GAZA…..again


It should come as no surprise the Israeli government is on another blood lust for Palestinian land and souls.  Gaza, the open air prison that rivals Guantanamo Bay is being relentlessly bombarded because of Hamas rockets fired on Israel.

Israelis look at a crater caused by a rocket outside a shop in Ashdod, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Wednesday, July 9, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israelis look at a crater caused by a rocket outside a shop in Ashdod, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Wednesday, July 9, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Since this latest “provocation” by Hamas a total of ONE Israeli has been killed and that AFTER the Israeli retaliatory strikes whereas scores of Palestinians have been killed or murdered.  Numbers are irrelevant and there are no equivalences…..you don’t slaughter innocents in retaliation…unless you’re the Israeli government.

What’s newsworthy and drawn me to post is the latest attempt at a cease fire advocated by Hamas.  Here are the “terms

First – Opening all the crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Second – Opening Rafah crossing, the link between Gaza and Egypt, on a permanent basis, 24 hours per day with international guarantees it will not be closed.

Third – A maritime corridor to Gaza.

Fourth – Allowing residents of the Gaza Strip to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Fifth – Israel will release the prisoners who were freed as part of the “Shalit” deal, and Israel will abide by the previous agreement reached by prisoners and the Israel Prison Service with Egyptian mediation in 2012.

 

Hold your breath if you think Israel will accede to these conditions; they are too busy trying to acquire the land they want Palestinians to leave with threats of military invasion of Gaza if they don’t go.

Gaza after an Israeli strike on July 8, 2014

Gaza after an Israeli strike on July 8, 2014

And if you’re counting on the Americans to broker peace there forget that one too.  Obama’s shameless pandering to the Israelis was no more evident than at the “iftar” meal he held for Muslims at the White House earlier this week, where the Israeli ambassador to America was also present.  There Obama asserted there is  justification on the part of Israel for its slaughter because of the destruction being rained down upon it by Hamas rockets. Hardly…The Israeli Ambassador, Ron Dermer, was delighted by Obama’s stand, tweeting,

.@WhiteHouse for Iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself.

— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) July 15, 2014

As in your face as one can get; being invited to a party being held for someone else and then humiliating them the honorees, but that’s Israel.  That’s what they’ve been doing and allowed to do for decades. It was bad enough to get get Tariq Ramadan to write

It was supposed to be an evening where the American President showed respect to a religious community, to the millions of American Muslims who have been fasting during the sacred month of Ramadan.

It was supposed to be a political expression of respect. It ended up being a political instrumentalisation of (voluntarily) trapped Muslim leaders listening to President Obama justify the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. One wonders what is the relationship between the Iftar celebration and Israel ? What is the US administration’s implicit-explicit intention in putting the Muslim leaders in such an embarrassing situation? To test their loyalty or rather their capacity to compromise or betray? They obviously remained silent.

The Israeli ambassador, Mr. Ron Dermer, also invited (why?), was actually the first to speak. One must remember what he said about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims : Palestinians have “a cultural tendency towards belligerency” that is “deeply embedded in the culture of the Arab world and its foremost religion”. This is the man who was invited to celebrate Iftar with the Muslims meanwhile his Government is destroying Gaza. From the White House he tweeted, triumphantly : “@WhiteHouse for Iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Obviously Muslim leaders didn’t tweet. It was enough of an honor for them to be invited to the White House and to have met the President. An honor, truly, dear Muslim leaders? Ordinary Muslims (and proponents of justice and dignity from other religions) in the US and around the world, as well as Palestinians, might think differently.

That just about sums it up.

 

 

George Bush today


Jewish Bible InstituteImagine, we elected this man as president twice!  He couldn’t bring on the apocalypse as president so he’s trying to do it as an ex-president?

Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization’s goal: to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.

Bush would not be able to engage in such activity as president because it certainly be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state rights but pursuing such an agenda as a private citizen can only make one ask is this the true George W. Bush?  But isn’t this what Christianity believes, that no one can be saved unless they accept Jesus as their savior?  In that regard Bush is doing nothing more than what his religion demands.  The notion that people aren’t good enough as they already are however, is an idea that has to be abandoned if we are to live as citizens of America.

Live by the mob, die by the mob


Mobs confront police

Mobs confront police

It was the Egyptian “mob” that brought Muhammad Mursi into power and it was the same mob that swept him out of power.  During the interim he managed to do some things for his country but in the minds of many alienated himself and his party from the majority of Egyptians.

Immediately after his rise, ascent to power, Mursi was faced with the usual Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and particularly in  Gaza.  No doubt he was being goaded by Israel in order to test his mettle.  His response was he  surprisingly managed the situation in a way to avoid further aggression and even win the praise of some in the West. At the same time he helped Gazans in a show of humanitarianism  rarely seen in Middle East politics.

Despite the intense economic difficulties facing Egypt Mursi refused to devalue the Egyptian pound, which would lower export costs and might be a short-term fix but have a negative impact for a  majority of Egyptians.  He was in the process of negotiating with the IMF for a loan that some said was necessary  but wanted, during his negotiations, to  avert the catastrophe of the ’70s when there was an increase in prices due to the IMF mandated reduction of government subsidies for necessities.  He almost seemed to be adhering to a GOP platform of no new taxes, refusing to raise taxes on  alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and a range of goods and services because of the impact it would have on Egyptians. Surprisingly, he and the IMF were even negotiating on those issues.

Mursi, however didn’t help himself much with some really stupid mistakes, like decreeing to himself powers that resembled the actions of a dictator, only to rescind such decrees a month later

The Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, has scrapped a decree that had generated widespread unrest by awarding him near-absolute powers…..

Selim al-Awa, an official who attended a “national dialogue meeting” called by Morsi at the presidential palace in Cairo but boycotted by his opponents, said the Islamist-dominated discussion recommended removing articles that granted the president powers to declare emergency laws and shield him from judicial oversight.

 

and having the baggage of the Muslim Brotherhood, that much maligned Islamic party certainly didn’t help Mursi’s chances with many Egyptians and others across the Arab world who feared a politically strong Islamist power  in the most powerful and populous Arab country.

Victim of the military's justice in Cairo

Victim of the military’s justice in Cairo

The problem with Mursi’s rise to power is that it was done at the behest of the mob and mobs by definition are unruly, lawless masses of people who are not visionary which is what is needed to govern, but rather reactionary by nature.  After 30 years of Mubarak’s despotic rule Egyptians had had enough and took their frustrations to the streets.  They were confronted by an army whose sole interest is remaining in power, no matter who the titular head of Egypt may be.  That army owns upwards of 40% of Egypt’s gross domestic product, it is a money making franchise for some but it is also brutal and often times as lawless as the mob it faces.

