temple ritual and of sacrifice. Objections to animal sacrifice readily abound: It’s bloody, it’s barbaric, it is too physical, too particular, too ugly. Sacrifice is violent, uncontrolled, and primitive. All true. But so is life.
And it is precisely in that paradox that we can first recognize the power — if not the aesthetics — of sacrifice.
For Judaism to be able to assist us in living, it must reflect all life... Sacrifice horrifies and stuns precisely because it embodies so many subconscious drives and terrors....
Our ancestors turned to animal sacrifice because they saw in it a way to express deep rage, feelings of inadequacy and guilt. They could use the rite of sacrifice as a means of facing their terror of death and the unknown. They could, through sacrifice of animals, see their own frailty, their own mortality, and their own bloodiness.
In our age the practice of our ancestors has something yet to teach. And so we read Sefer Vayikra, and learn to see our fears in the eyes of an animal going to the slaughter, in the cries of the victims of sacrifice...
Many Orthodox Jews and Fundamentalist Christians actively support the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Christians who agitate for this restoration do so because they believe it is God's will that sacrificial religion be restored. They see the resumption of Temple worship as a sure sign of the Second Coming of Christ.
And those Jewish people who are anxious to see the resumption of Temple worship believe that ever since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, almost two thousand years ago, God has been awaiting the resumption of animal sacrifice.
Both Christians and Jews avoid the reality of what actually constitutes "Temple worship" by referring to it euphemistically.
But the Temple was actually a slaughterhouse, and the linen vestments of the priests were stained red with the blood of their victims. And terms like the "altar of the Lord," obscure the fact that what is being talked about is the killing and butchering of helpless victims, in the name of God.
The great Prophets of Israel had spoken out against the sacrificial cult, but they have been ignored.
Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah warned of dire consequences the people would bring upon themselves unless they repented of their sins. God wanted mercy, compassion and social justice, not the slaughter of men and beasts.
"When you offer me holocausts, I reject your oblations and refuse to look at your sacrifices of fattened cattle...but let justice flow like water and integrity like an unfailing stream."(Amos 5:21,22,24 JB)
When the Jewish people were allowed to return to their homeland 516 B.C. they reconstructed the sacrificial altar. It was dedicated by a massive slaughter of animals.
The altar was set up on its old site...and on it they offered holocaust to Yahweh, holocaust morning and evening...in addition to the perpetual holocaust... New Moon feasts and all the solemnities sacred to Yahweh. (Ezra 3:3-5) The resumption of sacrifices, as reported in the Bible, is almost a word-for-word refutation of the Prophet Isaiah's oracle against such worship.
"What are your endless sacrifices to me, says Yahweh. I am sick of holocausts of rams...the blood of bulls and goats revolts me...the smoke of them fills me with disgust...Your New Moons and your pilgrimages I hate with all my soul...your hands are covered with blood, wash, make yourselves clean." (Isaiah 1:11, 13-16 JB)
Now, once again, the Jewish people have been restored to a homeland. And once again religious extremists--Christians and Jews--make the same claim: take up the sword, drive out the foreigners and God will restore Jerusalem to the chosen people.
Then, Temple sacrifices can be resumed. The extremists believe that this bloodbath of human and nonhuman beings is a necessary prelude to the appearance of Messiah...
People of faith--both Jewish and Christian -- must repudiate the teachings of those among us who would use God as a justification for human brutality.
As long as men are allowed to claim the Lord's blessing on the slaughter of any creature, no one will ever be safe from the violence that they inflict on others, in the name of God.
Reform Judaism simply has dropped reference to the entire subject from its prayerbook: It views sacrifices as a primitive stage in Jewish religious development, one in which there is no reason to take pride.
In June and July 2015 the Reform movement in Israel came under attack by the new minister of religious affairs, David Azulai. In a meeting with MK Ayelet Shaked Azulai referred to them as "provocateurs" and claimed that Reform Judaism is “a disaster for the nation of Israel.” (Wikipedia info)
Israel: Haifa's LGBT community holds largest pride parade yet
Ahiyeh Raved, YNet News, 25-6-2016
Some 3,000 persons participated on Friday at the largest LGBT pride parade that Haifa has ever seen in its decade of hosting them. The two-kilometer parade route was filled with a sea of rainbow flags, balloons, colorful costumes... The messages of the parade were social ones of equality for all communities in the city and the country and equality within the LGBT community itself.
Soulmates: Jonathan & David, A Love Story
"When King Saul fell into a mood of despair, he was told that there was a wonderful youth whose playing on the harp and whose singing drove away all evil spirits. From that time David used to play and sing before King Saul, calming and comforting him. Even later, when King David had ascended the throne, he always kept his harp beside him.."
Equality for all communities
Psalm 23, a psalm of David:
The Lord's My Shepherd, by Stuart Townend
King David of Israel was bisexual, one of the oldest known documented gay love stories is found in the Old Testament passages about David and Jonathan:
"And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan Stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garment, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle." (1 Samuel 18:1-4 King James Version of the Bible)
"And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul." (1 Samuel 20:17, King James Version of the Bible)
"And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city." (1 Samuel 20:41-42 King James Version of the Bible)
"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: they love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women". (2 Samuel 1:25-26 King James Version of the Bible)
Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded rebel-held areas of divided second city Aleppo on Saturday as government forces closed in on the rebels' sole remaining supply line.
The Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division began the second round of their offensive in northern Aleppo after a series of violent battles on Saturday morning. According to local media correspondents, the Syrian Armed Forces are storming the jihadist rebel defenses at the Al-Layramoun, Al-Khalidiyah, Bani Zayd, and Al-Zahra districts of Aleppo City.
While the Syrian Army attempts to advance on the ground, the Russian Air Force is providing necessary air cover over several sites in northern Aleppo.
Fighting alongside the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division are several pro-government militias, which include Liwaa Al-Quds (Palestinian paramilitary), Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions), and the National Defense Forces (NDF). The Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” are absent from today’s battle, despite the fact they make up one of the largest units in northern Aleppo.
Aleppo, which was Syria's commercial and manufacturing hub before civil war broke out in 2011, has been a key battleground ever since rebels seized eastern neighbourhoods of the city the following year. A two-day truce brokered by Moscow and Washington earlier this month - in a bid to rescue a wider ceasefire - expired without renewal and Russia warned it would press ahead with it air campaign, saying the rebels had failed to deliver on promises to break ranks with Al-Qaeda loyalists.
The renewed government offensive around Aleppo comes a day after another key ally, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, pledged to send more fighters to join the "greatest battle" of the war.
Ammar Waqqaf (Al-Jazeera 2016): The people of Aleppo, who are predominantly Sunni, had stubbornly refused to get dragged into the “revolution” and, as a consequence, have suffered a lot.
It is hard to believe that the Syrian government and its Russian ally would stop hostilities in areas where designated religious extremists are present. Part of their logic is that these groups won’t stop fighting anyway because they’re doing so for reasons of ideology.
What makes this particular issue a bit complicated is that groups who are not necessarily al-Qaeda-affiliated are so intertwined with such groups, like al-Nusra Front, which is an al-Qaeda branch in Syria, that it would be hard to separate them into mini frontlines on which ceasefires could actually be maintained.
Take the Army of Conquest, for example, which is a merger of fighting groups whose backbone are al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, which is a Salafi group that almost fully adopts the al-Qaeda intellect but is not officially affiliated with it.
This army is spread in all areas of the province of Idlib and in most areas of the province of Aleppo, and there are no clear lines of territorial control between the various groups. It would also be hard to strike a deal with one of its lesser-weight groups, who might wish to do so for the sake of saving their people some hardship, as they could easily be attacked by the more radical ones.
Within last 24 hours, truce agreement with representatives of an inhabited area in the Aleppo province has been achieved. The total number of inhabited areas, the leaders of which had signed reconciliation agreements, has reached 163.
Negotiations on joining ceasefire regime have been continued with field commanders of armed opposition detachments active in the Aleppo, Damascus, and al-Quneitra provinces.
The ceasefire has been observed in most provinces of the Syrian Arab Republic. Within last 24 hours, 4 ceasefire violations have been registered in the Damascus province. Jaysh al-Islam formations, which had claimed to belong to the opposition, have performed mortar shelling of positions of the Syrian Armed Forces in Arbil, Harasta, al-Qasa, Haush-al-Hayat inhabited areas. Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Force did not make strikes on opposition armed formations, which follow ceasefire regime and informed the Russian or American Centres for reconciliation about their location.
Secretary General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, asserted that the participation of the Lebanese resistance in fighting terrorism in Syria, including its participation in defending Aleppo, is in defense of Lebanon and its people and future...
He said that what is happening in Aleppo is a fierce battle, but the Arab Gulf-funded media is carrying out a campaign of exaggeration and rumors to imply that Hezbollah is collapsing and suffering heavy losses...
“To evaluate the battle precisely, there have been since the beginning of June 26 martyrs, one captive, and one missing person, and every other talk is inaccurate and seeks to exaggerate and carry out psychological warfare against the resistance,” Nasrallah explained...
