Saturday, February 28, 2015

Israel Secretly Arrests Golani Druze, Accusing Him of Exposing Syrian Rebel-IDF Collaboration

"Israel’s Shin Bet rearrested Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket (age 48).  Until his release in 2012 (Hebrew), he’d been the longest serving Israeli security prisoner, having spent 27 years detained.  News of his arrest is under gag order by Israeli media. The gag is laughable since the arrest has been reported not only by Syrian media, but in a Hebrew Facebook post.

Though Israeli security services haven’t offered any reason for his arrest, it’s likely they’re angered because a week ago he followed Syrian rebels to a meeting inside Israeli-occupied territory.  The rebels met with IDF forces who’ve previously been shown to receive logistical and intelligence support from Israel in previous reports here and in Israel and foreign media.  Al Maket filmed a video  while the meeting was underway, in which he described what he saw and offered it to Syrian TV.  It was aired to the entire nation and likely monitored by Israeli security." (thanks Sami)

U.S. gives Afghans $100 for killing their relatives

"A child who died in a combat operation: $2,414. These are among the payments that the United States has made to ordinary Afghans over the course of American military operations in the country, according to databases covering thousands of such transactions obtained by The Intercept under the Freedom of Information Act." "Some family members received as little as $100 for the death of a relative."

Zionist thuggery

"Two Jewish Defence League UK thugs were today found guilty of assault after they attacked a panel at a Palestine literary festival in September." "Simons said today: “This was fascist, Zionist thuggery … they’re driven, they’re messianic, it’s their own strange jihad. A prison sentence, if they get one, will be like a badge in scouts or girl guides. If I didn’t help the prosecution, when they do it next time there wouldn’t be a record – and there probably will be a next time.” " (thanks Amir)

What US-Israeli rift?

"The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with over two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu's goal is to undermine the president's diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.

Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu's rivals at home where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.

But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.

Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama's UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.

She claimed that the resolution was "deeply imbalanced" and took "no account of Israel's legitimate security concerns."

The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama's State Department declared itself "deeply troubled," accusing Palestinians of an "escalatory step" that "badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace."

Power said the Palestinian move "really poses a profound threat to Israel."

These words are perverse. Israel's 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn't "damage the atmosphere" as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.

I challenge Ms. Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Islam and Savagery

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Islam and Savagery: Features of Western Propaganda Battles".

Leonard Nimoy on the Arab-Israeli conflict

Here is the stance of Leonard Nimoy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

PS In no way do I endorse his stance, of course.

What is happening in Saudi Arabia?

This is a very informative interview (a first) with Mujtahid.

AUB and Malcolm X

"When Malcolm traveled from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Malik tried to arrange for Malcolm to speak at the American University of Beirut, where Malik was teaching. After the university's President refused, calling Malcolm an "enemy of America" and "anti-American," Malcolm spoke instead at the Sudanese Cultural Center in Beirut. " (thanks Basim)

A writer in Jordan is being tried for publishing what "clashes with principles of freedom, human rights, and values of the nation"--I am not making this up

ونشر ما يتعارض مع مبادئ الحرية وحقوق الإنسان وقيم الأمة""

Need not apply: women in Hijab

"Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. proposed a hypothetical that he said “is going to sound like a joke, but, you know, it’s not.”  He envisioned four job applicants: “The first is a Sikh man wearing a turban, the second is a Hasidic man wearing a hat, the third is a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, the fourth is a Catholic nun in a habit.”  Alito continued, “Now, do you think . . . that those people have to say, ‘we just want to tell you, we’re dressed this way for a religious reason. We’re not just trying to make a fashion statement.’”  In Elauf’s case, the interviewer and a supervisor conferred and agreed they thought Elauf wore the hijab for religious reasons. They then concluded she could not meet the company’s “Look Policy,” which promotes an East Coast collegiate preppy style that prohibits caps and the color black."

Huckabee in Israel

"Huckabee has been a regular visitor to Israel for 42 years, he says. Some years, he comes three or four times. He can’t remember how many trips exactly. Lots."

This is the work of Rafiq Hariri

"Along with its power grid, nearly all of the country’s infrastructure was clobbered during the civil war and has been only partially rebuilt. Repairing it is not easy in a society where corruption is rife."  Of course, the magazine would not blame Hariri who was in charge of all reconstruction and repair plan.  His name doesn't even appear in the article.

And how do you know that, Mr. Fahmi? What is your evidence?

"Georges Fahmi, an Egyptian scholar, detects a conservative mood among Muslims: “What is shocking is how many people support IS’s actions even if they would not do them themselves.”"

FBI plots

"But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining?"

U.S. position on overthrow of Yemeni president vs. Ukrainian president

"QUESTION: Frankly, I had another subject. On Yemen, how come if this president when he left his capital is still technically president in his country?

MS. PSAKI: That’s --

QUESTION: How come the Ukrainian president was not in the same position?

MS. PSAKI: That’s the Yemeni constitution and what the Yemeni constitution says, so I encourage you to take a look at the Yemeni constitution if you’re interested.

QUESTION: And the Ukrainian constitution said the same thing.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think --"

Rebuilding Gaza will take more than 100 years if Israel keeps blockade

"At current rates it could take more than 100 years to complete essential building of homes, schools and health facilities in Gaza unless the Israeli blockade is lifted," "Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of construction materials to build homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure required after repeated conflicts and years of blockade, according to aid agencies on the ground." (thanks Amir)

Discovering Gaza

(thanks Talal)

60 Billion for the former Yemeni dictator: what audacity

Western and Saudi media are now talking about a personal fortune of $60 billion for the former Yemeni dictator, `Ali `Abdullah Salih.  I am sure that the number is exaggerated just as Western media exaggerated the size of Qadhdhafi's fortune and just as they exaggerated the number of civilian casualties prior to NATO intervention.  (They actually counted the foreign reserves of the Libyan Central Bank as the personal fortune of Qadhdhafi).  But they don't mention that whatever fortune Salih had amassed it was from US and Gulf financial assistance and bribes.

C'est caduc

It should be noted that the reference to the PLO charter by Arafat as "caduc" was at the suggestion of Rouleau.

Eric Rouleau and the anti-Semitism of the House of Saud

Obituaries of Rouleau should mention that the Saudi regime banned Rouleau from entering the Kingdom back in 1974 during a visit of the French foreign minister because Rouleau was Jewish.  Of course, the Saudi royal family exempted Henry Kissinger from its ban, and almost offered him the Ka`bah as a gift.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Of course Mother Teresa was motivated by desire to convert the Indian people to Christianity--as if there is doubt

"The head of a prominent Hindu organization came under criticism Tuesday for remarks he made about Mother Teresa, in which he said that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s service to the poor in India had been motivated by a desire to convert them to Christianity."

Why don't Westerners speak out? Why don't Priests issue Fatwas against this? Where is the Christian outrage?

"Czech Gunman Kills 8 People and Then Himself at Restaurant -"

"American political commentary is never prone to hyperbole"

From Basim:  "MATTHEWS: Are they heading to Cordoba?
GRAEME WOOD, "THE ATLANTIC": They would love to.
MATTHEWS: I think they might. They`re going all the way to Spain, but I guess we can stop them before they get there, I hope."

A reader sent me this asking: why does he accept Israeli propaganda claims?

