Archive | July 1st, 2012

Despite Ongoing Treason, US and IsraHell “To Hold Largest Ever Joint Military Exercise”


Despite ongoing treason, espionage and betrayal against America, the US and IsraHell are going to hold the “largest ever” joint military exercise in October this year.

According to The Times of Israel newspaper, the focus will be on “stopping ballistic missiles” and will include “thousands of soldiers.”

The drill will “simulate simultaneous rocket fire from Syria and Iran.”

According to the newspaper, the commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt.-Gen.Craig A. Franklin, on a recent visit to IsraHell, established a planning committee with representatives of the IsraHell Defence Force to coordinate the details of the exercise.

Some 3,000 US soldiers are to participate, alongside thousands of IsraHell troops.

The drill will simulate missiles being fired at IsraHell from Iran and Syria simultaneously, with potentially tens, if not hundreds, of rockets mid-air at the same time. IsraHell will test its upgraded Arrow 2 defense system, while the US will deploy the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and PAC-3 Patriot air defense platforms.

According to Maariv, some military analysts have nicknamed the exercise a “dress rehearsal” for a potential military conflict, noting that it will send a clear message to Iran at a time during which the impact of international sanctions, or lack thereof, will be clearer.

News of the drill comes shortly after talks between world powers and Iran regarding Tehran’s nuclear program broke up without progress in Moscow.

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Zionist-Directed U.S. Campaign against Iran Continues


The latest hypocritical twist in the Zionist extremist-directed campaign against Iran has seen an Iranian terrorist group, long on the State Department’s “banned” list, move towards recognition and “legitimacy” because it now can be used to carry out attacks inside Iran.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the “Obama administration is moving to remove an Iranian opposition group from the State Department’s terrorism list.

The exile organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MeK, was originally named as a terrorist entity 15 years ago for its alleged role in assassinating U.S. citizens in the years before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and for allying with Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein against Tehran.

The terrorism designation, which has been in place since 1997, freezes the MeK’s assets inside the U.S. and prevents the exile group from fundraising.

Senior U.S. officials said on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has yet to make any final decision on the MeK’s status. But they said the State Department was looking favorably at delisting MeK if it continued cooperating by vacating a former paramilitary base inside Iraq, called Camp Ashraf, which the group had used to stage cross-border strikes into Iran.

Many of Iran’s top leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were targets of MeK attacks during the 1980s.

Iran has regularly accused Western countries of hypocrisy for providing shelter to MeK members while criticizing Tehran’s support for militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

“We believe that despite the claims that others make about fighting terrorism, they [Western nations] provide the most support for terrorist groups,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said last week.

“In Europe, the MeK has already been removed from the list of terrorist organizations and they are completely safe to continue their activities.”

As outlined earlier, the US administration has already started arming and training MEK terrorists for attacks inside Iran, in blatant violation of international law.

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How Iran Might See the Threats


By Ray McGovern

In CIA jargon, “Aardwolf” is a label for a special genre of intelligence report from field stations abroad to headquarters in Washington. An Aardwolf conveys the Chief of Station’s formal assessment regarding the direction events are taking in his or her country of assignment – and frequently the news is bad.

An Aardwolf is relatively rare and is avidly read; it is candid — and often unwelcome. (In the 2006 book State of War, author James Risen describes two Aardwolfs sent to CIA headquarters in the latter half of 2003 by the station chief in Baghdad describing the deteriorating situation in Iraq — and angering many of his bosses.)

So, let’s assume there is an Iranian Chief of Station embedded in, say, Iran’s UN representation in New York. It is quite likely that he or she would be tasked with crafting periodic Aardwolf-type assessments for senior officials of the Islamic Republic.

And in this time of heightened tensions with the United States and the West, Tehran presumably would be interested in a think piece assessing, based on the events of recent months, what the second half of 2012 might have in store on front-burner questions like the nuclear issue and the triangular Iran-U.S.-Israel relationship.

Putting oneself in others’ shoes is always of value but often avoided by American officials and journalists. It is especially difficult in dealing with not-so-easy-for-westerners-to-understand countries like Iran. Faux history further complicates things, as do unconscious blinders that can affect even “old-paradigm” analysts who try to have no agenda other than the pursuit of objective truth.

Don’t laugh. That U.S. intelligence analysts are still capable of honest, old-paradigm work can be seen in their continued resistance, so far with the full support of senior management, to strong political pressure to change their key estimate of late 2007 that the Iranians stopped working on a nuclear weapon during the fall of 2003.