Nasrallah said that significant achievements have been made in Aleppo, with security perimeters being established around the city, the road being opened, and the siege imposed on it being broken, all of which entails further responsibilities and requires more presence in Aleppo which the Lebanese resistance will do, because the true battle is in Aleppo...
The Russian Air Force has been carrying out non-stop airstrikes over the northern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate for over 48 hours straight, while their allies from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attempt to advance at several sites near the provincial capital.
According to a media correspondent in Aleppo City, the Russian Air Force carried out over 60 airstrikes in a matter of 5 hours above the northern districts of the provincial capital on Saturday night.
However, the Russian airstrikes were not limited to only the provincial capital; they would also attack several jihadist controlled villages in the ‘Anadan Plains and Handarat Mountains of northern Aleppo.
ALEPPO – The UN was able to deliver humanitarian aid to a Kurdish district in Syria’s northern Aleppo city for the first time since the outbreak of the Syrian war five years ago, activists reported on Monday.
“The convoy, which consisted of 13 trucks, delivered basic supplies to the residents of Sheikh Maqsoud. The aid included food, medicine and other basic supplies,” rights activist Dawood Osman told ARA News in Aleppo. The Kurdish district of Sheikh Maqsoud has been under siege by Syrian Islamist rebels for years, and violence has recently intensified in the district as the Kurdish YPG forces have been trying to push back Islamist fighters of the Nusra Front (al-Qaeda branch in Syria) and the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham.
According to local sources, there are 35,000-40,000 civilians still living in Sheikh Maqsoud, where people have for long suffered a sharp shortage of basic supplies and services as a result of the blockade imposed by Islamist rebel groups on their district.
“The people of Sheikh Maqsoud have suffered the most under siege and shelling by terrorist groups. The delivery of aid has brought a glimmer of hope for civilians in this war-torn district,” Daywood Osman said.
The Sultan Murad Brigade is one of the Turkmen groups in the area. Syrian Turkmen Brigades, also called the Syrian Turkmen Army, are an informal armed opposition structure composed of Syrian Turkmen that form the military wing of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, primarily fighting against the Syrian Armed Forces, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian Democratic Forces. They are aligned with the Syrian opposition (FSA) and are heavily supported by Turkey.
Spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party in Turkey (HDP) Ayhan Bilgen affirmed that the Turkish government, since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, has been transporting weapons to the terrorist organizations in Syria.
Bilgen told Syrian TV Sunday that Turkey was a main cause of the war against Syria due to its miscalculations and arbitrary policies which caused the bloodshed of innocents in Syria, pointing out that terrorists leave Turkish camps for fighting in Syria and return back to the camps in Turkey.
The policy of Justice and Development party (AKP) negatively affected civil security in Turkey which became now in danger, saying that what happens in the southeastern of Turkey is demolishing cities with shells and explosives on the pretext of fighting terrorism and this is an incredible and unbelievable excuse. Bilgen pointed out that the policy of AKP was completely wrong... He said that the Turkish regime unlimitedly interfered in Syria’s affairs, supported terrorist organizations, and allowed foreign fighters to cross its border into Syria. The HDP spokesman called upon Turkish government to abandon terrorist organizations it supported including ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Sultan Abdel Hamid brigades, Ahrar al-Sham and others, and to support intra-Syrian dialogue.
The Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkish: Halkların Demokratik Partisi - HDP) is a pro-Kurdish and pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, democratic socialism, minority rights, and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International. (Wikipedia)
Turkey training camp 2012 - Jordan training camp 2013
Syria’s Permanent envoy to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, during a joint press conference with the Iraqi envoy to the UN, said.. "Resolution (2199) is very important for both Syria and Iraq, which are the main victims of [..] terrorism", pointing out that terrorists in the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, do not come by parachutes but rather across joint borders of both countries and the majority of them cross into Syria and Iraq from Turkey and Jordan. “Training centers established in Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Jordan are not for means of peaceful negotiations to find out political solutions but rather are death-making camps for Syrians”, Syria’s UN envoy said..
Arms shipments by the CIA and Saudi Arabia to Jordan which were intended to be delivered on to Washington-backed Syrian rebels were systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, American and Jordanian officials told the New York Times on Sunday. The theft includes millions of dollars of weapons, some of which were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman.
Catherine Shakdam, Middle East analyst and director of programs for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, told Radio Sputnik that the issue of weapons supplies falling into the wrong hands was a predictable one.
"It has been going on for years, and it really underscores the question that Russia has warned about, that you can't expect to be putting weapons into such a dangerous and very fluid area – Syria and Iraq – and not expect these kinds of things to happen," Shakdam said. "It's a very dangerous game to arm people left, right and center. I think that Russia has done things the right way by going through the official channels and handling things openly rather than operations which get out of hand very quickly."
Shakdam said that the same chaotic situation happened in Yemen, Iraq and Libya, when the West backed rebels there. She also warned that the multitude of countries supplying weapons means that nobody actually knows what weapons the rebels actually have.
According to the New York Times/Al Jazeera report, Jordan provided grounds for US covert operations for decades, thanks to its key position in the Middle East, in exchange for massive monetary support provided to the Jordanian government since the second half of twentieth century...
Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs has denied the claim that Jordanian intelligence agents were responsible for the thefts.
27 June 2016: President Bashar al-Assad visited the army forces on the front lines of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside.
At the end of the visit, president al-Assad partook in the Iftar meal of Ramadan along with a number of soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army in Marj al-Sultan Airport. (Fars News Agency)
Janice Kortkamp, US peace Activist, May, 2016:
What I learned from President Bashar al-Assad
1. Stay calm. The truth gives a confidence that does not require screaming and ranting.
2. Turn the other cheek. President Assad has a brilliant way of just letting insults and accusations deflect off him. He listens and then gives his side - but he doesn't take it all personally.
3. Speak clearly and openly. I was struck by how he was explaining things in a way I could understand.
4. Be accurate - don't exaggerate. When President Assad knows a number, he gives a number that he can back up. If he doesn't know a number, he just says he doesn't have a number.
5. Give facts that can be backed up by the reality on the ground and solid sources. President Assad consistently gave facts that could be checked and verified.
6. Be genuine. President Assad's love of Syrians and Syria shows in everything he says and does.
7. Don't just preach to the choir. I think this is what really limits the effectiveness of activism.
8. Engage with people.
9. Be an ambassador. President Assad is a very personal and gracious man. When I showed his interview to my husband, Syd said "I want to have that man over for dinner."
So that's it. He is called 'brutal'. He is called worse. But what he should be called is "Mr. President". (syria times, 27-6-2016)
Americans rescued from the facility in Benghazi were saved by Gaddafi loyalists — not the Libyan government or the militia group contractually obligated to provide security, the final report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi reveals.
After lethal mortar attacks, a special operator in Benghazi testified that: “We decided that the situation we had was untenable to stay at the compound. We didn’t have enough shooters and there were too many wounded, and we were definitely going to lose our State Department wounded if we had stayed there much longer.”
The Americans in the annex, though, did not have the security vehicles and “gun trucks” necessary to evacuate to the airport in Benghazi. Help would eventually arrive.
“The forces that arrived at the Annex shortly after the mortar attacks were able to transport all State Department and CIA personnel safely to the airport. The forces, known as Libyan Military Intelligence, arrived with 50 heavily-armed security vehicles,” the select committee’s report says.
The Libyan Military Intelligence was not part of the Libyan Government that the Obama administration supported. Neither was it a component of the “February 17 Martyrs Brigade, recommended by the Libyan Government and contractually obligated to provide security to the Mission Compound.”
The report also states that “the February 17 Martyrs Brigade militia, which provided interior armed security at the Benghazi Mission compound, informed the Diplomatic Security Agents two days before the Ambassador was scheduled to arrive it would no longer provide off-compound security.”
“Instead, Libya Military Intelligence—whom the CIA did not even know existed until the night of the attacks—were comprised of former military officers under the Qadhafi regime who had gone into hiding in fear of being assassinated, and wanted to keep their presence in Benghazi as quiet as possible so as to not attract attention from the militias in control of Benghazi,” the report later notes.
It continues to say, “In other words, some of the very individuals the United States had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attacks. ”
How cruel people can be when they flare up together! What a crushing flood that has no mercy for anyone in its way!
It does not heed one's cry or lend one a hand when one is in dire need of help. On the contrary, it flings one about heedlessly.
The individual's tyranny is the easiest kind of tyranny. He is only one among many, who can get rid of him when they wish. He could even be liquidated somehow by somebody unimportant.
But the tyranny of the masses is the cruellest kind of tyranny. Who can stand against the crushing current and the blind engulfing power?!.
How loving the masses can be when they are happily excited! They carry their favourite sons high on their shoulders. They carried Hannibal, Barclay, Savonarola, Danton, Ropespierre, Mussolini and Nixon!