"'...the Iron Dome achieved a 90% "kill rate" against Hamas rockets.'" (thanks Regan)

Like ISIS: Israeli attacks on mosques and churches

From a reader: ""Mosques and churches have been vandalized in recent years, in so-called "price tag" attacks by suspected Jewish ultra-nationalists, who describe them as the price they will impose for any limits to Israeli settlement in occupied territory and Jewish religious supremacy over the Holy Land. The graffiti on the seminary included the slogan "Zion will be redeemed" and an insult against Jesus and his mother Mary."

 "A Palestinian mosque was set alight in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and graffiti in Hebrew at the scene suggested the attack was carried out by a far-right Israeli group, officials said."

Israeli war crimes against children - in pictures

"Sharif al-Namlah, three, plays in the bath at his home in Rafa, Gaza. The lower part of his left leg was blown off when Israeli rockets hit the family." (thanks Amir)

The FBI yet again uncovers a dangerous terrorist plot hatched by an FBI informant

"The case against the three men relies in part on a confidential informant paid by the government, court documents show. Defense lawyers have criticized the government’s use of informers in similar cases, saying they may lure targets into making extreme plans or statements. In some cases, the threat has turned out to be overstated."

Arab ambassadors invited to Netanyahu's speech before Congress

"Netanyahu's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, has tried, without success, to recruit Arab ambassadors to come to his boss’s speech, e-mailing them personally to plead for their attendance."

Journalism standards of the New York Times

A long story about a "document" with this caveat: "The authenticity of the document could not be independently verified. The newspaper did not publish any pictures of the memo or provide any proof that the policy described in it had actually been adopted."  Why publish the story then, damn it?

This is a trend: Austria redesigns Islam for Muslims in Austria

"Parliament on Wednesday passed a law that seeks to regulate how Islam is administered, singling out Austria’s Muslim minority for treatment not applied to any other religious group. The law bans foreign funding for Islamic organizations and requires any group claiming to represent Austrian Muslims to use a standardized German translation of the Quran. It met with little opposition from the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population and was grudgingly accepted by Austria’s main Muslim organization.  But it upset Turkey’s state religious establishment. Austria’s half a million Muslims make up about 6 percent of the population and are overwhelmingly the families of Turkish migrant workers."

In defense of Ibn Taymiyyah

A defense of Ibn Taymiyyah in a Saudi newspaper. (thanks Mariam)

Eric Rouleau is dead

Eric Rouleau is dead.  This is a unique foreign correspondent who belonged to a group of distinguished foreign correspondents that we don't see today.  How sad. The Western media coverage of the Middle East has become an anthology of recycled cliches; they all repeat what everyone else is saying. What is the difference between Anne Barnard of the Times or Liz Sly of the Post in their coverage of Syria. They talk (or skype) with the same people, and share the same sources and repeat the same cliches.  Eric Rouleau (like Arnold Hottinger or David Hirst or Peter Mansfield or even Patrick Seale--before he fell in love with House of Asad AND House of Saud) was an independent foreign correspondent who charted his own course of coverage.  His knowledge and insights far exceeded those of academic specalists of the Middle East.  Just read this classic article by him in New Left Review from 1967 ("The Syrian Enigma: What Is the Baath?") to decide about his qualify.  He was fluent in Arabic (but he didn't know Hebrew, contrary to some articles about him) and conducted interviews in Arabic. He struck up friendships with Nasser, Haykal, Arafat, Kamal Jumblat and other Middle East political figures.  Politically speaking, Rouleau can be criticized: when he served as French ambassador in Tunisia (in the administration of Mitterrand) he pretty much covered up the human rights violations and corruption of the Bin Ali regime--like a typical Western ambassador.  He also pressured PLO and Arab Left leaders over the years to establish contacts and undertake dialogue with Israeli "leftist" parties.  But how much the quality of Western media journalism has changed: from Eric Rouleau to Thomas Friedman or Georges Malbrunot, for that matter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When a sentence starts in US media with "as a Muslim I...", I know that someone is about to offend Muslims

"But, as liberal Muslim feminist journalists who reject the vision of the Islamic State, we can say that the Islamic State, al Qaeda and the alphabet soup of Islamic militant groups, like HUM (Harkut-ul Mujahideen) and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), rely very much on the scholarship of “religious leaders,” from Ibn Tamiyyah in the 14th century to Sayyid Qutb in the 20th century, who very much have credibility and authority among too many Muslims as “religious leaders.” "  If she knows about Islam I would have asked her about the status of Ibn Taymiyyah without the Saudi regime and its money.

It is the largest conventional bomb in existence

"Originally designed to create an instant clearing in the jungle, it has been used in Afghanistan as an anti-personnel weapon and as an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300-900 feet) combined with flash and sound visible at long distances. It is the largest conventional bomb in existence but is less than one thousandth the power of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb."

U.S. sells more weapons to ISIS and Al-Qa`idah sponsors

"Hellfire Systems LLC, Orlando, Florida, was awarded a $144,044,911 modification (P00143) to foreign military sales contract W31P4Q-11-C-0242 (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Australia) to exercise option for FY 14 Hellfire II Missile production requirement consisting of 2,060 Hellfire II tactical missiles in containers, Air-to Ground (AGM) missiles model AGM-114R, AGM-114R-3, AGM-114P-4A, ATM-114Q-6 and AGM-114R-5."

Secret interrogation facility in Chicago

"The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site." "At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead." (thanks Amir)

SO basically Cuba and other countries are better off with socialist economy

"As Cuba opens the door wider to private enterprise, the gap between the haves and have-nots, and between whites and blacks, that the revolution sought to diminish is growing more evident."

Look at the lousy mild language that HRW reserves for Israel about its racist repression of blacks

"Dispatches: Israel Fails African Asylum Seekers ".  Fails? Like it succeeds in other areas? Fails? Like you are disappointed because you are not used to such racism and repression by Israel?

Showing and shampooing

(thanks Julie)

Nadim Houry as satellite analyst

""The majority appear to be barrel bomb attacks," Human Rights Watch deputy Middle East and North Africa director Nadim Houry told a news conference. Human Rights Watch said it examined satellite imagery and had identified at least 450 major damage sites in 10 towns and villages held by rebels in the Daraa and more than 1,000 in Aleppo between Feb. 22, 2014 and Jan 15, 2015. " (thanks Basim)

Adjunct professors

Adjunct professors go on strike across the US today.  They are the proletariat of academia.  I wish to express solidarity.

Zionist hoodlums and their tactics

I wrote a piece for Al-Akhbar about how the US can best combat radicalism.  It contained those two items:
"3) Declare war on the ideology of Wahhabiyyah, which is the ideology of all terrorist Jihadist groups.

4) End its arming and/or funding of radical repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.

5) Declare war on the radical ideology and practices of Zionism, and the various forms of terrorism that it has spawned over the decades."  So what does David Frum (Bush' speechwriter and the man who brags that he coined the phrase about the "axis of evil") do? He wrote this in response: "
David FrumVerified account ‏@davidfrum

Spoiler alert: # 5 is “kill Jews” RT @ggreenwald: How the US Can Really Combat Radicalism: 12 steps by @asadabukhalil …"  And I wrote this to him in response: "asad abukhalil ‏@asadabukhalil

@davidfrum @ggreenwald You are such a demagogue: I also said "declare war on Wahhabiyyah". Does that mean that I called for killing Muslims?"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It makes sense that the "mother/father of world revolutions" would train Syrian "revolutionaries

""About 400 US military experts will train 5,400 fighters in programs lasting 8-12 months in camps in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The Turkey leg of the program will take place in Kirsehir, where 2,000 Syrian opposition elements will be trained."" (thanks Amir)

Man to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia after ripping up a Koran and hitting it with his shoe

A man who posted a video online of himself ripping up a Koran and beating the shredded holy book with a shoe is to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia for renouncing his Muslim faith.  The unnamed prisoner, in his 20s, was given the death sentence by the country’s Sharia courts for the offence of apostasy – abandoning Islam – the Saudi Gazette reported."