Mursi and his supporters hitched their political aspirations to the mob and upon seizing power diplomatically changed the make-up of the army.  It appeared the transition was smooth, but obviously it wasn’t because one year later the opposition’s mob used the same military to takeover power from Mursi in what could only be described as a banana  republic like act of political gamesmanship. One can expect that the same thing could happen again after whatever period of time passes. Even in the face of a Constitution, mob rule can negate at will laws and systems merely by taking to the streets and asking the military to join with it and if the population is used to, acquiesces to such displays of opposition the “when” just becomes a matter of time.

Trying to chart change by any yardstick to ANY party in power after a period of one year is inherently an exercise in futility. Using western models of political success for a government taking over the reins from a 30 year dictatorship is immature at best, doomed to failure at worse and so it (the Morsi government) was.  Articles appeared which sought to chart Morsi’s success after the first 100 days in office as if he possessed a magic wand that could change everything wrong with Egypt so shortly after Mubarak’s regime.  Mursi was even given a report card that detailed what he did and did not do, as if he alone was the catalyst for change among a nation mired in neglect and overwhelming collapse.  When the obvious happened, i.e. he could not produce for Egypt what it was promised after one year, the mob took to the streets and exclaimed it was only doing what was necessary to protect the country.  One tweeter eloquently said, ‘You can call Egypt’s opposition groups many things, but not “liberal” — liberals don’t support military coups. Emerging secular extremism’….. a rather scary foreboding of what’s to come, perhaps.  Sadly, the same could have applied to Mursi’s climb to power a year ago, with the help of the same military.

mobruleEgypt therefore joins the ranks of those countries in the Arab spring that have not yet reached their zenith and are still societies of chaos and strife.  Palestine, Syria, Iraq, perennially Lebanon are all embroiled in some sort of prolonged armed struggle which has disrupted the lives of its citizens and now Egypt can be added to the list.  Also, it’s interesting to note all of these countries are contiguous to or neighbors of Israel which profits militarily and economically from the instability of her neighbors by increased American largesse.  There are still other countries on the periphery with unrest, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Mali, which mars social cohesion and prosperity and endangers peace.  Moreover, indefinite instability is never good for any country, and the fact that Egyptians so quickly embraced it is almost suicidal for its hopes of an upturn in the economy, but they’ve gone down that road and there’s no turning back.

egypthistoryWhat is equally troubling is too many in the West seem to encourage Egyptians to use yardsticks that are wholly inappropriate for what it is Egypt is facing.  What democracy can expect a 180 degree turn in the political direction of a country of 82.5 million people in anything less than decades?  How can it be that a society as old as Egypt, centuries old some would say extending to the very beginning of mankind, should expect a political reconstruction in anything less than years and why is it that people with  internal clocks that date to the Pharaohs feel the need to be in such a hurry?  It almost seems as if  it’s against their nature.   The usual course of affairs in democracies is ineffective leaders are voted out of office, not run out as was the case with Mursi.  Why anyone from a western styled democracy would suggest anything other than that for Egyptians is suspicious.  Democracies are big ships with many different captains at the helm who must all work in sync with one another.  When brought together for the first time, the cooperation needed to successfully guide the ship of state takes time..years, not months.  Almost six years after the waning days of the Bush Administration, America is still trying to recover from merely 8 years of unbridled spending and rampant military  adventurism which pales in comparison to 30 years of Mubarak’s rule.   Do Egyptians think they possess some other other worldly recuperative powers that can rebuild their country so quickly?

Hardly. Let us hope the disease for the change of power at the hands of mobs is quickly replaced in Egypt with true representative government  that’s instituted not at the threat of a gun barrel but by participatory democracy.  This must be the goal and the means to be employed by all concerned, those in power today and those who oppose them.

 

 

Real home spun terrorists preying on America’s other “terrorists”


I haven’t seen this news splashed across the front and home pages of America’s media as much as I would say, if the bad guys were Muslims,  but I was happy to see it here.  Seems America’s real terrorists are at it again out to wreck mayhem and sew dissension and chaos as far and wide as they can.  In the case of the terrorists mentioned below, targeted Muslims and anyone who was against Israel (?) and I’ve got to  wonder were they able to make contact with members of the Jewish community as the article below implies and what was the result of that contact?

2 accused of plot to kill Muslims with X-ray weapon

A Ku Klux Klansman working for General Electric and an accomplice are facing terrorism charges in Upstate New York for allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other “enemies of Israel,” federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Eric J. Feight

Eric J. Feight

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. They were due in federal court in Albany on Wednesday.

Crawford, an industrial mechanic with GE, claimed the “Hiroshima on a light switch” device could fit in a van, be triggered remotely and deliver lethal doses of ionizing radiation that would kill its targets as they slept, the complaint stated. Feight allegedly agreed to build the electronic controls. 

Glendon Scott Crawford

Glendon Scott Crawford

Their target was the Muslim community, the complaint stated, and they had successfully tested the remote trigger from about a half-mile away.

Crawford, a married father of three, is a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the criminal complaint said. In disrupting the alleged plot, undercover agents posed as Klansmen in North Carolina who offered to finance and buy the device, which the FBI said was constructed but never operable or a public danger.

Crawford is also listed on Tea Party Patriots as the “coordinator” of Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom, which was founded in April 2009 in Galway.

Feight works for a GE contractor in Columbia County, authorities said. He formerly was employed as a computer software expert and project engineer for Smith Control Systems, in Hudson, the Albany Times-Union reported in its detailed account.

Up to six unidentified people, including another GE employee, were assisting Crawford, and some may have known his intentions, according to an FBI affidavit.

GE said in a statement that the company has “no reason to believe the act took place on GE property nor is there any information indicating that our employees’ safety was ever compromised. Since this incident, Mr. Crawford has been suspended. We are cooperating fully with the authorities on their investigation.”

In April 2012, authorities were notified that Crawford had gone to an Albany-area synagogue and and(sic) contacted a local Jewish organizations(sic)”seeking out individuals who might offer assistance in helping him with a type of technology that could be used against people he perceived as enemies of Israel” and the United States. He called these perceived enemies and Muslims “medical waste” and “scumbags.”

Crawford told an informant he planned to buy or build a battery-powered, industrial-strength X-ray device and hoped to land a part-time job in a metal shop with X-ray tubes, according to the complaint.

A year later — April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — Crawford said in an e-mail exchange monitored by the FBI that he had found a power supply. He railed against President Obama, whom he derided as “your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief,” for “bringing the muzzies here without background checks.”

Crawford was aware that authorities might monitor his cellphone, e-mail and text messages — which they did with search warrants — so he used pseudonyms and code words.