But how cruel they can be when they are angrily excited! They plotted against Hannibal by poisoning him. They burnt Savonarola at the stake; they brought their hero, Danton, to the guillotine; they smashed the jaws of Robespierre, the beloved fiance, they dragged Mussolini's carcass along the streets of Milan, and they spat at Nixon's face as he was forced to leave the White House, where they had ushered him in ceremoniously before.
What terror! Who can talk the unfeeling entity into consciousness?! Who can argue with a mass mind not embodied in one individual? Who can hold the hand of the millions?! Who can comprehend a million words pouring out of million mouths at the same time ?! Who can talk sensibly to whom in this terrifying excitement ?!
MOSCOW, June 29. Russian President Vladimir Putin, as planned, will call his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. That will be the first conversation between the two leaders since Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft in the sky over Syria last November.
"A conversation between President Putin and President Erdogan will be held tomorrow (on June 29) on the initiative of the Russian side," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday, adding that the conversation will take place approximately in the middle of the day.
Putin’s call will be his answer to Erdogan’s letter, in which he apologized for the downed aircraft and expressed interest in resolving the situation. The message was sent to the Kremlin seven months after the Su-24 incident. Relations between the two countries sharply deteriorated after a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet downed a Russian Su-24M bomber in the sky over Syria on November 24, 2015.
Pilot Oleg Peshkov was killed by militants from the ground after ejecting. Ankara claimed the bomber violated the Turkish airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.
Flashback, Nov 24, 2015:
Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was carrying out military operations against jihadi groups in Northern Syria. The downing of the Su-24 fighter jet is part of a broader plan by the administration of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to topple the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to establish “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan needs the safe zones to provide a sanctuary for the militant extremists who are the footsoldiers in his war against Syria. (Mike Whitney, 25-11-2015)
Many of the "Syrian Turkmen" fighting against the Syrian people are from Central Asia and part of the terrorist groups of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar Al Shams, Jabhat Ansar Ad Din and Ahrar al Shams. The few real Syrian Turkmen work together with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Their leader and spokesman, one Alparslan Celik, is a Turkish citizen from Elazığ (Read more: Page 61)
Suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport left 36 people dead and 147 injured on Tuesday.
Several suicide blasts hit the entrance, exit and a parking lot of the airport's international terminal. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that three suicide bombers participated in the attack. Initial indications suggest that Daesh (ISIS) is responsible for the terrorist attack, though the investigation is still underway, Yildirim said at a press conference Wednesday.
According to media reports, the majority of victims of the terrorist attack are Turkish nationals, though there are several foreigners.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly condemned the attack and called on the international community to enhance the fight against terrorism.
"The attack, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, shows that terrorism strikes with no regard for faith and values. Nor do terrorists distinguish between their victims… We urge governments, parliaments, media and civil society organizations around the world, especially in Western countries, to take a firm stand against terrorism," Erdogan said in a statement.
Israel’s chief rabbis, Yitzchak Yosef and David Lau, told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday that under no conditions may the Reform movement be allowed to gain ground, especially at the Western Wall.
Also attending the meeting were Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and the heads of the haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ). The Shas and UTJ leadership made clear that both parties would oppose any compromise recognizing the Reform stream or otherwise providing them with official backing. They repeated the decisions made by the councils of sages that guide both parties, and said that haredi Jewry would not allow the Reform or Conservative movements “to gnaw at the nations’ holy places in any way.”
The parties issued a statement after the meeting, according to which Netanyahu summed up the consultation by saying that discussions on the matter would continue in an attempt to reach an agreed solution.
Haredi Judaism (also spelled Charedi, plural Charedim) is a broad spectrum of groups within Orthodox Judaism, all characterized by rejection of modern secular culture.
Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox in English. Haredim regard themselves as the most religiously authentic group of Jews, although this claim is contested by other streams. In contrast to Modern Orthodox Judaism, which hastened to embrace modernity, the approach of the Haredim was to maintain a steadfast adherence both to Jewish Law and custom by segregating themselves from modern society.
Haredim bitterly opposed the establishment of the State of Israel, and they do not celebrate its national Independence Day or other state instituted holidays, referring to them as "idolatrous." The chief political division among Haredim has been in their approach to the State of Israel.
While ideologically non-Zionist, the United Torah Judaism alliance comprising Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah represent a pragmatic stance of cooperation with the State of Israel and participation in the political system.
Haredim who are more stridently anti-Zionist are under the umbrella of Edah HaChareidis, who reject participation in politics and state funding of its affiliated institutions. Neturei Karta is an activist organisation of anti-Zionist Haredim, whose controversial activities have been strongly condemned, including by other Haredim. (Wikipedia)
Neturei Karta oppose the so-called "State of Israel" not because it operates secularly, but because the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law.
All the great rabbis who in accordance with Jewish Law opposed Zionism at its inception did not do so merely due to consideration of the secular lifestyles of the then Zionist leaders..., but due to the fact that the entire concept of a Jewish state is in direct conflict with a number of Judaism's fundamentals.
Condemnation of and segregation from anything connected to or affiliated with the so-called modern day "State of Israel" is based on the Talmud... The Talmud in Tractate Kesubos (p. 111a), teaches that Jews shall not use human force to bring about the establishment of a Jewish state before the coming of the universally accepted Moshiach (Messiah from the House of David). Furthermore it states that we are forbidden to rebel against the nations and that we should remain loyal citizens...
As Jews we are called upon to live in peace and harmony with all men. We are exhorted to be law abiding and patriotic citizens in all lands. The true Jews remain faithful to Jewish belief and are not contaminated with Zionism. The true Jews are against dispossessing the Arabs of their land and homes. According to the Torah, the land should be returned to them... The world must know that the Zionists have illegitimately seized the name Israel and have no right to speak in the name of the Jewish people! (Naturei Karta website)
A major attack by ISIS against a major marketplace in Baghdad has killed at least 125 people and wounded 147 others. A secondary bombing elsewhere in town killed another five civilians and wounded 16 others.
The major attack took place on Saturday evening, as people gathered in the shopping district to break the Ramadan fast, and to watch the Euro 2016 soccer games on TV at cafes. The car bomb was a massive one, badly damaging a multi-story building nearby and killing large numbers of shoppers.
ISIS was quick to claim credit for the attack, the latest in a string of massive attacks worldwide which have been attributed to them, including the Istanbul airport bombings and the Bangladesh hostage siege. Today’s ISIS statement said they targeted districts popular with Shi’ites.
Locals were highly critical of the Iraqi government’s lack of security at the market, a recurring problem in recent months as ISIS continues to scale up its attacks across the nation, but the Iraqi government dedicates the bulk of its security forces to surrounding ISIS cities and to keeping protesters out of the Baghdad Green Zone, as opposed to trying to defend the rest of Baghdad from frequent bombing attacks
Aleppo 2014: Jabhat al-Nusra-fighters
The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), was the Iraqi division of al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi was announced as leader of the ISI on 16 May 2010, following the death of his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Between March and April 2011, the ISI claimed 23 attacks south of Baghdad, all allegedly carried out under al-Baghdadi's command. Following the death of founder and head of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, on 2 May 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, al-Baghdadi released a statement praising bin Laden and threatening violent retaliation for his death.
Al-Baghdadi remained leader of the ISI until its formal expansion into Syria in 2013 when, in a statement on 8 April 2013, he announced the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — alternatively translated from the Arabic as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
When announcing the formation of ISIL, al-Baghdadi stated that the Syrian Civil War jihadist faction, Jabhat al-Nusra — also known as al-Nusra Front — had been an extension of the ISI in Syria and was now to be merged with ISIL.
The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, disputed this merging of the two groups and appealed to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who issued a statement that ISIL should be abolished and that al-Baghdadi should confine his group's activities to Iraq. Al-Baghdadi dismissed al-Zawahiri's ruling and took control of a reported 80% of Jabhat al-Nusra's foreign fighters. In January 2014, ISIL expelled Jabhat al-Nusra from the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah... (Wikipedia info)
In contrast to the words of individual rabbis who called on Israel to cooperate with the Reform Movement, our message is a call to stand firm and declare, in the immortal words of the Prophet Isaiah "Your plans will not be realized nor will your words be upheld, because G-d is with us." Rabbi Kook castigated the Reform Movement vehemently in his writings, and wrote a letter to American Jewry, which he saw as fated to disappear because of the activities of this movement:
"The despoilers have come, those who have destroyed the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, and are even now are causing many to abandon the G-d of Israel and His eternal Torah – They, the inventive Reform leaders [..] uproot the foundations of the world that are intertwined with the basic principles of Torah and Judaism...." (Jerusalem 1922)
The non-observant have chosen wrongly, the Rabbi felt, but they are open to tikkun because of the light spilling over from the religious world existing beside them... The secular Jewish world does not want to take over the religious world from a theological point of view, but to live beside it.. The secular are actually non-observant Orthodox, they do not present an alternative organized religion...