How the US Can Really Combat Radicalism

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "How the US Can Really Combat Radicalism".

President of the US has the utmost respect for the UN and its secretary-general

Monday, February 23, 2015

U.S. moderate ally sentences critic to prison for insulting autocratic rule

"A Kuwaiti appeals court on Sunday sentenced an opposition politician to two years in jail for insulting the country's ruler, local media reported." "A lower court in 2013 found Barrak guilty of insulting Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in a 2012 speech in which he appealed to him to avoid "autocratic rule"."

Israelis used to put out information about Iran that it did not want to be linked to Israel

"And the MEK had long been a client of the Mossad, which the Israelis used to put out information about Iran that it did not want to be linked to Israel itself."

Persecution of Yemeni Jews

From Daniel: "No one persecuted Yemeni Jews more than the Askhenazi Israelis, who stole their children upon their "return":

This is the tactic of fascist dominant powers in various countries as concerns "adoption", as seen in Spain, Chile, Argentina,  Lebanon, etc."

ReDiscovery of Malcom X

I have been noticing that the new generation of Arabs (in the Middle East and in the diaspora) is rediscovering the writings of Malcolm X. He far appeals to Arabs more than King.

Malcolm X

"Soon after, Malcolm was to take the first of two trips to Africa. These trips had an important impact on his ideas. He met with several important African heads of state — including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt — and was influenced by the ideas of “third worldism.” "After his visit to Africa, Malcolm began to argue that the black struggle in the United States was part of an international struggle, one that he connected to the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. He also began to argue in favor of socialism. Referring to the African states, he pointed out, “All of the countries that are emerging today from under the shackles of colonialism are turning towards socialism.” " (thanks Amir)

Dexter Filkins justifies Israeli war crimes and ethnic cleansing

"The Israelis, fearing extinction (the Holocaust had ended only three years before), struck back; in the course of the fighting, they not only repelled the invading armies but also set the Palestinians — some 700,000 of them — to flight."  Why wouldn't the cheerleader of Bush's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan not be a cheerleader for Israeli war crimes?

Israeli passengers verbally abuse a flight attendant on a flight

Watch video.

The US and Kobani

From a well-known US correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous: "The NYT reports: The Turks "entered Syria through Kobani, the Kurdish territory in Syria that has recently been freed of Islamic State militants in an American-led military operation.."
American-led military operation? Kobani was won and led by Kurds, including armed young and older women, fighting in their streets. The US assisted with aerial bombardments. The US did not lead anything."

Israeli corruption

You don't think that Arabs notice: that the political system of Israel has always been riddled with massive corruption and that all financial corruption linking Israeli prime ministers (from Rabin and before and after) never get prosecuted to the fullest extent and all Israeli leaders wind up with a slap on the toe.

bombing a hospital as a revolutionary act

Pages of the Syrian "revolution" are hailing this heroic act: that Syrian "rebels" detonated a car bomb in front of a hospital in Qirdahah.  I am sure that Anne Barnard will soon publish a defense of this revolutionary act.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military"

"Untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it. Further, much of the deception and dishonesty that occurs in the profession of arms is actually encouraged and sanctioned by the military institution." (thanks Amir)

Invention of the barrel bomb

"Apparently, the US Army invented the barrel bomb for us from helicopters in Vietnam."   The Zionists used to roll the barrel bombs back in the 1930s and 1940s.

Kenneth Roth on the Jordanian regime

From Judy: "This is worse than you say, As'ad.  He's blaming popular culture for the political climate of his country.    If free speech were 'safe' would a 'free speech tradition' not develop?"

Houthis using brutal tactics: the New York Times report

Headline: "Yemen rebels use increasingly brutal tactics against demonstrators".
Text of the story: "The Houthi rebels who have seized control of northern Yemen are systematically targeting peaceful protesters in the capital with death threats, abductions and severe beatings, according to activists and human rights groups. "  I don't mean to belittle but those tactics seem to me well below the standard tactics by the regimes of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the previous Yemen regime, as much as I detest the Houthis.

stories about Muslim creeps on the front page of the Times

The story of a Muslim cleric accused of sexual harassment was published on the front page of the New York Times. But this one was put well inside the paper.  What gives?

Look how nice and helpful Israel and US are to the independent work of IAEA?

"based in part on evidence supplied by the United States and Israel."

Hariri court and telecommunication inquiry

"In other words, by the UN’s own admission and according to the reporting of two stories in 2005 and 2006 (i.e. well before late 2007), it is apparent that telecoms analysis was a central part of the investigation from its very beginnings, and led to major breakthroughs in the investigation from its very beginnings. The idea that an “earth-shattering” discovery only took place after the British firm FTS entered the picture is very puzzling, and makes it difficult to accept the account presented by Bergman and Macdonald."  I told Elias that I would add a 3rd theory: that US and Israel have to conceal their role in the investigation and that Wissam Id was a useful cover story.

Islam and the Holocaust? Why not Potatos and Buddhism, or Pencils and Hinduism

What on earth is the relationship between Islam and Holocaust?  How offensive is this title for a book, course, or research agenda? What does Islam have to do with the Holocaust? This is as offensive and crazy as talking about Christianity and the crimes of Genghis Khan.  But she knows what she is doing: she got a profile in the Times and her anti-Islam schitick will get her plenty of gigs and plenty of grants.  And look at this summation of her work: "“If a Muslim asks me why I’m not teaching about the Nakba, then I’ll say we already know about it, and what we need to learn about is the Holocaust,” she said. “And if a Jew tells me, ‘Muslims are Nazis,’ I’ll say, ‘Can we have lunch?’ These are the people we have to engage.”"  First, how unscholarly does she sound, but that does not bother anyone who will hire her because what she is doing reinformces the worst stereotypes.  So why would she only have lunch with one side but not the other? That is quite revealing. Also, so basically AnNakba is not worth knowing about because "we know about it" while the Holocaust should be learned about?  How silly is that? Jews and others learn about the Holocaust and there is always something to learn but for an educator to say: "we don't need to learn about this because we already know about the subject" is quite revealing about the qualifications and agenda of the teacher.

Mugabe's birthday

New York Times is deeply offended that friends of Mugabe are celebrating his birthday (from private donation) as if Western (and Eastern pro-US potentates) live rather frugally.   Are they implying that Mugabe lives more extravagantly than US clients in the Middle East?  But like their coverage of Cuba, their coverage of Mugabe is just petty.

When Syrian rebels dressed little children as prisoners and put them inside a cage, Anne Barnard was moved and impressed

The criminals who put those innocent children in a cage as a propaganda prop should be prosecuted for child abuse and endangerment.  But Anne Barnard who never met a propaganda piece or shtick by Syrian rebels that she didn't like was impressed.   Notice that her accompanying piece STILL talks about the Syria war as one between a killing regime and innocent unarmed Syrian rebels who don't harm innocent civilians.  Anne Barnard's propaganda on behalf of Syrian rebels was offensive in 2012 and only got more offensive as her own president, Obama, denies that there are "moderate Syrian rebels" to arm.

