Friday, September 30, 2016

Interviewing activists in Syria on Democracy Now

This baffled me. That Amy Goodman still, like the Western correspondents in the Times and Post talk to what they call "activists" in rebel-held areas.  What does that mean? There was activism in Syria during the early months of the uprising before it became a civil war with outside intervention from all sides. Do they mean that you can live in Nusrah-held area or other rebel-held areas and be an activist?  An activist for what? democracy and feminism in Ghutah?  What does that mean? And how do they obtain the phone numbers of those "activists"? This like saying that the Syrian regime allows activism and dissent in its areas.  It is sad that even leftist Democracy Now does not deviate ONE BIT from the mainstream media narrative on Syria.  Not one bit.  From Democracy Now to WSJ, passing through the Economist, they all sound the same.

The real picture of Saudi Arabia

"Mohammed bin Salman’s treatment of domestic affairs seemed as headstrong as his treatment of foreign ones. Apparently in return for sanctioning the youngster’s accumulation of power, the clerical establishment secured the dismissal of the country’s first female minister, appointed in laxer times by Abdullah, the late king. Religious police resumed their raids on private premises. A young female accountant told us how they had detained a male colleague sharing her office, in violation of their codes. A spring festival in the south was shut down after prepubescent girls joined in a folkloric dance. McDonald’s revamped its fast-food franchises, and renovated signs segregating their counters and seating areas by sex.
At literary salons, writers recounted stories of people jailed for blaspheming. Some were fed watermelon to fill their bladders, they said, and then had their penises tied. In November 2015 Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet raised in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to death for voicing religious doubts. “I am Hell’s experiment on the Planet Earth,” he had written in his offending volume of poems. (After much international protest and a worldwide reading of his poems, a panel of judges upheld the verdict of apostasy but commuted the sentence to eight years in prison and eight hundred lashes.) “For the first time in my life, I’m truly afraid,” a news editor told me. The dearth of names in this review is testimony to how nervous even prominent figures have become."

Begging US Congress to not upset Saudi Arabia

"Obama and CIA Director John Brennan practically begged Congress to refrain from the override, to no avail. Senate leaders said they might consider legislation limiting the bill’s scope if it provoked strong foreign reaction. Perhaps we have become a country where Congress has to go over a cliff before it thinks about a parachute. That has been the case with budget issues, and now foreign policy."

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now

It seems that Amy Goodman and the Saudi Foreign Minister see eye-to-yet on Syria. Those two are the last people still speaking about "a Syrian revolution".  


How many of those pundits angrily denouncing US Congress for passing the JASTA bill are affiliated with DC-based think tanks which are funded (partially at least) with Saudi and Gulf money?  I like how angry the folks at Center for Strategic and International Studies are.  No, the best part is when they interview "experts" affiliated with Gulf lobbies in DC without identifying them as such in  US papers.  

When Christians engage in "honor killing" in the Middle East, it never gets reported in Western media

So 24 hours after the buffoonish King of Jordan appointed Malik Haddad as a Minister of Transportation in his new cabinet, Haddad had to resign.  Why? Because people on social media reminder Jordanians that back in 1980, this minister (who comes from a Christian family) had killed his own sister because she married a Muslim man.  He served only 5 years in jail.  When asked about the matter yesterday, Haddad said it was a "personal matter".

Don't forget that Obama is also bombing Somalia and bombs are also falling on the "wrong people"

"An airstrike in northern Somalia killed as many as 22 troops overnight, local officials said Wednesday, and one region said the United States had been duped into attacking its troops.  Galmudug’s security minister, Osman Issa, said 22 of his region’s soldiers were killed in the strike, adding that the rival neighboring region of Puntland had requested it on the pretext that the men were al-Shabab militants.  “Puntland misinformed the United States and, thus, our forces were bombed,” Issa said.  In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters that the United States had carried out a “self-defense airstrike” after Somali troops faced fire from militants as they tried to stop an explosives-making network.  Capt. Jeff Davis said that nine al-Shabab militants were killed in the strike but that the Pentagon was looking into reports that the strike could have killed others."