Non-observant (secular) people of integrity, he said, unconsciously long for the truth and Divine light found in the Torah. In contrast, the Reform Movement has a "progressive" ideology that wishes to exchange the Oral Law's G-d-given message.. It has an organized theology that grants legitimacy to transgressions and turns them into religion. There is no possibility of living side by side, but a battle over who will lead the nation... It is either we or them, the holy or the ritually impure and their ideological rebellion against the Oral Law.
The Reform Movement originated in a form of heresy that wished to establish a new religion based on plundering that which is holy.
The Reform Movement wishes to accomplish exactly what its name says, to effect a critical change in the foundations of Torah, putting man in the center to define truth and falsehood, good and evil.
It denies G-d's revelation to us through prophecy and the Holy Temple, denies the eternal life he planted in us through the Torah commandments...
It does not believe that Jews are the Chosen People and wants the world to unite, as do the Christians, under one faith – that of belief in man, his desires, his wants. The Reform Movement is against a biological definition of the Jew, instead emphasizing his personal feelings and self-definition.
This is not Judaism. Confronting this heresy, there are no compromises and no cooperation...
We will wage an everlasting war against their ideological movement, a war that does not affect our relations with individual members. There is no way to justify granting the Reform Movement the slightest entry, and neither legal nor public legitimacy in the state of Israel.
Abraham Isaac Kook (born 1865) believed that the modern movement to re-establish a Jewish state in the land of Israel had profound theological significance and that the Zionists were agents in a heavenly plan to bring about the messianic era.
Per this ideology, the youthful, secular and even anti-religious Labor Zionist pioneers, halutzim, were a part of a grand Divine process whereby the land and people of Israel were finally being redeemed from the 2,000-year exile (galut) by all manner of Jews who sacrificed themselves for the cause of building up the physical land, as laying the groundwork for the ultimate spiritual messianic redemption of world Jewry. (Wikipedia)
Flashback: British Chief Rabbi Sacks asks to stop printing of his controversial book
by DOUGLAS DAVIS, Jerusalem Post, 13-11-2002
British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has asked his publisher, Continuum, to stop promoting and printing The Dignity of Difference until he has completed revisions for a second edition. His decision followed growing charges from a broad spectrum of the Orthodox community, including his own mainstream United Synagogue movement, that the views he expressed could be regarded as heretical.
Sacks wrote that "God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims."
He went on to assert that "no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical, and artistic expressions of mankind... "
Bezalel Rakow and Joseph Dunner, leaders of Britain's haredi community, declared that the book is "irreconcilable with traditional Jewish teachings" in an advertisement published in London's Jewish Chronicle. Any implications that Judaism does not contain absolute truth represents a grave deviation from the pathways of traditional and authentic Judaism."
In the second edition of “The Dignity of Difference,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks removed statements suggesting that Christianity and Islam are as valid as Judaism.
The publication of the first edition in August 2002 sparked a storm of criticism from fervently Orthodox rabbis in Britain and Israel... There even were rumors that Sacks would face charges of apostasy.
To the dismay of many British Jews, Sacks backed down and let it be known in November that he would issue a revised edition of his book..
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, director of Yakar, an Orthodox Jewish study center in London, said he is disappointed that Sacks retreated.
“I am very disappointed that the thinking side of Torah Judaism allowed itself to be bullied by the side that has no philosophical training,” he told JTA. Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain echoed Rosen’s view, calling the new edition of the book “a victory for the dinosaurs.”
The new edition, published March 1, substitutes: “God communicates in human language, but there are dimensions of the divine that must forever elude us. As Jews we believe that God has made a covenant with a singular people... " (the Jewish people)
- What is the story that the Bible tells?
- The Bible doesn’t really tell one story. And by that I don’t just mean that the Bible is a collection of different stories. I mean that the Bible consists of a spectrum of competing stories.
The Bible is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except none of the alternative storylines ever gets resolved. They’re all particular stories, about a people called Israel, their god Yahweh, and the relationship of Israel and Yahweh to the rest of the world.
There are several different authors trying to make sense of the same basic material, but each of them arranges it in different ways, and none of them do it just right.
- Who is the Yahweh of the Israelites?
- Well as scholars like Frank Cross, Chris Rollston, Mark Smith and others have demonstrated and have known for some time, the earliest texts in the Hebrew Bible give a strong indication that the early conception of Yahweh was that he was an ancient Near Eastern tribal deity. Yahweh was 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. The Israelites were polytheists.
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 idea that Yahweh alone is God is solidified during the Babylonian exile of the Judeans (NOT the same as Israelites). The only connection between Israelites and Judeans is Hebrew-Canaanite culture|language.
- How should Christians read the Bible in light of this kind of scholarship? Between the lines. That’s how they should read the Bible. Christians need to learn to appropriate our tradition’s God-talk both critically and constructively. The Bible is an argument with itself. It doesn’t have one viewpoint, but in the Bible you’ll find actual disputes between different personalities about the meaning of it all. To be a Jew or Christian, to be a part of that tradition, is to participate in the argument. It’s to join in. You can take up a position represented by Jesus, or by the Teacher in Ecclesiastes, which is sharply at odds with the two other major schools of thought in the Bible. Or you can come up with a new position. But to be a member of the faith community is to participate in the discussion.
The Messian Awake Call
EL is known as the Father of the gods in Canaan religion: 'the father of mankind', the 'Bull', and 'the creator of creatures'. He is gray haired and bearded and lives at Mt. Lel.
He is a heavy drinker and has gotten extremely drunk at his banquets. As a young god, he went out to the sea and, spying two ladies, one of whom is presumably Athirat, becomes aroused, roasts a bird and asks the two to choose between being his daughters or his wives. They become his wives and in due course they give birth to Shachar and Shalim. William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk (darkness), and Shahar as god of the dawn (light). In the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the "Evening Star," and Shahar, the "Morning Star". Jerusalem is widely believed to have been originally established as a city for Shalim. The name of the city, when analyzed from a Semitic standpoint, is literally translated as ‘the settlement of Shalim.’
Judea (since 450 BC state of the Jews) and the northern kingdom of Israel were two completely separate and independent kingdoms. Israel was the enemy of Judea. Sometimes the two were joined against a common foe, but more often they were fighting against each other and supporting the enemies of the other.
"I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London... You know why we're called 'Jews'? Because we come from Judea." Benjamin Netanyahu
The European Union (EU) has strongly denounced Israel’s recent decision to construct several hundred new illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian lands.
“Despite repeated calls by the international community, Israel is continuing its settlement policy, which is illegal under international law,” the politico-economic bloc said in a statement... The EU urged Israel to put an end to its settlement expansion policy and to reverse its recent decision.
The condemnation came on the same day that the United Nations (UN)’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sharply criticized Israel for the plan to build the new settler units in the occupied West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
“This raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions, which are compounded by continuing statements of some Israeli ministers calling for the annexation of the West Bank,” Ban said through his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
He reiterated that “settlements are illegal under international law” and urged Israel “to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”
Also on Tuesday, the United States slammed Israel’s plans to build new illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian territories as part of a “systematic” land expropriation policy.
The units would “be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
The American diplomat tasked with leading the occupation of Iraq in 2003 has backed several key criticisms made by Britain’s Chilcot inquiry despite a defiant response to its report from former president George W Bush and other Republicans.
Writing in the Guardian, Paul Bremer – who administered the coalition provisional authority (CPA) in the months after the war – agreed that prewar planning by both US and UK governments was “inadequate” and accused political leaders of ignoring internal warnings.
“The [Chilcot] commission noted that that ‘bad tidings’ tended not to be heard in London,” he said. “The same was true in Washington. Before the war, a few American military officers suggested the need for a substantial post-conflict military presence. They were not heard.”
Bremer also sharply criticised the failure of western forces to prevent looting in Iraq after the invasion and unrealistic troop commitments made by political leaders in Washington and London.
“As David Richmond, one of the able British CPA colleagues, told the commission, the coalition ‘never got on top of security’,” he added. “So the coalition gave the impression to Iraqis that we were not serious in this most important goal of any government. No doubt this failure encouraged some members of what became the resistance.”
Bremer says he disagrees with Chilcot on the wider merits of invading Iraq, as well as criticism of the decision to remove senior Ba’ath party officials from government posts after the war. Had we not done so, today we would likely confront a nuclear armed Iraq facing off against a nuclear armed Iran.
: The main conclusions in the report, by the independent Iraq Inquiry Committee, were familiar: that Britain, like the United States, used flawed intelligence to justify the invasion, that Iraq posed no immediate national security threat, that the allies acted militarily before all diplomatic options had been exhausted and that there was a lack of planning for what would happen once Mr. Hussein was removed.
According to the report, Tony Blair made statements about Iraq’s nonexistent chemical, biological, and nuclear programs based on “what Mr. Blair believed” rather than the intelligence he had been given. The U.K. went to war despite the fact that “diplomatic options had not been exhausted.”