How Obama will fight extremism

Guess who was invited and prominently displayed at the White House's conference on extremism this week? This guy.  I kid you not.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

This passage by a New York Times correspondent could have been written by a Nazi about Jews in the 1930s

The bigotry of Andrew Higgens:  "Muslims in Denmark may coexist with their non-Muslim neighbors, but they often cling to the values and conspiracy-driven mind-set of their home countries."  Go read what Nazi wrote about Jews in Germany.  They sounded exactly like this NYT correspondent.

More information on Roger Auque

From "Ibn Rushd" in Paris: "He's a right-wing playboy and carpetbagger who is the biological father of Marion Marechal-Le Pen, Jean-Marie Le Pen's grand daughter and rising star of the far right.

He fought briefly with the phalangists in Beirut in 1976. He described them as fascists in his book.

He supported the Iraq War and went on TV saying Abou Ghraib and Guantanamo were no big problems because Arab political culture is such that these are minor problems, details, and that they only understand force.

All other French reporters hate him, call him a fraud and a mercenary who works for the highest bidder. Indeed, he had right-wing tendencies but he was mostly looking for money to pay for an expensive lifestyle.

The real scandal, which has not been touched upon in the press is the following:

- either Sarkozy knew that Auque was a Mossad Agent when he made him a French ambassador, and this would be a major scandal
- or Sarko did not know and this would also be a scandal in terms of French Vetting of its senior diplomats."

Look at the mild language that director of HRW uses about the Jordanian autocracy

 Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)

"2/20/15, 2:22 PM
If Jordan had strong free-speech tradition, it wouldn't have to succumb to UAE pressure to suppress critics of UAE."  So basically, Roth is saying that the Jordanian potentate is a democrat but he merely "succumbed" to pressures from UAE.

1948 ethnic cleansing of 85% of the Palestinians

"Concomitant with Israel’s founding in 1948, its armed forces systematically expelled Palestine’s native population and razed some 500 of their communities to the ground in the largest and most successfully denied ethnic cleansing campaign in modern times." "Some 85 percent of the Palestinian residents of what was to become Israel had been forced to cross the borders and become refugees in neighboring countries."

The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000

"The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000, trial documents have shown. “This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find,” said Peter Jenkins, the U.K.’s former envoy to the Vienna-based agency. “That looks like a big problem.” “This revelation highlights the dangers of reliance by the IAEA upon evidence concerning Iran provided to it by third party states whose political agendas are antithetical to Iran.” "

A survey of the Syrian people that you can trust

"The survey was sponsored by the Syria Justice and Accountability Center, an international human rights monitoring group that receives funding from the United States and other governments. It was conducted by Charney Research, a private consulting firm in New York." (thanks Amir)

Mossad and the edangerment of the lives of foreign correspondents in the Middle East

For the Mossad to use a French Western correspondent as an agent is clearly an endangerment of the lives of all Western correspondents in the Middle East region. But of course none of those correspondents who are put at risk by the Mossad will dare to protest the dirty tricks of the Mossad.  And incidentally, when Hizbullah arrested Roger Augue back in 1987, all Western human rights organizations and press associations protested his arrest and declared his innocence and denied that he had any espionage links.  

The former correspondent and Mossad agent, Roger Augue

From James: "Roger Auque was clearly a Zionist agent all along. Soha Bechara, the Lebanese Communist Party cadre who tried to execute Antoine Lahad, head of Israel’s mercenary South Lebanon Army, talks about his treacherous interview with her in Khiam prison: “But this interview haunted me: why did they permit a Westerner to talk with me? I became convinced that everything revolved around Ron Arad. [Israeli pilot shot down and held captive by Amal.] They thought that I could be of use to them in this matter even though the Communist Party was totally removed from it; anyway, that’s what I told Roger Auque. I explained clearly to him that I belonged to the LCP and that, in any case, I would not ask Arad’s captors to negotiate an exchange of him for someone else, since I was for the liberation of all detainees, regardless of their identity. . . .

"A month later, they tried to use me another way: the heads of the camp asked me to write a letter to a recipient of my choice to plead for the liberation of Ron Arad. I wrote three letters: one to my family, the second to the Communist Party, and the third to the Secretary general of the UN. But I didn’t mention the name of Ron Arad in any of them. I took my time in my letter to the Communist Party, insisting on the the importance of the armed struggle. This earned me a whole night outside, in the open air, soaked from my head to my feet. . . .

"Several years later, I learned that Roger Auque did transmit the letter to my family who, to that point, didn’t know if I was still alive. But Auque didn’t do me any favors beyond that, as I found out ten years later, when reading one of his articles in the weekly, Paris-Match. The title of his article was “Portrait of a Murderess.” He described me as a poised and intelligent young woman, who politely crossed her hands, without bother to mention that I was handcuffed. . . . He continued by saying I was never tortured [she was, for weeks], that I never received anything more than a few light slaps [an Israeli interrogator knocked out a tooth filling], that I was eating well, and that I was able to bathe three times a week. But the worst thing was that he had me saying exactly what I had refused to write: that I demanded the Communist Party and all the Lebanese groups negotiate for the exchange of Ron Arad and the Western hostages of Hezbollah for the Lebanese prisoners detained by Israel, since my only hope for freedom  would be following these detainees out of jail." (My translation from Soha Bechara and Cosette Ibrahim, La fenêtre: Camp de Khiam 88-90)".

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lovers of life in Lebanon: documenting Hariri

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Lovers of Life in the Continuous Mourning Season: Hariri documentaries"

The French foreign correspondent who was a Mossad agent

From Robin:  "This story about a "journalist" and "mossad agent" might interest you for the "Angry Arab". 

A leading French international correspondent died in September 2014. He reveals in a just-published posthumous memoir entitled "Au service de la République" that he was Mossad agent from 1989 on. He also worked for the CIA and French intelligence. He was a regular reporter for CBC/Radio-Canada. "  In the book, he also admits undertaking missions on behalf of the Mossad in Syria and Iraq, and had worked for this Israeli newspaper.  He was kidnapped by Hizbollah in 1987 but then later released.

Yow you know that Jeb Bush is dead serious about running for president

"He recalled how many times he had visited Israel (five)"

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark: "ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies"

No aid for Gaza

"Only about 5% of the international aid pledged to help rebuild Gaza after the conflict with Israel last year has actually been received, according to a Palestinian government source." "Among the largest pledges were those from Qatar, which offered $1bn, while Saudi Arabia and the US pledged $500m and $212m respectively."

tens of thousands?

The Post and other media spoke of Thousands.  But the Times insist that they were "tens of thousands".

New York Times is proud: "International" occupation forces in Afghanistan are killing less women and children

"Civilian casualties attributed to the international military forces declined 43 percent in 2014, as fewer coalition members engaged in combat. Militias that fight on behalf of the government were deemed responsible for 102 casualties, an 85 percent increase from 2013."  So basically, they are letting the locals do the killing on their own behalf.

Look how the Economist refers to the siege imposed by Syrian rebels on two Shi`ite villages

"Second, to break into Nubl and Zehraa, Shia settlements long encircled by rebels."