Hartunian, the U.S. attorney, said the case “demonstrates how we must remain vigilant to detect and stop potential terrorists, who so often harbor hatred toward people they deem undesirable.”

 

Why are these people celebrating?


palestinians-celebrate-the-uns-upgrade-on-thursday-of-the-palestinian-authoritys-status-to-nonOstensibly, Palestinians think they have a right to celebrate because the UN endorsed the idea of an independent Palestine, ‘giving sweeping international backing to their demands for sovereignty over lands Israel occupied in 1967.’ While we’re happy Palestinians have some sense of optimism about that prospect the truth is the present Israeli government as well as the American one have no intentions of honoring that worldwide consensus and have even begun to scuttle it with the announcement of even more settlements in the ‘occupied territories’…..which have now become known as ‘disputed territories’ as if ownership was ever in doubt.

There is no mystery to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict; it is not some complicated, alien entanglement whose answer lies in an esoteric application of laws, resolutions and formulae.  The solution boils down to the willingness of an Israeli government to honor international law and UN resolutions or have the international community impose its  will upon the Israelis even up to and including the imposition it made upon the likes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.  Obviously, the former is preferred.

If you want to know another perspective about this conflict, Miko Peled a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force and son of zionism who recognizes the perils of the Israeli position had an hours long lecture on the topic, an excerpt of which  appears below.

Just when you thought it was safe…..


to think the new Egyptian president might lead his country into post Hosni Mubarak era filled with political stability for his country and economic recovery Muhammad Morsi had to go and do something as stupid as this

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi issued decrees giving himself broad powers and effectively neutering the judiciary.

All laws and decisions by the president are final, cannot be appealed, overturned or halted by the courts or other bodies. This applies to decisions he has made since taking office in June and any he makes until a new constitution is approved and a new parliament is elected, expected in the spring at the earliest.

The president can take any steps or measures necessary to prevent threats to “the revolution, the life of the nation or national unity and security” or to the functioning of state institutions.

and it goes without saying, and justifiably so, many people in Egypt see this for what it is, a broad and sweeping grab for power.  Fresh off the revolution that swept Morsi into  power, Egyptians took to the streets to protest Morsi’s announcements which caught many off guard, including Miscellany101, who days before tweeted, ‘Can we say a re-elected Obama and an”Islamist” Egypt put the brakes on Israel’s bloodlust?’

President Morsi meets EU Council President, He...

 

Morsi’s decrees also come after others who made similar and equally glowing assessments of the president’s positive influence on regional affairs. Egypt’s President Morsi feted for negotiating role, proclaimed The Telegraph, which said Morsi is now Washington’s friend and a man of peace.  The Guardian, perhaps a little more prophetically said in its banner headline, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi proves a deft, adroit and ruthless leader and one has to wonder what did Morsi think would be the response to his power grab on the part of people who are so finely tuned to oppression and ruthlessness after decades of Mubarak rule and who still have the sweat drenched, blood soaked clothes from Tahrir Square demonstrations and the various weapons or social media, social and international contacts, they amassed during that time!  No matter what Morsi might have accomplished vis-a-vis Gaza and the bloodbath that was sure to occur at the hands of an unfettered and criminal Israeli regime, many people in Egypt  view the decrees of an Egyptian president that gave himself limitless powers over his country in much the same negative light as an Israeli invasion force in Gaza. In the absence of a firm date for ratification of the Constitution which Morsi said was the reason for his latest decrees, and given how power is such a seductive drug to the initiated and uninitiated alike, one can only moan in despair at a wholly inappropriate, dare I say illegal or immoral, act of unrestrained and raw individual/party power.   What he has done is further alienated himself and his party among the people of Egypt  who view his moves as done for personal aggrandizement and not for the benefit of  Egyptian society.

No Comment


 

 

Gaza circa 2012

The latest alteration to the hate campaign advertisement


First there was this

then this

and now this

Keep them coming America.  It’s free speech and it’s constitutionally complaint!

An appropriate metamorphisis


Islamophobe Pamela Geller and her minions are at it again with their attempts to demonize and dehumanize Muslims by having the public transportation system of San Francisco display the sign below

 

The words come from an Ayn Rand quote

If you mean whose side should we be on: Israel or the Arabs? I would certainly say Israel because it’s the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages

It’s clear from this quote where Rand’s head was; she was an atheist Zionist who eschewed faith but promoted racism and Geller seems to follow in her footsteps.  It’s interesting to note that the Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is also an admirer of Rand claiming his interest in her is because of her views on capitalism and limited government, however one cannot help but wonder how long will it be before he also becomes  influenced by her racism and colonialism.

The appearance of Geller’s display on public transportation did not go unnoticed or unchallenged, but the San Francisco municipality deemed it met the standards of an ad to appear on their vehicles and so it has.  However, it hasn’t gone completely unchallenged.  Someone has seen fit to edit the message appropriately enough to drive home the point that Geller most likely did not have in mind. I like it…it’s graffiti that sends a clear message, and I applaud the “artist” who rendered it so.  It’s all about free speech.  Hat tip to   @ZahraBilloo  on Twitter

 

Memory hole material-Muslim Americans are not extremists and don’t support it


Muslim Americans

Muslim Americans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite news and opinions to the contrary, Muslim Americans are just as normal as any other American citizen and NOT inclined to the violence we are all told they engage, but the negative image of Islam is  not for lack of trying.  Pundits have been pounding the message that Muslims in America are a threat to the American fabric ad nauseam; public officials have jumped on the bandwagon with congressional hearings and campaign speeches that are simply demagoguery that have lead to violence against Muslims or those who were mistaken for Muslims.  However, the facts do not support these rather erroneous conclusions.  Rather they point to an entirely different conclusion altogether. (The emphasis in red is mine)

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years. There also is no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.

On the contrary, as found in the Pew Research Center’s 2007 survey, Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics (countries) surveyed this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both here and abroad.

…..Nonetheless, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries.

…..As in 2007, very few Muslim Americans – just 1% – say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances. Fully 81% say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified.

A comparably small percentage of Muslim Americans express favorable views of al Qaeda – 2% very favorable and 3% somewhat favorable. And the current poll finds more Muslim Americans holding very unfavorable views of al Qaeda than in 2007 (70% vs. 58%).

….Opposition to violence is broadly shared by all segments of the Muslim American population, and there is no correlation between support for suicide bombing and measures of religiosity such as strong religious beliefs or mosque attendance. Yet opposition to extremism is more pronounced among some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others.

….

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Muslim Americans endorse the idea that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard; just 26% say hard work is no guarantee of success. Among the general public, somewhat fewer (62%) say that most people who work hard can get ahead.

