First used in the Fifteen Century the word “Levant” has evolved over the centuries. It was originally used to refer to land east of Italy but today it has several different definitions but often refers to the countries of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. It has been used as a surname, and as a reference to particular countries. Its popularity has been enhanced by the immense publicity given to the tiny state of Israel which in spite of its diminutive size dominates the region and has tentacles throughout the world. See a map of the ancient Levant here.
Islamic jihadist forces have now conquered vast parts of Iraq and are calling the territory ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). It appears to be a victory for the forces the United States was attempting to destroy but consolidating power could be a victory cloaked in defeat. Consolidation decreases the blocks that must controlled and makes total control easier, it could be a victory for world government. Centralized power creates tyranny; dispersed power contributes to freedom.
From antiquity war and murder have been major problems for humanity. In a jealous rage Cain murdered his brother Abel. War has been the plight of mankind throughout history.
Though the intent was lasting peace, war was the vehicle that allowed God’s Chosen People to conquer the Promised Land. Disobedience caused wars to continue and finally wrested the land from its conquerors scattering those who refused the mercy of the New Covenant. The Temple was destroyed and the Jews of the First Covenant were scattered – by war.
The battle between obedience and disobedience (righteousness and sin) is an everlasting battle that will continue until Jesus comes again.
Sound theology is scarce in America. Arminianism and antinomianism have created a useless pietism that has resulted in the rise of a totalitarian government making the United States an enemy to the world and to its own people. Instead of confronted evil with personal rebukes we have evaded our responsibility transferring it to an increasingly totalitarian government.
Man was not created to govern himself. The anarchy of human opinion always ends in evil humanistic tyranny. We were created to obey God’s Law and when obedience is common conflict is minimized.
The emotional resistance to governmental tyranny that is evident throughout the world is worthless against the obdurate pressure from greedy power centers that consistently win the battle for hegemony. Democracy; government of the people, by the people, and for the people, has not and will not result in lasting freedom for the proletariat.
Manipulation by a controlled press and media keeps the people stuck in a dead end two party system. We have been successfully duped into centering our hope in politics (democracy, republic, monarchy, autocracy, autarky, etc.) believing that we can elect a leader who will bring us righteous government. This, of course, never happens because the leaders are pre-selected to obey the powerful hidden cabal.
Comic Stephen Colbert has coined a new word,” truthiness – truth that comes from the gut, and not from books”. A Washington Post article by cognitive psychologist Eryn Newman reports on the various ways people can “believe things are true when they are not”. Color and contrast affect our beliefs. Photographs bolster our certainties. Newman writes that “people are often unaware of their biases and how biased information influences their judgments”. The article infers that we should seek truth from books and not from the gut. While correct that the gut is often wrong, books are equally erroneous – truth is a product of God’s Word.
In my early Christian walk I was certain that the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” was the ultimate goal of Christianity. I was adamant against any question concerning its manifestations. In spite of Charismania’s serious heresies, I defended it enthusiastically. .
Human beings are often wrong while adamant about being right. It is a fault common to the brilliant and the mundane; both need the immutable righteousness of God’s Law to exist in equanimity. We were not created to govern ourselves and when leaders bring error to bear on an entire population the results are disastrous.
Though I am an opponent of Christian Libertarianism, Christianity does have a common interest; both seek maximum freedom and minimum government. The Christian model is dependent on a population that is obedient to God’s perfect legal system while the Libertarian model is utopian and humanistic, equally as dangerous as any of the other human systems.
We have a serious problem with any attempt to rectify our current plunge into chaos. Most of our population, Christians included, act as if human beings control the world. The world was created by the God of the Bible and He controls it. What is happening in the United States is a result of the behavior of its citizens and what is required to stop it is a change in behavior.
“Scripture is very clear that the oppression of man follows apostasy from God. It is impossible to read scripture and come to any other conclusion: certainly, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are emphatic on this point. The Lord therefore regards it as further evidence of apostasy if we resist evil for personal reasons while continuing in apostasy. The root to eliminating the wicked ones who rule over us begins with ordering our lives, churches, families, communities, and civil governments in terms of God’s word. When the people are apostate or disobedient they will suffer as God declared through Samuel. Oppression will come upon them. They will cry out against their oppressors, and they will pray to God, but ‘the Lord will not hear you in that day’ (1Sam. 8:10-18). They were crying out against their oppressors, not against their sins and themselves. They were manifesting both sin and blindness.” R. J. Rushdoony, “The Sermon on the Mount”, Pg. 64
Neo-Israel and the Zionists are in the process of gaining control over the Levant. The United States of America is their weapon of choice. It is American soldiers that die supporting the neo-con agenda but it is Israel and the Zionist quest for power that benefits. As Iraq erupts in war and ISIS takes control rumor has it that the CIA controls ISIS. If ISIS can be controlled Iraq will be conquered.
As neo-Israel again bombards and invades Gaza, M. J. Rosenberg writes, “In short, America is a pathetic helpless giant in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. The donors have shut us down. They own our policy.” We are a conquered nation and the church of Jesus Christ and the people that claim the Name of Christ are substantially responsible.
How can I say this politely? Not really sure, but here goes. “Bibi Netanyahu certainly has killed a whole bunch of children in Palestine lately. Does that remind you of anything that happened in the Bible, in this same Palestine, except years ago? ‘When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old or under.’ Does Matthew 2:16-18 come to mind?”
How many kids has Netanyahu killed in Palestine over these past five years? I have no idea. Has he killed more babies than Herod? Is this some sort of competition to see how many mothers’ tears can be shed? It certainly looks like it.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Has Netanyahu outdone even Herod? We may never know, but from the latest reports on NBC and CNN, it looks like Bibi has won this competition for sure! http://www.theguardian.com/
“But, Jane,” you might say, “Bibi Netanyahu has such a strong advantage. Herod didn’t have access to Patriot missiles or whatever those phallic-looking ICBM thingies that Bibi has.” All too true.
According to the Global Security Netwire, “Israel manufactures and deploys technologically sophisticated and diverse ballistic missile, cruise missile, and missile defense systems. Several overarching themes characterize Israel’s missile program. First, Israel’s strategy of maintaining a ‘qualitative military edge’ over potential adversaries motivated the country to rapidly develop one of the region’s [and the entire world’s] most capable missile production infrastructures, and to deploy the region’s [and the world’s] most advanced missile systems.” http://www.nti.org/country-
And with American taxpayers paying for all these hot new baby-killers, Netanyahu is sure to have the edge. Roman-era swords simply can’t compete with all that. Old Herod had better step up his game!
And Hamas’s funky short-range bottle-rockets also suck eggs. They haven’t even killed not even one child. But then Hamas isn’t out to kill kids like King Herod was — or like Bibi.
But actually, my money is on Netanyahu for winning the baby-killing contest right now. Back in Herod’s day, Jesus, Joseph and Mary were able to escape off to Egypt — but now even the Rafah crossing is closed. For Bibi right now, “slaughtering innocents” is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you are a child in Gaza today, you are trapped — and it’s not a matter of if you are going to die but when. I’d say that Bibi definitely has the edge. http://electronicintifada.net/
To quote Seumas Milne in The Guardian, “For the third time in five years, the world’s fourth largest military power has launched a full-scale armed onslaught on one of its most deprived and overcrowded territories. Since Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip began, just over a week ago, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Nearly 80% of the dead are civilians, over 20% of them children…. The idea that Israel is defending itself against unprovoked attacks from outside its borders is an absurdity.” http://www.theguardian.com/
Yet how come Herod is considered a vile and cowardly villain for killing so many babies, yet Netanyahu is considered a hero for doing the exact same thing? I truly do not understand.
Anyone watching the nightly news in America these days has surely seen some of those in-your-worst-nightmare videos showing hair-raising images of the fire-breathing minions of ISIS as they invade Syria and Iraq — blazing across bone-dry deserts in brand new Toyota trucks, brandishing AK-47s and looking like something out of a Hounds of Hell horror movie. And we all shudder involuntarily, imagining the chaos and terror being spread by these horrible men-in-black, waving pirate flags and screaming for blood.
And we can also probably imagine, far back in the most primitive lobes of our brains, what it would be like to see these very same nightmarish denizens screaming down Route 66, heading toward us too, driving straight for our own town, positively drooling over the thought of beheading us in our sleep and raping our sons and daughters.
But then we come to our senses and realize that this sort of thing can never happen here in America. This sort of nightmare only plays out in the Middle East (hopefully).
But forget about all that. Instead, let’s just focus in on the ISIS terrorists and pirates themselves, now safely out there in the Iraqi desert, aka “those terrible rough beasts, their hour come round at last, slouching toward Baghdad to be born, their gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,” to paraphrase William Butler Yeats.
And then let’s ask ourselves next, “While happily out there terrorizing and raping the countryside, just what the freak do these guys eat and drink? And where in the freak do they find a 7-11 or a Raley’s way out there in the desert? And when the freak do they even have time to cook and do dishes or pee?” And don’t even tell me that they are the Devil’s minions and thus live only on air. And where are their burn barrels and port-a-potties? And where are their grab-and-go bins full of “Meal, Ready-to-Eat,” menu number 15, beef enchilada, made by the Ameriqual Packaging Company, Evansville, Indiana 47710?
Surely even these devilish super-fiends must have an occasional craving for toilet paper? Or even perhaps the occasional shower?
So exactly who is providing ISIS with its supply line?
Don’t even dare tell me that ISIS doesn’t have one.
These aren’t ghosts or krakens or the mythological First Beasts referred to in the Book of Revelations. These are just ordinary human schmucks like the rest of us, who still put on their terrorist Halloween costumes one leg at a time. The Devil’s minions still have to eat. And pee. And they still have to get their shiny new Toyota trucks from an automobile showroom somewhere — one obviously not located in Hell. And they still have to use earthly rocket-launchers, not ones supplied by Lucifer himself.
Plus sacking and looting can only get these pirates so far before they run out of booty. And even if they now have billions of $$$ in plundered oil, they still have to sell it to someone. OPEC they are not.
So where do all these tons and tons of food and weapons and terrorist-chic outfits and port-a-potties all come from? Your guess is as good as mine. And I am guessing, based on all that I have read and seen lately, that all these goodies are being supplied by American, Israeli and Saudi oligarchs and neo-cons. And probably at us taxpayers’ expense too. http://www.globalresearch.ca/
These terrible terrorist ISIS operations appear to be all a part of the American, Israeli and Saudi neo-con oligarchs’ continuing (and very successful) “Land for Blood” program — wherein neo-cons get all the land and the men, women and children of the Middle East get to bleed. http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Of course I can’t prove most of this without breaking and entering NASDAQ and CIA vaults. Hoping for transparency is like flogging a dead horse. Just ask Edward Snowden about that one. But there still is a pattern here, one that started in Vietnam, worked its way through East Timor, Kuwait, Iraq and Guatemala, and is now surfacing again in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Gazahttp://write2rest.blogspot.
“What the devil…” you might say at this point. And you would be right.
PS: And speaking of tracking supply lines, what about all those other supply lines — all those abundant supply lines that should have been pouring out goodies all this time, streaming them out to the average American, Israeli/Palestinian and Saudi citizen like you and me? What happened to those?
Those supply lines are all pretty much toast.
Just think of all the trillions of dollars that have been spent on all these damned, useless, murderous and unnecessary “wars” that the oligarchs ruling our countries in the past 15-odd years have indulged themselves in — enough dollars to fix all of our infrastructures, pave all of our roads, create jobs for all of us like there was no tomorrow, educate all of our children for free up to a doctoral degree, make sure we all have top-notch healthcare, and dress every single man, woman and child in America, Arabia and Israel/Palestine with at least one pair of Jimmy Choo shoes!
Just because we don’t dress up like Freddy Kruger, don’t play at being the Devil’s disciples and don’t eat live human hearts on national TV doesn’t mean that we don’t need supply lines too.
All these amazing opportunities for you and me have been wasted. All that money is now gone with the wind, lost, wasted, never to return. That ship has sailed.
“But Jane,” you might ask next, “does this mean that America, Israel/Palestine and Saudi Arabia are currently being ruled by selfish, immoral and blood-thirsty idiots?” Well, yeah.
And here’s another hard truth: American, Israeli and Saudi neo-con supply lines are also limited too. They just can’t keep goosing us for our life-blood forever. Eventually the oligarchs will run out of MREs, cruise missiles and port-a-potties too. Theirs is not an endless supply line either.
Sooner or later, we average Americans, Israelis and Saudi Arabians are going to be empty and broken like the victims of so many vampires. What then? How will the neo-cons keep their war machines supplied once We the People are drained of our life’s blood?
How much money can these three countries spend on weapons and Iron Domes that don’t work and drones and bullets and missiles that cost a half-million dollars each (Israeli neo-cons just fired off 1,500 of them at the poor trapped citizens of Gaza) before the economies of these three countries are broken like rag dolls? Oops, too late. We are almost already there.
PPS: And here’s another supply line to track: Whoever is supplying the United Nations has also clearly purchased its soul as well — lock, stock and barrel. For instance, this whole devastation of the civilian population of Gaza? Women and children being slaughtered for their land — and not a peep from the UN in their defense. Not even one word. That’s just shameful.
According to journalist Robert Fisk, “The people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers – to the Gaza Strip! Refugees, they became. David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an ‘unjust and unjustified action’. Too bad. The Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back. And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj – now Sederot – live in the squalor of Gaza….” http://www.independent.co.uk/
The UN is currently as incapable of stopping wars now as the old League of Nations had been back in the day — because the UN’s very reason for being has been bought off by American and Israeli oligarchs. It is now as dead as the old League of Nations. The only real difference is that the UN has yet to lie down.
On July 17th Neil Young & Crazy Horse will perform at Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, a park built on the ruins of the Palestinian village Al Mirr, a land and people, destroyed and buried amidst unspeakable violence, but not forgotten.
Neil Young is a Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist and author of WAGING HEAVY PEACE
Crazy Horse is an American band best known for their association with Young beginning in 1969.
Crazy Horse has been co-credited on 11 studio albums and numerous live albums billed as by “Neil Young and Crazy Horse”.
In Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young’s 2012 autobiography, Young documents his life and career shifting from the past to present and from career to personal experiences.
On page 346, Neil Young wrote:
Somewhere along the line I had suggested the name Crazy Horse after the great Indian chief and the guys liked it. Neil Young with Crazy Horse. Not ‘and’…I liked that I was with them. Like we were together, not separate.
On page 137, Neil Young wrote:
When music is your life, there is a key that gets you to the core. I am so grateful that I still have Crazy Horse…they are my window to the cosmic world where the music lives and breathes. I can find myself there and go to the special area of my soul…
Just getting there is the key thing, and Crazy Horse is my way of getting there…
Am I too cosmic about this? I think not…
Do not doubt me in my sincerity, for it is that which has brought us to each other now.
In 2005, a coalition of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations launched a campaign calling the international community to boycott Israel culturally, academically, and commercially UNTIL Israel recognizes the indigenous Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, UNTIL Israel fully complies with international law and finally honors the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION of HUMAN RIGHTS upon which the Establishment of their very Statehood was contingent upon!
On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.- May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
In November 2006, Father Manuel, the parish Priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza warned the world:
Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry…people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope.
Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles…Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desperate…Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom.
Gaza cannot sleep…the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!
Because this American cannot improve on this Letter to Neil Young from the Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel University Teachers’ Association it follows in full here:
Besieged Gaza, Palestine
We are Palestinian students and youth from the besieged Gaza Strip; we write to you now on a night engulfed by huge explosions ripping through our houses and neighborhoods again, more common than the thunder and hard rain also filling the night air.
And now we hear you plan on playing your inspiring music to a packed house in Hayarkon Park, Tel Aviv, a park built on the ruins of the Palestinian village Al Mirr, a land and people, destroyed and buried amidst unspeakable violence, but not forgotten. The residents of that Palestinian village and hundreds of other villages forcibly emptied by the nascent Israeli army, were either killed or denied return, denied the chance to even visit or commemorate the lives they once had. (1)
While the world turns its back, we hope that you don’t turn yours, that you heed the call of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli regime until it abides by international law and stops denying us the right to live as any other human beings would expect.