Saudi liberalism

`Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashid (a loyal propagandist for the family of King Salman for decades), who is cited by the likes of Thomas Friedman, praises the Saudi Mufti who recently called on Muslims to stay out of politics and leave politics to rulers, basically.

I wonder why?

"Assessments of European anti-Semitism tend often to be exaggerated in the Israeli and American press."

How ironic is this?

"Americans May See Appeal of Medical Tourism in Cuba"

Perseuction of Arab Jews

"Yemeni Jews, like those in other Arab countries, have suffered wave after wave of persecution."  Look at this ignorant statement.  Like in all other Arab countries?  If you read even the Zionist account by Raphael Patai in The Seed of Abraham about Jews in Arab lands you will know that he warned against generalizations about the plight of Jews in all Arab countries, so did Norman Stillman, another Zionist.  The plight of Jews in Yemen has indeed been consistently generally bad but that can't be said about the Jews of Morocco or Beirut, for example.  This subject can be studied only on case-by-case basis. But the lazy writer of this article wanted to make a propaganda point.  But is the writer not the same who wrote defamatory comments against all Iraqi journalists? 

Did you know that Gaza militants have invaded Israel several times? I swear, I read this in the Times

"residents on Israel’s side of the fence who are still psychologically scarred from the series of tunnel invasions by Palestinian militants".  Tunnel invasions? Your crude propaganda on behalf of Israel knows no bounds?

Arnaud de Borchgrave, dead

Arnaud de Borchgrave was huge in his days.  When I was growing up, he was quoted everywhere.  When I started reading him carefully in the US, I realized that he was quite an unreliable journalist who exaggerated and fabricated and inserted himself into every story he covered (a la Brian Williams, Robert Fisk, and Geraldo Rivera).  His views on the Middle East were a typical case of cognitive dissonance.  Sadly, he was taken quite seriously in the Arab media.   I will say this, however: his right-wing Washington Times had often more extensive coverage of the world than the lousy Post when I lived in DC, and I read both daily.

failure of the Arab spring?

"The rise of the Islamic State, and Obama’s new war, are a direct result of the failure of the Arab Spring".  And the Arab "spring" failed on its own or due to intervention of the US and its Gulf potentates? Take it one by one.

So why did the North Korean defector lie and fabricate?

"Trauma, shame made North Korean defector alter story, author says".    They add: "changed and omitted parts of his story because they were “too painful” to fully retell, according to a revised account of his life."

No one has used and misused children for political theatre more than those Syrian rebels

""In an effort to bring attention to deadly government airstrikes, an activist in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, set up a scene with children that invoked an Islamic State video in which a captured Jordanian pilot in an orange jumpsuit was burned alive in a cage."  Can you leave the innocent children out of your propaganda shows?

GCC secretary denies saying what he had said

"GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani had issued a statement on Thursday rebuking Egypt for accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism in Libya because of reservations it expressed about Egyptian air strikes earlier this week. But late in the evening, Zayani issued a new statement disavowing the earlier one and insisting all six member states fully supported Cairo in its intervention in its lawless western neighbor." (thanks Basim)

Who was wrong on Syria?

I was talking a comrade about how many progressive academics got Syria wrong since 2011, and how many felt the fall of the regime was imminent.  Most of them have been silent as of late, because developments invalidated most of their premises. Comrade Talal (a medical professor) offered his assessment: "I think, with hindsight, that they missed several critical elements:

1) They underestimated the strength of the Army as a national institution, or rather as a state-defining institution. In both Iraq and Libya, it took massive outside intervention to destroy the armies of the respective countries. In Syria, the army held together as an institution, not withstanding defections (mostly paid for by the Gulfies at the higher echelon levels) that proved to be non-decisive.

2) The missed taking careful note of the catastrophic political disarray of the opposition. Again and again we learn of the importance of political organization in staging successful revolutions. A Grass-root revolt may sound romantic, but absent organization it goes no where, except perhaps to be a mercenary force for foreign interventions, including the Gulfies, Turkey and the US and its stooges a la Jordan.

3) And I do think they misread the class structure of the opposing forces. The revolt was spearheaded by Sunni peasants, aided by urban Sunni middle class. But the government has a wide spectrum of support across different classes and from varied sects, including the Sunnis.

4) And finally, they completely misread the international situation post Libya. The Russians understood in no uncertain term that the game was leading to regime change in Russia (Georgia and before that the Nato spread may have given them a flavor of what was to come in the Ukraine). Syria may have been very bloody, but with the Ukraine we are talking about an active land war in Europe. The tank battles we have witnessed last year and now in Debalcevo are on an astonishing scale: the rebels (read the Russian General Staff) employed hundreds of tanks and we witnessed cauldrons (or Kessels as the Germans call them) on the Eastern front  that reminded one of famous WWII battles. Russia and its allies, most prominently Hizb and Iran, would do their utmost not to allow Syria to fall, even at the cost of a regional war. Their necks are on the line.

These observations do not absolve the Syrian regime of its abject incompetency in failing to predict the uprising or in diffusing it, nor do they deny the regimes long-term dilemma of legitimacy and popular representation. I do think the army would emerge with a far stronger role, set free from kelptocratic hegemony and the Baath folklore. We shall see…"

Apartheid Regime

"if you walk in the old city of Hebron, there are nets above this old city, because settlers that live above throw trash down on the Palestinians, they throw stones at the Palestinian residents of Hebron, and generally make their lives miserable because their presence means that the Israeli army has to protect them. And Hebron is the sort of symbol of what many have called Israeli apartheid, because there are actually streets which Palestinians cannot walk down and that are reserved for these extremist Israeli Jewish settlers."

World's biggest SIM theft

"AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden." "Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment." (thanks Amir)

Captured Syrian soldiers near Aleppo

It seems that Syrian armed rebels near Aleppo were rather shocked that most of the captured Syrian regime soldiers were in fact Sunnis.  How will Western journalists explain what when they decided back in 2011 that only Alawites support the regime and fight with it?

By the talented Albaih

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Hariri personality cult

From "Ibn Rushd":  "They compared him to Gandhi, Mandela, de Gaulle, Churchill, now it's George Marshall"

Certain food can make your children gay (or "sexually deviant" according to Saudi TV empire)

This article first appeared with a headline about food that can turn your children "sexually deviant".  They later changed it into food that that can increase the feminine hormones of your children.  It was published by the site of the MBC TV empire--owned by brother-in-law of Saudi King Fahd.

Pro-ISIS and anti-Semitic graffiti in DC?