Blair was warned by British intelligence that terrorism would “increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”
Jeremy Corbyn, 6-7-2016: Frankly, it was an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext as the inquiry accepts and has long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of refugees. It devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and society. The occupation fostered a lethal sectarianism – as the report makes clear – that turned into a civil war. Instead of protecting security at home or abroad, the war fuelled and spread terrorism across the region.
Flashback 2003: SHOCK & AWE:
U.S. War Commander Vows Historic Campaign
U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks, in his first comments on the U.S.-led war with Iraq, said Saturday that allied forces were encountering resistance from Saddam Hussein's troops but had not seen evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
Franks, who runs the war from a command post in Qatar, also told a news briefing he had "no idea" where Saddam was or whether he was alive. The general declared the assault on Iraq would be one of "shock, surprise, flexibility," using munitions on a "scale never before seen."
The general had no clarification of reports that Saddam was injured or killed in bombardments on the night the war started.
"But interestingly," he said, "the way we're undertaking this military operation" would not change regardless of what happens to Saddam, because its intent was to bring down the Iraqi (Baath) regime — not just topple its president. (By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer 22-3-2003)
Thousands of Arabs seething with anger about a heavy U.S.-led bombing of Baghdad protested for a third day on Saturday, amid concern the demonstrations could threaten stability in the volatile region.
With live footage of the fiery explosions and burning buildings in Iraq beamed into most Arab homes, feelings are running high over what many consider a sinister ploy to dominate the Arab world.
"Did you see all those bombs falling on TV? All the poor people? And for what?
America wants to subjugate the entire region for the sake of Israel. They want to bring the Arabs to their knees," said 50-year-old Egyptian housewife Samia.
Amr Moussa, the head of the 22-member Arab League, said "no Arab with any remnant of conscience can tolerate" the bombing of Baghdad, once the proud capital of the Islamic world.
"The bombing and violence we're seeing on satellite TV should stir the ire of every Arab who sees it," said the secretary-general, who has warned a war against Iraq could "open the gates of hell" in the Middle East.
While many Arabs have little sympathy for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, they say they are furious about the suffering the war is causing innocent Iraqis.
"I cried and cried because when I saw the bombardment, which is worse than anything you can imagine," said taxi driver Fouad al-Nashed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, site of bloody protests on Friday. (By Caroline Drees, 22-3-2003)
200 killed in coalition attack on Baath party meeting
Some 200 members of Iraq's ruling Baath party were killed in a coalition attack at a gathering in the Basra region, US generals said.
"It was an attack against a Baath party assembly northeast of Basra yesterday (Friday) evening," Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, deputy director of operations at US central command, told a daily briefing here. "It had about 200 members of the Baath party in attendance."
Brooks followed the remarks with footage showing a missile or bomb dropped on the building, which appeared to be blown to smithereens.
Major General Victor Renuart told journalists it was thought that all those in attendance had been killed. "We believe ... about 200 leaders of these -- of these squads, and key leaders -- we believe were destroyed last night," Major General Victor Renuart said. (AFP 29-3-2003
It's Everyone's Duty to Stop This Devastating War
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa has said that while the chances to end the war on Iraq are meager, working to stop this devastating war was everybody's political duty... "If Arabs had taken a unified stand, this war would not have taken place. They could have stopped it on the first day if they had stood united," Moussa told the Arabic daily.
"When we have a joint Arab stand at government level, not only at the public level, believe me, the Arabs will have an effective position, quite different from what is happening now," he said.
Moussa said growing Arab weakness was hampering his organization's mission. "As long as the Arab stand remains weak it will reflect on the Arab League and the future of the Arab community," he added.
He stressed the need for restructuring the Arab system. "The Arab League will not be able to continue in the present form. The Arab system as a whole must be reviewed and this requires consensus of opinion." Moussa hoped that the war would help bring about a new and stronger Arab organization... (Abdullatif Al-Mannawi, Arab News 2-4-2003)
"In Ideology and Utopia, Karl Mannheim defines petite bourgeois as a social base of conservative ideology which is an intellectual and political reaction to the destruction of the old world. He points out that in Europe, the petite bourgeoisie, along with traditional classes, resisted administrative and financial modernization and feared losing their little capital. They opposed progressive revolutions (including the French Revolution), as well as modernism and secularism."
Aflaq: Arab Nationalisme = Humanism
An essential aspect of Arab nationalism is its humanism. Well-being and the development of human capacities are central. Michel Aflaq, the chief ideologue of earlier Arab socialist and pan-Arabist parties in the 1940s and 1950s compares nationalism to the ‘soil’ or ‘theatre’ of humanity; humanism is rooted in the idea of the Arab mission. Humanism is, on his view, part and parcel of Arab nationalism.
“Humanism is not a social or political condition that can be achieved materially in history, but a spirit, direction, ideals that take root in the constitution of the peoples and nations, colour their cultures and orient their conduct and morals. Humanism accompanies nationalism and is not its follower.” (Read more here)
RIYADH - Saudi Arabia will hit hard those who seek to harm its young people, King Salman said on Tuesday after suicide bombers struck Islam's second-holiest site and two other targets.
In a speech marking the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, Salman, 80, cautioned young people against "the dangers that lie in wait, notably extremism". He said the country "is determined to strike with an iron fist all those who want to harm the spirit and orientation of our youth".
Salman was commenting the day after a suicide bomber in Medina killed four police outside the Prophet's Mosque, Islam's second-holiest site. The attack, which sparked condemnation across the Muslim world, coincided with another suicide blast in Shiite-dominated Qatif, in the kingdom's east, where the only casualty was the bomber. Early Monday a third suicide bomber wounded two policemen when he blew himself up near the United States consulate in Jeddah.
In 2012, Safwat Higazi launched Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi's campaign. Safwat emphasized that Morsi will lead Egypt's campaign to restore the "United States of the Arabs" or "Caliphate" with Jerusalem as its capital...
Turkey's bid for regional greatness began with a vitriolic squabble with Israel in 2009 and, after a series of disasters, ended with a breakdown of relations with Russia last fall.
So it is only fitting that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is banking on resuming friendly relations with Russia and Israel as he attempts to steer the country back to a more pragmatic foreign policy.
The shift, which Mr. Erdogan described last week as a "win-win," comes at a trying time for Turkey, once seen across the region as a model of Muslim democracy. Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood that Mr. Erdogan backed across the region have either collapsed or morphed into radical violence.
Meanwhile, the Syrian war that he stoked has now engulfed Turkey itself, with Islamic State repeatedly targeting the country and the new Kurdish statelet in northern Syria emboldening Turkey's own Kurdish insurgency.
"There's a realization that the Turkish policies after 2011, after the advent of the Arab Spring, have failed to advance the country's national interests or increase the influence of the Turkish state in the region," said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who runs the Edam think tank in Istanbul. "And Islamic State is a reminder to Turkish policy makers of how detrimental these policies have been for the security of Turkey and the Turkish people."
Mr. Erdogan has shown no sign of willingness to reconcile with Egypt, whose regime he keeps criticizing for ousting in 2013 the democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, who was from the Muslim Brotherhood.
An Italian delegation is going to pay an official visit to Damascus over the weekend in order to prepare the ground for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Italy and Syria.
President of Italy’s External Intelligence and Security Agency General Alberto Manenti, who will be heading the delegation, and his entourage will arrive at the Damascus International Airport on Saturday.
They will hold “negotiations concerning the normalization of Italy-Syria bilateral relations, the abolition of European Union (EU) embargos as conditioned by the Syrian government for any possible security cooperation” with high-ranking Syrian officials, Russia al-Youm television reported.
Alberto Manenti, the director of the Italian intelligence agency for information and security, visited Damascus this week to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation with his Syrian counterparts.
This was the first such visit by a senior EU official to the Syrian capital since 2011, marking a significant departure from Europe’s previous stance toward Damascus.
The Manenti visit, which remained confidential, came days after Deeb Zeitoun, the Syrian security chief, visited Rome last week, at the invitation of the Italian government. Zeitoun arrived in Rome via Beirut, despite EU sanctions that blacklist him and other Syrian officials, and stayed at a private villa provided by Italian intelligence.
In late June, Al Assad’s presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban marked a similar breakthrough, addressing a German audience at the Schiller Institute in Berlin via Skype, weeks after making a similar guest appearance at a Washington think-tank.
Also this summer, General Ali Mamlouk, head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, paid a secret visit to Berlin, for counter-intelligence sharing with German intelligence, also defying EU sanctions.
In Damascus, Manenti met with his Syrian counterparts and with President Bashar Al Assad. The Italian official proposed turning a new page in Italian-Syrian relations, if Damascus showed willingness at resumption of political talks and start of a political process that leads to democratisation and regime reform, rather than regime change.
The impression that the Syrians got was that something major had changed in the EU, due to the rising fear of Daesh, and that Italy was willing to use its considerable influence to extract a different position from the Europeans.