Thus, let me try to put my imagination to work and see if any useful insights can be squeezed out of an attempt to “impersonate” an Iranian Chief of Station in the following notional “Aardwolf” to Tehran. Such a message might read something like this:

Nuclear Issue: What Are the U.S. & Israel Up To?

With half of 2012 behind us and the U.S. presidential election looming in just four months, I will try to be candid and blunt about what I see as the dangers facing the Islamic Republic in the coming months. Following are the key points of our mid-year assessment, more fully developed in the text that follows:

1-The Islamic Republic is viewed by most Americans as Enemy #1. How best to defeat our “nuclear ambitions” has become the main foreign policy issue in the election campaign for president. This is BIG.

2-In dealing with Iran, U.S. corporate media are behaving just as they did before the attack on Iraq. It is as though the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq never happened. This time the Islamic Republic is in the crosshairs and some influential figures seem eager to pull the trigger. For instance, Jackson Diehl, deputy chief of the Washington Post‘s editorial page, asked pointedly if it “would still be feasible to carry out an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities” if the U.S. gets involved militarily in Syria.

3-Within the “bubble” of Official Washington, the war in Iraq is often portrayed as a success and the pro-Israel neo-conservatives largely responsible for that catastrophe remain in very influential positions. The macho cry of the neocons — “Real men go to Tehran” — is again very much in vogue.

4-Cowardly politicians, especially in Congress, march “in lockstep” to Likud Lobby cadences. President Barack Obama privately may not wish to go along but he lacks the courage to break ranks.

5-Unlike the lead-up to Iraq, when Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were lusting for war, this time neither the White House nor the Pentagon wants hostilities. Yet, prevalent is an awkward, helpless kind of fear that, one way or another, Israel with succeed in provoking hostilities — with little or no prior notice to its superpower “ally.”

6-As we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, the top U.S. generals are virtually all careerists, and none have forgotten what happened to Admiral “no-war-on-Iran-on-my-watch” William Fallon. He was soon a retired admiral. So, they will follow orders — legal or not — as reflexively as the Prussians of old, letting the troops and the “indigenous” people of the target countries bear the consequences. In the U.S., it is almost unheard of for a general to resign on principle, no matter how foolish the errand.

7-It is conventional wisdom here that the pro-Israel vote is sine qua non for election to the White House. Thus, Obama is acutely sensitive to the perceived need to appear no less supportive of Israel than Mitt Romney, who told an Israeli newspaper last fall: “The actions that I will take will be actions recommended and supported by Israeli leaders.”

8-Some attention has been given to public warnings by prominent Israeli political, military and intelligence officials not to attack Iran. Their outspokenness betrays how seriously they view the danger that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may embark upon an adventure that could eventually result in the destruction of the state of Israel. But Netanyahu believes he still has the initiative and holds the high cards, which is certainly true with the U.S. political system.

9-As for Israel’s generals, they will obey — like their American counterparts.

10-There is ample evidence that Netanyahu believes Obama has a deficit of spine, and that if hostilities break out with Iran before the November election, Obama will feel obliged to give Israel unconditional support, including active military involvement. In my view, Netanyahu would be correct in that calculation.

11. Israel’s strategic situation has markedly deteriorated over the past year, with former Mossad chief Meir Dagan describing it as “the worst in its history.” Israel can no longer depend on close ties with Egypt or Turkey, and is becoming isolated elsewhere, as well. Developments in Egypt are a huge worry, with the Egyptians already having cancelled a major deal for the delivery of gas. This might increase Israel’s incentive to have a tangible demonstration that the “sole remaining superpower,” at least, remains firmly in its camp.

12-Military and intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel are just as tight as those that enabled the successful Israeli air attack on Iraq’s nuclear installation at Osirak in 1981. Just this month, Israel’s friends in Congress beat back an effort by the Director of National Intelligence to strip the phrase “including satellite intelligence” from a list of security improvements in the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012.

13-Starting, or provoking, hostilities with Iran would be huge, fateful gamble for Netanyahu, given Israel’s vulnerability to Iranian retaliation and Washington’s private counsels not to precipitate war. But if Israel went ahead anyway, my bet is that the U.S. military will be drawn in, even if Iran were careful to limit retaliation to Israeli targets.

14-On the nuclear issue, after the last three rounds of talks, it seems clear that the West will not even acknowledge our right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without strict conditions. Rather, the West’s “negotiating position” is almost identical to Netanyahu’s maximal demands that we abandon our project for processing nuclear materials and dismantle key facilities.

15-The larger objective seems to be regime change by threats, sanctions, covert action and cyber attack — with the prospect of worse to come.