They claim that there is pro-ISIS graffiti in DC.  Look at the images. There is certainly pro-Bashshar Al-Asad graffiti but no pro-ISIS.  And how would support for Bashshar be reconciled with support for ISIS?  But I think that they think that Allahu Akbar is a distinctive ISIS slogan.  Also, what is anti-Semitic about the graffiti--at least in the accompanying pictures?  #Idiots_of_Western_media

By the time you click on this link, Israel will claim that cauliflower was invented by Israel after 1948

"Cauliflower has been mentioned by Arab botanists for more than a millennium. It is the crucial ingredient in maqluba, a gem of Palestinian cuisine in which fried florets are cooked with chicken or lamb (and sometimes eggplant) in a huge pot of spiced rice that is triumphantly turned upside down before serving."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The problem with the article on ISIS in the Atlantic Monthly: on the worst kind of vulgar and crude Orientalism

Here is the crux of the problem with this long article.  This sentence: "Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel."   He must have been talking to Fox News a lot who must have sent him to Haykel, who offered those opinions: "According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts...Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”"  But what is interesting is that Haykel, refuses the analogy between Wahhabis and ISIS and is keen--interestingly enough--on absolving the Saudi royal family: "Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” "  The last verdict is purely a political verdict. But let us go to his notion that Islam is not a religion of peace (does that mean that Judaism and Christianity are religions of peace, by the way?): he says that ISIS didn't distort Islam.  OK. How come this phenomenon has not sprouted (outside of Saudi Arabia and without GCC money) elsewhere? Why has not ISIS or Al-Qa`idah become mainstream for all Muslims then?   Why are Muslims freely on social media--and without prodding by any government--not only denouncing but also mocking ISIS and the caliph, Baghdadi?  If Islam is what Islam do, why aren't Muslims become more engaged with the crimes of ISIS?  What is the "integral part of their texts?  This guy has done worse than Lewis (who at least has a vast amount of historical knowledge which he uses for political ends) in doing exactly what Edward Said had warned about in Orientalism: finding that evidence derived from a medieval text is preferable to evidence derived from the actual lives of Muslims.  If Haykel is of the opinion that Islam is medieval texts or even Qur'anic texts, strictly interpreted, he should read Maxime Rodinson's Islam and Capitalism. Someone should tell Haykel that there are commercial banks using usury in most Muslim countries and that current Muslims even use ATM machine.  Wait: were ATM machine mentioned in the Qur'an? Current Muslims need to know before they use them. 

Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "Pitfalls of Comparing the Terrorist Crimes of ISIS With Crimes of Other Religions".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oh, Ambassador Ford changed his mind and now tells you that the group he has been calling for arming are now collaborating with terrorists

How could this country do without the wisdom of this guy: ""... In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists....."

Myths about ISIS

Juan Cole effectively dispels some myths about ISIS.

The John Bolton/Hirsi Ali argument now has acacemic fans

From Laure: "He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”"

Ban on criticizing Israel

" U.K. Jewish leader steps down due to ban on criticizing Israel: Laurence Brass says he had been 'bursting to criticize the Israeli administration' for six years and took the board to task for preventing honorary officers from expressing personal opinions."

When Syrian rebels impose sectarian sieges on villages and towns: mentioned in passing in US media

Not a single human rights organization and not a single "peace group" bothered to notice this:  "toward two nearby Shiite villages that have been under siege for nearly two years."  Under siege by Syrian rebels, of course.

Zionist groups are sternly against bans and boycotts except when launched by them

"Southampton University has rejected calls to cancel a conference on Israel and international law, after the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) said it would "have a detrimental impact on cohesiveness."

The conference, 'International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism', is billed as "the first of its kind", and is being organised by Southampton-based academic and former Israeli Oren Ben-Dor, and Palestinian-American law professor George Bisharat.

According to the Jewish News, several "Jewish community leaders" have expressed their "opposition" to the conference and "lodged protests with the university's vice-chancellor."

JLC chief executive Simon Johnson said that the organisation is "gravely concerned about this unbalanced, delegitimising conference, which will have a detrimental impact on cohesiveness."

    We have asked the vice-chancellor to reconsider. It's a fine line between academic freedom, which we all cherish, and delegitimisation and discrimination. This conference seems to hover around that line.

Other pro-Israel groups have also expressed their anger, with the Zionist Federation describing the academic gathering rather bizarrely as "a kangaroo court.""

U.S. malware has infected majority of home computers

"The US security services have developed software that has enabled it to spy on home computers almost anywhere in the world. Russian researchers at Kaspersky Lab have claimed that the software gave those behind it, thought to be the US National Security Agency, the power to listen in on the majority of the world’s computers."

Spitting, general abuse, pulling and tearing at the niqab and the hijab, plus dog faeces being thrown at women, as well as bottles from passing cars

"80% of the anti-Muslim acts which occur in France are carried out against women a new report published today by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, has revealed." "Fiyaz Mughal, the director of UK-based interfaith thinktank Faith Matters says that the term ‘acts’ covers a huge range of hostile actions. He says they have received complaints from Muslim women which include: “Spitting, general abuse, pulling and tearing at the niqab and the hijab, plus dog faeces being thrown at women, as well as bottles from passing cars and people shouting things like ‘Muslim whore’ ‘Muslim bitch’ or ‘Muzzie’.” "

Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia

"but nonetheless the state has become increasingly entangled with the Saudi-Israeli front (including facilitating An-Nusra. Israel and Jordan, in the triangle formed where their two borders meet, have been facilitating and giving artillery and rocket cover to An-Nusra and Jaish al-Islam fighters). Saudi Arabia and Israel are still intent on landing a powerful blow at Damascus. (Israel has prioritized the strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia above other considerations)."

The so-called moderate terrorist Islamist rebels in Syria

Zahran Allush claims that there is collaboration between American intelligence and Syrian officials

U.S. never loses its supply of reasons to continue its endless war

"What we see here is what we’ve seen over and over: the West’s wars creating and empowering an endless supply of enemies, which in turn justify endless war by the West. It was the invasion of Iraq that ushered in “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and ultimately ISIS. It has been the brutal, civilian-slaughtering drone bombing of Yemen which spawned Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in that country. As Hillary Clinton herself acknowledged, the U.S. helped create Al Qaeda itself by arming, recruiting and funding foreign “Mujahideen” to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (“the people we are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago”). And now it is the NATO intervention in Libya which has laid the groundwork for further intervention." (thanks Amir)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A leading Egyptian daily printed the name of ISIS (in Arabic) thus:

"Bob Baer pretends to know something about Denmark"

From Basim:  "BOB BAER, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT (via telephone): Well, first of all, Denmark is a very accommodating country for immigrants, takes good care of them. Other than these blasphemy accusations against, you know, Danish journalists and cartoonists and the rest of it, it is not a natural place for a battle to break out in the center of town. The Danish police are good, but this has never really been a problem even when there was Palestinian terrorism. "

Venstre is a centrist political party and the largest party in Denmark. They are known as the “Liberal Party” in English. It holds 47 seats of the Danish parliament. Denmark already has the strictest immigration laws of any EU country thanks to the Danish People’s Party [DF], which has 22 seats. For years the DF has acted as a kingmaker in parliament. They are part of a ruling coalition with Venstre and other smaller conservative and centrist parties. The DF has forced the rest of the coalition to back anti-immigration legislation in exchange for its support for other types of legislation. However, there is new evidence that the tide is turning fast. Now the official spokewoman for Venstre is calling for a crackdown on Muslim immigration."

Cybercrime gang linked to the U.S.