U.S. Muslims are about as likely as other Americans to report household incomes of $100,000 or more (14% of Muslims, compared with 16% of all adults), and they express similar levels of satisfaction with their personal financial situation. Overall, 46% say they are in excellent or good shape financially; among the general public, 38% say this. Muslim Americans are as likely as the public overall to have graduated from college (26% of Muslims vs. 28% among the general public). Because as a group Muslim Americans are younger than the general public, twice as many report being currently enrolled in a college or university class (26% vs. 13%). Similar numbers of Muslim Americans and members of the general public report being self-employed or owning a small business (20% for Muslim Americans, 17% for the general public).

When it comes to many other aspects of American life, Muslim Americans look similar to the rest of the public. Comparable percentages say they watch entertainment television, follow professional or college sports, recycle household materials, and play video games. About one-in-three (33%) say they have worked with other people from their neighborhood to fix a problem or improve a condition in their community in the past 12 months, compared with 38% of the general public.

When asked to choose, nearly half of Muslims in the U.S. (49%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, while 26% see themselves first as an American; 18% volunteer that they are both. In a 2011 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 46% of Christians in the U.S. say they identify as Christian first while the same number identify as American first. White evangelicals are much more likely to identify first as Christian (70%).

The survey also finds that compared with Muslims elsewhere, Muslim Americans are more supportive of the role of women in society. Virtually all Muslim Americans (90%) agree that women should be able to work outside of the home. Most (68%) also think that there is no difference between men and women political leaders. These are not the prevailing views of Muslims in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

And on a key foreign policy issue, Muslim Americans are far more likely than Muslims in the Middle East to say that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of the Palestinians are addressed (62% say this; 20% disagree). In this regard, the views of Muslim Americans resemble those of the general public, among whom 67% say a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist while protecting the rights of the Palestinians; 12% disagree.

….Many Muslim Americans are highly religious: 69% say that religion is very important in their lives, and about half (47%) report at least weekly attendance at a mosque for prayer. Similarly, about half (48%) say they make all five salah prayers daily, and another 18% report making at least some salah daily.

….Overwhelming numbers of Muslim Americans believe in Allah (96%), the Prophet Muhammad (96%) and the Day of Judgment (92%). Yet the survey finds that most reject a dogmatic approach to religion. Most Muslim Americans (57%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of Islam; far fewer (37%) say that there is only one true interpretation of Islam. Similarly, 56% of Muslim Americans say that many different religions can lead to eternal life; just 35% say that Islam is the one true faith that leads to eternal life.

What the study shows is American Muslims are engaged in their communities, optimistic about their future and the future of the country in which they live, have strong bonds to America and its way of life, eschew violence overwhelmingly, yet identify with their religion and are productive members of the society. I remember as a 9th grade student studying civics being told all of the characteristics above were examples of good citizenship, yet today despite having embraced life in America, Muslim Americans are condemned for the very attributes we hold dear.  Stop the hypocrisy America, you can do better than this!

What is it about people’s religious scriptures that drives other people insane?!?


America is in the throes of Shariah lunacy.  It seems US lawmakers on the state and federal level are going out of their way to promote the idea that America is in danger of being overwhelmed by “Shariah” the legal code of Islam.  The very notion has caused some to border on the verge of insanity, and almost half of the states in America have or will consider some form of anti-Shariah law for a threat that simply doesn’t exist, legally or in reality.  Or take the recent talk about the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood which has gone so viral that John McCann had to go on the Senate floor to denounce the accusations that a long-time Hillary Clinton aide is some kind of conduit for the organization which now is represented by the newly elected President of Egypt.   We have also heard a lot about the desecration of the Quran on the part of  various and sundry folks, from the deranged Florida pastor to the US military’s burning of the Quran in Afghanistan and the resulting public outcry such heresy brings.

Here now is another case of some whack job driven insane by the New Testament; unfortunately for us he is a member of our ally, Israel’s government.   Michael Ben-Ari, pictured above,  decided to make his desecration a very public act, calling in cameras to record it for all the world to see.  Evidently he thinks the existence of the New Testament is responsible for the persecution and murder of Jews all over the world.  One has to wonder if he thinks the United States, a reportedly Christian country, is also responsible for the same?  What I also found enlightening was the language used by Ben-Ari in relation to the people who sent him the copy of the Bible and the followers of it.  Taking a page out of the Iranian president’s reference to the state of Israel, Ben-Ari said the place of the book and its messengers is in the trash of history.  There’s no doubt this Ben-Ari is so radical and enraged a member of the Israeli parliament that he’s been denied a visa to come to the US twice and after this latest outrage some within the Israeli government, to their credit, have denounced his actions.  However, it’s troubling that our only ally in the region, as they like to call themselves, elects members to its government that hold such strident and racist notions about Christians and Christianity and no doubt about their benefactor, America.

America should NOT share interests with Israel


…not as long as Israel’s racist zionism is the cornerstone of its relationships with other countries in the world, and especially America.  Here’s why.  Suppose you are a faithful and conscientious employee for your boss and a client walks into the establishment where you work and upon knowing that your name is John Doe asks your boss not to have you deal with them because of your name and your ethnicity.  You have done nothing wrong; your boss has no problems with your work record; you are fully observant of the rules and regulations of your job in every way down to attire and grooming, but it’s just that sticky issue of your name and the color of your skin that irks your boss’ client, and your boss agrees with his rather racist customer that you shouldn’t deal with him and removes you from that task.  When you demand to know why it is you were not able to help the rather bigoted client you are further punished by having your salary reduced by 60% and learn that everyone else with your Anglo-saxon like name and complexion has been similarly treated.

That’s what happened to one Mohammed Arafi, pictured below,  who worked for the  Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC when an Israeli delegation came into town and stained the Nation’s capital with their discriminatory notions of doing business.  In their case, however, they didn’t want to be served by Muslims such as Mr. Arafi and told his employers as much. Of course, Mr. Arafi complained and as a result was even more disciplined by his employer. Surely it must have occurred to the Mandarin that it was breaking the law by acceding to the Israelis’ demands; however, they compounded an already bad situation by citing a national security directive from the State Department that seem to question Mr. Arafi’s security clearance and barred him from being around the Israelis.  Evidently the Israeli concern was not that Arafi was a physical danger to them, it was simply that he was Muslim……Arafi had been cleared to work around no less than a former President of the United States, George W. Bush  weeks prior to the Israelis coming to town.

As an American citizen, Arafi has a right to legal redress, which he pursued and thankfully it landed in the lap of US District Court judge Barbara J. Rothstein, who didn’t buy the line that Israel and America can discriminate against American citizens because of Israeli racism, nor did she accept the lame excuse that discrimination against Arafi was because of some made up national security issue, saying

the court determines that the national security exemption does not immunize Defendant (Mandarin Hotel)  from liability as to Plaintiff’s (Arafi) retaliation claim…….. Drawing all inferences in favor of Plaintiff, the court determines that Plaintiff has successfully alleged that he engaged in protected activity when he complained of discrimination…… the court determines that Plaintiff’s complaint advances sufficient facts to support his racial discrimination claim.