16-To conclude, I would draw on some common American expressions: On the nuclear issue, we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Since there is a real chance we will be attacked at some point in the coming months, we need to batten down the hatches and keep our powder dry. It would be extremely foolish to hope for any significant break in U.S. hostility toward the Islamic Republic, at least until the very end of the year.

What Drives Israel?

I do not believe the Israelis see our nuclear program as an imminent threat, despite their having made the issue acause célèbre, the centerpiece of their foreign policy and a live wire in today’s American politics. The question is why; at least five objectives can be identified:

1 – Overthrow of our Islamic Republic government (shades of 1953). The euphemism now in vogue is “regime change.”

2 – Create in Iran the kind of hardship, devastation or, if you prefer, obliteration that has degraded Iraq’s ability, post-invasion, to support the Palestinians. A key part of Israel’s strategy is to deplete the resources of supporters of Hezbollah and HAMAS and shut down their support systems.

Accordingly, even if hostilities resulted in something short of “regime change,” Israel’s close-in enemies would be greatly weakened and Israel would be in a strong position to dictate “peace terms” to the Palestinians — and even encourage many of them to “self-deport,” to use Mitt Romney’s euphemism for ethnic cleansing of unwanted “aliens.”

3 – Divert attention from the stymied talks with the Palestinians, as Israeli settlers proceed apace to create more and more “facts on the ground” in the West Bank.

4 – Set back Iran’s uranium enrichment program a few years; and

5 – Take advantage of a near-term “window of opportunity” afforded by an American president worried about his reelection prospects.

Rejecting Post-WWII Agreements

The Americans are fond of saying, “After 9/11 everything changed.” And so Americans took little notice when President George W. Bush, in a June 1, 2002, graduation speech at West Point, boldly asserted the right to launch the kind of preventive war banned at Nuremberg and in the U.N. Charter.

The West Point speech laid the groundwork for the attack on Iraq ten months later (and an aggressive war that was ultimately branded illegal by the UN Secretary General). But Bush’s words at West Point indicated Washington’s determination not to be bound by post-World War II treaties and other agreements.

Many in the United States and abroad gradually have grown desensitized to the principles of international law when they limit Washington’s desire to attack another sovereign state under the guise of making Americans safer. After 9/11, starting the kind of “aggressive war” that was criminalized at Nuremberg in 1945 gained gradual acceptance.

And so, most Americans accept it as a given that it would be certainly okay if Israel and/or the U.S. attacked the Islamic Republic if we were to develop nuclear weapons, even though there is no international law or precedent available to justify attacking us.

Moreover, Article 2(4) of the UN Charter expressly prohibits the threat to use force as well as the actual use of force. But that is “old paradigm” thinking. When U.S. officials, from Obama on down, repeat the mantra that “everything is on the table,” including the “military option,” that is a violation of the UN Charter, yet no one here seems bothered by that fact.

Recall Obama’s nonchalant response when asked in February if he thought Israel had decided to attack Iran. “I don’t think Israel has made a decision,” he said simply — as though the decision were about something routine — not about whether to launch the kind of “aggressive war” banned at Nuremberg.

Bottom line: International law is, as the Americans would say, “not a problem.”

The statements of senior U.S. and Israeli officials are all over the map in addressing the nuclear “ambitions” of the Islamic Republic. For example, on Jan. 8, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” [“Face the Nation”, CBS, Jan. 8, 2012]

Here are his comments on another Sunday talk show on May 27:

“The fundamental premise is that neither the United States or the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon.”

Israeli leadership statements, including those by Panetta’s counterpart, Ehud Barak, are equally disingenuous, emphasizing that the U.S. and Israel are bound and determined to stop us from doing what both defense leaders have publicly acknowledged Iran is not doing. Small wonder that so many are confused.

Preventing Preventive War

The Persian Gulf would be an ideal place for Israel to mount a provocation trying to elicit retaliation from us, which could, in turn, lead to a full-scale Israeli attack on our nuclear-related sites.

Painfully aware of that possible scenario, then Joint Chiefs Chair, Admiral Mike Mullen noted at a July 2, 2008, press conference, that military-to-military dialogue could “add to a better understanding” between the U.S. and Iran. This might be an opportune time to resurrect that idea and formally propose such dialogue to the U.S.

The following two modest proposals could go a long way toward avoiding an armed confrontation — whether accidental or provoked by those who may actually wish to precipitate hostilities and involve the U.S.

1 – Establish a direct communications link between top military officials in Washington and Tehran, in order to reduce the danger of accident, miscalculation or covert attack.