"A cyberespionage group with a toolset similar to ones used by U.S. intelligence agencies has infiltrated key institutions in countries including Iran and Russia. Kaspersky Lab released a report Monday that said the tools were created by the “Equation” group, which it stopped short of linking to the U.S. National Security Agency." (thanks Amir)

"Au Liban, les bonnes se rebellent"

"En 2008, l’organisation Human Rights Watch avait comptabilisé un suicide par semaine, la « technique » la plus fréquente consistant à enjamber le balcon. " (thanks Mohammad)

Omar Alkhani and Kayla Mueller

This story has been with me for the last two days.  Omar Alkhani not only took his American girlfriend with him to Syria as he snuck through the border, but he also left her in captivity after ISIS released him.  So he made two fatal decisions that caused Mueller to be killed.  I know that this is a very difficult decision one faces.  In 1979, I was stopped at a Syrian army checkpoint in front of the Central Bank of Lebanon in Beirut. I was coming with a female comrade after gluing political posters on the walls of Beirut.  A Syrian soldiers took me aside and ordered me to leave because--he said--they want to "attack" (he used a vulgar word) my comrade.  I remember looking at my comrade's eyes and she did not say a word to me but I knew what I needed to do.  Mr. Alkhani immediately left Syria after he was released from captivity leaving his American girlfriend behind.  He will have to live with his decisions.

PS  I heard from a source in Syria with Doctors Without Borders.  And she tells me that they were furious when Alkhani showed up with Mueller and they were dumbfounded as to how he was able to sneak her in.  

Bernard-Henri Lévy

From Sohail:  "Have you seen this New Yorker report on Libya? Contains this gem:
I asked Lévy why he’d adopted the Libyan cause. “Why? I don’t know!” he said. “Of course, it was human rights, for a massacre to be prevented, and blah blah blah—but I also wanted them to see a Jew defending the liberators against a dictatorship, to show fraternity. I wanted the Muslims to see that a Frenchman—a Westerner and a Jew—could be on their side.”"  This is what I find hilarious about all references to Bernard-Henri Levy in the Western press: they don't seem to know how he is perceived among Arabs and Muslims.  The man is so detested and despised and not because of his religion--before you accuse all Arabs and Muslims of anti-Semitism.

Human Rights Watch and its language about Israel

"“The ruling is a stark reminder that in some areas Israeli jurisprudence has veered completely off the track of international law.”"  Look at the cautious language about a state which was founded in contradiction with international law.

Update: How Imad Mughniyyah was killed: New TV versus the Washington Post

Regarding the detailed "story" about the assassination of Imad Mughniyyah which was published in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, New TV aired a detailed report from the scene of the crime in Damascus and it countered the claims of the report in the Post. It said among other things that the explosive was NOT placed in the car of Mughniyyah but was placed in a car parked on the street itself, and it even showed pellets from the explosive on an electric pole.  Between the Post and New TV, of course, I believe New TV.

PS Correction. A comrade alerted me. In fact, Washington Post did indicate that the bomb was planted in a spare tire of a parked car.  But New TV just added that he was NOT leaving a restaurant but was leaving his apartment.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Gen. Dr. Engineer Salim Idriss is back

  He is now identified on the news website of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyya, as "Minister of Defense of the Syrian provisional government".

Sexual abuse by an Imam in Illinois

The New York Times has a front-page story.  By the way, did the New York devote a front-page story about the prominent DC rabbi who video-taped 150 women disrobing?  I don't remember. Also, why does the New York Times make an effort to make this Imam (a man I have never heard of in my life) appear as second to Muhammad in authority in Islam?

So he thought he could protect her in Syria?

"Mueller said she wanted to come, too. Alkhani resisted, saying Syria was too dangerous for an American. But he eventually agreed to Mueller’s request, because he feared she would find some way into Syria without him, and that he wouldn’t be able to protect her ...Mueller was shaking with fear, he said, but he assured her that they would be safe, and that the men would let them go once they realized the pair had come to Syria on a humanitarian mission." (thanks Laure)

When America redesigned the school curricula in Pakistan

"After Jamaat-e-Islami leaders scrutinized hundreds of pages of textbooks, a story about Keller, a deaf and blind American author and activist, is being removed from ninth-grade lesson plans. Books for first- and second-graders will no longer include photos of a Christmas tree and holiday cards, even though a small Christian community lives here. And inscriptions on textbooks stating “We want peace” are being replaced with religious verses, said a local education official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the matter."  Yes, inscribe messages of peace on the bombs dropping on Pakistan from drones.

Imagine if a Western university were to ban Israeli students from certain fields: there would be accusations of Nazi anti-Semitism

"The University of Massachusetts Amherst told students this week that it will no longer accept Iranian nationals into graduate programs in chemical, computer, and mechanical engineering or the natural sciences, to avoid violating US sanctions against Iran."

relationship of Arab authoritarianism and US imperialism

"ISIS was nourished by the sectarian politics and militia sponsorship of the US counter-insurgency policy in Iraq. It was inaugurated amidst the carte blanche the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey gave to anyone that wanted to fund or arm opposition to Bashar al-Asad in Syria. Some of us know this history. It is that history that we must return to as we assess the Jordanian regime’s policy. It is this history we must begin with. To forget this history, and the Jordanian regime’s part in it, is to position al-Kassasbeh’s murder in the mutually dependent relationship of Arab authoritarianism and US imperialism."

Operation Popeye: weaponized weather during Vietnam War

"He claimed the US government had a proven history of using the weather in a hostile way, citing the action of seeding clouds during the Vietnam War to muddy the Ho Chi Minh foot-trail and attempt to cut it off, as it was used as a supply route but the north Vietnamese. He claimed the CIA had also seeded clouds over Cuba “to make it rain and ruin the sugar harvest”."

U.S. spy agencies fund climate research in hunt for weather weapon

"A senior US scientist has expressed concern that the intelligence services are funding climate change research to learn if new technologies could be used as potential weapons. Alan Robock, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has called on secretive government agencies to be open about their interest in radical work that explores how to alter the world’s climate." "The $600,000 report was part-funded by the US intelligence services, but Robock said the CIA and other agencies had not fully explained their interest in the work."

Hollywood and politics

"This year’s controversy over films and history has led to a dismissive shrug from cultural critics who wearily tell us that movies are just movies, you shouldn’t take their versions of truth to heart, just enjoy the show." "They are right — Hollywood is not a classroom. The problem, however, is that movies, despite the bonfires of distortion in many of them, can shape our understanding of political events just as much as think tank reports or Pulitzer-winning books. For instance, a lot of major movies are taught in schools. It is disingenuous for the screening room cognoscenti to pretend that films are of no political consequence and shouldn’t be critiqued for historical accuracy — and that’s particularly true for war films." (thanks Amir)

Jordanian King is for freedom of speech in Paris but not in Amman

"Jordan's state security court on Sunday sentenced a top official in the Muslim Brotherhood to 18 months in prison for criticizing the United Arab Emirates, an ally of the kingdom, his lawyer said."

Nicholas Blanford on Israeli humanitarianism

"Whether Israeli support for the Syrian rebels is greater than mere humanitarian assistance is unclear. However, the current relationship mirrors then Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres’ “Good Fence” policy in 1976 when the Israeli army began providing humanitarian aid to the Christians of south Lebanon whose towns and villages were besieged by Palestinian militias."  Blanford does not mention that the same Israel was funding and arming the death squads of the Phalanges from before 1975. (thanks Basim)

This is hilarious: Zionists are now claiming that Gulf tyrants are funding BDS movement

"While one side is putting up buildings, the other side, which David says is largely supported by the Saudis and people from the Gulf states, has put money into education."

How Zionist hoodlums manage to make the peaceful BDS movement violent and "aggressive" and anti-Semitic

Look at some quotations about BDS in this article in Haaretz: you would think that they are talking about an armed "terrorist" group.