Just as you didn’t perform in Apartheid South Africa, just as you stood up against racism in the US South, just as you have so admirably supported indigenous rights in Canada against the drilling for Tar Sands, we ask you to support indigenous, displaced people wherever they may be, including we Palestinians. The words of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in their recent move to boycott the Israeli regime echo the struggle for indigenous rights in America. (2)
As this letter is penned the sound of more Israeli bombing reverberates around the tight refugee camps and narrow alleys where we live.
The camps are in complete darkness as the electricity has been cut.
The Israeli siege and previous bombing of our only power-plant has lead to huge fuel shortages, leaving us with just 6 hours of electricity each day.
This is just one night, but it is comparable to many other nights in Gaza, many worse nights.
We are used to facing the wrath of Israeli Merkhava tanks, drones, shellings, bombs and snipers that have brutally murdered and maimed our people for decades, for the crime of being born Palestinians, the wrong “ethnic group” for the Israeli regime who since it was established has done everything to wipe us off the map.
Listening to music is difficult in these circumstances, despite our passion for it. We have our own big range of music we love to play and Debka dance. But we have few instruments. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza.
Other items denied to us were coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, fishing rods, cattle, toys, donkey, workbooks and newspapers. Dov Weisglass, an advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, explicitly outlined their intentions to collectively punish our population, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger”, he announced, in contravention of article 33 of the Geneva Conventions and condemned by all major human rights organizations. (4]
The violence behind Israel’s military occupation of our land is relentless and this week is no different. It began with Israeli border police shooting and killing a 38 year old Palestinian judge Raed Zeitar, the other bus passengers forced to sit and watch as he bled to death. Then 18-year-old Saji Darwish, Humanities student at Birzeit university, was shot in the head in Beitin, near Ramallah. Thousands attended his funeral the following day.
Tuesday saw four more murdered in the West Bank and Gaza.
On Wednesday Israeli authorities approved the construction of 387 housing units in the illegal settlement of Ramat Shlomo, denying the Palestinian towns of Beit Hanina and Shuafat the possibility to expand. And today a three-month old baby Ahmed Ammar Abu Nahal died of enlarged heart and liver as a result of the closure of Gaza crossings, a closure that has also left our hospitals bereft of medical supplies.
And right now we sit paralyzed in our homes as the bombs fall on us in Gaza.
Who knows when the current attacks will end.
Permanently etched on our minds are the rivers of blood that ran through the Gaza streets when for over 3 weeks in 2009 over 1400 were killed including over 330 children, with white phosphorous and other chemical weapons used in civilian areas and contaminating our land with a rise in cancers as a result.
More recently 170 more were killed in the weeklong attacks in late November 2012.
How many more sleeping in their beds now will face the same fate in the coming days, weeks and months? The trauma, fear and uncertainty never goes away.
Over two thirds of the Palestinians here in Gaza are UN registered refugees.
Over half of us are children.
We or our descendants were dispossessed entirely and forcibly removed from our homes.
The extent of this ethnic cleansing was such that one in three refugees worldwide is a Palestinian.
Expulsions of Palestinians continue today especially in Jerusalem and the West Bank, places that we in Gaza are no longer able to visit.
For what crime? The crime of being born Palestinian.
The Israeli regime denies us the freedom to come to enjoy your music, we live our lives surrounded by Navy Gunships along the sea, jeeps and wall tower snipers along the land frontier, and skies filled with the kind of aircraft unleashing yet more devastating attacks tonight.
The Gaza Strip has been made an outdoor prison, a reality beyond which most youth can never imagine, because most can never leave.
Others are hearing us and the world is beginning to wake up.
Many of your contemporaries are taking a stand including Carlos Santana, Roger Waters, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello and the late, great Pete Seeger and Gil Scott Heron, who said he wouldn’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”. (5)
As Israeli Apartheid week kicked off in South Africa this week, an event that has taken place in over 150 different locations worldwide, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for the world to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, just as many other Anti Apartheid heroes from South Africa have affirmed. Tutu said in his statement on Monday, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” (6)
Long before he died, Nelson Mandela demanded that we should have the self determination of any other people. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”, he said.
Will you sing “living with war” to an audience most of which will have served or are serving in the Israeli army that during the day were bombing our families, or manning the hundreds of checkpoints that make simple journeys daily acts of humiliation?
While we in Gaza can never return to our homes that lay buried around the areas in which you will be travelling freely, will you sing, “A hundred voices from a hundred lands, need someone to listen. People are dying here and there.”
On the struggle to support First Nations rights in Canada and environmental protection you said: “If you have a conscience, you can`t go through your day without realizing what`s going on, and questioning it, and going, “Is this right?”(7)
This is the question to mull over as here in Gaza a short period of silence has descended after the bombs rained down on us yet again tonight Show the courage to say that this system of violent discrimination and racial segregation is unacceptable in Palestine, just as you showed it to be unacceptable in the American South, unacceptable in Apartheid South Africa and unacceptable for the Indigenous of the Americas.
Stand on the right side of history and stand with us, and don’t entertain apartheid Israel this July.
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel University Teachers’ Association
How about Neil Young & Crazy Horse entertain Tel Aviv and wage some heavy peace by broadcasting this image on the stage at Hayarkon Park on July 17?
Who Are Those Guys?
Ein el Helwe camp — As Washington and London were affirming the past few days their intentions to continue to arm “moderate rebel factions” in Syria, Tel Aviv just announced it would like to be helpful by joining with “moderate Arab nations” to battle their mutual Muslim enemies.
Israel offered on 6/26/14 to help “moderate” Arab nations who may feel threatened by the lightning land grabbing offensive by Islamic militants in Iraq. As its foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, an arch Zionist Islamophobe and Arabphobe, met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris, he reportedly talked sweet about some Arabs and told Kerry that “the extremists currently operating in Iraq and Syria will try to challenge the stability in the entire Gulf region, first of all in Kuwait.” A statement from his office added that “Israel could provide effective and reliable assistance to moderate Arab states who are dealing with extremists.”
Just a few days after visiting Iraq, and being briefed on the pathetic situation, Kerry seems intrigued by the Zionist idea and noted according to a senior U.S. official, that it is “important that countries in the region (including Israel) stand together against the (ISIS) threat.”
Basically “Israel wants to do what Shite Iran has started doing” he continued, which according to the New York Times is flying surveillance drones over Iraq and sending military equipment to help Baghdad fight the Sunni insurgents. Except Israel wants to arm the Sunni tribes in league with the West and the Gulf monarchies and not arm the Shia.
Israeli officials and AIPAC are arguing to Washington that Israeli interests were converging with moderate Arab nations and “both sides should be dealing with the threat of Iran, world jihad and al-Qaida, as well as the spill-over of conflicts in Syria and in Iraq to neighboring countries.” The Israeli embassy issued a statement, “Today, (6/26/14) there is a basis for the creation of a new diplomatic-political structure in the Middle East.” Yet another ‘New Middle East’, one wonders?
This week, (6/22/14) on NBC’s Meet the Press, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu restated the half-century old Zionist project and continuing to permanently divide and control the Middle East. On the subject of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (DAASH) Netanyahu expressed the intention of his regime to continue to promote internal strife in Israel’s neighboring states. “We must weaken both [Sunni and Shia Muslims],” Netanyahu said, restating his governments preferred policy to have Muslims continue fighting among themselves. “When your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen either one of them, weaken both,” he told the American public.
While it would not be the first time the Zionist regime has worked with preferred members of the Arab League to advance its own interests, another strong incentive to ratchet up its “split the Arabs” policy is the popular spill-over political effects of the advancements of DAASH in Iraq and Syria. Briefly stated, Lebanon is awash with rumors about a “Sunni uprising” to regain what is viewed by some in Lebanon and the region as seeking justice for their substantial political and economic loses since the 2003 Bush-Blair invasion of Iraq.
If the Gulf Kingdoms and the West agree to share information and leverage with respect to Iraq and Syria with Netanyahu & Co., it will be with the knowledge that Israel has another motive in wanting to join the coalescing forces against ISIS (DAASH). Presumably it is also is what its Lebanon based agents are surely reporting from the Palestinian camps.
Briefly put Palestinian camps generally, and using Ein el Helwe, in Saida, Lebanon as an example, are beginning to experience what Nahr el Bared camp near Tripoli, Lebanon did in 2007. At Nahr al Bared, over a period of more than six months began to notice the arrival of ‘strangers.’ Some camp residents asked “Who are those guys”? At first the new arrivals appeared to be rather self-effacing, very polite, and seemingly deeply religious. They tended to keep to themselves and soon their families arrived. More than one Sheik in Nahr al Bared assured the camp residents that the strangers were “good Muslims” and some were even teaching lessons from the Koran at the Mosque.
Fast forward, and as one of the Nahr el Bared camp leader explained in great detail to this observer at the time, soon residents soon began to notice changes in what were in fact affiliates or members of a new group calling itself “Fatah el Islam (FEI).” For example, the Islamists began to accost women on the street demanding that they wear a full length Hijabs and to stop smoking and more generally change their ways to be “better Muslims”.
Today, FEI is relatively strong and growing, but secretively in Ein el Helwe. But they are not alone. New arrivals, plus young, unemployed, discouraged and increasingly disenchanted and angry youth are reportedly secretly holding meetings with DAASH, Al Nusra and other recruiters and they are promised immediate material benefits and soon to be granted the full right to work plus a deepening Resistance to the occupation of their country, Palestine. There are takers naturally, but numbers so far are difficult to learn. Militias are growing in the camps but it’s difficult to calculate just how fast because camp residents know of many outside intelligence agents living among them, ranging from Lebanese Internal Security to Zionist agents and many others, so keeping their work secret is most essential.
According to analysts in Lebanon, and a recent report in Now Lebanon, the small cells based in rural northern Lebanon, the eastern Bekaa, and the Palestinian camps, where law enforcement remains very difficult are expanding due to the ISIS’ surge in Iraq and its apparent success in securing popular support from Sunni tribes and former Baathist groups. Fears continue to spread that the Sunni-Shiite sectarian struggle will explode in Lebanon as well.
But the threat does not come only from outside Lebanon’s borders, according to a security source in Ain al-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp. The source reported that he has been receiving information recently about Jihadist factions mobilizing in several areas of Lebanon, including Palestinian refugee camps with both DAASH (ISIS) and al Nusra Front setting up training camps. According to one source, Jihadists reportedly are not only mobilizing inside the Palestinian camps: it is happening across Lebanon, especially after the Qalamoun second battle. Fanatic Muslims and takfiris are spreading very fast. “What is happening in Iraq and Qalamoun shows that the situation will soon be very dangerous in the region, including Lebanon. It will all become a jihad battlefield,” the source said.
Two active and knowledgeable Palestinians from Ein el Helwe camp explained to this observer this week as they introduced me to the leader of Fatah el Islam, “Of course all the camps are affected just like everyone else around here by what has been happening in Iraq and Syria. Palestinians always want to avoid local fights but we always seem to be pulled in. Look what happened in the Lebanese civil war. Our leadership tried everything it could do stay out of the sectarian fight but we were pulled in and paid a huge price.
As for the attitude of the general camp population in Lebanon, a recent unscientific poll found that more than 96% of camp residents in Lebanon do not want to stop the Resistance but rather to reclaim all their stolen land. This survey results compares remarkably closely to a June 15-17 poll commissioned by the Zionist Washington Institute. That poll comprised face-to-face interviews with a standard random geographic probability sample of 1,200 adult Palestinians, yielding results with a 3% statistical margin of error. Only 22% of Gazans would opt to give up the ‘by whatever means necessary’ Resistance “to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to achieve a two-state solution.” Even fewer, pick a “one-state solution,” in which “Arabs and Jews having equal rights in one country, but want their country returned from the river to the sea.” The “two-state solution” is the preferred option of a mere 9% in the West Bank and 10% in Gaza. Nearly two-thirds of the Palestinians in the same Zionist poll said “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.”
Both the Zionist poll and the informal one done in Palestinian camps in Lebanon find board support for popular resistance against the Zionist occupation seen as having a positive impact by most respondents in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. These activities include stepped up demonstrations, building more support for the BDS campaign, strikes, marches, and mass refusals to cooperate, though various acts of Resistance to confront the Zionist occupiers.
Increased Resistance is seen as having a positive impact by most respondents in both territories: 62% in the West Bank, 73% in Gaza and close to 90% in Ein el Helwe.
Meanwhile, a twitter account with 21,000 followers, one of many, and this one dubbed the “League of Supporters”, called this week for DAASH sympathizers to post messages warning America not to carry out airstrikes against DAASH. Rather they urged their supporters to prepare to follow them and to confront the Zionists across Palestine.
In summation, the Zionist regime is very aware that the camps are likely to explode for a number of reasons not least of which the lack of civil rights including Palestinians is being banned from most jobs and the rising anger in and among the camps. It is also the case that the Zionists realize that the future looks bleak for its continuing occupation of Palestine internationally and helping stamp our extremist Jihadists, even by working with Arab regimes, and to weaken Iran in the process, it what it must do.
As Canadian freelance writer and journalist Brandon Martinez reminds us: “Fragmenting, weakening and Balkanizing the Middle East has been part and parcel of the Zionist impulse from the very beginnings of the Jewish state. Israeli strategist Oded Yinon candidly outlined this imperialist line of thought in his 1982 paper “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” A strong, unified Iraq is Israel’s primary military concern, Yinon stressed” Yinon went on to push for the territorial dissection of Iraq into three state-lets along ethnic and confessional lines. And we may well witness these developments in Iraq. He promoted much the same scenario for Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and other Arab/Muslim states bordering the Zionist colony.
Martinez further observes, “The Zionists have used deception, subterfuge and cunning to con the world into entering conflicts and conflagrations that have expedited their ominous aims. But Israel’s insatiable avarice for more land and resources will eventually be its downfall, just as every empire in history has sooner or later collapsed under its own weight.”
Reminding this observer of a quote a valued friend from New Mexico recently sent to me:
“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too” (Marcus Aurelius).
“Just exactly how many articles on Syria and Iraq can you actually churn out?” a friend of mine asked me recently. “You were only over in Damascus for five freaking days. And you haven’t been to Iraq since 2008. So what makes YOU such an expert on these two countries?”
Even after less than a week spent in Damascus and after only having been to Iraq four-and-a-half times, I apparently already know more about Syria and Baghdad and Al Ambar than all those dingbats in the U.S. State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA combined. Unfortunately.
Washington neo-cons and their neo-con counterparts in Tel Aviv have really gotten the Arab world totally wrong.
So, even though I would really rather be writing about almost anything else right now, it is still my civic duty to set these fools straight. Sorry about that.
What I really want to be writing about this week is the exciting new Freedom Summer 50th-anniversary conference in Jackson, Mississippi, where a bunch of folks are getting together to celebrate having survived the heroic summer of 1964 when so many civil rights workers poured their hearts out in an attempt to finally bring justice to the Ol’ South — and some of them lost their lives while doing it too .
But apparently justice in the Ol’ South will have to wait a bit longer. Right now we need to talk about justice in the Middle East first.
After the fall of the U.S.S.R., Washington neo-cons needed a new boogeyman to scare Americans into handing over our hard-earned tax dollars to the military-industrial complex. And so the military-industrial complex came up with the idea of making Islam the bad guy. But then apparently Washington neo-cons actually began to believe their own hype — and even went so far as to actually start creating and financing “Islamic Militants” where none had existed so far.
According to journalist Fenian Cunningham, “The biggest recruitment office for such groups [as ISIS] is the British government and its criminal militaristic foreign policy, which has been destroying countries for years, overtly and covertly. That same destructive British state-sponsored terrorism, alongside that of its American and other NATO allies, is also why millions of Syrians and Iraqis are living in tents, unable to feed their families.”