 

What’s troubling is that a foreign country’s delegation can insist that an American institution break American law to serve the interests of that foreign power, and what’s frightening is that many are all to willing to do so.  However this has become a pattern in US/Israel relations, where the US, a pluralistic society is asked to give up a lot more than a racialist society like Israel in order to maintain  relationships across a broad spectrum of activity.  Israel has a history of a blatant disregard for the human rights of Arabs and Muslims within its ever expanding borders and has brought that legacy to the shores of America where the likes of Mohamed Arafi are its victims. Luckily for him and us, there are still some in American institutions, like Judge Rothstein pictured above, who believe in the ideals of racial equality that are the antithesis of the Israeli model.  Whether Arafi will be successful in his law suit against his employer is not final yet and the ruling by judge Rothstein admittedly is both for and against the plaintiff but it’s a powerful statement to make that racism will not be imposed in the American workplace even by such a strident “ally” as Israel.

 

Israeli hypocrisy


Israeli chutzpah is always amusing if not absolutely puzzling.  Take this latest Israeli reaction to what took place recently in France and France’s reaction  when European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton speaking at a conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels on Monday, hours after the attack in Toulouse, France where 4 French Jews were killed, said this:

….The Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy, and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.

…which apparently drove the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu to the limits of hyperbole

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

I guess he forgot his own history in regards to human shields.But what’s even more appalling is the inability of Netanyahu to empathize with even the children of Gazan who he has had a hand in slaughtering or imprisoning.

A new, important yet disturbing report published on Tuesday by Defence for Children International – Palestine section has found that Israel’s routine arrests, detentions, interrogations, abuses and torture of Palestinian children are in breach of various UN and international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which have been ratified by Israel.

This is strangely reminiscent of America’s disregard for the conventions against torture that it signed and then reneged on during the Iraq war. Despite Netanyahu’s protestations in some ways he is correct.  There is no moral equivalence between the act of a single gunman and the wholesale slaughter of civilians by a military equipped with some of the most lethal weapons known to mankind. In fact, what the Israeli military has done in the name of wiping out terrorism is to institute terror on innocents on a scale unparalleled in modern warfare.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel; imprisoning a population within well defined borders, not letting anything in or out except at the discretion of the Israeli government, the penalty for any transgression no matter how small or well intended being death and unleashing a military juggernaut against such a population whenever the national angst calls for it is no less than a crime against humanity…..all of humanity, which pales in comparison to the shooting deaths of four people by a madman on the streets that the victims felt comfortable traveling.  The citizens of Gaza have no such reassurance of safety on their streets.  Netanyahu is spared these images or ignores them; you shouldn’t be.But let’s just assume for the sake of argument that Netanyahu is correct and there is no comparison between what happened in France and what is happening on a regular basis in Gaza and the West Bank  (The latest Israeli strike has killed at least 23 people, some of them the children that Netanyahu scoffs at the mention of killing.) and that his cause is a noble one, ridding his country and the world of terrorists, then such logic must be extended to an insane gunman, Muhammad Merah who it is claimed acted in defense of those very Palestinian children killed by Netanyahu and ignored by the rest of the world.  Merah claims he was acting out of a sense of  justice for those innocents killed by Israel.  Acting without drones, satellite tracking or special weapons and tactics, Merah sought to bring to justice those people he felt were responsible for murdering Palestinians children in much the same way  Netanyahu slaughters people in the name of his justice.  The difference is the acceptance of the doctrine that Palestinians are terrorists and Jews are victims of their terror.  Merah’s rational, in that context, will never be acceptable to a free thinking  populace.  The fact that Netanyahu’s explanation is accepted means that in many ways we, especially those of us in the West, are NOT free to form an opinion vis-a-vis Israel’s abuse of human rights due to the lack of information and/or the slant and way it is given us…offering us no chance to form an unbiased opinion of it.  That perhaps is the biggest crime of all.

Iran and corporate media’s jaundice eye/ An UPDATE


There are forces at work that really want to see a war with Iran and  many of those forces are being encouraged by the duplicitous way main stream media has reported on the story of Iran and its perceived nuclear program. Dave Lindorff talked about that in his most recent pieceGoebbels Would Stand in Awe: The US Corporate News Media are Rank Propagandists on Iran.  Media never tires from war even though the rest of the country most likely has, so it appears they want to wake us from our war stupor to fight another

The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.

The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran — Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.

Not once, in reporting on these threats of aggressive war by Israel and/or the United States, has any major U.S. news organization, in print or on the air, included any reference to the U.N. Charter or to the fact that what is being contemplated is an invasion by Israel or the United States of a country that has not even been shown to be producing or planning to produce a nuclear weapon, much less to be in possession of one. Not once, in any of these daily reports on the Iran “crisis,” has any report by these news organizations — including National Public Radio — interviewed a source who could point out that what is being discussed is the most serious of all war crimes: the crime against peace (the same crime that led to the hanging, after World War II, of several military leaders in Japan and Germany).

The law itself is crystal clear. Under the UN Charter it is the ultimate war crime for a nation to initiate an aggressive war against another country that has not attacked it or that does not pose an “imminent threat” of attack. And given that even Israeli and US intelligence officials concede that Iran is not at this time making a bomb, and thus cannot hope to have a working one even a year from now were they to begin a crash program, there is simply no imminent threat.

Even when a perfect opportunity arrived for making this point — a public statement Feb. 27 by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, at the United Nations, reminding UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that an attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be “contrary to international law,” and urging Ban to address the issue — this trenchant and news-worthy warning was totally blacked out by the U.S. corporate news media.

There was no news report on Patriota’s warning in the Washington Post, the New York Times or other major newspapers. There was no mention of it on CNN or other major news stations either.

As far as most Americans go, the statement by the foreign minister of one of the world’s biggest nations, and a leader among the developing nations of the world, never happened.

Instead, the American news media have been running article after article, often on page one above the fold, or as the lead item on the hour, debating when Israel might attack Iran, whether the U.S. would come to Israel’s aid if it did attack, or if after it attacked, Iran retaliated by firing missiles at Israel, the US would join Israel. Even worse, the media have been running and airing stories quoting Pentagon sources and retired military personnel (often still on the Pentagon payroll) describing how an Israeli or a US attack on Iran would likely be conducted. All this without mentioning the criminality of it all.

It’s as though we were siting in Germany in 1938, reading articles in the local newspapers speculating about how Germany’s future attack on Poland would be conducted, or when and how the Blitzkrieg against the Low Countries would play out.