"it’s a violent and inciting act that creates an atmosphere.”
"“When someone says these things about a country that you feel close to, you feel attacked,” he says".
"and some Jewish students see this as anti-Semitism". 
"what is referred to as keyboard violence".
"It’s organized diplomatic terror against Israel,” David says."
"They aren’t pro-Palestinian but rather anti-Israeli resolutions, which is a shame.”" [Here, an Israeli professor at Berkeley takes it upon himself to tell us what is really "pro-Palestinian" and what is not].
"“These anti-Jewish outbursts are not surprising since the anti-Semitism is rooted in the BDS movement itself,” he says."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Brookings for war: Brookings used to also be a liberal think tank in DC

From Rana: "Thought this piece might be of interest: "In these circumstances, Israel’s best option is to signal to Hezbollah and to its Iranian patrons that its response to escalation along the Lebanese-Israeli border and the Golan will not be local, and that it may well target major units and installations of Assad’s regime, thus affecting the course of the Syrian civil war.""

Hariri family at the tomb of Hafidh Al-Asad

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Westerners are always idealistic

"but a handful of idealistic Westerners are enlisting as well" (thanks Karim)

MESA: you are supposed to celeberate?

MESA members won the right to discuss and debate BDS.  What I want to know is this: who on earth succeeded in convincing members that they have first to vote on the right to discuss BDS before they can vote on BDS.  What will they tell them next? That they first have to vote on the spelling of BDS before they can vote on BDS?

The first Crusade

"Pope Urban II did not tell crusaders to murder Jews, but that is what happened when at least 100,000 knights, vassals and serfs, unmoored from ordinary social restraints but bearing the standard of the cross, set off to crush what they considered a perfidious Muslim enemy in a faraway land. Why not practice on that older group accused of perfidy — the Jews?

The city of Trier, on the Moselle River, was one of the early stops. The Jews were, according to a Hebrew chronicle, offered the choice of conversion, exile or death — similar to the choices offered by groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram. After the Jews of Trier made an unsuccessful attempt, by paying off a bishop, to persuade the crusaders to bypass their community, they sought refuge in the prelate’s palace.

The chronicle recounts that “the bishop’s military officer and ministers entered the palace and said to them: ‘Thus said our lord the bishop: Convert or leave this place. I do not wish to preserve you any longer.’ ” It goes on: “ ‘You cannot be saved — your God does not wish to save you now as he did in earlier days.’ ”

The anonymous author of the chronicle, known as Text S to scholars, probably did not witness all of the events he describes. However, scholars of the First Crusade generally consider the text authentic. Furthermore, Christian accounts — also most likely written decades later but at a time when many survivors would have been alive — tell essentially the same story.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Albert of Aix, a Christian born in the late 11th century, describes atrocities in Mainz — another stop on the crusaders’ rampage through the Rhineland — by a band headed by one Count Emico. Again, there is a bishop who initially promises the Jews protection for what Albert describes as an “incredible amount of money.” But Emico and his Christian soldiers broke into the hall where the Jews were held.

“Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex ... Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised.”

Albert reports that a small number of Jews escaped because they agreed to be baptized “because of fear, rather than because of love of the Christian faith.” With all of the money taken from the Jews, Emico and “all that intolerable company of men and women then continued on their way to Jerusalem.”"

Saudi Airlines, BC

I am not sure that I understand this:

"It should support allies under extreme pressure such as Jordan, while also working to ensure that allies such as the Gulf states and Turkey align their strategies and policies more consistently with U.S. objectives. More broadly, it should recognize the political roots of ISIL’s spread, and refocus its efforts to promote political reforms and curb the human rights abuses which fuel popular anger and alienation."  How does the first objective square with the second objective? How does support for the Jordanian autocracy square with support for human rights and political reforms?

I just want to ask you: what would have happened to him if he were a Muslim cleric, and how would have the case been covered?

"U.S. rabbi secretly videotaped more than 150 women, prosecutors say"

The Pldege

"The Pledge
We support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality. In response to the call from Palestinian artists and cultural workers for a cultural boycott of Israel, we pledge to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights".

Blind Support for Israel

"Freedland’s instalment is rumoured to be a condition set by the New York Times if the two enlightened North Atlantic papers are to merge, but even without this his chances seem good." "His support for Israel is unbalanced, violates the Guardian’s commitment to liberalism and is rooted in an ethnocentricity that enables him to alternatively ignore Palestinians and justify their forced transfer out of Palestine." (thanks Amir)

Swedish security assault 9-year-old child

"Two security guards at Malmö's main train station who were filmed apparently banging a nine-year-old boy’s head into a stone floor are being investigated by police. In the video, published by local newspaper Sydsvenskan, a guard is seen pushing the boy onto the ground, sitting on him and holding his hands over his mouth. The boy can be heard reciting the Islamic prayer the Shahada ('There is only one God, and Muhammad is his Prophet'). “It didn’t seem like the boy was doing anything. But the guard just threw him to the floor. He [the guard] looked like he weighed 90 kilos, but he just sat on him and hit his head against the ground,” a witness told Sydsvenskan on Monday."

Youngest and oldest victim in the war on Gaza

"The youngest to die was a 4-day-old girl, the oldest a 92-year-old man.  They were among at least 844 Palestinians killed as a result of airstrikes on homes during Israel's summer war with the Islamic militant group, Hamas."

Yet another parking lot dispute

"A Muslim man and his family were attacked inside of the  Dearborn Kroger located 15255 Michigan Avenue, at the corner of Greenfield Rd., while they were grocery shopping on Thursday, February 12. The incident occurred around 5:45 p.m. when the Arab man and his children were inside of the store purchasing ice cream. Two Caucasian men passed by the family and began making derogatory remarks about ISIS, according to eye witnesses. The Caucasian men began to physically assault the Arab man, making comments that included "go back to your country" and "you terrorists." One of the Caucasian men told the Arab man's young daughter to "take the rag off your head."

In a press release, Dearborn police said  "The incident is currently being thoroughly investigated to determine whether it involves a criminal assault and/or whether it was motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender(s) bias". (thanks Basim)

Less than 100 suspected militants killed in 250 Israeli attacks on Gaza homes

The Associated Press examined 247 airstrikes, interviewing witnesses, visiting attack sites and compiling a detailed casualty count.
The review found that 508 of the dead — just over 60 percent — were children, women and older men, all presumed to be civilians.
— Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.
— In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.
— Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants — just over 11 percent of the total — though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.
— The remaining 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in AP searches of militant websites or on street posters honoring fighters.
The review was the most painstaking attempt to date to try to determine who was killed in strikes on homes; Israel's army and Gaza militants have refused to release information about targets and casualties. The count tracked all known airstrikes on homes, though not all strikes had witnesses and damage inspected by the AP wasn't always conclusive." (thanks Regan)

The Middle East Institute

What is happening to the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC?  I spent a year there back in 1992-93 and was traditional the voice of the Arabists in the city, and voiced strong criticisms of the Israeli government albeit it had a traditional conservative Arab bent.  But I have noticed that in the last year the Institute has become quite neo-conservative.  I can't imagine what Richard Parker and Paul Hare would say about the transformation. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

More parking spot disputes: Islamic school for young children burned down in Houston

"Unfortunately, the execution of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill was not the only Islamophobic violence that happened this week. The same week, an Arab American family was assaulted in Dearborn, and now in Houston comes a horrible story of what appears to be an arson attack on an Islamic school for young children." (thanks Amir)