The thumbscrews were not only put onto various Islamic countries until “militants” actually did start to emerge, but then Wall Street and War Street — bound and determined to sell as many weapons as possible — actually started creating “Islamic Militants” themselves (and of course all the while praying for another “Pearl Harbor”)
According to an article in Information Clearinghouse, “Key members of ISIS it now emerges were trained by US CIA and Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to informed Jordanian officials…Former US State Department official Andrew Doran wrote in the conservative National Review magazine that some ISIS warriors also hold US passports.”
Neo-cons began manufacturing these Frankenstein monsters left and right, actually paying thousands of poor unfortunate souls in the Middle East to go on “jihad”. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=20684
Even way back in the 1970s I could have warned the military-industrial complex that these acts of folly would eventually start leading to blow-back — not to mention the sky-rocketing cost of gasoline as a result of all this footsie-playing in the Middle East.
According to journalist Juan Cole, “During the past ten years, American drivers have seen their gasoline bill go up tremendously – though not as much as it by all rights should have – and stay there.” http://readersupportednews.
Apparently, The M-IC’s money-making scheme in the Middle East was that various U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would be constantly stirring up the pot there, turning Arab against Arab until they all freaking started to butcher each other like so many crabs in a barrel. And then the U.S. and Israeli neo-cons would steal everything that wasn’t nailed down while no one over there was looking. It sounded like a good plan. Until the rest of us Americans and Israelis finally began to realize that there was nothing in this witches’ brew for the rest of us except danger to ourselves.
According to me, ISIS is nothing but a bunch of pirates, the Taliban are murdering wife-beaters, the idiots in charge of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq are dictators and Libya is overrun by barbarians. And who created all these proto-zombies? Neo-cons in Israel and the U.S. Of course.
According to Franklin Lamb, who seems to be legendary in Damascus for fabricating stories and mooching off of the Syrian government, ISIS, Syria’s arch enemy, is practically a freaking benevolent organization who succors the poor, has nukes of its own and whose goal is to unite all the downtrodden Arabs in the Middle East into one coherent version of the freaking Red Cross and then liberate Palestine and wash Israel into the sea. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=20664 .
However, Palestinians in Syria did not support ISIS’s brutality and refused to be drawn in — so ISIS bombed the crap out of them instead. And the Palestinians in Israel already have neo-cons killing their kids — and don’t need any more neo-con-backed pirates adding even more “creative chaos” to the mix.
Huh? No. Forget about the sparkling clean Red Cross wannabe image. These ISIS guys are down and dirty pirates. And that’s “all she wrote” about that. And apparently we American taxpayers are paying for all of ISIS’s new Toyotas, rocket-launchers and Nikes as well.
“You talk as though the military-industrial complex may finally be starting to get its comeuppance for generating such a devious plot — but, frankly, it is not,” you might comment at this point.
No, it is not. Not yet. But if Wall Street and War Street continue to play their cutesy little “Divide and Conquer” games in the Middle East, keep on messing with its political eco-system, breaking down its civil society in this bad way, and creating and financing even more Al Qaedas, Talibans and ISISs and driving world gas prices sky-high, then eventually it will suck to be you! http://www.veteranstoday.com/
Even against all odds and proof, I still have faith that the rest of us Americans, us average decent salt-of-the-earth types, will finally put a stop to all these nefarious neo-con schemes and finally start bringing our money and our troops home from the Middle East instead — and stop picking on all these poor Arabs before they end up going completely freaking nuts as they see their parents, wives and children constantly being blown to bits before their very eyes by these neo-con monsters.
Not sure why I keep holding out hope that this will happen. But do I really have any other choice?
Not What the Neocons Planned…
One need not be prescient to understand the unfolding “Jihadi Spring” is fueling the plans and perhaps destiny of ascendant Islamists in this region with the increasing help of in-country nationalists, including remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party. This, according to more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters to discuss what they found inaccurate in a piece I wrote about DAASH actions in Raqqa, Syria. In that article I claimed that DAASH was selling Syria’s archeological treasures, just as they are selling Syria’s oil and in some instances, food warehouse contents, to the highest foreign bidder. There is no paucity of the latter.
The final “S” in the acronym “ISIS” relates to the Arabic word “al-Sham” which itself is variously used to refer to the Levant, Syria or even Damascus. But DAASH (ISIS) means the Levant or Eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and southern Turkey. ISIS has just announced that Raqqa, the only one of 14 Governorates its controls in Syria, is now the “Capital” of their emerging “Caliphate” which so far is a swathe of territory encompassing much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq. The Emir is to be their military strategist and leader and successor of Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Those interviewed at length include sympathizers, students of politics and of the Islamist ‘spring’ in Syria and Iraq, as well as a few shadowy claimed jihadist recruiters, some working with a claimed new specialized DAASH unit organized at the beginning of 2013 and which focuses exclusively on destroying the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. DAASH’s “Al Quds Unit” (AQU) is currently working to broaden its influence in more than 60 Palestinian camps and gatherings from Gaza, across Occupied Palestine, to Jordan, and Lebanon up to the north of Syria seeking to enlist support as it prepares to liberate Palestine.
DAASH believes, according to one of its claimed academic advisers, that the ummat al-Islamiyah (Islamic community), as a US Foreign Relations staffer, on 6/18/14 advised this observer, that the White House estimates that approximately six million Iraqi Sunni have recently become supportive of the armed action by DAASH. The support excludes its strict, indeed anti-social societal mores and abhorrence of current harsh realities of life in DAASH territory. The Islamist organization believes it currently has massive regional support for it rapidly expanding “revolution of the oppressed.” Large numbers in this region do appear to appreciate its recent successes, despite its history of calculated brutality for political purposes. DAASH urges the public to study its remarkable history that reaches back to 2003 when Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi got out of prison in Jordan and headed to Afghanistan, gained valuable experience from if the trust of Osama Bin Laden, and then crossed over to Iraq to wage jihad against America. DAASH appears to be using sectarian appeals in Iraq and Syria much the same way Zawqawi did when he confronted the ascendant Shia militia following the US invasion and occupation.
DAASH supporters claim that it has been joined by more than a dozen Sunni groups such as one called Men of the Army of the Naqshbandia Order.” JRTN as it is known locally, was established in 2007 following the execution of Saadam Hussein and is made up of former Hussein regime loyalists, including intelligence officers and soldiers from his Republican Guards. If its alliance with DAASH holds, JRTN can contribute thousands of fighters with strong social roots in the community. One JRTN interlocutor explained to this observer, “As Sunni Muslims, DAASH can resolve differences between its views of Islam and those of the Ummah. First we need victory and to achieve that we need each other and if our Baathist partners decide to position themselves to be secular guardians of Sunni Arab nationalism that can be discussed later. The official website of the Naqshbandi Army includes a 1/1/2014 announcement: “To all our brothers and families of the tribes and factions we tell you, you are not alone in this battlefield.”
DAASH insists that it has become less active in killing anyone who works for the government of Syria or Iraq including rubbish collectors, a barbaric practice that alienated the Sunni population and that their support is growing as they increasingly provide the essential social services in the forming proto-Caliphate. “Zionists call us masked, sociopathic murderers but we are much more complicated and representative of those seeking justice than they portray us. Are we more barbaric than the Zionist terrorists who massacred at Dier Yassin, Shatila twice at Qana, and committed dozens of other massacres? History will judge us after we free Palestine.” A few years ago the CIA and others estimated that the Zionist occupation of Palestine will collapse in less than a decade. DAASH claims it can do the job in 72 months.
With respect to events surrounding its takeover of Mosel and other social media broadcast exhibitions of mass brutality, ISIS claims it was done for a purpose, the same purpose that other state and non-state actors have used over the past two decade and that is for 90% of the world 1.5 billion Muslims (Sunni) to free themselves from the oppression of the 10% (Shia).
Several reasons were given as to why Palestinians should hold out hope for ISIS succeeding in their cause when all other Arab, Muslim, and Western claimed Resistance supporters have been abject failures and invariably end up benefiting the Zionist occupation regime terrorizing Palestine. “All countries in this region are playing the sectarian card just as they have long played the Palestinian card but the difference with ISIS is that we are serious about Palestine and they are not. Tel Aviv will fall as fast as Mosul when the time is right”, a DAASH ally explained. Another gentleman insisted, “DAASH will fight where no one else is willing.”
ISIS appears uniformly contemptuous of the Zionist regime and its army and also appears eager to fight them in the near future despite expectation that the regime will use nuclear weapons. “Do you think that we do not have access to nuclear devises? The Zionists know that we do and if we ever believe they are about to use theirs we will not hesitate. After the Zionists are gone, Palestine will have to be decontaminated and rebuilt just like areas where there has been radiation released.”
DAASH supporters claim that it reaches out to local notables and tribal leaders and discuss their differences and seek their tribal counsel. DAASH claims that the Roman Catholic Vatican supports its own claims that when they captured Mosul last week they did not harm Christian residents or desecrate churches. In this they are supported by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Apostolic Nuncio (Pope’s envoy) in Iraq who this week told the media: “The guerrillas who are in control of Mosul have to date not committed any violent act or damaged the churches there.”
It is becoming clear that DAASH has set up well organized local administrations in areas it controls, including an Islamic court system and a local non-hostile police force which support public safety with measures such as closing shops for selling poor products in the souks and supermarkets and on the street, destroying cigarettes and whipping some individuals for disrespecting and insulting their neighbors, confiscating counterfeit medicines in addition to some death sentences for apostasy.
DAASH supporters claim that as soon as they ‘liberate” an area they invest in public works such as the new souk in Raqqa, installs new power lines and conducts training sessions on how citizens can do-it-yourself for more self-reliance with fixing infrastructure problems. In addition DAASH claims that it quickly fixes potholes, runs a low fare bus system, has established a ‘green’ program to build parks and plant trees and flowers, helps farmers with harvests and runs a zakat (alms-giving) organization. Moreover, ISIS has established a number of religious schools for children, including ones for girls where they can memorize the Koran and receive awards if successful, while also holding ‘fun days’ for kids including all the ice cream they can eat and inflatable slides. For their older counterparts, ISIS has established training sessions for new imams and preachers. Schedules for prayers and Koran lessons are posted at mosques. In a more worrisome development, ISIS runs training camps for “cub scouts” and houses these recruits for ‘instruction’. Several social media reports and a few eyewitness accounts appear to confirm that DAASH has developed health and welfare programs, operates bread factories and distributes free fruits and vegetables to needy families, passing the goods out personally as well as setting up a free food kitchen in Raqqa and an adoption agency to place orphans with families in their areas. Unlike the Taliban and some other regimes which exhibit paranoia about vaccination campaigns, DAASH claims to be more ‘modern” and actively promotes polio-vaccination in its areas to try stop its spread.
The social services that DAASH provides obviously do not ameliorate the deadly violence it carries out, but does suggest it is well-organized and has caught the interest of the Sunni Muslims who feel besieged by Shia. According to an al-Bagdadi relative, nearly the half a billion dollars that was snatched from Mosul’s central bank this month will help to win hearts and minds and correct some of its “bad press”. DAASH appears to ascribe to the cliché that half of any war is a rumor. It condemns the project of many satellite channels and claims that they do not objectively report the news but mainly spread rumors with sectarian instigation as the goal. On this point who can refute them?
DAASH supporters deny any interest in training and directing foreign fighters to attack Europe and other places, claiming that their goals are to establish an al-Sham Caliphate and liberate Palestine. With respect to exactly how DAASH intends to liberate Palestine, the Iraqi’s and now the Obama administration ar3 in possession of an encyclopedia of information about detailed DAASH plans, and tactics it will confront the Zionist occupiers with, according to a congressional staffer via email with this observer. Reportedly the employment of large numbers of militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers, moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives is just the tip of a deep iceberg of what DAASH is planning.
The trove reportedly came from Iraqi intelligence sources that came upon it less than 48 hours before Mosul fell. Apparently a fellow known as “Abu Hajjar” a captured trusted DAASH messenger broke under Iraqi torture and turned over more than 160 computer flash sticks which contained the most detailed information to date about DAASH. The US intelligence community are still decrypting and analyzing the flash sticks.
Predictably, no sooner that this information reached the US Congress, than Congresswoman and Israeli agent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen former Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and her partners at AIPAC went to work trying to get ahold copies of the flash sticks and share them with the Israeli Embassy and no doubt the Mossad. The current sense on Capitol Hill is reported to be that the Obama administration in not in the mood to share anything with Israel these days and certainly not with the Netanyahu regime which it loathes.
Time will reveal if DAASH achieves one or both of its objectives. Many believe if they eject the Zionist regime from Palestine, the expanding Islamist group will set in motion historic currents that in all likelihood will be rather different from the Ehud Omert-Condeleeza Rice fantasy of “a New Middle East.”
In any event, it is unlikely that Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, among other countries in this region, are going to look much like what George Bush and Dick Cheney and their still active neocon advisers had in mind when they were beating the drums for a U.S. invasion of Iraq, Libya, and now Syria and Iran.
The erotic reliefs of Hindu temples with their gravity-defying and anatomy-challenging positions have found a new modern competitor in the Ukrainian crisis. Each party wants to get the Jews on their side, while claiming that the other side is anti-Jewish and a Jewish puppet at once. This impossible, Kama-Sutraesque position is the result of extremely confusing alliances: the Kiev regime lists devout Jews and fiery antisemites among its mainstays. The leading figures of the regime (including the president-elect) are of Jewish origin; strongman and chief financier Mr. Igor (Benya) Kolomoysky is a prominent Jewish public figure, the builder of many synagogues and a supporter of Israel. The most derring-do and pro-active force of the regime, the ultra-nationalists of the Svoboda party and the Right Sector, admire Hitler and his Ukrainian Quisling, Stepan Bandera, “liberators of Ukraine from the Judeo-Muscovite yoke”. Jews are ambivalent, and the sides are ambivalent about them, and a most entertaining intrigue has been hatched.
The Russians tried to pull Israel and American Jews to their side, with little success. President Putin condemned the antisemitism of the Svoboda party; he mentioned the desecration of the Odessa Jewish cemetery in his important talk. The Russians re-vitalised the World War Two narrative, fully identifying the Kiev regime with the Bandera gangs and the Nazi enemy. Still, this rhetoric is not taken seriously by Jews who refuse to feel threatened by cuddly Kolomoysky. “These Nazis are not against Jews, they are against Russians, so it is not a Jewish problem”, they say.
The Kiev regime mirrored the Russian attitude, if not Russia’s tactics. Being rather short of facts to brandish, they faked a leaflet from Donetsk rebels to local Jews calling upon them to register and pay a special poll tax “for the Jews support the Kiev regime”. This rude and improbable hoax was immediately and convincingly disproved, but not before it was used by, no less, Barak Obama and John Kerry. The American Jewish newspaper of record, The Forward, obfuscated the issue by saying that Russians and Ukrainians are antisemites by birth and their denials are to be taken with a grain of salt. This mud-slinging was effective – the hoax has made the front pages, while its debunking was published on the back pages.
The Russians had the facts on their side, and the West knew that: the US refused entry to Oleg Tyagnibok and other Svoboda leaders (now members of Kiev government) because of their antisemitism as recently as in 2013. But Russian appeals to Jewish and American sensitivities failed to make an impact. They know when to feign indignation and when to hush. Pro-Hitler commemorations are frequent in Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, and cause no lifting of a censorious brow, for these countries are solidly anti-Russian. In March of this year, the Obama administration’s special envoy on anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, flatly denied everything and said to the Forward that Putin’s assertions of Svoboda’s antisemitism “were not credible”. The US wants to decide who is an antisemite and who is not; like Hermann Goering wanted to decide who is a Jew and who is not in the Luftwaffe. In the Ukrainian crisis, the Jews remain divided, and follow their countries’ preferences.