The political process would have to yield results “within six months” meaning until December 2016, thereby scrapping an earlier date that had previously been agreed upon by UNSCR 2254, which called for the start of a transition government in Damascus by August 1.
Mohammed Dib Zaitoun (born 20 Feb 1951) is the current head of the Syrian General Security Directorate and a close adviser of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He is one of many officials sanctioned by the European Union... Maj Gen Dib Zaitoun was born in Damascus to a Sunni family. His father was a Sergeant in the Syrian Army. Before taking up his current position as head of the General Security Directorate, he was the head of the Political Security Directorate (PSD).
The Egyptian parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs called on Friday for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to be tried as war criminals, saying the resounding report of a British committee investigating Britain's participation in the war against Iraq clearly shows that there were no convincing reasons for the conflict.
"This British committee's report - the Chilcot report - has exposed the false reasons which former US president George W. Bush and former UK prime minister Tony Blair had exploited to wage their illegitimate war against Iraq," said the strongly-worded statement. The parliament said that the American-led war in Iraq left more than one million Iraqis killed and millions more wounded, internally displaced or sent from their homes as refugees.
"There's no question that George W. Bush and Tony Blair should be put on trial as war criminals not only because they are the ones who trumpeted the reasons for this war, but also because they should be held responsible for the deaths of millions of Iraqis since 2003," the statement read. The statement singled out former US president Bush as the Iraqi conflict's foremost war criminal: "Bush committed his crimes in Iraq amid silence in America which claims itself as the land of democracy and human rights," the statement noted.
According to the statement, the British report on the war also exposed the ceaseless Western conspiracies against the Arab World, the Middle East and the Arab Gulf:
"These conspiracies aim at plundering the riches of this region, enslaving its peoples and plunging them into constant troubles," said the statement. The committee recommended that the Arab League and the next Arab Summit in Mauritania this month issue strong statements against Western military intervention in the Arab World and to use its influence in the United Nations to espouse this principle.
Aleppo - Major Yasser Abd al-Rahim, Commander of Fatah Halab "Conquest of Aleppo" (FSA), with his Soldiers targeting YPG HeadQuarters @ Sheikh Maqsood with a barrage of Katyusha Rockets (youtube vid 2015)
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - An estimated 300,000 citizens of Aleppo are feared to be trapped in the city as heavy fighting is cutting off the Castello road, the only route in and out of rebel-held areas of the city.
On Thursday, the second day of a government-announced three-day ceasefire, regime forces advanced in the al-Malah Farms area of northwest Aleppo, closing in on the Castello road. They are now 500 to 1000 metres from the road, within firing range, effectively cutting off rebel groups from the route.
Damascus defended the advance, saying it was in retaliation as “terrorists are violating the truce,” in a statement broadcast on Syrian State TV. The United Nations fears for the wellbeing of the 300,000 people living in the rebel-held parts of the city who are now effectively besieged. Rebel groups remain defiant and are fighting back. “We will not allow them to blockade this city. We will not allow their planes to scare us,” said Al-Raed Yasser Abdel Raheem, commander of Aleppo operations for the Free Syrian Army, in a video posted on YouTube reassuring the people of Aleppo that they will not allow the city to be besieged.
Shells fired from rebel-held areas into government-held areas of the city killed at least 38 civilians on Saturday, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Aleppo’s pre-war population was 2.5 million. Thousands have been killed in the six years of civil war and hundreds of thousands have fled the city, which is split into areas held by the government, a variety of rebel groups, and extremists.
The battle for control of Syria’s largest city has been ongoing for four years and the scale of destruction in Aleppo is massive.
French President Francois Hollande called Saturday for international action against an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, warning that the recent losses sustained by ISIS could embolden other extremist groups.
“Daesh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS) is in retreat, that is beyond dispute,” Hollande said after a meeting with the leaders of the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy and Ukraine on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw. But, Hollande added, “We must avoid a situation whereby as Daesh becomes weaker, other groups become stronger.”
Hollande singled out al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front as particularly standing to benefit from the US-led military campaign against its arch-rival ISIS...
On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed in a telephone call to “intensify” military coordination between their two countries in Syria. Russia had in May proposed joint air strikes with the US against jihadist targets in Syria - a suggestion that was rebuffed by Washington.
The White House reported that the two leaders, in their call this week, “confirmed their commitment to defeating ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.”
syria - idlib - controlled by al-nusra (al-qaeda in syria)
Al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra is a Sunni Islamist militia fighting against Syrian Government forces in the Syrian Civil War, with the aim of establishing an Islamist state in the country. It is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, and also operates in neighbouring Lebanon.
In early 2015, the group became one of the major components of the powerful jihadist joint operations room named the Army of Conquest, which took over large territories in Northwestern Syria. The group announced its formation on 23 January 2012. In November 2012, The Washington Post described al-Nusra as the most successful arm of the rebel forces.
Amnesty International released on July 5 a groundbreaking account of the "reality of life" for Syrians living in Idlib and Aleppo under the rule of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate, and other armed groups, including those backed by US regional allies. In a news release, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director of the Middle East and North Africa Program, said, “In Aleppo and Idlib today, armed groups have free rein to commit war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law with impunity..."
The report titled “Torture was my punishment” provides a grim and unsettling account of abduction, torture and summary killings by members of the so-called Aleppo Conquest coalition, which includes Jabhat al-Nusra, Shamiya Front, Nureddin Zengi Brigade and Division 16, and the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic movement in Idlib, which is allied with Jabhat al-Nusra in Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest).
Amnesty International pulls no punches in making clear that some of these groups “enjoy support from powerful backers such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the USA.”
The report comes as the United States continues to weigh potential cooperation with Russia against Jabhat al-Nusra, as Laura Rozen reports.
Rozen cites congressional testimony June 28 by Brett McGurk, US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State), that while the Islamic State “is losing territory in the east,” Jabhat al-Nusra is “gaining ground in the west, putting down roots in Idlib province along the Turkish border. … With direct ties to Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s successor, Nusra is now al-Qaeda's largest formal affiliate in history. … This is a serious concern..."
Rozen adds, “While US officials have expressed understanding for the Syrian opposition’s concerns that more pressure on Jabhat al-Nusra could threaten their position vis-a-vis [President Bashar al-] Assad, the US officials indicate that President Barack Obama feels he has the duty to deal with the threat to US national security interests posed by Jabhat al-Nusra and to do so quickly.”
The Amnesty International report helps clarify a twisted and dangerous misunderstanding about conditions in Aleppo and Idlib, and what it might mean for the course of the war. As Al-Monitor wrote in January, “Aleppo, which is mostly Sunni, was sold a sectarian bill of goods by the opposition. And it has been a disaster for the people of Aleppo.
If the Syrian army, backed by its Iranian and Russian allies, retakes Aleppo, the city’s liberation will come by directly defeating terrorists and armed groups that are already deserting the battlefield... A good question is whether the Syrian army would be received as liberators by those Syrians, including Sunnis, freed from the reign of Islamic law and armed gangs.
The answer might surprise … a Syrian government victory in Aleppo could be the beginning of the end of the sectarian mindset that would have been alien to the city prior to 2011.”
The Clinton loyalists debating the Democratic Party platform have defeated an amendment that would have called for an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and condemned Israeli squatter settlements illegal. The Democratic Party, in other words, backs the principle of colonialism.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) grew out of the 1967 Six-Day war, and wartime occupations are a recognized legal category. However, the Israeli government has not abided by the most basic provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.. The Israeli establishment is openly contemptuous of the Geneva Conventions, which were passed to forestall the recurrence of the abuses and atrocities committed by the Axis powers during World War II. One of the actions forbidden to the occupying power is to alter the status of the occupied population. Most important, Art. 49 says, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
So the hundreds of thousands of Israeli squatters on Palestinian land are engaged in an illegal act, an act which is aided and abetted by the Israeli government and by the government of the United States. This is no longer a legal occupation. It has evolved into a permanent colonial Apartheid society, with the Palestinians left stateless and without basic human rights and ruled or besieged by the Israeli military.
If the Democratic Party can’t even just state that the Israeli squatter settlements are illegal, which is what the US signed on to when it ratified the Geneva Conventions, then it should change its name to the Colonial Party.
"The world is still paying for the mistakes of the post WW II and the cold war era with all its “-isms” and “the end justifies the means” approach.
Instead of the promise of an inclusive, interactive, and integrated global approach to human development and conflict resolution, the new ideology is threatening to impose an artificial construct of exclusivity and polarization, not only as a parallel to the past paradigm, but also as a source of tremendous injustice and conflict." (read more here)
PLO Executive Member, Hanan Ashrawi, denounced Israel’s plan to expand three illegal Israeli settlements around the Jerusalem area. The aim is to build hundreds of residential units to accommodate more Israeli settlers...
Ashrawi said the Israeli government is bent on destroying the viability, integrity and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital simply. It aims to isolate Jerusalem from its Palestinian environs and ethnically cleanse the occupied city of its indigenous population.