What we are getting is not news. It is propaganda. The Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, had he not killed himself to avoid capture and execution for war crimes by the Allies at the end of the war, would surely marvel at how his methods are being aped and refined by the media in one of his leading democratic enemies some seven decades after he put the German media in service to the Third Reich.

At least the Los Angeles Times belatedly, on March 5, ran an op-ed article by Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman making the point that a US attack on Iran would be both a war crime and a violation of US law. As he explains, since the US is a signatory of the UN Charter–a treaty ratified by the Senate — its provisions banning aggressive wars have become, under Article II of the US Constitution, an integral part of US law.

Ackerman notes that in 1981, when Israel unilaterally bombed and destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the US voted for a unanimous UN Security Council Resolution condemning that attack, and he quoted then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose country also voted for the resolution, as saying, “Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law.”

But why is such information as Ackerman’s only appearing on the L.A. Times opinion page?

Ackerman is an authority on international law at one of the pre-eminent law schools in the country. He should be getting quoted as an authority in news articles where attacking Iran is being discussed. What he says about the U.N. Charter and about a war of aggression being flat-out illegal is not an opinion. It is a fact. He and this important fact belong on the news pages.

Bad enough that he is being relegated by the editors of the Los Angeles Times to the opinion page ghetto, but he is being totally ignored by the editors of other major news organizations. He is too dangerous even for their opinion pages.

When this kind of thing happens, it is clear that what passes for mainstream journalism in the US is not really journalism at all. It is propaganda–in this case pro-Israel, pro-war propaganda. That’s why we see calls in the US media for Iran to submit to UN inspection of its entire nuclear program, while no similar demand is made of Israel, which has some 300 nuclear weapons, and which has never allowed in any inspectors.

There is no difference between the war-mongering coverage by the mainstream media with respect to Iran today and the war-mongering coverage we experienced in 1982-1983 in the run-up to another criminal war of aggression, the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq — another country that posed no imminent threat to the United States.

Fortunately Americans willing to make the effort do have other sources of news. They could read the alternative US media, like this publication or perhaps look abroad, say at the Irish News Beacon online, where Patriota’s statement was reported properly as significant news. Unfortunately, most Americans are content to passively receive their “news” as it is vetted, twisted and spoon-fed to them from the corporate propaganda machine, though. This may explain why polls show more than 50 percent of Americans to be in support of a campaign to bomb Iran, while only 19 percent of Israelis, who still have real newspapers and real journalists at least, want to do the same thing.

Here’s more reasoning that you won’t read in corporate media about Iran and the supposed nuclear threat

The assumption that a short war of limited strikes will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is flawed. Damage to Iran’s nuclear program from such a strike would be modest, likely requiring more strikes in another few years or a longer-term presence on the ground.

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back its nuclear program by one to two years. U.S. military action every few years is an unmanageable strategy.

Worse, attempts to stop Iran’s program militarily will bolster its resolve to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the military solution will make Iranians “absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” He continued, “… they will just go deeper and more covert.”

but what such a strike WILL do is plunge the area into further turmoil for another decade while depleting US military manpower, America’s financial coffers and her reputation throughout the world because of our inability to say no to a recalcitrant ally bent on the destruction of all those who say “no” to her.

 

The Israeli leaderships’ assault on the American military


It used to be in American politics if you hurled insults, character assassination and humiliating invective towards your opponent you could either get them to shut up or do what you want.  That worked because the victim of such verbal abuse dealt from a position of weakness or insecurity.  Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and others within the Israeli government are trying that with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey because of his stance towards Iran and the seeming confrontation Israel wants to have with the Iranians.  Let’s hope the tactic doesn’t work.  Dempsey is a decorated military officer who has served his time and his country in the United States military, at times fighting for the best interests  of the Israeli government to the detriment of America.  Our latest foray into Iraq is the most recent example of that….and now he seems to think along with others that a much more prudent path should be taken in dealing with the Iranians. He’s not alone in that assessment however. American men and women serving in the US military seem to have grown tired of endless wars that drain the national resources of their country, ask them to make sacrifices that are not in their best interests and ruin the reputation of their country and make it a target of the disillusioned.  They are making that discontent known by supporting financially and overwhelmingly  the non-interventionist candidacy of Ron Paul  more than all the other candidates running for office combined, including Obama!

Perhaps Dempsey has sampled that discontent; certainly he has observed the effects a decades old war on two fronts has had on the US military and understands the impact another confrontation could have.  Moreover, conclusive proof that Iran has a nuclear weapon or the means to obtain one shortly is far less than conclusive, much like the weapons of mass destruction meme we were so used to hearing leading up to the Iraqi war.  The Israelis have also decided to reach back into the WMD bag of insults bristling at Dempsey’s words of caution with personal attacks and innuendo, which ring all too much like the cries of traitor and impotent neo cons hurled at dissenters and doubters of the Iraqi war a decade ago.  The latter were proved too prescient, yet despite being discredited neo-cons and their Israeli supporters are still around to assail us with sophomoric insults that have no basis in fact.  Certainly not with the likes of General Dempsey who has nothing to prove to anyone about his loyalties or his competence.  Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment, lists Dempsey’s credentials thus

Dempsey served in the Gulf War and deployed twice to Iraq during the Iraq War. “General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.”

What’s unfortunate for America is that election years tend to make officials running for office weak kneed when it comes to standing up to lobbying interests, and especially those of Israel.  Even though America is perhaps the safest it has ever been, in spite of recent flare ups in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials who worship at the altar of political action committees like AIPAC, et.al cannot say “no” when it comes time to draw a line between American and Israeli interests, so this salvo directed at Dempsey is only the opening shot. There will be more to come, from the Israelis as well as their American surrogates who are running for office on both sides of the isle.  In an age where political donations have no limit and can be endlessly given to candidates who can run for office regardless of the electoral process’ outcome, one can expect such boorish behavior designed to publicly question and deride honorable public servants to continue.  Hang on to your hats America…..it’s gonna’ be a bumpy ride!

Another terrorist who has managed to avoid being labelled as one


In our effort to always inform you about those “people” who somehow escape being called terrorist for the very same actions that others are so easily handed that appellation, we present to you Andrew Adler, owner and editor of The Atlanta Jewish Times who had this to say in an op ed piece he wrote for his paper earlier this month

Three, give the go-ahead for US-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice-president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.

Yes, you read “three” correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?