Israel is neutral
Recently Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Putin. Putin is always available for and always courteous to Netanyahu, as opposed to President Obama, who shows signs of irritation. (Admittedly Obama has to listen to Netanyahu much more often and for hours.) Netanyahu apologised that he wouldn’t be able to come to St Petersburg for Israeli Culture Week; instead, old reliable Shimon Peres, Israel’s President, will make the trip. He apologised for leaking the news of this visit cancellation to the media, as well.
This is quite typical for the Israeli PM: at first, he asks for an invitation, Russia extends it, then he cancels his visit and leaks it to the press, thus earning brownie points with the Americans. He did it at the Sochi Olympic games, and now again, in St Petersburg. This is his way of expressing Israeli neutrality.
Israel is explicitly neutral in the Ukrainian crisis. Israelis walked out and did not vote on the UN GA Crimea resolution at all, annoying its American sponsors. The Israelis had a flimsy excuse: their Foreign Office was on strike. The Americans weren’t satisfied with this explanation. Strike or not, vote you must!
We learned from our Israeli colleagues the details of the Putin-Netanyahu phone conversation, which elaborated the reasons for Israeli neutrality. Israel is worried that as an asymmetric response to the US sanctions, Russia would deliver its potent air defence systems to Iran and Syria. Iran and Russia had signed a weapons supply contract a few years ago, Iran duly paid; then the shipment was suspended. Iran went to court demanding a massive compensation for the breach of contract. Likewise, the Syrians were supposed to get the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, able to protect its skies from Israeli raids. The deliveries commenced; PM Netanyahu beseeched Putin to put it on hold. Initially Putin objected, stressing the defensive nature of the system. Netanyahu told the Russian president that the S-300 would allow the Syrians to cover the whole North of Israel, at least all the way to Haifa, rendering important airfields unusable and endangering civil aviation as well. Putin agreed to stop the deliveries.
Vladimir Putin is friendly to Israel. He promised he would not allow the destruction of Israel; he promised to save its population if the situation should become truly dangerous. During the recent visit of PM Netanyahu to Moscow, Putin was not carried away by Netanyahu and Liberman’s hints of possible Israeli re-alliance with Moscow instead of Washington. He told the Israelis that their ties with the US are too strong for such a re-alliance being conceivable. Putin said that Russia is satisfied with the present level of friendship and does not demand that Tel Aviv weaken its ties with Washington. Putin visited Israel a few times, he received the Israeli PM in Kremlin. The Israeli ambassador Mme Golender sees Putin more often than do her American or French counterparts.
This friendly attitude has a down-to-earth reason: Putin is not fluent in English or French, while Mme Ambassador speaks Russian to him, eliminating the bothersome need of an interpreter. A deeper reason is Putin’s background: a scion of liberal elites, brought up in St Petersburg, schooled by ultra-liberal Mayor Sobchack, anointed by Boris Yeltsin, Putin is naturally friendly to Jews and to Israel. This friendly attitude annoyed some Russian ultra-patriots, who excitedly circulated his photo taken in the obligatory kippahnear the Wailing Wall. They also counted and recounted the names of Jewish oligarchs in Moscow.
True, some of them – Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Hodorkovsky – had to flee their Russian homeland, but the Russian president is surely not the Jewish-tycoons-Nemesis and the-new-Hitler he is sometimes made out to be. Abramovich and Friedman, to name just two, retain his trust and access. Putin does not mind any oligarch (Jewish or Gentile) – as long as he stays out of politics.
Putin is also friendly with Jewish intellectuals and gentlemen-of-the-media, even if they are outright hostile to him. Masha Gessen, Jewish Lesbian Putin-hater and magazine editor; Alexey Venediktov, Jewish chief editor of Echo Moskvy, a popular liberal medium that attacks Putin every day; many others enjoy access to Putin, – while no Russian nationalist including Dr Alexander Dugin can boast of having met with the president privately.
Putin’s affability does not turn him into a bountiful source for every Jewish initiative. He stopped S-300 deliveries to Iran, but rejected all Israeli overtures asking him to ditch Iran, or Syria, or Hamas. In the course of their last phone conversation, Netanyahu claimed the Israelis discovered proofs of Iranian nukes. Putin politely expressed his doubts and re-addressed him to IAEA. He agreed to receive the Israeli “experts” with their proofs in Moscow, but nothing came of it. Russia’s support for Palestine is unwavering, – there is a Palestinian embassy in Moscow, too.
Putin supported building of a spacious Jewish museum in Moscow and personally contributed to its budget – but Russian street advertising proclaims the Resurrection of Christ, Eastertide, and His Nativity at Christmas. No “season’s greetings”, but open affirmation of Christianity. Russia is not like the US or EU, where external signs of Christian faith are forbidden, Easter and Christmas can’t be mentioned and whatever Jews request must be done immediately. Western Jews are annoyed (so their organisations claim) by public displays of Christian faith, but Russian Jews do not mind; moreover, they intermarry, convert and enter the Church in previously unheard of numbers. They are not strongly pro-Israeli, those that were already left for Israel.
So the Jews of Russia are not an influential factor to the Russian President. Putin will do what is right according to the Christian faith, and what is good for Russia, as he understands it — and he can’t be convinced to give up really important points. Other considerations – such as friendship with Israel – would normally take a much lower place in his priorities. However, in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, as the Russians are worried by sanctions and by threats of isolation, they try to pull Jews to their side. This makes them increasingly susceptible to Israeli manipulation, whether state-authorised or a private venture.
Last week, Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld visited Moscow. In 2003, he famously threatened Europe with nuclear destruction (the “Samson Option”), saying “Israel has the capability to take the world down with us, and that will happen before Israel goes under”. Now he has explained to Russians Israel’s new policy: While the US enters the period of its decline, Israel must diversify and hedge its bets by drawing close to Moscow, Beijing and Delhi, he wrote in Izvestia daily. Perhaps, but without going too far. A flirt – yes, switching sides – not yet.
Israel prefers to stick to its neutrality. This is easy, as the Israeli populace (excepting its Russians) is not interested in Russian/Ukrainian affairs, does not know the difference between Russia and the Ukraine and is rather unfriendly to Russians/Ukrainians. This goes for both the Left and Right; the Israeli Left is even more pro-American than the Israeli Right. As for Russian Israelis, they are equally divided between supporters of Russia and supporters of Kiev regime. While observing niceties towards Russia, Israel does not intend to side with Moscow. The Jewish oligarchs of Ukraine – Kolomoysky, Pinchuk, Rabinovich – are integrated within the Kiev regime, and they support Israeli right-wing on a large scale. Israeli businessmen are invested in the Ukraine, and the oligarchs are invested in Israel. Kolomoysky controls YuzhMash, the famed missile construction complex in Dnepropetrovsk, and holds the secrets of the Satan ballistic missile, the most powerful Russian strategic weapon. He allegedly intends to share these secrets with the Israelis. If Israel were to side with Moscow regarding Ukraine, the breach with Washington would be unavoidable, and Israel does not intend to provoke it.
Some marginal Israeli right-wingers support Russia; they claim that they represent Israeli public opinion and government. They try to collect on their promises before they deliver. However, this is not an ordinary scam: they are trying to turn Russia into a supporter of right-wing Zionism.
Consider Russian-Israeli far right activist Avigdor Eskin. He impossibly claims that the Israeli government has already decided to jump from the US train to join the Russian one, that Israeli commandos are on their way to fight for the Russians in Donetsk, that Israeli authorities intend to strip Mr Kolomoysky of his Israeli citizenship. Naturally, all that is a load of bunkum, but Russians swallow it hook, line and sinker.
Avigdor Eskin is a colourful personality: a convert to Jewish faith (his mother is not Jewish), an observant Jew, an ex-Kahanist who was arrested in Israel for an alleged attempt to desecrate Al Aqsa mosque and a Muslim cemetery, and who served two or three years in Israeli jail; he styles himself a “Rabbi” and wears a full beard. After serving his time in jail, he moved to Russia and built a network of Israel supporters among the Russian far right. His message is “Israel is a true friend of Russia, while Muslims are Russia’s enemies”. He also adds that Israeli settlers are anti-American and pro-Russian. (If you believe that, the tooth fairy is the next step.)
Recently he claimed that the Aliya Battalion of “experienced Israeli commandos and sharpshooters” came to warring Donbass to fight on the Russian side against the Kiev regime troops. The Aliya Battalion is a battalion in the sense Salvation Army is an army. This is an Israeli NGO, established by Russian Israelis of far-right Zionist persuasion and of some Russian military background. It is not a part of Israeli Army. For a short while, the NGO provided guards for Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, but the settlements stopped using them as they were extremely unreliable. They boasted of murdering Palestinian civilians, of torturing and killing children, but this was just a sick sadist and racist fantasy, people say. Afterwards, the Battalion leaders turned its name into a profitable scam, roaming American Jewish communities and collecting donations for their supposedly secret activities. As this scam was exposed by Israeli TV (RTVI network; it is available on the YouTube), they had disappeared from the public eye. Now Avigdor Eskin resurrected the old scam, and made a lot of headlines in the Russian media.
Eskin found a soulmate in prominent Russian media man Vladimir Solovyev. The Solovyev is of partly Jewish origin, lived abroad, then returned to Russia; he runs an important political show Sunday Eveningon Russian TV. The Saker (a well-known blogger) described him as follows: “This show is hosted by a famous personality, Vladimir Solovyev, who is a very interesting guy. Solovyev is a Jew, and he is not shy about reminding his audience about it, who was even elected as a member of the Russian Jewish Congress. He is also a Russian patriot, and he is an outspoken supporter of Putin and his policies. His position on the Ukraine is simple: he as a Jew and as a Russian has zero tolerance for Ukrainian nationalism, neo-Nazism or Banderism. He is a determined and total enemy of the new Kiev regime.”
It is possible Solovyev is going through some personal identity crisis: from celebrating his Russian roots, he moved to proclaiming his Jewish origin. Alternatively, it is possible (and more likely) that the Russian decision-makers want to pull Jews on their side, and Solovyev is acting with US Jews in mind. Stalin did it, so Putin could repeat the trick. In 1942, as Nazi onslaught threatened Russia, Stalin had sent some Russian Jews to the US, to speak Yiddish to Jewish communities and lobby for the USSR. The American Jewish community surely carries some clout… Now Solovyev and others are trying to influence Jews abroad; or at least to show to their superiors they are trying.
The price Eskin extracts for his fantasy stories is high. In Solovyev’s prime time programme, he called for the destruction of al Aqsa mosque and for the building of the Jewish temple on its place. He called Palestinians “the people of Antichrist”. Even in Israel such statements can’t be voiced on public TV. In confused Moscow, Eskin was feted and given a place in another important political programme, that of Arcady Mamontov. Who is conning whom: is Eskin conning his Russian hosts, or are his media hosts using him to con their superiors, or are their superiors trying to con the Russian people? Or is Israel hedging its bets? Who knows?
Ukrainian Jews beg to differ
Jews came to the Ukraine a thousand years ago, perhaps from Khazaria. This is not a homogeneous community; rather, they represent several communities. A lot of them emigrated to Israel; even more moved to Russia. They speak Russian and usually do not speak Ukrainian, though they picked up the vernacular over last twenty years. Normally, they wouldn’t care about Ukraine’s independence, as Jews traditionally side with the strong, be it Poles under Polish rule, with Russians under Moscow rule, or with Germans under Vienna or Berlin. Now many of them have decided to side with the US or EU. One of the reasons why so many people of Jewish origin do well is that the ruling ethnic groups trust the Jews and rely upon their loyalty to the powerful and lack of compassion for their Gentile neighbours.
Another reason is the vague definitions. For last three or four generations, Jews have intermarried freely; children of these mixed marriages are often considered ‘Jews’. These are the ‘Jews’ to the present regime; often they have only one Jewish grandparent.
Ukraine, following its independence in 1991, moved into the Western sphere of influence, but Eastern Ukraine (Novorossia) retained its Russian character and links. Jews did well in both parts. Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member of the Jewish community, and a mainstay of the Kiev regime. He is a ruthless businessman, famous for his raiding of others’properties and for his Mafia connections. Rumours connect him with many killings of business adversaries.
On the other side, in Kharkov, the Mayor and the district Governor (nicknamed Dopah and Gepah) are Jewish, and they can be considered pro-Russian. It was thought that Kharkov would become the centre of rising Novorossia; president Yanukovich fled to Kharkov hoping to find allies and supporters. But Dopa and Gepa disabused him, so he continued his flight all the way to the Russian city of Rostov. Their decision to remain loyal to Kiev did not work well for them: one was shot, and the second one has been imprisoned and his attempt to run for president thwarted.
Kharkov is also home to Mr. Hodos, a wealthy and prominent Jew who fought most valiantly against Habad, the Jewish spiritual movement of which Mr Kolomoysky is a prominent member. The Jews of Novorossia apparently support the general pro-Russian trend, though there are exceptions. Practically all Ukrainian Jews have relatives in Russia, and had Russian education.
Israel has a strong network of agents in the Ukraine. They snatched a Palestinian engineer and flew him to an Israeli dungeon, and that could not be done without support of Ukrainian security services. However, the stories of Israeli soldiers fighting in Ukraine are somewhat exaggerated: these are individuals of dual citizenship who act at their own will, not a state representatives.
US Jews are divided
US Jews are divided on the Ukraine, as they were divided on Palestine. Friends of Palestine, people with a strong anti-imperialist record and sound knowledge of East European history – Noam Chomsky and Stephen F. Cohen — recognised and renounced the US attempt to sustain their hegemony by keeping brazen Russia down. A subset of people, Gilad Atzmon aptly called AZZ (anti-zionist zionists), Trots and other faux-Leftist shills for NATO like Louis Proyect – called for American intervention and brayed for Russian blood.
The notorious Israel Lobby is strictly anti-Russian. The State Dept. official Victoria (“Fuck EU”) Nuland personally directed the Kiev coup; she handpicked the government and the president of the new American colony on the Dnieper River. Her husband, Robert Kagan, is a founder of FPI, the successor of infamous PNAC, the extremist Zionist think tank which promoted wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and pushed for a war with Iran. Now they attack Russia, but they do not forget about their support for Israel.
Consider a young American gender activist and journalist, James Kirchick. He entered the Neocon network by shilling for the Lobby. He pink-washed Israel (“Israel as the best friend of gays on earth, while the Palestinians are homophobes who deserve to be bombed”). After doing the Israeli stint, he moved on to fighting Russia. He worked for the CIA-owned and US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe; stage-managed the sensational Liz Wahl’s on-air resignation from the RT and protested alleged mistreatment of gays in Russia. His dirty tricks were revealed by Max Blumenthal, a Jewish American journalist, a known anti-Zionist (working together with a Palestinian Rania Khalek).
While Israel is neutral re Ukraine, Israeli friends in EU and US are hostile to Russia and supportive of American hegemony, while friends of Palestine stand for Russia’s challenge to the Empire. The French Zionist media philosopher Bernard Henri Levy is an example of the former, while Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research is a representative of the latter. Leading critical (“anti-Zionist”) websites Counterpunch, Antiwar, Global Research sympathise with Russia, while pro-Israeli sites are hostile to Russia.
Zionists are nasty and vicious enemies, but they make even worse friends. Edward N. Luttwak is friendly to Russia; he called upon the US to make up with Russia. Strategic union of Russia and America is necessary, he says. Who cares about Ukraine? And here is his pitch line: Russia should fight China for the US benefit. Another Zionist friend, Tony Blair, also calls for peace with Russia – so Russia can fight the Muslim world for Israel. Quite similar to Eskin who offers his pathetic support to Russia in order to neutralise her positive influence and defence of Palestine.
The bottom line: Israel remains neutral for its own reasons. While Jews as individuals differ on Ukraine, there is a correlation with their stand on Palestine and on Syria. Enemies of Putin in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and US do support Israel and are hostile to Palestine, to Syria of Bashar, to Venezuela of Chavez. And the most dangerous lot are those who support Israel and Russia, as they are surely plotting some mischief.
Jewish Quarter, the Old City, Damascus…
It’s always encouraging when one comes upon some inspiring human enterprise, here in Syria or elsewhere, that refutes the worn shibboleths and clichés about how this or that group, or this or that religion, hates others and won’t cease targeting them until they are destroyed and burning in Hell.