The Economist strongly lobbies for Al-Qa`idah in Syria

"The main purpose of the JFS tactic of distancing itself from al-Qaeda was to reassure other less extreme outfits that it shares their patriotic ambitions and does not have some wider jihadist agenda. It is apparently working. In Aleppo, the sense of abandonment by the West has driven more moderate groups into the arms of JFS. "  So according to the Economist, the Jihadis of Al-Qa`idah who swore allegiance to Bin Laden, don't really have a Jihadist agenda. But the second part of the passage is classic: so secular and democratic and feminist rebels, simply join Jihadi terrorist organizations because they feel abandoned by the West.  So if the correspondent of the Economist in the Middle East feels abandoned by the West, will she also join Al-Qa`idah alas?

US media did not dare to mention any negative aspects about the career of Shimon Peres (not that he had any positive aspects)--not even what was mentioned in Israel

Here at least the Economist, which usually lousily rarely deviates from mainstream media in its coverage of the Middle East: "Rabin called him, aptly, “the tireless intriguer”. Though politics obsessed him from childhood, driving out (some said) all other interests, he was wooden on television and was perhaps too fond of aphorisms (“You can turn eggs into omelettes, but it is very difficult to turn omelettes into eggs.”) Personal political relationships were difficult. His closest ally was Moshe Dayan, but the adoration he bestowed on the dashing former general was not reciprocated. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, appreciated his talents, but would not confide in him...Throughout his career he was ribbed for his vanity, including plastic surgery..."

PS New York Times called his silly aphorisms poetry and philosophy.  

NYT: U.S. military intervention in Syria is not intervention

"Since 2014, according to official Pentagon figures, the US has carried out 5,337 airstrikes in Syria. According to the monitoring group Airwars, these airstrikes (along with a few hundred strikes by US allies) have likely killed between 818 and 1,229 Syrian civilians. Nor is direct US military intervention in Syria limited to aerial attacks. In May 2015, the New York Times (5/16/15) reported on a combat raid by US Delta Force commandos in eastern Syria." "The Times, for its part, is engaging in some kind of linguistic contortion of its own to make none of this qualify as “direct military intervention in Syria.” Presumably it has something to do with the airstrikes and special forces not being aimed at the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, but at the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS—a rival to Assad’s power in Syria that the US is semi-officially at war with, even as Washington provides arms and training to other armed groups trying to overthrow Assad."

U.S. sends more soldiers to Iraq

"The addition of more than 600 additional troops in the coming weeks will bring the force management level to 5,262 U.S. troops as of today, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of Pentagon press operations."

"The U.S. military activity in Niger is not isolated"

"The files obtained by The Intercept attest to the importance of Agadez for future missions by drones, also known as remotely piloted aircraft or RPAs. “The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,” reads a 2015 planning document." "The U.S. military activity in Niger is not isolated. “There’s a trend toward greater engagement and a more permanent presence in West Africa — the Maghreb and the Sahel,” noted Adam Moore of the department of geography at the University of California in Los Angeles and the co-author of an academic study of the U.S. military’s presence in Africa."

US & EU sanctions are punishing Syrians

"The sanctions and war have destabilized every sector of Syria’s economy, transforming a once self-sufficient country into an aid-dependent nation. But aid is hard to come by, with sanctions blocking access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more." "Around the same time, the CIA began directly shipping weapons to armed insurgents at a colossal cost of nearly $1 billion a year, effectively adding fuel to the conflict while U.S. sanctions obstructed emergency assistance to civilians caught in the crossfire."