How far would you go to save a nation comprised of 7 million lives – Jews, Christians and  Arabs alike? You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table

It seems Adler suggests there are agents of a foreign government here in the US who are willing and able to assassinate the leader of the free world in the interests of that foreign government and what’s worse that leaders of that government have even entertained the notion that should happen!  I thought that the full weight of the American government was necessary to bear on people who wanted to institute sharia law in order to keep such a scenario from happening, not at the hands of an ally.  What’s more, Adler is conjuring up images of a fifth column of Americans  dedicated to serving the interests of another country at the expense of their own….something we’ve also been told is the definition of a terrorist most commonly a Muslim terrorist, yet no such tag has been put at the feet of this newspaper editor.

He has been roundly condemned by many, even people of his own faith, and rightfully so….he is calling for sedition, but no one has dared suggest he is a terrorist.  Perhaps he will be labelled mentally disturbed…that seems to be the way things are done for others who commit heinous crimes of treason and terror but are not the right color or faith to whom the label terrorist apply.  Moreover, guilt by association…a common principle of terrorism has not been reaped on the radical members of Adler’s faith based community.  No one has said that not all Jews are terrorists but those who kill or plot to kill  American politicians in defense of Israel are terrorists; perish the thought, such formulas don’t see the light of day in this kind of discourse, and quite frankly they shouldn’t here as they shouldn’t when talking about any other types of terrorists.  But of course it never shakes out that way.  America, for the moment, has latched onto a shadowy apparition and simply won’t let go.

Adler is a terrorist; oh sure, he has resigned his position at his own newspaper but it should neither be the source of his income or his solace.  Rather, he should be locked up in a federal penitentiary for suggesting the President of the United States be killed and any co-conspirators of this plot of his, let’s start with the five employees at his paper should join him as well as his paper be closed.  That’s the fate of terrorists in contemporary America that have been discovered before him and so it should be his too.

Positive Results from the Arab Spring


One of the biggest world wide problems has been how to bring peace to the Middle East and especially to the Holy Lands of the Fertile Crescent.  Parties on both sides of the conflict have obfuscated their goals and concerns, which has only led to slaughter and conflict for almost a century.  One of the points of contention has been what Israel claims is Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to cease hostilities towards the Jewish state.

All of the Palestinian parties have met those conditions, except one, Hamas….so claim the Israelis, and now they too might have come around.

Jane’s, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on “the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel.” Jane’s, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not “tactical” but “strategic.” Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas’s strategy was “gradual and nuanced,” with one senior officer telling Jane’s that Hamas “intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis.” The interviewees’ names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.

I urge every subscriber to Jane’s to read that groundbreaking piece of reporting because, even if it is not publicly confirmed yet by Hamas’s leadership, it has all the makings of a fascinating story which I am positive will generate an intense debate not only in the Arab world and Israel but also in Washington and other Western capitals. The story is starting to get serious attention in the international press with the Financial Times, Sydney Herald Tribune and other media outlets covering it.

The report, written by my friend and colleague David Hartwell, Jane’s Middle East and Islamic affairs editor, argues that the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising. More directly, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey reportedly played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with its historical rival Fatah and end armed resistance against Israel. Hartwell writes that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted “in writing with a signature” the need to embrace peaceful activism. And if this is not controversial enough, echoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun, Hamas’s leadership also told Jane’s that it will be “downgrading its ties with Syria and Iran and forge new relationships with Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.”

In some ways, perhaps, this development could have been foreseen. Even the most ideological and stubborn actors in the Middle East have been forced to adjust to the new political realities created by the Arab uprising. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, has been feeling increasingly vulnerable and isolated lately because of the escalating civil conflict in Syria and the threat that poses to its ally, the Syrian regime. Hezbollah recently made significant concessions at home, including its approval of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon—an entity that Hezbollah’s leadership for years had viewed as a tool used by Israel and the United States to defeat it. Other signs of Hezbollah’s contemplation of life after Syrian president Bashar Assad include its decision to move most of its military hardware that has been stored in Syria back to areas under its control inside Lebanon, including the South and the Bekaa.

Yet despite its evident tactical adjustments, Hezbollah hasn’t suggested any intent to disarm, forge new strategic alliances or end its military struggle against Israel. In fact, in a rare public appearance this month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared that his party will remain defiant, side with Assad’s Syria and never relinquish its arms. If Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Resistance Axis), truly intends to reinvent itself, that would be a historic development with massive political and security implications not just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also for the whole of Middle East politics.

There are numerous questions surrounding Hamas’s reported decision, the most obvious being why it could have possibly adopted such a stance. It is one thing to say that Hamas felt motivated and/or pressured by Turkey, Egypt and Qatar to renounce violence. But it takes much more for an organization to abandon everything it has stood for and create for itself a new identity. After all, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have tried countless times in the past to shape Hamas and lure it, with financial and political rewards, to leave the pro-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah camp and give up armed struggle. The strategy did not work simply because Hamas felt it had much more to lose than gain. The Resistance Axis was always on the rise, especially after the 2003 Iraq war as Iran and Syria gained influence in the region at the expense of their rivals.

No more. Today, with Iran feeling more cornered by the international community (minus Russia and China) than ever because of its controversial nuclear program and with Syria’s regime fighting an existential battle against its own people, the balance of power is shifting in the Middle East, and this has not gone unnoticed by Hamas. It is foolish to deny that Hamas’s decisions and behavior have been partly driven by ideological convictions and motivations, but it is also wrong to argue the organization has not acted rationally, based on material interest. The decision it reportedly has currently taken may be further proof of that.

While it is important to remember that Hamas’s leadership has not gone public with its decision, it is worth noting that the majority of its external political staff has already evacuated Damascus, where it has a key office managed by Meshal. Their next destination is likely to be Cairo and Doha, where leaders there have committed to sponsoring the movement politically and financially. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas has refused to say publicly that it is siding with the Syrian regime, a move that has angered not only the Syrian leadership but also the mullahs in Tehran—causing them, according to Jane’s and other sources, to stop providing financial assistance. With money drying up and winds of change rocking the region, it is no wonder Hamas was fed up with Syria and Iran. One also cannot exclude the sectarian underpinnings of Hamas’s decision. While Hamas never allowed its religious identity—Sunni—to prevent it from forming necessary and strategic alliances with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, the party is pragmatic enough to realize that positioning itself against the Sunni Islamist tide that is currently sweeping the region (in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, possibly Syria and elsewhere) is against its long-term interests. Having operated in the Iranian strategic orbit in the past, Hamas might now wish to embrace its old identity as a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas’s decision, if real, will take time to implement. Since its founding in 1987, the organization’s bread-and-butter stance has been armed resistance coupled with terrorist activity. Should Hamas’s leadership publicly state its new strategy, the first thing it will have to do is come up with a new charter as evidence to the world that its move is not propaganda. The organization will also need substantial help from Arab countries and others interested in such a development. The world, including the United States, will not accept Hamas’s transformation if it is half-hearted. In other words, Hamas will have to integrate its military into the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in order to get the attention and support it desires.