In Syria today there is much evidence to refute the claims, often politically motivated, that Jewish cultural heritage sites are being singled out for destruction by rabid anti-Semites. One example of this is the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in the neighborhood of Jobar, on the outskirts of Damascus. For centuries, Jobar has been inhabited by a peaceful, mixed community of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, many of whom often attended events together at the synagogue.
Reports this week in Zionist media about the destruction of the 400-year-old (not 2000-year-old, as claimed, erroneously, by one report in Israeli media) synagogue, along with the loss of all its contents, are similar to reports over the past three years which turned out to be patently false. This observer has been waiting for clearance to visit the site, to learn exactly what happened there this week, to assess its current condition and inventory its religious artifacts, which comprise part of Syria’s, and humanity’s, collective heritage.
One of the more virulent charges to come forth this week, particularly from the colonial Zionist regime occupying Palestine, is the mantra of ‘see what the hatred of those Arabs for the Jewish people has done.’ Admittedly it’s an effective fund-raising mechanism—as well as a handy intimidation tool—for the Zionist lobby, as it scrabbles to retain control of the US government and American public sentiment, a public which seems to be growing increasingly vexed by the lobby’s actions and which are finally pulling back from rubber-stamping the crimes of the apartheid regime.
Jobar is a suburb of Damascus, and location-wise the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue (measuring approximately 17 meters long by 15.7 meters wide) sits undeniably at a crossroads, in an area that has been occupied by rebel forces since the beginning of the Syrian conflict—which means it was sure to get damaged. With each shelling of the district over the past three years, claims were made that the synagogue had been destroyed by government forces. One such report, published on April fool’s day in 2013 by the Times of Israel and widely circulated by Zionist media outlets, claimed that, “The 2,000-year-old Jobar Synagogue in the Syrian capital of Damascus—the country’s holiest Jewish site—was looted and burned to the ground by government forces.” The report was patently false but got spread far and wide, despite the fact that there have been no government forces in Jobar since the conflict began. Two copy-cat reports followed later in 2013, but they were equally false. Nearly a year later, however, in March of 2014, media reports conceded that the synagogue was still standing, with only minor damage, and that its contents appeared to be in good condition.
This observer has received credible reports about certain stolen artifacts, including gold chandeliers, from the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue being offered for sale. It is well known in Syria that certain militia and other opportunists have been financing themselves by selling this country’s cultural heritage whenever and wherever they get the opportunity. There is in fact a multi-million-dollar black market in this type of illicit trade. Security agencies in Syria, in coordination with INTERPOL, have been alerted to the thefts of Jewish property, just as with thefts of other antiquities, and they periodically issue what are referred to as “watch for and confiscate” lists of stolen artifacts.
It is not true…based upon this observer’s many personal experiences in Syria…that Arabs hate Jews, although they would have plenty of reasons to, or that animosities between the two peoples are irreversible and irretrievable, and the reason I say this is that increasingly, in the Middle East as well as globally, people are beginning to distinguish between Jews as individuals (as “people of the book” and basically more or less like the rest of us) and fascist Zionism—an ideology being exposed as the greatest enemy and threat to Jews everywhere.
The latest, but so far unverified, information received by this observer from rebel sources claiming to have “contacts” in the Jobar Synagogue indicate that some early 20th century artifacts, including gold chandeliers and icons, were stolen early on in the conflict, and also that the area surrounding the synagogue has been shelled sporadically over the past nearly two years, resulting in modest damage to the exterior walls. This information was obtained as of last month. Conditions may well have changed this week. Other Syrian sources indicate that there has been interior damage with some scattered rubble in the nave and prayer rooms of the temple. But there has been no confirmation to claims of thousands of manuscripts, including Bibles, being looted from Jobar. On the contrary, many documents, including Bibles and other artifacts, were transferred by the local Jobar Council, with the full cooperation of the Syrian government, to an Ottoman-era synagogue in the Old City of Damascus for safe keeping. The location, which this observer has visited and where many Jobar Synagogue artifacts are today in storage, is one of six areas in Syria currently listed on the World Heritage List of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The site currently has round-the-clock government security that continues to guard the Old City of Damascus. It is also one of the 11 synagogues that President Assad had promised in 2011 to repair and restore, but alas that’s a project that the rebellion has put on hold.
In light of all the unverified claims about the synagogue in Jobar, one is reminded again of the decade-long US/UK War against Iraq and the false reporting about what happened at certain archaeological sites in that country. Specifically we might recall the Iraqi Jewish artifacts that Ahmad Chalabi claimed he was able to ‘rescue’ for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Chalabi, of the ill-fated Iraqi National Congress, along with the Bush administration’s Coalition Provisional Authority, sought to gain some much needed good press for himself and pals Richard Perle, Nathan Sharansky, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, this after April 2003 reports of thousands of priceless ancient artifacts being looted from Iraqi museums. The war planners were being castigated for their failure to protect Iraq’s cultural treasures, and it soon became clear that some of Chalabi’s pronouncements regarding the fate of Jewish artifacts were false and politically self-serving. Discredited, Chalabi’s party did not win any seats in the December 2005 election.
Some suspect similar political grandstanding motives in the current reports about Jobar, and it may be a while before credible eyewitness accounts from the scene are gathered. At that point we will we know the truth about the fate of the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue and the whole of Jobar. A delegation, including a Jewish representative from Damascus as well as this observer, has been trying to visit the area, but armed conflict and the continued occupation of the synagogue by rebels has prevented us so far from gaining entry.
What’s important to note, though, is that the people of Syria and their government have made herculean efforts to avoid what happened in Iraq, and to assure the preservation of their global cultural heritage, of which Jewish antiquities is an important pillar. One example of these efforts is the fascinating case of the Dura-Europos Synagogue, discovered in 1932.
The synagogue in Dura Europos had survived in such good condition because of its location, near a small Roman garrison on the Euphrates River. Parts of the building, which abutted the main city wall, were requisitioned by the Roman army and filled with sand as a defensive measure against northern and eastern marauders. The city was abandoned after Rome’s fall, never to be resettled, and the lower walls of the rooms remained buried and largely intact until excavated. The archaeological dig discovered many Jewish wall-paintings and also Christian texts written in Hebrew. Especially interesting perhaps was the discovery of paintings in the synagogue depicting limited aspects of Mithraism, a religion practiced in the Roman Empire between the first and 4th centuries and that was especially popular within the ranks of the Roman legions. Named for the Persian god Mithra, many Syrians followed the cult, as did some Roman senators who resisted the ‘new’ Christianity.
Itemized in the list below are specific Jewish-Syrian antiquities, including Old-Testament-themed paintings, this observer has verified as being under protection. Keep in mind, these are only a few examples, among many thousands, that I have been advised appear to be in excellent condition as of late May 2014:
- The Torah niche from the ancient Synagogue of Dura Europos on which are drawings of the Prophet Abraham, including the scene of his offering his son. Also beside them a drawing of the candle stick and the temple façade.
- A drawing featuring the Prophet Ezra reading a papyrus, Prophet Moses in the flames of boxthorn, the Ark of the Covenant in the hands of Philistines, and David anointed as a king by Samuel.
- A number of paintings with themes from the Old Testament
- A drawing of the pharaoh and Moses as a child, and a beautiful painting of Abraham between the two symbols of the sun and the moon.
- A drawing representing the story of Mordechai and Esther and Elijah bringing life back to a baby.
Despite the current and legitimate focus on Jobar, the record of the Syrian people on preserving their cultural heritage, especially during the current crisis, is admirable. Two weeks ago this observer visited the old city of Homs, and spent a fair bit of time at the Um Al-Zenar Church of Saint Mary, Church of the Holy Belt, which dates from 52 AD. Tradition has it that this seat of the Syriac Orthodox archbishopric contains a venerated relic, and indeed the Bishop spoke to me about it one day as he shoveled rubble from around the altar. The relic is claimed to be a section of the belt of St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is said to be hidden near a below-ground spring. One arrives at the spring by walking down a long, very narrow, pitch black set of stone steps. The Holy Water that can be found there, a small pond in essence, is filled with fragments of stone and wood chunks from the fighting, yet supposedly this water has curative powers. I scooped up a couple of handfuls, and it was indeed very refreshing, but did nothing, so far, to cure my leg problem.
Be that as it may, this observer was struck by the number of parishioners, along with volunteers from the neighborhood, mostly Muslims, covered in dust and soot as they worked at cleaning out the rubble. In the courtyard in front of the church this observer stoked a still smoldering heap of burned bibles and other church documents and icons which I was told rebels had torched as they prepared to vacate the compound earlier this month. Two days after I departed Homs, the Um Al-Zenar Church, though a partially burned out shell devoid of pews and religious artifacts, held its first Holy Communion since the conflict began.
From my experience, Syrians, without exception, are deeply connected with their cultural heritage and do not distinguish all that much among its origins. Many Syrians are proud to help others protect and rebuild their damaged religious and cultural sites, and in fact it seems to be a unifying factor among this besieged population. People this observer speaks with as he travels around Syria to visit archeological sites seem to blame both sides for the damage, but they tend to focus more on the task of restoring their heritage sites. Space does not allow me to enumerate the countless examples of this, but I will mention one.
This observer was served tea one day by some members of the Jewish community in the old City of Damascus, including my friend Saul, who claims to be the last Jewish tailor in Syria, as well as the lovely elderly ladies known as ‘the Jewish sisters’ and whose apartment is near where St. Paul, according to tradition, converted to Christianity. The view expressed by my hosts that day—and I believe them—is that Jewish cultural heritage in Syria is being respected, protected and preserved with the same care as Muslim, Christian, and pagan antiquities.
Memorial Day is when we commemorate our war dead. Like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day is being turned into a celebration of war.
Those who lose family members and dear friends to war don’t want the deaths to have been in vain. Consequently, wars become glorious deeds performed by noble soldiers fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Patriotic speeches tell us how much we owe to those who gave their lives so that America could remain free.
The speeches are well-intentioned, but the speeches create a false reality that supports ever more wars. None of America’s wars had anything to do with keeping America free. To the contrary, the wars swept away our civil liberties, making us unfree.
President Lincoln issued an executive order for the arrest and imprisonment of northern newspaper reporters and editors. He shut down 300 northern newspapers and held 14,000 political prisoners. Lincoln arrested war critic US Representative Clement Vallandigham from Ohio and exiled him to the Confederacy. President Woodrow Wilson used WWI to suppress free speech, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt used WWII to intern 120,000 US citizens of Japanese descent on the grounds that race made them suspect. Professor Samuel Walker concluded that President George W. Bush used the “war on terror” for an across the board assault on US civil liberty, making the Bush regime the greatest danger American liberty has ever faced.
Lincoln forever destroyed states’ rights, but the suspension of habeas corpus and free speech that went hand in hand with America’s three largest wars was lifted at war’s end. However, President George W. Bush’s repeal of the Constitution has been expanded by President Obama and codified by Congress and executive orders into law. Far from defending our liberties, our soldiers who died in “the war on terror” died so that the president can indefinitely detain US citizens without due process of law and murder US citizens on suspicion alone without any accountability to law or the Constitution.
The conclusion is unavoidable that America’s wars have not protected our liberty but, instead, destroyed liberty. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
Southern secession did pose a threat to Washington’s empire, but not to the American people.Neither the Germans of WWI vintage nor the Germans and Japanese of WWII vintage posed any threat to the US. As historians have made completely clear, Germany did not start WWI and did not go to war for the purpose of territorial expansion. Japan’s ambitions were in Asia. Hitler did not want war with England and France. Hitler’s territorial ambitions were mainly to restore German provinces stripped from Germany as WWI booty in violation of President Wilson’s guarantees. Any other German ambitions were to the East. Neither country had any plans to invade the US. Japan attacked the US fleet at Pearl Harbor hoping to remove an obstacle to its activities in Asia, not as a precursor to an invasion of America.
Certainly the countries ravaged by Bush and Obama in the 21st century–Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen posed no military threat to the US. Indeed, these were wars used by a tyrannical executive branch to establish the basis of the Stasi State that now exists in the US.
The truth is hard to bear, but the facts are clear. America’s wars have been fought in order to advance Washington’s power, the profits of bankers and armaments industries, and the fortunes of US companies. Marine General Smedley Butler said, “ I served in all commissioned ranks from a second Lieutenant to a Major General. And during that time, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”
It is more or less impossible to commemorate the war dead without glorifying them, and it is impossible to glorify them without glorifying their wars.
For the entirety of the 21st century the US has been at war, not war against massed armies or threats to American freedom, but wars against civilians, against women, children, and village elders, and wars against our own liberty. Elites with a vested interest in these wars tell us that the wars will have to go on for another 20 to 30 years before we defeat “the terrorist threat.”
This, of course, is nonsense. There was no terrorist threat until Washington began trying to create terrorists by military attacks, justified by lies, on Muslim populations.
Washington succeeded with its war lies to the point that Washington’s audacity and hubris have outgrown Washington’s judgment.
By overthrowing the democratically elected government in Ukraine, Washington has brought the United States into confrontation with Russia. This is a confrontation that could end badly, perhaps for Washington and perhaps for the entire world.
If Gaddafi and Assad would not roll over for Washington, why does Washington think Russia will? Russia is not Libya or Syria. Washington is the bully who having beat up the kindergarden kid, now thinks he can take on the college linebacker.
The Bush and Obama regimes have destroyed America’s reputation with their incessant lies and violence against other peoples. The world sees Washington as the prime threat.
Worldwide polls consistently show that people around the world regard the US and Israel as the two countries that pose the greatest threat to peace. http://www.ibtimes.com/gallup-poll-biggest-threat-world-peace-america-1525008 and
The countries that Washington’s propaganda declares to be “rogue states” and the “axis of evil,” such as Iran and North Korea, are far down the list when the peoples in the world are consulted. It could not be more clear that the world does not believe Washington’s self-serving propaganda. The world sees the US and Israel as the rogue states.
The US and Israel are the only two countries in the world that are in the grip of ideologies. The US is in the grip of the Neoconservative ideology which has declared the US to be the “exceptional, indispensable country” chosen by history to exercise hegemony over all others. This ideology is buttressed by the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines that are the basis of US foreign policy.
The Israeli government is in the grip of the Zionist ideology that declares a “greater Israel” from the Nile to the Euphrates. Many Israelis themselves do not accept this ideology, but it is the ideology of the “settlers” and those who control the Israeli government.
Ideologies are important causes of war. Just as the Hitlerian ideology of German superiority is mirrored in the Neoconservative ideology of US superiority, the Communist ideology that the working class is superior to the capitalist class is mirrored in the Zionist ideology that Israelis are superior to Palestinians. Zionists have never heard of squatters’ rights and claim that recent Jewish immigrants into Palestine–invaders really–have the right to land occupied by others for millenniums.
Washington’s and Israel’s doctrines of superiority over others do not sit very well with the ”others.” When Obama declared in a speech that Americans are the exceptional people, Russia’s President Putin responded, “God created us all equal.”
To the detriment of its population, the Israeli government has made endless enemies. Israel has effectively isolated itself in the world. Israel’s continued existence depends entirely on the willingness and ability of Washington to protect Israel. This means that Israel’s power is derivative of Washington’s power.
Washington’s power is a different story. As the only economy standing after WWII, the US dollar became the world money. This role for the dollar has given Washington financial hegemony over the world, the main source of Washington’s power. As other countries rise, Washington’s hegemony is imperiled.
To prevent other countries from rising, Washington invokes the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines. To be brief, the Brzezinski doctrine says that in order to remain the only superpower, Washington must control the Eurasian land mass. Brzezinski is willing for this to occur peacefully by suborning the Russian government into Washington’s empire. ”A loosely confederated Russia . . . a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” In other words, break up Russia into associations of semi-autonomous states whose politicians can be suborned by Washington’s money.