Shimon Peres oversaw a bloody massacre in Lebanon, among many other massacres and war crimes on his resume

"From April 11 to April 27 that year, under the leadership of then prime minister Peres, the Israeli military launched 600 air raids and fired about 25,000 shells into Lebanese territory." "About 400,000 Lebanese civilians were forced to flee their homes in the war. Roughly 800 civilians sought refuge in the U.N. compound in the southern Lebanese village of Qana because Israel was bombing their homes. “Most of the civilians at the U.N. compound were women, children and elderly people who were too poor or otherwise unable to get transportation out of the areas of shelling,” the Center for Constitutional Rights noted in a fact sheet. In one day alone, more than 100 Lebanese civilians were killed in an Israeli attack on a U.N. compound. Nearly half the victims were children, and U.N. personnel were wounded. The incident is now known as the Qana massacre." "An Israeli magazine later published an interview with a military officer who called the victims “just a bunch of Arabs,” adding, “A few Arabs die, there is no harm in that.” " (thanks Amir)

Young Arabs on social media prepared a "black list" about the Arabs who participated in the funeral of Shimon Peres

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Of course, American Zionists can't get to admit that Arab detested Shimon Peres, so they now stick to the mantra: that he was "complicated"

"The Israeli-Palestinian issue is not high on the region's agenda these days, amid other wars and crises, noted Michael W. Hanna, a Middle East expert at the New York-based Century Foundation. "Besides, Peres left behind a complicated legacy," he said."  There is nothing complicated in war crimes and those who commit them.

Those civilians in a bomb shelter in Qana (where my aunt lived) were ordered murdered by Shimon Peres

So according to Thomas Friedman (which has been his theme for years), Israel is forced to be brutal by the brutality and savagery of Arab "neighbors"

"He knew that the Middle East was not Scandinavia — that Israel faced merciless enemies and that the Jews could carve out and sustain their own state in such a region only if they, too, were merciless when they had to be. "  So they let her do it.  Arabs made Israel commit all those war crimes and massacres over the years.

Invocation of the word Holocaust about Syria

Many in the West have consistently argued that it is anti-Semitic to throw casually the word "Holocaust" to describe current evil in the world.  Personally, I avoid using the terminology out of respect for the solemnity of the victims of the Holocaust. Yet, over the last few weeks, US journalists and Syrian supporters of the "revolution" have been casually describing the horrors of Aleppo as "holocaust".  How come that does not produce charges of anti-Semitism?

How US Zionist media just don't want to concede that Arabs hate and despise Israeli war criminal, Shimon Peres

This is what the Times said: "Mr. Peres was seen as a more complicated figure among Palestinians, who remembered his role in advancing settlements in the West Bank and in ordering a brief but intense military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1996 that led to civilian deaths."  No, Arabs don't see him as "complicated" at all. They hate him and despise him.  And no, it is not only about settlements and the "brief" war crime in Lebanon. It is about a long career of war crimes.  As Minister of Defense, he ordered countless bombing raids on civilians in Lebanon in the 1970s.  To say that Palestinians view Peres as complicated is like saying that Jewish people (and others) view Hitler as a complicated figure.  

The New York Times is so protective of Shimon Peres in its obituary that it didn't want to mention that his wife had left him

This is what the times said: "Mr. Peres was married to the former Sonya Gelman, who shunned the spotlight to the point of refusing to move into the president’s house when he took his last public post."  It implies that she did not move into the apartment because she shunned the limelight, when Peres had admitted that she had left him.

Jordan and free speech in the New York Times

Comrade Joseph Massad wrote this response (I cite with his permission): "This article by Hiber’s Lina Ujaylat is true to the liberal commitments of her organization. What is frustrating, however, is the offensive appeal to an American imperial and liberal audience about the question of free speech without bringing in similar limitations in the US. Had she published the article in Arabic in Jordan, that would have been fine, but choosing to publish it in the NYT places an ethical responsibility on ‘Ujaylat, which she did not shoulder.  Anyone who is familiar with free speech issues in the United States knows the limitations on so-called “Hate Speech” in US juridical practice and on opinions that call for the violent overthrow of governments or support for terrorism. In addition, the idea that all views are allowed in the New York Times itself where self-censorship on questions related to “defense” or “national security” is routine, let alone views that are always banned from national newspapers, especially as pertains to Israel, is naive at best.  Had Lina coupled the limitations in the US, both legal and extra-legal, with her important, though by no means original criticisms, of Jordanian government and legal practice, she would have been more convincing in situating Jordan with the US and other liberal countries in limiting free speech —after all, the difference in practice between liberal and conservative dictatorial countries on speech is a difference of degree not of kind— and would have made an ethical intervention rather than a naive and West-worshiping appeal to white imperialist liberals (of course, had she compared Jordan to Israel on the questions of limitations on free speech, as she knows well, the NYT would not have published her piece at all). "