Ashrawi added, “The continued theft of Palestinian land and the increase in settlements constitute serious and grave threats to security and stability within the region and beyond”. She further condemned the use of collective punishment against around Palestinians in the Hebron area.
The expansion plans come two days following the release of the Middle East Quartet’s report, which flagrantly accommodates Israel’s demands and violations, equates a vulnerable people under a brutal military occupation with a ruthless occupier and falls below the minimum requirements for peace, according to Ashrawi.
“We call on all members of the international community to uphold their moral, legal and political responsibilities and to hold Israel to account for its blatant violations of international law and consensus”.
The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be read as assuming a kind of moral universalism. Moral universalism (also called moral objectivism or universal morality) is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other distinguishing feature.
Moral universalism is opposed to moral nihilism ('nothing is morally wrong'), moral relativism ('there are no universal moral values') and moral exceptionalism ('people claiming absolute truth, absolute goodness, etc..')
On World Population Day, celebrated on July 11, The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics issued a press statement detailing the conditions of the Palestinian population living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip The PCBS stated that the overall population of Palestinians in these areas is 4.81 million. Of these, 2.45 million are males, and 2.36 million females. 2.93 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and 1.88 million in the Gaza Strip.
PCBS said 73.9% of Palestinians live in urban areas, 16.6% live in rural areas and 9.5% in refugee camps.
PCBS revealed that the percentage of young people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is 39.2%, with 36.9% in the West Bank and 42.8% in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians aged 65+ make up 2.9% of the total population, with 3.2% in the West Bank and 2.4% in the Gaza Strip.
The population density has reached a new level with a total of 800 people per square kilometer. Some 519 people live on one square kilometer in the West Bank while 5,154 Palestinians live on one square kilometer in the Gaza Strip, making it one of the most highly populated areas in the world.
The demographic features of Israel are monitored by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. The State of Israel has a population of approximately 8,463,500 inhabitants as of the end of 2015. 74.9% percent of them are Jews (about 6,336,000 individuals), 20.7% are Arab (about 1,757,400 individuals), while the remaining 4.4% (about 370,000 individuals) are defined as "others" (including family members of Jewish immigrants who are not registered at the Ministry of Interior as Jews, non-Arab Christians, non-Arab Muslims and residents who do not have an ethnic or religious classification). (Wikipedia)
In Jordan, there is no official census data for how many inhabitants are Palestinians and it rather depends on the definition of who is a Palestinian. In 2008, Minority Rights Group International estimated that about 3 million residing in Jordan have Palestinian origin. Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics put their number at 3.24 million in 2009. There are nearly 2.1 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan as of 2014. Around 370,000 live in ten refugee camps. (Wikipedia)
Saeb Erekat 2004: "It has become clear to many Palestinians that what right wing Israelis have in mind for the Palestinians is a ghetto 'state' surrounded by Israeli settlements, with no ability to defend itself, deprived of water resources and arable land, with an insignificant presence in Jerusalem and sovereign in name only..."
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that there is no reason for Turkey to have disagreement with its neighbors, expressing that the country’s intentions are to improve its ties with countries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
Speaking at the AK Party’s Politics Academy event in Ankara, Yildirim said that Turkey intends to mend ties with all the countries in the region including Iraq, Syria and Egypt to spread peace across the world.
“We had strained relations with Israel, which could return to normal after receiving an apology and compensation. However, the essential condition for us has been improving the condition of Palestinians, so we refused to settle for a deal without a step on this matter”.
Yildirim said the current agreement providing tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza City is a result of Turkey’s determined stance on the Palestinian cause.
Commenting on relations with Russia, Yildirim said that Turkish and Russian people have been discontent with the crisis between the two countries and the Turkish administration has taken steps to normalize ties after seeing the public’s reaction. “We will continue to improve ties with our neighbors. There is no reason for us to fight with Iraq, Syria or Egypt but we need to take our cooperation with them further", the prime minister said.
Members of the new Syrian government have taken the constitutional oath of office before the country’s President Bashar al-Assad.
The swearing-in ceremony was held in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday, following a decree issued by Assad on June 22, as to the formation of a new government under the premiership of Syria’s Electricity Minister Imad Khamis, Syria's official news agency, SANA, reported.
Assad said Syrian citizens have “high hopes” for the new government, adding that the difficult circumstances in the country place double responsibilities on the cabinet members. He pointed out the need for dealing with citizens in a transparent manner and at the same time keeping them informed of efforts made by the government and their results, even if they fail to materialize their hopes.
Assad also stressed that citizens’ living conditions must be “a priority” for the government.
The Syrian president further noted that implementing clear structures and mechanisms for ministries’ work, transparent media coverage, and improving administrative development can help limit corruption.
The new Syrian cabinet consists of 26 ministers and five advisors, forming the sixth government under Assad as president.
Damascus, SANA – Chaired by Prime Minister Imad Khamis, the new Cabinet discussed in its first weekly session on Tuesday means for developing its work, internal system, the consultative council, and relations between ministries, in addition to forming economic and financial subcommittees. The Cabinet approved establishing specialized work groups in cooperation with ministries to follow up on economic and services issues and to communicate constantly and directly with citizens, and these groups include a permanent work group to study fluctuations in exchange rates and propose solutions for it.
The groups also include one for supporting agriculture, one for attracting local capitals to participate in the development process, one for studying income procurement and invested public sector properties, and one on studying projects for impoverished rural areas. The Cabinet also discussed a memo from the Industry Ministry on the state of stalled and damaged industrial facilities and projects, the difficulties affecting the industrial sectors, and suggesting for improving industrial production.
Russian delegation visits key rebel stronghold to negotiate reconciliation
Russian delegates from their monitoring center reportedly traveled to the rebel stronghold of Douma this past weekend in order to broker a deal with Jaysh Al-Islam (Army to Islam) that would put an end to the fighting in the East Ghouta region of rural Damascus.
A source in Damascus told Al-Masdar News on Wednesday morning that the Russian delegation asked for the entire East Ghouta region to be reconciled with the government in exchange for aid and a peaceful settlement.
No information was provided from the Syrian government or Russian reconciliation center; however, private meetings between the government and Douma elders have taken place before.
Oddly enough, the recently appointed Prime Minister, ‘Imad Khamis, comes from the opposition controlled city of Douma; his brother is a prominent doctor there. (By Leith Fadel, Al-Masdar News, 13-7-2016)
The Battle of Douma began on 21 January 2012, after Free Syrian Army fighters changed their tactics from attack and retreat guerrilla warfare in the suburbs of Damascus to all-out assault on army units. Earlier in January, the FSA had taken the town of Zabadani, and consequently gained control over large portions of Douma.
After a general offensive in the suburbs, Douma was retaken by the Syrian army at the same time as the other rebelling suburbs. In the fall of 2012, the FSA mounted an offensive and took back Douma by late October. (Wikipedia info)
Jaysh al-Islam, formerly known as Liwa al-Islam or the Brigade of Islam, is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units
MOSCOW – Russian support for the Syrian government army has tipped the scales in the war against terrorists in the Arab Republic, Syria's President Bashar Assad said.
"The Russian support of the Syrian army has tipped the scales against the terrorists," Assad told NBC News. "At the same time, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have sent more troops since that Russian legal intervention started. But in spite of that, it was the crucial factor," he added.
Bashar Assad said his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin is very frank, honest and based on mutual respect.
"Very frank, very honest, mutual respect," Assad told NBC News, answering a question on how he would describe his relationship with the Russian president.
The Syrian leader said he was not worried about Putin's upcoming meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the possibility of Moscow and Washington agreeing on the need for him to resign.
"No, for one reason. Their politics, the Russian politics, [are] not based on making deals, it's based on values," he said.
- Has President Putin demanded anything of you? What’s the deal?
- President Assad: When he wanted to intervene? He didn’t ask for anything...
For a simple reason: first of all, their politics are built on values. This is very important.
The second thing, their interest is common interest with us now, because they are fighting the same terrorists that they should fight in Russia. We are fighting the terrorists that could be fighting in Europe, in the United States, anywhere else in the world. But the difference between President Putin and the other Western officials is that he could see that clearly while the other officials in Europe or in the West in general couldn’t see that.
- How would you describe your relationship with him?
- President Assad: Very frank, very honest, mutual respect.
- So just to be clear: neither Foreign Secretary Lavrov nor President Putin has ever talked to you about political transition, about a day when you would leave power? That’s never come up?
- President Assad: Never, because as I said, this is related to the Syrian people. Only the Syrian people define who’s going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this.
- And you’re not worried in the least about Secretary Kerry meeting Vladimir Putin and coming to an understanding in which you may have to leave power?
- President Assad: No, for one reason: because their politics, I mean the Russian politics, is not based on making deals; it’s based on values.
And that’s why you don’t see any achievement between them and the Americans because of different principles. The American politics are based on making deals, regardless of the values, which is not the case for the Russians.
- President Obama wanted you out. He’s leaving office soon, and you’re staying. Did you win?