Brzezinski propounded “a geo-strategy for Eurasia.” In Brzezinski’s strategy, China and “a confederated Russia” are part of a “transcontinental security framework,” managed by Washington in order to perpetuate the role of the US as the world’s only superpower.
I once asked my colleague, Brzezinski, that if everyone was allied with us, who were we organized against? My question surprised him, because I think that Brzezinski remains caught up in Cold War strategy even after the demise of the Soviet Union. In Cold War thinking it was important to have the upper hand or else be at risk of being eliminated as a player. The importance of prevailing became all consuming, and this consuming drive survived the Soviet collapse. Prevailing over others is the only foreign policy that Washington knows.
The mindset that America must prevail set the stage for the Neoconservatives and their 21st century wars, which, with Washington’s overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine, has resulted in a crisis that has brought Washington into direct conflict with Russia.
I know the strategic institutes that serve Washington. I was the occupant of the William E.Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, for a dozen years. The idea is prevalent that Washington must prevail over Russia in Ukraine or Washington will lose prestige and its superpower status.
The idea of prevailing always leads to war once one power thinks it has prevailed.
The path to war is reinforced by the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative intellectual who formulated US military and foreign policy doctrine, wrote among many similar passages:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere [China], that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
In the Wolfowitz Doctrine, any other strong country is defined as a threat and a power hostile to the US regardless of how willing that country is to get along with the US for mutual benefit.
The difference between Brzezinski and the Neoconservatives is that Brzezinski wants to suborn Russia and China by including them in the empire as important elements whose voices would be heard, If only for diplomatic reasons, whereas the Neoconservatives are prepared to rely on military force combined with internal subversion orchestrated with US financed NGOs and even terrorist organizations.
Neither the US nor Israel is embarrassed by their worldwide reputations as the two countries that pose the greatest threat. In fact, both countries are proud to be recognized as the greatest threats. The foreign policy of both countries is devoid of any diplomacy. US and Israeli foreign policy rests on violence alone. Washington tells countries to do as Washington says or be “bombed into the stone age.” Israel declares all Palestinians, even women and children, to be “terrorists,” and proceeds to shoot them down in the streets, claiming that Israel is merely protecting itself against terrorists. Israel, which does not recognize the existence of Palestine as a country, covers up its crimes with the claim that Palestinians do not accept the existence of Israel.
“We don’t need no stinking diplomacy. We got power.”
This is the attitude that guarantees war, and that is where the US is taking the world. The prime minister of Britain, the chancellor of Germany, and the president of France are Washington’s enablers. They provide the cover for Washington. Instead of war crimes, Washington has “coalitions of the willing” and military invasions that bring “democracy and women’s rights” to non-compliant countries.
China gets much the same treatment. A country with four times the US population but a smaller prison population, China is constantly criticized by Washington as an “authoritarian state.” China is accused of human rights abuses while US police brutalize the US population.
The problem for humanity is that Russia and China are not Libya and Iraq. These two countries possess strategic nuclear weapons. Their land mass greatly exceeds that of the US. The US, which was unable to successfully occupy Baghdad or Afghanistan, has no prospect of prevailing against Russia and China in conventional warfare. Washington will push the nuclear button. What else can we expect from a government devoid of morality?
The world has never experienced rogue states comparable to Washington and Israel. Both governments are prepared to murder anyone and everyone. Look at the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine and the dangers thereof. On May 23, 2014, Russia’s President Putin spoke to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a three-day gathering of delegations from 62 countries and CEOs from 146 of the largest Western corporations.
Putin did not speak of the billions of dollars in trade deals that were being formalized. Instead Putin spoke of the crisis that Washington had brought to Russia, and he criticized Europe for being Washington’s vassals for supporting Washington’s propaganda against Russia and Washington’s interference in vital Russian interests.
Putin was diplomatic in his language, but the message that powerful economic interests from the US and Europe received is that it will lead to trouble if Washington and European governments continue to ignore Russia’s concerns and continue to act as if they can interfere in Russia’s vital interests as if Russia did not exist.
The heads of these large corporations will carry this message back to Washington and European capitals. Putin made it clear that the lack of dialogue with Russia could lead to the West making the mistake of putting Ukraine in NATO and establishing missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine. Putin has learned that Russia cannot rely on good will from the West, and Putin made it clear, short of issuing a threat, that Western military bases in Ukraine are unacceptable.
Washington will continue to ignore Russia. However, European capitals will have to decide whether Washington is pushing them into conflict with Russia that is against European interests. Thus, Putin is testing European politicians to determine if there is sufficient intelligence and independence in Europe for a rapprochement.
If Washington in its overbearing arrogance and hubris forces Putin to write off the West, the Russian/Chinese strategic alliance, which is forming to counteract Washington’s hostile policy of surrounding both countries with military bases, will harden into preparation for the inevitable war.
The survivors, if any, can thank the Neoconservatives, the Wolfowitz doctrine, and the Brzezinski strategy for the destruction of life on earth.
The American public contains a large number of misinformed people who think they know everything. These people have been programmed by US and Israeli propaganda to equate Islam with political ideology. They believe that Islam, a religion, is instead a militarist doctrine that calls for the overthrow of Western civilization, as if anything remains of Western civilization.
Many believe this propaganda even in the face of complete proof that the Sunnis and Shi’ites hate one another far more than they hate their Western oppressors and occupiers. The US has departed Iraq, but the carnage today is as high or higher than during the US invasion and occupation. The daily death tolls from the Sunni/Shi’ite conflict are extraordinary. A religion this disunited poses no threat to anyone except Islamists themselves. Washington successfully used Islamist disunity to overthrow Gaddafi, and is currently using Islamist disunity in an effort to overthrow the government of Syria. Islamists cannot even unite to defend themselves against Western aggression. There is no prospect of Islamists uniting in order to overthrow the West.
Even if Islam could do so, it would be pointless for Islam to overthrow the West. The West has overthrown itself. In the US the Constitution has been murdered by the Bush and Obama regimes. Nothing remains. As the US is the Constitution, what was once the United States no longer exists. A different entity has taken its place.
Europe died with the European Union, which requires the termination of sovereignty of all member countries. A few unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels have become superior to the wills of the French, German, British, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, and Portuguese peoples.
Western civilization is a skeleton. It still stands, barely, but there is no life in it. The blood of liberty has departed. Western peoples look at their governments and see nothing but enemies. Why else has Washington militarized local police forces, equipping them as if they were occupying armies? Why else has Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, and even the Postal Service and Social Security Administration ordered billions of rounds of ammunition and even submachine guns? What is this taxpayer-paid-for arsenal for if not to suppress US citizens?
As the prominent trends forecaster Gerald Celente spells out in the current Trends Journal, “uprisings span four corners of the globe.” Throughout Europe angry, desperate and outraged peoples march against EU financial policies that are driving the peoples into the ground. Despite all of Washington’s efforts with its well funded fifth columns known as NGOs to destabilize Russia and China, both the Russian and Chinese governments have far more support from their people than do the US and Europe.
In the 20th century Russia and China learned what tyranny is, and they have rejected it.
In the US tyranny has entered under the guise of the “war on terror,” a hoax used to scare the sheeple into abandoning their civil liberties, thus freeing Washington from accountability to law and permitting Washington to erect a militarist police state. Ever since WWII Washington has used its financial hegemony and the “Soviet threat,” now converted into the “Russian threat,” to absorb Europe into Washington’s empire.
Putin is hoping that the interests of European countries will prevail over subservience to Washington. This is Putin’s current bet. This is the reason Putin remains unprovoked by Washington’s provocations in Ukraine.
If Europe fails Russia, Putin and China will prepare for the war that Washington’s drive for hegemony makes inevitable.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/
One Archeological Site At A Time…
Krac des Chevaliers, Between Homs and the Lebanese border.
Visiting archeological sites in Syria can arouse within one a rather sharp and distinct feeling of trekking along the same paths traveled a century ago by the field archaeologist, and later colonel in the British Army, T.E. Lawrence. Indeed there are a number of still-visible “Lawrence of Arabia” footprints to be found here—both in Damascus as well as deep in the Syrian countryside.
In Damascus, for instance, one may marvel at the Khan As’ad Pasha, the majestic 18th century residence of the Ottoman governor of Damascus—As’ad Pasha al-Azem—whose palatial domicile today houses the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. Most foreigners like to spend time at Azem, and Lawrence was frequently there as a guest of Emir Faisal, a son of Sharif Hussein, of Mecca. It was Faisal’s irregular troops that Lawrence fought alongside while sabotaging the railway lines of the overstretched Ottoman forces and significantly contributing to their defeat.
As Ottoman domination crumbled, in no small measure due to the Arab revolt around Damascus, Lawrence tried in vain to salvage something for the Arabs, whom he loved and admired even if he sometimes expressed his affection for them in an elitist English orientalist turn of phrase. By the summer of 1917, it had become clear to both Lawrence and Faisal that the four-century rule over Arabia by the Ottoman Turks was about to collapse, thanks in no small part to the revolt and the bravery and sacrifices of those who joined it. Also clear to Lawrence, if not to his friend Faisal, who was a bit naïve on the subject of Western history, was that his country, England, a pillar of the “Big Four” at the Versailles Peace Conference, conference which included the President Woodrow Wilson, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, France’s Georges Clemenceau and the Prime Minister of Italy, Vittorio Orlando was planning once again, and not for the last time, to stab the Arabs in the back and renege on the very promises that Lawrence had been commanded to deliver.
Photos of Lawrence and Faisal hang today on the walls of what was Lawrence’s bedroom and office at the Azem Palace—and it is clear from his facial expressions that Lawrence sensed what was coming to Syria and Palestine. Before he died, in a motorcycle accident shortly after his return to England at the age of 46, Lawrence increasingly discussed what he regarded as his personal failure, during the closing years of the war, when he told friends and family that he had failed to convince his superiors in the British government that Arab independence was in their interests. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain, according to Lawrence, was an abject betrayal of the promises of independence he had made to the Arabs and for which he felt personally responsible.
This observer crossed paths with Lawrence, in a manner of speaking, once again a few weeks ago, at Palmyra, the archeological and UNESCO World Heritage site which lies across the Syrian desert to the northeast of Damascus. The area was recently liberated from Islamist jihadists, and it was here I came across the words of Lawrence himself, inscribed on a plaque: “Nothing in this scorching, desolate land could look so refreshing…Moslem story-tellers ascribe the building of Palmyra to the Jinn commandeered by Soloman…”
Frankly, this observer is reluctant to demure from Lawrence’s description, but in the many years since he spoke those words, it has become clear that the “Tadmor” (Arabic and Hebrew name for Palmyra) referred to in the Torah is not the Tadmor of Syria, but rather refers to a different site, one now lost to the sands of Palestine, if it ever existed at all. Lawrence in fact would probably be sorely vexed to learn that his words linking Palmyra to Soloman are today being misused by cheap, tawdry, Zionist land seekers prowling to assert a bogus claim over Palmyra in Syria as part of God’s putative philanthropy, with the expectation, undoubtedly, of swallowing more Arab land for the ever-expanding Eretz Israel. But the misuse of Lawrence’s quote at Palmyra for political purposes is a subject for another Syrian update.
Lawrence and Lamb also crossed paths (again in a manner of speaking that is) on 5/15/14 in the course of this observer’s six-hour excursion up and around the medieval fortress known as Krak des Chevaliers (Castle of the Kurds—who reportedly first inhabited the area in the 11th century). The Syrian Arab Army recaptured the castle and the nearby village of al-Hosn from rebel forces on March 20, 2014. Both the castle as well as the village of 10,000 had been seized by rebels (aka ‘takfiri terrorists’), with the “Krak” sustaining extensive damage from especially violent clashes in 2012 and again in July and August of 2013. My excellent companion and government guide during my day at the Krak was “Mohammad,” a Syrian army security commander with 40 troops under his command. The detachment has been stationed inside the fortress, this so as to keep anyone from attempting to retake it “by a nighttime sneak attack,” I was told.
Krac des Chevaliers..liberated from rebels on 3/20/14
Apparently a history buff, Mohammad’s first comment, as we began to ascend the steep three floors of medieval steps, was to quote—who else?—T.E. Lawrence.
“We are walking in the footsteps of Lawrence,” he informed me as we made our way, gazing from time to time at the marvelous, gothic ceilings. “He called this fortress—” then, to my surprise, reciting from memory: ‘perhaps the best preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world, and a castle which forms a fitting commentary on any account of the Crusading buildings of Syria.”
Many historians have agreed with that assessment by Lawrence, including Hugh Kennedy, who wrote that “the defenses of the outer wall were the most elaborate and developed anywhere in the Latin east…the whole structure is a brilliantly-designed and superbly-built fighting machine.”
Indeed, Krak des Chevaliers is considered one of the greatest and best preserved castles in the world due to its unique architecture in terms of its defense facilities, building materials and decorations. In 2006, the castle was inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage sites along with its “sister fort,” the Citadel of Saladin, further north in Lattakia.
Among the approximately 400 damaged or destroyed antiquity sites that are now back under government control, Krak des Chevaliers is viewed by locals as a sort of “success story” because, for sure, it is still standing! A major restoration project was begun in April, and is now well underway, with the effort being directed by fifteen fulltime restoration specialists, who in turn are assisted by volunteers. Government officials, including the Ministers of Culture and of Tourism, drop by from time to time and praise their work, and a “Krak des Chevaliers reopens to the public” event is scheduled for 6/1/14. Whether many foreign tourists (or any at all) will be able to attend the gala happening is dubitable.
But hopefully conditions will allow for the return of tourists to the country at some point soon. One of my traveling companions the day I feasted my eyes on the Krak was a Syrian tour operator who pronounces himself more than willing to pitch in and help rebuild the tourist industry, Syria’s second largest foreign-exchange earner, which in 2010, prior to the outbreak of the conflict, brought in more than $1.5 billion.
Less fortunate than the castle is the formerly picturesque village of al-Hosn, which too was packed with rebels, and where current conditions now rival those in some parts of the cities of Aleppo and Homs for complete and total destruction. This observer did not see one bird, one feral cat, or even a fly in what locals call “the village of death.” Two weeks ago, a four man unit from Mohammed’s battalion at Krak did discover two hold-over rebels hiding out in the rubble. They killed them on the spot.
After 12 centuries of invaders trying to conquer this land, and a number succeeding—such as when the Muslims took it from the Christians in the seventh century employing the time tested ‘surrender or starve’ tactic—things have a way of getting rebuilt and repaired. And this time will likely be no different.
This observer’s purpose in visiting Krak was to detail the damage caused by 18 months of fighting over the fortress. The notes I made on my trip on 5/15/14 include the following:
- Complete destruction of the staircase and halls in front of the internal building of the fort.
- Partial damage in the façade of the Hall of the Knights, including some damage to the decorations and arches inside the Hall.
- Traces of fire behind the church and damage to the library hall, opposite the leader’s tower, and a part of the staircase leading to the roof of the library hall.
- Damage in the façade of the King’s Daughter’s Tower and partial destruction in the wall between the tower and the roof of the church.
- Partial destruction in the entrance to the stairs in front of Qalawun Tower; damage and destruction in some parts of the tower itself.
- Damage to one wall of the warehouse adjacent to the main offices of the castles overlooking the courtyard.
- Destruction of a part of the pillar supporting the ceiling of the library tower opposite the tower of the knights.
- Severe damage in the office of the Ottoman House, as well as the administration offices.
- Partial damage and destruction of some walls in several places of the castle, including minor damage in the outer wall of the castle.
- Surface damage caused by domestic fires built by rebels for heating and cooking, this by the dozens of rebel families that occupied different areas of the vast fortress.
To this observer it is clear that the Syrian public and their officials, in all 14 of the country’s governorates, are committed to the complete restoration of their nation’s peerless and incomparable archeological heritage sites as soon as security conditions permit.
The Jewish ADL (Anti-Defamation League) revealed this week that more than ‘one in four adults’ are ‘anti-Semitic.’