Foreign policy establishment

"For this reason, having the bulk of the mainstream foreign-policy establishment in her corner may not be a great asset for Clinton, and that impression increases when one reflects on how that establishment has behaved in recent decades."

Don't hold your breath

"Like all U.S. presidents, Hillary Clinton would undoubtedly strive to keep the United States No. 1 in the critical areas of global power, and no doubt she’ll talk a lot about America’s global responsibilities, “exceptional” character, and indispensable leadership, blah, blah, blah. But if she’s smart, it will be mostly talk, and not a lot of action, while she focuses on fixing our crumbling infrastructure and repairing our fractured politics. And make no mistake: Those two tasks are a hell of a lot more important to America’s future than trying to determine who’s going to run what’s left of Syria or who gets to pretend to be in charge in Kabul."

Shimon Peres and the 300 Bus Affair

"We must remember the defense minister who flew his helicopter over the settlement of Sebastia to the settlers’ cheers, his dirty political conniving against Yitzhak Rabin, his opposition to the attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the Iran-Contra affair, spy Jonathan Pollard, Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon, his political defeats, and his desperate clinging to power at all cost. There were also the self-aggrandizing shows he put together, his recommendation letters for white-collar criminals and his ties to shady tycoons and machers. There was also his obsession with himself and the countless broken promises. “His head is in the sky but his feet are stuck firmly in the mood of the day,” someone close to him once said. His light cast many shadows. In 1986, just as he was handing over the premiership to Yitzhak Shamir, Peres met with the Shin Bet’s outgoing deputy head, Reuven Hazak. In the months before, Peres worked tirelessly to cover up one of the most serious affairs in Israel’s history: the Bus 300 affair."

Joseph Massad on Arab Orientalism

An interview with comrade Joseph on Arab Orientalism in UAE's Al-Ittihad.

According to Roger Cohen, Palestinians forced Shimon Peres to commit war crimes

"The killing in Gaza of a leading Hamas operative in January 1996 led to a wave of horrific Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis over the next two months. These weakened Peres; they undermined Oslo."

Peres and Begin

In Israeli, before this Western festival of eulogies, Peres was also remembered from being the one Labor politician who "mainstreamed" Menachem Begin.  

The real Shimon Peres

This uniform bizarre image of Peres which is being constructed and promoted by Western media has no connection with reality. Read the opinion of none other than Rabin in Peres: he called him a liar and non-trustworthy.   

Who speaks for the Arab people? Well, an Israeli historian of course, according to Roger Cohen of the New York Times

In several days only, I have come across numerous instances in Western media in which readers are informed of what Arabs think, by asking Israelis to speak for them.  This is another: "As the historian Avi Shlaim has written, the Palestinians “regarded Rabin as much more reliable than Peres because with Rabin yes meant yes and no meant no, whereas with Peres both yes and no meant maybe.”"  Of course, Rabin was as despised and distended as Peres.  

Who speaks for the Arab people? Well, obviously the former Minister of Defense of Israel, according to the LA Times

This is classic bit: "Today, Arabs and Israelis are in the same boat, facing Iranian-backed threats all around us".  Of course, by Arabs they mean "Our beloved Gulf potentates".

US liberal media: Huffington Post

Have people noticed that for a whole week Huffington Post agonized and fretted worrying that Kim Kardashian my not vote for Hillary Clinton?