- President Assad: No, it’s not between me and him. It’s between me and whoever wants to destroy this country, and mainly the terrorists within Syria now. This is where we can win as Syrians; if we can get rid of those terrorists, if we can restore the stability in Syria, this is where we win. Otherwise, we cannot talk about winning.
- But one of the president’s key aims, which was to remove you from power, has clearly failed, or do you believe it’s failed?
- President Assad: Yeah, I said he’s failed, but that doesn’t mean I win, because for him the war is to remove me, for me the war is not to stay in my position; for me the war is to restore Syria...
... Since the beginning of this crisis we heard the same motto “Assad must go” many times from nearly every Western official in different levels, whether leader or foreign official or any other official. We never cared about it... As long as I have the support of the Syrian people, I don’t care about whoever talks, including the president of the United States himself. Anyone...
Over 4,5000 square miles and 150 Syrian towns have been liberated from Daesh terrorists due to Russian air support, the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu , said Friday. "This allowed 264,000 refugees to return to their places of permanent residence."
He lauded the return of three oil fields and the liberation of the key cities of Palmyra and Quaryatayn over the course of the Russian operation.
"But most importantly, the expansion of terrorist group activity into surrounding areas has stopped," the minister stressed.
Sergei Shoigu said that the Russian Aerospace Forces managed to stop the expansion of terrorist groups' activity in Syria. He further said that the Russian operation in Syria has changed the situation in the war-torn country in favor of the Syrian legitimate government.
"The operation carried out by the Russian Aerospace Forces has reversed the situation in favor of the legitimate government of Syria. As a result of the Russian aviation's actions, the resource support of terrorists has been disrupted and in some regions it has been completely terminated."
The Russian Defense Ministry is engaged in restoring the Syrian army's combat capabilities and training its units, the minister said.
"As part of the Russian Defense Ministry's targeted work on strengthening the Syrian armed forces, measures are being carried out to restore their combat capabilities and train their units for battle missions."
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is fuming over a draft decision distributed on Thursday by representatives of the European Union at meetings of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Istanbul on the subject of the Israeli capital's Old City that completely ignores the Jewish connection to the site.
The proposal is an alternative to the Jordanian-Palestinian one announced earlier this week. The Europeans distributed a document that allegedly partially softens this draft but still completely accepts the Palestinian narrative that the site that includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a site holy to Muslims alone.
While the European draft does mention the Western Wall outside of scare quotes, unlike the Palestinian version, sources in Jerusalem claim that the Europeans' proposal denies the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount...
During the committee's debate, Shama Hacohen asked the Palestinian representative, Amb. Mounir Anastas, why the Palestinians were not prepared to recognize the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and add the Jewish term "Temple Mount" alongside the Palestinian "Al-Haram Al-Sharif." Anastas replied, that if the Palestinians recognized the Temple Mount as such, the Palestinian president and Jordanian king would become ISIS's top target.
The Israeli ambassador answered, "The historical connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount is not dependent on the desires and threats of ISIS just like it's not dependent on the will or decision of foreign countries and international organizations...."
Fort Antonia: a holy place for christians
The citadel - Fort Antonia - functioned as a Roman armycamp for hundred of years. After the christianizing of Emperor Constantine the Romans constructed two Roman Catholic churches on the mount.
In 325, Constantine built at least three octagonal churches. The church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The location of "Mary's rock" near Bethlehem and the other on the temple mount where the octagonal Dome of the Rock presently is.
The army camp became a holy place for christians. Reason: Jesus was sentenced to death on the mount by Pontius Pilatus in a place that's called 'Praetorium' in the bible-stories of John, Matthew and Luke.
(The Persians destroyed all Churches in Israel in 614. In 700 AD the Muslims found the foundations of Constantine's octagon church and built the dome of the Rock we see today)
Jesus before Pilate - (John 18-28; Matthew 27:11-14; Luke 23:1-6)
John 18-28: - Then they led Jesus away from Caiaphas into the Praetorium. By now it was early morning, and the Jews did not enter the Praetorium to avoid being defiled and unable to eat the Passover.
Matthew 27:1 - When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people conspired against Jesus to put Him to death.
Matthew 27:2 - They bound Him, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate the governor.
Matthew 27:27 - Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company around Him.
Fort Antonia was also called the Roman Praetorium and it was the place where Pilate sentenced Jesus to crucifixion. That central rock outcropping was a significant spot in the fortress, as Josephus stated, and even the apostle John singled it out for comment regarding the judgment of Jesus. John called it the lithostrothon [a rock, on which people could stand and be judged,]. This "Rock" had a Hebrew name: "Gabbatha."
The Haram esh-Sharif built around this well known "rock outcropping" was the only building with its four massive walls to survive the Jewish/Roman War. We can still see its stones in place in its lower courses (all 10,000 of them).
Those Herodian walls of Fort Antonia (including where the Jewish Wailing Wall is located) have withstood the ravages of time for centuries. But eyewitness accounts attest that all the inner and outer walls of the Temple and the walls that surrounded Jerusalem were dismantled including their very foundations (not even those uprooted foundation stones were left in situ), the 10,000 stones of the Haram remained in their pristine positions. The walls of Fort Antonia surrounding the famous "rock" in the center area were retained by Titus to protect the Roman Legion permanently encamped in the Jerusalem area. This was the "rock" in the Praetorium where Jesus stood when Pilate judged him.
The Church of St. Mary was a Byzantine church that was built in Jerusalem during the reign of Justinian and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church was located on the Temple Mount.
Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that the church was built in 560 AD and burned down by the Persians in 614. Later after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land, this church eventually was converted into what is the present day Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by Khalif Abd El Malik (the name "Omar Mosque" is therefore false).
Therefore, in or around 711, or about 80 years after Mohammed died, Malik's son, Abd El-Wahd (who ruled from 705-715) reconstructed the Christian- Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque.
He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine "basilica" structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular "ship" in the center. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aqsa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran.
ISTANBUL — The prime minister of Turkey said on Friday night that factions of the military had attempted a coup. There were sharply conflicting statements about who was in control of the country, a NATO member, which has been convulsed by military takeovers at least three times over the past half-century.
“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in comments broadcast on NTV, a private television channel.
“The government elected by the people remains in charge. This government will only go when the people say so.”
He continued, “the government that the citizens of the Turkish Republic elected, representing the will of the people, is in charge and the removal of it happens only by the decision of the people. Those who did this attempt, who took part in this insanity, in this unlawful act, will pay the heaviest price. I want my citizens to know that we will not be deterred by those kinds of attempts.”
Shortly after Mr. Yildirim spoke, the Turkish military issued a statement, according to the news agency DHA, claiming it had had taken control of the country.
“Turkish armed forces seized the rule of the country completely with the aim of reinstalling the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to make rule of law pervade again, to re-establish the ruined public order,” the statement quoted by DHA said. “All the international agreements and promises are valid. We hope our good relations with all global countries goes on.”
Since the founding of modern Turkey in 1923 the military has staged coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 – and intervened in 1997. The military had long seen itself as the guardian of Turkey’s secular system, established by the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But in recent years a series of sensational trials had pushed the military back to its barracks...
Sputnik News 15-7-2016: According to Turkish TRT, the country is now run by a "peace council" that will ensure the population's safety and that a curfew has been put in effect across the country. State TV claims that a new constitution will be drafted soon. The military says it has imposed martial law and that these steps have been taken to restore constitutional order in the country, including civil freedoms and human rights.
The General Staff accused the government of violating the principles of a secular state.
An attempted Turkish military coup appeared to crumble in the early hours of Saturday after crowds answered President Tayyip Erdogan's call to take to the streets to support him.
Erdogan, who had been holidaying on the coast when the coup was launched, flew into Istanbul before dawn on Saturday and was shown on TV appearing among a crowd of supporters outside the airport, which the coup plotters had failed to secure.
The uprising was an "act of treason", and those responsible would pay a heavy price, he later told reporters at a hastily arranged news conference. Arrests of officers were under way, and it would go higher up the ranks, culminating in the cleansing of the military.
As the night wore on, momentum turned against the coup plotters. Crowds defied orders to stay indoors, gathering at major squares in Istanbul and Ankara, waving flags and chanting. The United States declared its firm backing for Erdogan's government. Secretary of State John Kerry said he phoned the Turkish foreign minister and emphasized "absolute support for Turkey's democratically elected, civilian government and democratic institutions".
Turkey, a NATO member with the second biggest military in the Western alliance, is one of the most important allies of the United States in the fight against Islamic State, which seized swathes of neighboring Iraq and Syria.
After serving as prime minister from 2003, Erdogan was elected president in 2014 with plans to alter the constitution to give the previously ceremonial presidency far greater executive powers.
His AK Party, with roots in Islamism, has long had a strained relationship with the military and nationalists in a state that was founded on secularist principles after World War One. The military has a history of mounting coups to defend secularism, but has not seized power directly since 1980.