Of some 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories around the world surveyed for the ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism, 26% were found to be ‘deeply infected’ with ‘anti-Semitic attitudes’.
Personally, I find both the ADL and its polls quite amusing. Can you think of another people on this planet who would spend so much time and energy measuring how much they are loved or hated? Do the Brits measure how despised they are in Moldova? Do the Palestinians question people all over the world to see how much they love those indigenous people of Palestine? Well, the Jews do and it’s for a reason. Abe Foxman, ADL’s National Director, must by now have grasped the immense destructive global power of Jewish politics, so naturally he wants to measure the reaction. But rather than reflecting on the results and then turning to his own people in the hope of re-educating them, Foxman always blames the rest of humanity. And why? Because in the Judeo-centric cosmos, the Jew is always innocent and the Goy is always to blame.
ADL discovered that the least anti-Semitic country at 0.2% of the adult population ‘hating Jews’ is ……..Laos! But what does that mean? Should the ADL start to schlep Jews to Laos? Maybe, rather than Palestine, it is Laos that is the promised land. Trouble is, once the Jews start to immigrate to Laos, anti Semitic attitudes will sharply rise. ADL is yet to resolve this Jewish dilemma.
Apparently, according to the ADL, the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip had the highest ‘anti-Semitic’ attitudes at 93%. But is it really ‘anti Semitic’ to oppose those who plundered your home and murdered your family? No Abe, this is not anti-Semitism, this is resistance.
The questions of the survey were also very interesting. Respondents were asked a series of 11 questions about Jews, Jewish power, Jewish tribalism, Jews and money and Jewish behavior. Those who responded affirmatively to six or more negative statements about Jews were considered to hold ‘anti-Semitic’ attitudes. But I beg to differ. I’d think that those who answered affirmatively were simply authentic, honest folk who were better informed about the state of the world. Now, if I am correct here, it means that about a quarter of world’s population is authentic, honest and informed – a most positive and encouraging bit of information.
But back to the results of the survey. It seems that 74% of respondents indicated that they had never met a Jew and yet, of those, 25% still harbored anti-Semitic attitudes. Also, of the 26% people who did harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, some 70% of them had never met a Jew. But you know, most people have never met a Nazi either and yet Nazis are also pretty unpopular these days. It’s all a matter of reputation.
All in all, it seems that AIPAC, the Jewish State, CFI, CRIF, ADL and Bernard Henri Levy have been investing an awful lot of energy giving Jews bad name.
The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiece – a light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption. Last week, the paper launched an attack on Martin Heidegger, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.
“Heidegger’s ‘black notebooks’ reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy” the paper’s headline read. But what does that mean? Was Heidegger really a Jew hater? Did he oppose people for being ethnically or ‘racially’ Jewish or was he, instead, critical of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and spirit?
According to the ‘progressive’ British Guardian, the newly published Black Notebooks reveals that Heidegger saw ‘world Judaism’ as the driver of “dehumanising modernity”.
Needless to mention that we didn’t need a ‘new publication’ to assert that this was Heidegger’s view of Jewish culture and politics. The German thinker, like many of his contemporaries, saw “Jerusalem” as a suppressive and corrupted spiritual, cultural and intellectual influence as opposed to “Athens”, which portrayed in his eyes, the birth of humanism, universalism, aesthetics, ethics and pluralism.
Let’s examine what makes a prominent thinker into an Anti Semite in the eyes of The Guardian. “While distancing himself from the racial theories pursued by Nazi intellectuals, Heidegger argues that Weltjudentum (“world Judaism”) is one of the main drivers of western modernity, which he viewed critically.”
But aren’t we entitled to criticize religion, culture or Ideology? Aren’t we allowed to disapprove of modernity or technology and to try to identify its cultural and ideological roots? For some reason, I can’t recall The Guardian taking Max Weber to task for suggesting that Protestant ethics was the driving force behind Capitalism. Embarrassingly enough, the same Guardian that clumsily and shamelessly smears the greatest continental thinker, provides a platform to a long list of Neocons, pro-war advocates such as Nick Cohen who constantly and relentlessly criticize the so-called ‘Islamo-Fascists’ – a code name for Islamic political culture. I guess that for The Guardian of Judea, it is only Jewish culture, religion and ideology that must remain beyond criticism.
“World Judaism”, Heidegger writes in the notebooks, “is ungraspable everywhere and doesn’t need to get involved in military action while continuing to unfurl its influence, whereas we are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people”. But is the above observation anti Semitic? Can an honest observation be anti Semitic, or shall we say a form of ‘hatred’, or should it be more appropriately tagged as an uncomfortable truth?
Heidegger was a German patriot. As such he knew very well that it was Zionist leadership and German Jewish bankers in America that facilitated the entry of the USA into the first world war (in return in part for the 1917’s Belfour Declaration that promised a national home for Jews in Palestine). In that regard, Heidegger, like his contemporaries, had good reason to believe that Germany was betrayed by its Jewish elite.
When Heidegger published his monumental Being And Time (1927), certainly the 20th century’s most important philosophical text, the Frankfurt School, dominated by Jewish academics, had already been in operation for more than four years, gaining ground in its attempt to subvert German culture in the name of communism. As a German nationalist, Heidegger had more than just one reason to oppose Jewish culture, politics and ideology.
Heidegger was a philosopher as opposed to a politician or an ‘activist’. His understanding of the world was driven by the search for an essential and categorical comprehension. For Heidegger it wasn’t the ‘Jew’ nor was it ethnicity that posed danger, it was an ideology and culture that was set to undermine his Athenian West and its value system as he saw it. Such an approach has nothing to do with racial hatred.
Let’s examine Heidegger’s above statement regarding ‘world Judaism’, its ‘ungraspable’ impact and its unwillingness to ‘sacrifice.’ Heidegger basically suggests that the Jewish elite is launching wars by proxy. At first, this may sound like a vile criticism of Jewish culture and power within politics. But a deeper look into this statement reveals that Heidegger was highly observant. Let’s face it, Heidegger certainly didn’t know about the cabal of Zionist neocons who pushed Britain and the USA into an illegal war in Iraq five decades after his death. Heidegger, most definitely didn’t know about the Jewish Lobby Groups: AIPAC, LFI, CFI and the CRIF. He certainly didn’t know of Bernard Henri Levy or Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen, who have been advocating Zionist immoral interventionist campaigns for years. Furthermore, as Heidegger predicted, not many young Jews followed the Zionised Neocon militant enthusiasm and rushed to join the US Army Special Forces or The Royal Marines. Heidegger somehow foresaw that Jews wouldn’t be overrepresented in the list of dead British and American soldiers that emerged out of this chain of futile conflicts.
When Heidegger writes, “we (the Germans) are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people,” it is Zionist proxy wars he has in his mind – those Zionist wars that are fought by everyone except the Zionists themselves. But how could the philosopher predict the Zionist’s political apparatus so precisely? Was he a prophet?
To philosophize is to dig into the true essence. The philosopher’s quest is a search for the essential meaning, whether it is being, beauty, knowledge, science and so on. Heidegger, the philosopher, saw in Jewish culture something most Jews either fail to see in themselves or conceal very well and for a good reason. It is hardly surprising that The Guardian that has systematically failed to confront the Jewish Lobby and its relentless war advocacy, would denounce the great mind who accurately listed the exact conditions in which such bellicosity takes place.
Tragically, annihilating intelligencia and deep critical thought has become an obsession of the New Left. This may explain the deterioration of the progressive discourse into an intellectual desert. The Guardian, in its current form and under its current leadership, has a major role in that process.
“In another passage”, the Guardian continues, “the philosopher writes that the Jewish people, with their ‘talent for calculation’, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because ‘they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest’”.
But is this really a lie? Not at all. The German philosopher obviously hits the nail on the head. Heidegger, who didn’t approve of the Nazi racist doctrine, properly noted that Nazi racial supremacy was, in fact, Kosher by nature.
It is hardly a secret that Jewish culture is ethno-centric and racially driven. Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’. Far more embarrassing is the fact that Israel’s Jewish opponents also follow the same racially supremacist methodology and, in most cases, operate within ‘Jews only’ political cells (such as JVP, IJAN, Jewish Socialist Group etc.).
Heidegger, was obviously ahead of his time in observing the similarity between Jewish political exclusiveness and Nazi ideology. Does that make Heidegger an anti Semite? Quite the opposite, it affirms that the German philosopher is a timeless precious intellectual asset. Yet, The Guardian doesn’t posses the minimal integrity to admit that Heidegger was actually spot on. Instead, the British paper is desperate to undermine the work of the great philosopher by means of inept and vague association.
By tagging Heidegger as an anti Semite The Guardian basically advises his readers not to read the greatest Germano-Grecophilosopher and certainly not to evaluate the content of his writing. This is ‘Newspeak’ as observed by Orwell, which minimizes the possible content of intellectual exchange by means of ‘correctness’.
It is no secret that the contemporary politically correct observer adheres to the rule that truth better be inoffensive. As such, he or she contributes to the suppression of the truth and the transformation of knowledge into a system of selective concealment. Interestingly, it was Heidegger who was there to turn the floodlight onto ‘concealment’ and the ‘forgetfulness of Being’, something the Guardian has made into an art from.
Heidegger, the truth teller has come to represent everything the Jerusalemite ‘Guardian of Judea’ is there to suppress. I guess that the time is ripe for The Guardian to wake up. It would do well to reinstate its position as The Guardian of the truth rather than The Guardian of Zion. We could use a quality Left paper driven by true humanist and universal concerns, instead of just another ignorant and banal Zionist mouthpiece.
Syrian Regime Solidifies Recent Gains…
Damascus – Since around Valentine Day and aided by truly magnificent warm weather for this time of year, the dozens of parks in Damascus have been receiving unusually large numbers of visitors, not least of whom are Syrian soldiers on leave, enjoying the green space with girlfriends, families and friends. At the large garden with dozen of benches and sculptures, called Al-Manshia (Presidents Bridge) public park, and located between two five-star hotels, the Dama Rose and the 4-Seasons, some soldiers, presumably from out of town and with many appearing utterly exhausted, can be seen simply laying on the grass fast asleep under the warm healing sunshine.
Soldiers joke, laugh and seem pleased when citizens approach them to offer their thanks for the army’s service to the Syrian Arab Republic and to inquire about how things are going personally and if there is some help the citizen might offer the soldier. Such is the nature of Syrian nationalism and connection with Mother Syria that this observer has remarked about before and is strikingly rare from his experience. I love my country but frankly do not feel the pride and deep connection that Syrians appear to exhibit about their country’s 10,000 year history as the cradle of civilization. I would defend my country and fight for it if there were to be a legitimate war which frankly has not been the case in my lifetime.
Over the past 30 months of frequent visits to Damascus, the city has never appeared more ‘normal’ Last night this observers was up all night reading and there was not one bombing run or mortar or artillery fire to he heard, a first for more than two years. For many months, I used to avoid the historic Al-Hamidiyah Souk, the largest and the central souk in Syria located inside the old walled city of Damascus next to the Umayyad Mosque, despite its hundreds of interesting shops. The reason I tended to stay away was because I was one of very few people meandering among the warren of stalls and felt self-conscious when shopkeepers would plead with me to buy something-anything to help feed their families many of whom lived near the labyrinth.
Today, Al-Hamidiyah Souk, if not frequented with the numbers of shoppers and visitors as it was before March 2011, it is nonetheless very crowded such that foreigners can pass unnoticed…well, sometimes for at least the first hundred yards or so. In Damascene neighborhoods, no longer do citizens quickly disappear into their homes at the first sign of dusk but the streets and many cafes are crowded well past 9 p.m.
“Quo Vadis Syrie”, (‘where is Syria heading’) one Damascus University classics major, turned international law student, asked this visitor as we both sat on the steps of the Law Faculty while enjoying a bit of sun yesterday afternoon. “Is our crisis nearly over so we can start re-building Mother Syria or do our enemies have other plans to destroy us? I worry that today’s calm will soon disappear with an arriving hurricane.” His comment was perhaps triggered by a certain sense here and more widely elsewhere that a forming “coalition of the willing” appears to be pressing for a ‘humanitarian’ No Fly Zone. Some American allies envisage and are making plans to implement, a NFZ stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to Congressional sources.
Any NFZ would be very different from what is currently being promoted and advertised by certain war-mongers in Washington, Tel Aviv and several European capitals as well as among elements of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States. Post Round Two of Geneva II, the White House and the usual “bomb the bastards” coterie in Congress and among the US Zionist lobby, are said to be re-thinking the idea of a No Fly Zone (NFZ) for Syria. It would be planned and executed with US and a yet to be specified, “Coalition of the willing” using aircraft now at the ready in Jordan and Turkey to begin with.
Ranking with the fake “non-lethal aid” concept, in terms of cynical deception (virtually all “non-lethal” aid is indeed lethal for its facilitates certain forces killing others including night goggles, telecommunication equipment, GPS equipment, salaries, fake IDs and much else), a limited, ‘humanitarian’ NFZ would almost certainly became a bomb anything/person that moves ‘turkey shoot’ as was the case in Libya in 2011 as was studied and witnessed first-hand by this an many other observers. What we observed in the then, but no more, Al Jamahiriya (state of the masses), was that the misnomer ‘limited humanitarian Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) promoted by Obama Administration UN Ambassador Susan Rice for Libya and now by her predecessor Samatha Power for Syria, was that a NFZ means essentially an all-out war for regime change at all costs in terms of expendable lives and treasury.
The Libya experience, conceding many differences between the two countries and their governments and quality of each country’s military, may be prologue for Syria. Backed by a U.N. Security Council mandate, NATO charged into Libya citing its urgent “responsibility to protect” civilians threatened by claimed bloody rampages occurring across the country. Within days, we witnessed the ‘limited carefully vetted’ targets bank turn from a promoted ‘several dozen purely military targets” into more than 10,000 bomb runs using over 7,700 ‘precision guided bombs” and from the ground and what we learned during weeks in Libya by victims and eye-witnesses it seemed at times that the targets were basically anything that moved or looked like it might have a conceivable military purpose of some sort.
Human Rights Watch documented nearly 100 cases of civilians being bombed and killed as part of the R2P campaign. Other estimates are several times the HRW published figures. To this day Libyan civilians and demanding to know from NATO, “Why did you destroy my home and kill my family?” No answer has to date been provided to the Libyan victims’ families despite investigations that showed NATO pilots frequently disregarded instructions and “we essentially bombed at if we were playing video games” according to post-conflict contrite British airman.
Susan Rice, now Obama’s national security adviser, met with Saudi officials last week to discuss a NFZ and related strategy despite White House claims that it is still skeptical. Rice told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee late last month that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are working together again on Syria policy after a year of occasional bitter disagreement.
Among those currently petitioning the Obama Administration for a NFZ, which would quickly devolve into thousands of bomb runs across Syria that would likely decimate its air force and tank corps are the so-called ‘rebels.’ They tend to agree with France that problems lay ahead for them given April’s fast approaching Presidential election, in which the incumbent President, Bashar Assad, is likely to seek and win re-election.
In addition, Israel, according to a Congressional source, has offered to help ‘behind the scenes” with airbases if needed and certain activities along the southern Syrian border with occupied Palestine. A majority of Arab League countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plus Turkey, France, the UK and some members of the EU also support the NFZ idea. Saudi Arabia has already approved large quantities of Chinese man-portable air defense systems or Manpads as well as antitank guided missiles from Russia and more cash to help rebels oust the Assad regime, according to an Arab diplomat. Meanwhile, the US has upped its contribution to pay the salaries of preferred rebel fighters.
Ominously, the U.S. has already positioned Patriot air defense batteries and F-16 fighter aircraft in Jordan, which would be integral to any no-fly zone. The U.S. planes have air-to-air missiles that could destroy Syrian planes from long ranges. But officials have advised Congress that aircraft may be required to enter deep into Syrian air space if threatened by advancing Syrian planes. This could easily lead to all-out war with Syria and if Russia decides to provide advanced, long-range S-300 air defense weapons to Syria, it would make such a limited no-fly zone far more risky for U.S. pilots and it’s anyone’s guess what would happen next.