Huffington Post US: it is becoming almost indistinguishable from Huffington Post Gulf regime

Huffington Post really hearts Gulf regimes.    This is my favorite argument: that Saudi regime has been responsive for all those decades to criticisms about their human rights abuses and that JASTA will make them less likely to be responsive.  That would be terrible indeed: "But when the Saudis see American lawmakers glorifying disproven allegations, the president saying theirregion is essentially hopeless and international media chasing gratuitous stories about Saudi moral hypocrisy, they’re less likely to accept criticism based on real concerns."

Let me guess: Western correspondents in Beirut won't be tweeting their concern about those civilian casualties of US bombing.

"A suspected U.S. drone strike against Islamic State in Afghanistan killed 18 people on Wednesday, most of them militants but possibly including some civilians, Afghan officials said. Civilian casualties in U.S. airstrikes against Taliban and other militants inAfghanistan have long been a source of friction between the allies who have been fighting since 2001 to end militant opposition to the government in Kabul. The strike in Nangarhar province, on the eastern border with Pakistan, killed 18 people, 15 of them militants and three civilians, said Mohammed Ali, police chief of Achin district where the attack occurred. “They were in a house to visit someone who had just come from the Hajj pilgrimage,” he said. “A drone targeted the house and killed most of them.”"

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Who speaks for Arab public opinion? An Israeli of course, according to NBC News

This is what this Israeli dude said about Arab opinion of Peres: ""From the Arab point of view, they will look at him with mixed feelings — part positive and some negative," Mekelberg added."  This is like saying that a patient looked at cancer with mixed feelings.  Mixed feelings? Arabs--get it in your head or look around Arab social media for the last 24 hours--despise and detest Peres.  There are no mixed feelings whatsoever.   The same lousy article cited someone else describing Peres as a "fox".  Western Zionist media are really trying hard to reduce the level of Arab contempt for Peres.  And then NBC wrote: "Peres' legacy was also tarnished in the Arab world by the 1996 shelling of a U.N. compound in the village of Qana, Lebanon".  So this massacre tarnished his image among Arabs? So prior to this massacre he was a popular figure? People forget that Arabs are fully aware of his role in the construction of Israeli nuclear arsenal, and the Tripartite invasion of Egypt in 1956, and his successive role in the Israeli government and ordering various bombing raids on refugee camps and villages in Lebanon.  

Hillary versus Trump

The dangers of Trump are too obvious. The dangers of Hillary are more dangerous because they are a bit disguised.

There are really two Shimon Peres

If you go to Arab social media, you would see the anger expressed by Arabs at, Israeli war criminal, Shimon Peres, and the Western sympathy he is receiving.  And then you go to Western media, and you feel that they were talking about some pacifist philanthropist.  Two strikingly different worlds.

Arab media and war criminal, Peres: Haaretz mistranslations

Haaretz wrote: ""“The Zionist Shimon Peres dies. Born in Poland, he carried out countless crimes against the Palestinian people over the past 70 years. His death will not be mourned,” tweeted Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor from the United Arab Emirates to his 101,000 followers." 
Actually, what Abdulkhaleq wrote was this: "The death of the Zionist, Shimon Peres, who was born in Poland, and who--like other Zionists--committed countess crimes against the people of Palestine in the last 70 years.  His death is not sorrowful."

a man whose career began with ethnic cleansing

"Peres was born in modern day Belarus in 1923, and his family moved to Palestine in the 1930s. As a young man, Peres joined the Haganah, the militia primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba." (thanks Basim)