The implications of such a Hamas decision could be huge. Theoretically, it will create a united Palestinian front. In other words, there would be few divisions within Palestinian society to inhibit progress in negotiations with the Israelis, a major boost for the Palestinian cause. Two things remain unclear, however: how Hamas’s constituency and Israel would deal with this massive shift. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas would not make such a dramatic move without testing the waters and feeling the mood in the Palestinian street. Hamas knows its constituency well enough to realize that the costs it might suffer as a result of such a decision are likely to be tolerable. Furthermore, Hamas’s support base is not necessarily ideological. Many credible polls suggest that those who have voted for Hamas over the past few years have done so out of pragmatic reasons and anger toward Fatah for its governmental failures. As far as Israel is concerned, the suspicion is that moderates and those truly committed to peace and a two-state solution will be supportive of Hamas’s transformation. The hard-liners will remain critical and will always find an excuse to object. Marking its twenty-fourth anniversary this week, Hamas leaders did not even hint that they may switch strategy. They insisted instead that they will never recognize Israel. For Israeli hard-liners, this is reason enough to remain skeptical of any move by Hamas.

If Hamas actually seeks to pursue such a decision, the United States will be confronted with a crucial choice. It can lend its verbal and material support for the move and cite its concerns and reservations. Or it can stand against it and endorse whatever the Israeli government says and does on the matter. Hence, a large onus likely will rest on Washington as well as on Hamas.

Despite these hopeful pronouncements, Israel is still belligerent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday on the recent moves by Fatah and Hamas to set up a unity government, saying that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians should such a government be established.

“If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” said Netanyahu in a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors.

So it would appear, despite claims to the contrary, Israel is the impediment to peace in the region.  Because it is the most well equipped militarily and the most aggressive in incursions onto its neighbors territories, one should expect there will be more bloodshed and death at the hands of this recalcitrant US ally.

Ron Paul and Israel


 

Ron Paul was not invited to the The Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC)  forum on Wednesday, December 7 because the hosts think Paul is  “too extreme” or has views they think are not consistent with the GOP.  However if you listen to the above video, Paul says all the right things; he supports Israel’s right to say whether or not Iran is an existential threat to Israel and should be attacked, he agrees that Israel has the right to determine its own borders, independent of outside influence or pressure….he claims to have supported Israel’s strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, purporting to be the only voice of support within the US government at that time. So why is it that such a candidate would receive a snub from a group of Republicans when he so clearly has consistently supported Israel?

The reason for Jewish Republican ire is the very first statement he made in the video above when he said he is a non-interventionist.  Despite all the things Paul believes in vis-a-vis Israel he is not willing to lend that country unconditional support for things that are not shared, mutual interests.  He is able to separate American interests, the political entity he is seeking to lead, from Israeli interest and where the two do not meet, he’s not willing to sacrifice American interests for Israel, and that is a problem for Israel firsters.  Paul, until now, has been able to resist the conflation of the two countries into one all encompassing, inseparable  interest.  In so doing he’s acknowledged American financial, military, and human resources will not always be available for Israeli capriciousness and that seems to be the problem with Jewish supporters of Israel here in America. It seems Israel would prefer the political infighting and strong arming that has come with previous Republican administrations that opposed, on the face of things, Israel policies with respect to her borders and neighbors, but who would at some point caved and gave them the money and materiel requested to continue Israeli expansionist policy.  Paul’s policy statements on Israel are indeed consistent with Israeli interests, except for  American financial and military support and oddly enough just as Paul asserts,  these ideas are consistent with the GOP platform.  However, today’s body politic has taken such a far turn to the right and American politicians go through such extremes to genuflect before Israel and her supporters here and there in Israel, Paul can be successfully painted as an outsider or even an anti-Semite due to his stance.

One last interesting note to make about the forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition is none of the other GOP candidates expressed support for Paul’s presence at the event.  It would appear that there is no possibility of dialogue when it comes to Israel….it is not welcomed, supported, or even sought after.  It is  a self imposed censorship the participants seem to be particularly interested in maintaining.  Not one voice was raised to protest Paul’s exclusion from the forum, yet the ever clownish Donald Trump “debate” has already had three GOP candidates say they will not attend, Ron Paul being one of them, amid cries that the debate is no more than a publicity stunt for Trump, in a way to legitimize and insert himself into the political process.  That Trump debate however, has received round condemnation from at least 3 candidates and various pundits.  For the moment, America’s politics have been taken hostage by naked Israeli self-interests which spare no dissent from a complete and total surrender thereof.  Ron Paul is another recent victim of this trend.

Isn’t this all America needs


There isn’t even any pretense anymore that Israel shares America’s values, unless you want to harken back to the days when America was an apartheid like state that discriminated against its own citizens (Unfortunately some of that racism still goes on in the land of amber waves of grain.) but Israel is signifying a clear and distinct break from America by encouraging its Jewish citizens not to marry American Jews and or return to their ancestral homeland!  It’s so bad that even the very Jewish and Zionist Jeffrey Goldberg finds it distasteful which is saying a lot. Is it too much to wonder if terrorist violence against Jews in America will be next on tap for those presently reluctant to take up the call in a bid to get them to come to their senses?

Now is the ideal time for America to release itself from the hold, the mystique, the Jewish homeland has had on America and her politicians.  Israel has clearly demonstrated to the world that it holds everyone in contempt, even its fellow Jews, if they are not willing to capitulate totally to the Zionist dream of an expansionist state which by its very nature has no respect for the territorial integrity of its neighbors.  It is willing to risk any and all political fortune it has, as well as the life of its citizens to pursue a suicidal doctrine that puts it at war with everyone and it’s pursuing this lifestyle in broad daylight under the scrutiny of the world’s press.  It’s time America kick this obdurate, petulant country to the curb.

 

Hat tip to Tikun Olam

More rape news out of Egypt


More female reporters alleged they were sexually abused by crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo Egypt last week.  It’s interesting that their claim has received far less notoriety than the one made by CBS News’ Lara Logan earlier this year. We wrote, in response to the Islamophobia that sprung up about her assault, that it had less to do with religion or Israel and more to do with the very rage of rape and its presence in Egyptian society.  So now the stories of other women being molested, two of them Egyptian and one French receive barely a notice in sensational American media.

What provoked my ire about the Logan rape story is how it was elevated above what normally happens in that country……as if Logan herself was single out and abused.  To the contrary asserts one of the more recent victims of sexual assault in Tahrir square, Mona Eltahawy who said, ‘It was an awful night, but what happened to me is just a taste of what happens to so many Egyptians. The brutality of Egyptian security forces has long been documented and I experienced just a bit of it.’

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