President Obama so far is keeping his own counsel as his Secretaries of Defense and State, current and former, and many other officials and politicians offer their advice for the White House ordering a NFZ. Hilary Clinton and General David Petraeus reportedly both favor a NFZ to ‘end this mess” in the words of the retired CIA Director.
To his great credit, Barack Obama appears so far to many on Capitol Hill to be reluctant to give formal approval to another NFZ as he was last summer when he resisted calls to launch a war against Syria as well as Congressional war-monger demands to go to war with Iran on behalf of the Netanyahu government. This week Mr. Obama acknowledged that diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict are far from achieving their goals. “But the situation is fluid and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue including diplomacy.”
If President Obama extends his record of putting American interests first to three key decisions over the past six months, and if he sticks with diplomacy rather than launch all-out war with Syria, and potentially the allies of Damascus, via a NFZ, he just may be on his way to earning his prematurely awarded Nobel Prize.
Al Nebek, Syria – Who authored the seemingly designed-to-fail UN Security Council Draft Resolution on delivering urgent humanitarian aid into the Old City of Homs and other besieged areas of conflict-torn Syria? When we know this, much may become clearer with respect to the cynical politicization of the continuing civilian suffering.
The draft resolution was put forward by Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan, and according to a UN/US congressional source—one who actually worked on rounding up the three countries to front for the US and its allies—none was pleased with the decidedly raw and undiplomatic pressure they received from the office of US UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
When this observer inquired how such a poorly drafted, one-sided, adversary-bashing draft resolution could actually have seen the light of day and been submitted to the UN Security Council, the reply he received was terse: “Ask Samantha.”
Suspicions are being raised in Geneva, in Syria, and among certain UN aid agencies, in Homs and elsewhere, that efforts on behalf of those they are trying to save from starvation were ‘set-up’ to fail as a result of power politics and influences emanating from Washington and Tel Aviv.
This observer is not a big fan of conspiracy theories. No doubt it’s a personal congenital defect of some sort that makes him want to hear at least a modicum of relevant, prohibitive, material, non-hearsay evidence to support some of the wilder and internet-fueled claims ricocheting around the globe. However, some things are becoming clear as to what happened at the UNSC last week and why certain specific language was included in the resolution.
Ms. Power, it has been claimed by two Hill staffers who monitor AIPAC, owes her position as UN Ambassador to Israeli PM Netanyahu, who views her and her husband, AIPAC fund raiser, Cass Sunstein, as Israel-first stalwarts. Congressional sources claim the White House went along with her appointment so as not to provoke yet another battle—either with AIPAC’s congressional agents or the wider US Zionist lobby. As part of her continuing gratitude for her “dream job,” as she told an American Jewish Committee convention on 2/10/14 in New York, Ms. Power assured the AJC that the United States “strongly supports Israel’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council, and we have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” Ms. Power is said to have assured AIPAC officials in private that evening that “one of Israel’s few survival reeds may be to grasp, in the face of rising anti-Semitism, a seat on the council.” Insisting that “there is growing and rampant hostility towards Israel within the UN, where a large number of member states are not democratic,” Ms. Power, continued” “I will never give up and nor should you.”
Following the standing ovation from her adoring audience, she repeated, according to one eye witness: “We have also pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” What the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine knows, as does no doubt Ms. Power, is that the American public and increasingly even the US Congress is finally pulling back from the regime in favor of justice for Palestine. Thus the lobby’s strange reasoning that the UN system, where the American public is essentially absent, is increasingly important.
So what’s the problem with the US-mission-spawned Security Council draft resolution on Syria so dutifully submitted by three chummy and faithful allies?
Well, for starters, the resolution is DOA, as presumably every sophomore poli-sci, civics, or governance student would have recognized from the outset. The aggressive language—demanding the UNSC immediately take action by targeting only one claimed violator with yet more international sanctions—would have caused chaff and cringing among many, probably most. But even beyond that, Moscow, with a UNSC veto ready to use, sees the US-initiated draft as a bid to lay the groundwork for military strikes against the Syrian government, interpreting the language as an ultimatum: that if all this isn’t solved in two weeks then the Security Council will automatically follow with sanctions against the Syrian government.
As Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told the media on 2/10/14, “Instead of engaging in everyday, meticulous work to resolve problems that block deliveries of humanitarian aid, they see a new resolution as some kind of simplistic solution detached from reality.”
The draft text, obtained by this observer from Reuters, expresses the intent to impose sanctions—on individuals and entities obstructing aid—if certain demands are not met within the next two weeks.
“It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
One diplomat in Syria, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, had told the Security Council on 2/11/14 that Moscow opposes some 30 percent of the original draft, but did not specify what which parts. He added, “We’re not aiming for a Russian veto, we’re aiming for a resolution that everybody can agree. That is what we want.”
For his part, President Obama, speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with French President Francois Hollande, kept up the pressure for the Security Council to accept the US resolution. He insisted that there is “great unanimity among most of the Security Council” in favor of the resolution and “Russia is a holdout.” Secretary of State John Kerry and others have “delivered a very direct message” pressuring the Russians to drop their opposition.
“It is not just the Syrians that are responsible” for the plight of civilians, but “the Russians as well if they are blocking this kind of resolution,” Kerry claimed. “How you can object to humanitarian corridors? Why would you prevent the vote of a resolution if, in good faith, it is all about saving human lives?”
Among international observers, the draft resolution is widely viewed as one-sided, condemning rights abuses by Syrian authorities, demanding Syrian forces stop all aerial bombardment of cities and towns as well as indiscriminate use of bombs, rockets and related weapons. It also, parenthetically and somewhat obliquely, condemns “increased terrorist attacks,” and calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syria, but the latter language is believed to be aimed mainly at Hezbollah. Sources in Syria claim that the draft heaps all the blame on the Syrian government without devoting the necessary attention to the humanitarian problems created by the actions of the rebels.
These gratuitous draft elements are not only aggressive, but frankly appear calculated to end serious discussion and to undermine a solution of the problem.
Being new on the job is one thing for Ms. Power (she has served as UN ambassador only since August of last year), but politicizing relief from starvation for a besieged civilian population is quite another. Likewise for promoting a draft resolution focusing all blame on one side. Such things violate a broad range of applicable and mandatory international norms, and if Ms. Power is hazy on this subject, the State Department’s Office of International Organization Affairs is not—or at least was not when this observer interned there following law school years ago.
Language that would have stood a much better chance of ending the siege of Homs, Yarmouk and other areas under siege was drafted this week by a Syrian law student at the Damascus University Faculty of Law. The widely esteemed university witnessed the death of 17 of its students, along with the serious injuring of more than 20 others, when rebel mortar bombs, on 3/28/13, targeted the canteen of the College of Architecture. Those responsible for the shelling later admitted they were trained and armed by agents of the US government.
The DU law student’s draft resolution on unfettered humanitarian aid into besieged areas of Syria will hopefully be widely discussed over the weekend at a news conference tentatively scheduled on campus. Perhaps the next UN draft resolution will reflect the student’s homework assignment.
The starving victims besieged in Syria, and all people of goodwill, are demanding immediate, non-politicized humanitarian aid without further delay. Virtually every American voter is in a position to pressure his or her congressional representative, and would possibly achieve much good by making the White House aware of their demands to end playing international ‘gotcha’ politics, and to cooperate to end the needless deaths by starvation that continue today.
Are the Warring Parties Playing Round Two of Geneva II?
El Nubek, Syria – As two delegations, one representing the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, led by Bashar Assad, and the other claiming to represent the popular opposition which is seeking its overthrow, arrived in Switzerland this morning to continue with Round Two of Geneva II, there is uncertainty over the agenda and whether to extend this weekend’s 36 hour “Humanitarian pause” to allow aid into the Old City of Homs. Such a deal, which could come at any time, would bolster confidence ahead of the Round Two of the peace talks.
Some observers, including this one, predict that the ceasefire will in fact be extended as a result of a meeting on 2/10/14 being held between Syrian government officials here in Homs and UN representatives that will likely result in more civilians being allowed out of the old city later today or tomorrow.
But it is not certain. And meanwhile, on 2/10/14, the meager amounts of aid trickling into Yamouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus was stopped due to yet another breach of a “humanitarian pause” that was agreed upon last week.
The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi, has advised journalists and observers gathered in his office yesterday that the ceasefire may be extended by a further three days; to allow all those who might want to leave the chance to do so. The operation to help trapped civilians in Homs was the one concrete agreement reached at recent peace talks in Geneva, which are due to resume on Monday.
There remains much mistrust and plenty of PR jockeying from both sides as the public awaits the sound of the gavel from UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to resume discussions to end the killing in Syria. The new opposition team, at press time, is not fully identified but has announced that it wants the focus of Round Two to be solely or how to transition ( it demands a clean slate in Damascus) and nothing else.
In contradistinction, Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban argues that the continuing essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the 12/12/13 Geneva I Communiqué; transition. Whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions.
Whether there will be an extension of the just competed “three day” humanitarian pause cease-fire” is not yet sure. In point of clarification, the so-called “three day” partial ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to the area which for more than 600 days has experienced nearly daily bombardment of the city which is labeled by some as the ‘Birthplace of the Revolution.” is a misnomer in the extreme. The so-called “Humanitarian Pause” such as it was, never comprised three days. Rather in reality it was for less than 36 hours given that aid deliveries and evacuations were strictly limited to 12 hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. over three days.
One spokesman for a European aid organization, attempted to enlighten this observer on the ceasefire terms by claiming that “After 6 p.m. any aid distributors within a snipers scope is fair game and they are for warned. I told them it is kind of like caveat emptor after six or before six.”
Frankly, the gentleman could not be more mistaken and he should have known better given his job. His view constitutes a shocking and fundamentally flawed edict and misstatement of applicable binding international norms anchored in black letter public international humanitarian law, including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions and other principles, standards and rule of international humanitarian law requiring protection by all belligerents of aid workers whenever and wherever they perform their humanitarian work. Nor can International customary law and treaty law on this subject be abrogated bilaterally by warring parties who may choose not to kill aid workers or civilians only during a mutually declared 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. day shift.
The aid workers in Homs, as are all civilians, are inviolate during military action. Nor is there any suggestion that either party has complied international law, which requires all warring factions to allow unconditional humanitarian access. It is no excuse, but there does appear, according to information given to these observers from local residents, that more than 30 different armed groups operate in the Old City, making any agreement among them unlikely. The Regional Advisor of UNICEF, Mr. Geoffrey Ijumba a reasonable sounding fellow, claims that “the main stumbling block is that the 30 plus militia groups inside Homs want guarantees that the aid will still be delivered to the Old City once the civilians are evacuated.” An extended ceasefire, given recent government military gains is, according to some observers monitoring developments in Homs, a rather tough precondition to expect from the Syrian government given the price it has paid for advancing militarily over the past two years in this area.
There is currently plenty of mistrust and much PR jockeying from both sides. The new opposition team, at press time not fully identified, wants the focus of Round Two to be solely transition and nothing else. Syrian government Presidential Political and Media Adviser Dr. Buthaina Shaaban strongly argues that an essential problem in the search for a political solution through the Geneva track lies in the fact that “we don’t know whom is representing those who came by the name of opposition, how many, and what is their relation to Syria.” She added that the coalition delegation came to Geneva for discussing one word in the Geneva I Communiqué; transition whereas the Syrian official delegation wants initially to discuss the first item in the Communiqué, the halt of violence, combating terrorism and the preservation of state institutions. For its part, Damascus has been keen to portray the humanitarian deal outside the framework of talks, with pundits and parliamentarians taking to the airwaves to tout the deal as evidence of the government’s ongoing efforts to aid civilians. It has come under pressure from its allies Russia and Iran to make humanitarian concessions.
Predictably perhaps, both sides accuse the other of violations of the claimed three-day humanitarian aid ceasefire as the Opposition team announced that its delegation to “Round Two” was being re-configured. Many observers of Genera II judged that the strong personalities and intellects of the Syrian delegation, including Foreign Minister Walid Mouallum, Dr. Bouthania Shaaban, and Minister of Information Omran Zoubi as well as Faisal Mekdad, among others, “won” Round I of the public relations challenge of G II and that the Obama Administration via John Kerry advised the opposition to that, “It had better field a stronger team or risk losing ground”.
The first civilians were evacuated from a rebel-held area of the Syrian city of Homs on 2/8/14 after more than a year and half of struggling to survive. Six buses arrived with three UN vehicles and six Red Crescent ambulances to pick up women, children, and elderly. Dina Elkassaby, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program, said its staff had reported that many of the evacuees were in “very, very bad shape,” with children showing signs of malnutrition.
Humanitarian workers braved mortar shells and gunfire on 2/9/14 as they pushed forward with their mission to deliver aid into besieged parts of the Syrian city of Homs through Jouret al Shayah al Qoubaisi. 12 civilians came out on the first bus from the rebel enclave.
Syria state television said four members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARCS) were wounded by ”armed terrorist groups”, on 2/9/14)as the aid workers tried to deliver humanitarian supplies to a besieged, rebel-held district of Homs city. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.” The Syrian Red Crescent Society told observers that it has been “a challenge” to get its staff and the UN team out of the area. SARCS official Khaled Erksoussi said the convoy came under attack from mortars and gunfire as it was leaving the Qarabis neighborhood.
Many of those evacuated on 2/7/14 looked frail and described extreme hardships inside the area, which has been under army siege for nearly a year-and-a-half. They said bread had not been available for months, and many residents were gathering weeds and leaves to eat. As the BBC’s Lyse Doucet reported: “The tide of people continued – elderly men and women on stretchers or crutches, exhausted mothers in tears, children who went straight into the arms of waiting aid officials from the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society. Water, bread, even polio vaccinations were provided on the spot. Many residents who have finally escaped speak of having only grass and olives to eat.”
On Sunday, 2/9/14, 611 civilians, an increase from 83 on 2/7/14, who were besieged for more than 600 days in the old city of Homs were evacuated, the majority being women, children and elderly. According to one of the Governate of Homs officials responsible for monitoring their evacuation, their ages ranged between 16 and 54 years of age. It is not yet clear if the warring parties will agree to a three day (36 hour) extension of the aid mission and if so that it will be honored. The governor of Homs, Talal al-Barazi sated on 2/0/14 that his administration will cooperate if the UN mission and the Syrian Red Crescent are the ones delivering the aid. Food and hygiene kits and have also been distributed in the neighborhoods of Bustan al-Diwan and al-Hamidieh.
The humanitarian aid gesture in the Old City of Homs is modest, compared to the more than four million civilians living under siege across this great country, being war deprived of adequate food, water, or sanitation. In all, some 9.3 million people in Syria need some form of aid, according to the U.N.
This past week, the U.N. Security Council pushed for a resolution that would enable broad-based aid deliveries to Syria. So did France. On the morning of 2/10/14, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and other countries would present a resolution at the UN calling for greater access for humanitarian aid. He told the media in Homs and internationally, “It is absolutely scandalous that there have been discussions for quite a while and that people are still being starved every day, and so along with a number of other countries, we will present a resolution at the UN along those lines.” Yet, many in Homs voice skepticism that Moscow would allow UN Security Council Chapter Seven action given its rivalry with Washington on this and other Syria related regional issues.
Some 3,000 people are slated to receive aid during the humanitarian pause. At sunset on 2/9/14 Abu Bilal, an activist trapped in the old city since June 2012 explained: “We hope more aid will come in, and we hope the civilians can be evacuated, but we don’t know whether that will happen. We are afraid that we will only see more of yesterday’s shelling.”
It appears certain that in the coming few days the intentions of both sides will become clearer with respect to the Geneva process and their willingness to allow full humanitarian aid into Homs and the evacuation of those who want to exit the Old City.
Whichever side fails in its humanitarian duties will be harshly judged by history and quite possibly by a Special Tribunal for Syria, already being planned by some, to be held at The Hague.