Shimon Peres: the invention of the Western media and governments

You will not read in the next few days about the real Shimon Peres, a seasoned war criminal who never met a warcrime or a massacre or an occupation which he did not like or engineer.  People forget that people of my generation or older know the real record of the Labor Party and its leaders in the history of Israeli war crimes and occupation.  People of my generation are far less likely to see any difference between a Netanyahu and a Peres.  The racism of Netanyahu and his love of war crimes and massacres have all been preceded by same tendencies in the Labor Party leaders. You won't read in the next few days about the man who helped in the construction of the Israeli nuclear arsenal, and yet had the chutzpah to rail against an incomplete Iranian nuclear program.  This is a man who spoke about peace in the west, while ordering massacres of civilians in Qana and in all the refugee camps of Lebanon during my youth.  This is a man who spoke about the two-state (non)solution in the West, while he engineered the occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza and the repression of Palestinians in 1948 occupation of Palestine.  This is a man who engineered the evil but logical alliance between Apartheid South Africa and Apartheid Israel.  But then again, the West never talked about the real Israel. Their Israel is an imagined Israel which Western liberals loved to fantasize about and treat as a reality.  Their Israel never existed: it was an invention of their racism and callousness.  It is not that Western governments and media who will ignore the war crimes of Shimon Peres did not know about the war crimes by Peres: they know of course but their racism will prevent them from remembering the victims, for example, of Qana massacres in a UN shelter.  Those victims never matter for those Westerners mourning a major war criminal in our region.

This picture will not appear in any US media

Chadia Bitar protests a 2003 visit by Shimon Peres in Dearborn, Michigan, to receive the John P. Wallach Peacemaker Award. Bitar’s two young sons were among 100 civilians killed by Israeli bombs in Qana, Lebanon, in April 1996. Peres was Israel’s prime minister at the time of the bombing.
Rebecca CookReuters/Newscom

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Two War Criminals in one picture

Richard Engel as a judge of the debate

There was nothing more comical than bringing Richard Engel of NBC last night to fact-check the debate on foreign policy.  This is like having George W. Bush assess the accuracy of the latest edition of the collected works of Karl Marx.

"The New $3B USS Zumwalt Is a Stealthy Oddity That May Already Be a Relic"

"The Zumwalt-class destroyer program started in the early 1990s and has been a problem child ever since. At first, the Navy planned to purchase 32 of the stealth vessels. Then it said it would buy seven. Then three. Now, it may buy just two. After decades and billions of dollars spent, the DoD may instead choose an updated version of the Arleigh-Burke DDG-51 destroyer, a model that entered service in 1991."

On Veiling and Unveiling in the US: one experience

"While attending college full time, I worked in an Italian restaurant part time as a waitress. I was working the evening shift and upon leaving for my car, I was attacked. A man yanked my scarf off and shoved me down to the ground. “Go back to your country, towel head,” he snarled through clenched teeth. I laid on the ground both angry and helpless. After three months of fighting against other people’s opinions, I was faced with the hardest one of them all, my father’s. “You will take off your higab tomorrow,” he demanded of me.  “Dad, I am supposed to wear it! God says so,” I shouted back.   “There is no mention of the word higab in the Quran!”  That comment sent chills throughout my body. He was right. And I hated that. But it was that moment that I began to study what modesty really means. Despite my father’s personal view on higab, that does not mean I am taking a position to deconstruct the role higab plays in Islamic modesty. In addition, to my father’s defense, he was acting out of his own fear for my personal safety. Rightfully so, he feared for my security.  I thought the higab represented faith, protection and security. Thus, not wearing it meant I would be weak in my faith. To my classmates and the Muslim community I found that I wasn’t considered “Muslim enough”. To them, being a good Muslim was in outward appearance. Although I fought with my father to wear the higab, I finally gave in and gave up wearing it. At first, I felt a sense of relief combined with an insurmountable amount of shame and guilt. But then I noticed something odd. I was no longer judged as a Muslim, but as a person.  De-veiling was liberating.  Not once throughout my experiences did I feel safe behind the scarf. Even if I had had the support from my loved ones, I still would have felt isolated. The environment I was living in was hostile. The community I lived in, post 9/11, created an enormous amount of fear around Muslims and the Islamic identity. I realized, after I de-veiled, I did not take into account the tremendous amount of strength, courage and family support it takes to wear higab."