2 – Launch immediate negotiations by top Iranian and American naval officers to conclude an incidents-at-sea protocol. A useful precedent is the “Incidents-at-Sea” agreement between the U.S. and the Russians, signed in Moscow in May 1972. That period was also a time of high tensions between the two countries, including several inadvertent naval encounters that could well have escalated. The agreement sharply reduced the likelihood of such incidents.

I believe it would be difficult for the Americans to oppose measures that make such good sense. Press reports show that top U.S. commanders in the Persian Gulf have favored such steps. And, as indicated above, Admiral Mullen appealed earlier for military-to-military dialogue.

In the present circumstances, it has become increasingly urgent to discuss seriously how the United States and Islamic Republic can avoid a conflict started by accident, miscalculation or provocation. Neither the U.S. nor Iran can afford to allow an avoidable incident at sea to spin out of control.

With a modicum of mutual trust, these common-sense actions might be able to win wide and prompt acceptance in the U.S. — if only as a way of reining in “Enemy #1.”

This is not for me to suggest, but I do so informally, partly because my Russian colleagues here at the UN have sought me out for discussion on recent developments on a number of occasions. And just this week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, referring to Israeli calls for stronger action against Iran, had this to say:

“In order to settle this [nuclear] issue, it’s necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios aimed against Iran, and stop dismissing the negotiations as a failure.”

End of our imaginary Aardwolf to Tehran.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. In the Sixties he served as an infantry/intelligence officer and then became a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity 

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Syria crisis: Lebanon sucked into Syria crisis



Nowhere is the stress exerted on Lebanon by the Syrian crisis more apparent than in Tripoli, the country’s second city.

Like Syria’s other neighbours – Turkey, Iraq and Jordan – Lebanon has absorbed thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflict now raging on the other side of the border.

But unlike the other countries, Lebanon risks being plunged into sectarian strife, possibly even civil war, by the strains inflicted on its own delicate internal situation by the Syrian crisis.

If there is a spark that sets off a wider conflagration in the country, it is most likely to come from Tripoli, where blood has already been spilled.

The majority of the city’s 500,000 or so inhabitants are Sunnis, most of whom naturally side with the uprising across the border in Syria, which has taken root mainly in the country’s Sunni areas.

But there is a small but tough minority of Alawites, perhaps 35,000 strong, mainly concentrated in the hilltop Jebel Mohsen quarter.

They share the same obscure faith as the ruling clan of Bashar al-Assad in Syria – an occult offshoot of Shia Islam – and most of them strongly support the Syrian regime.

More than 20 people have been killed in clashes in Tripoli this year
Symbols of struggle
It is not a theoretical alliance.

During the Syrian military presence in Lebanon (from 1976 until 2005) Alawite leaders in Tripoli worked closely with the Syrians and fought on their behalf in various proxy battles over the years.

The main Lebanese Alawite faction, the Arab Democratic Party led by Rifaat Eid, is strongly linked to Damascus and is widely believed to receive arms and even instructions from the regime.

Twice already this year, there have been bouts of fighting along a civil war front line between Jebel Mohsen and Bab al-Tebbaneh – the adjacent Sunni district.

More than 20 people have been killed in clashes which nobody doubts were related to the Syrian conflict, though there were conflicting recriminations.

Sunnis accused the Alawites and Damascus of stirring up the trouble to divert attention from Syria’s internal struggle and to warn the Sunnis against allowing Tripoli to become a rear base for the Syrian rebels, which it effectively is.

Alawites accused the Sunnis of trying to impose a Salafi (fundamentalist) emirate and of arming and financing the Syrian Sunnis. Rifaat Eid even suggested that the only solution was to invite the Syrian army in to impose order.

Most parts of Tripoli are clearly badged with the symbols of the struggle.

In many areas, the black-white-and-green banner of the Syrian revolution flutters, in places more prominently than Lebanon’s own flag.

But in Jebel Mohsen, the posters are of Mr Assad and his father, the regime founder Hafez al-Assad, some of them featuring Rifaat Eid.

‘Civil war’
Buildings on and near Syria Street, which runs along the front line just on the Sunni side, are pocked and battered by the various bouts of fighting.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

It’s just a pity to see our city again having to pay for the wars of others”

Samer Annous
Lebanese university lecturer
People here are in no two minds about who is to blame.

“Every time we open up and try to work, they shoot at us again, so people close down again and run away,” said Imad, a coffee shop owner.

“It’s all down to Bashar al-Assad. He promised that if Syria doesn’t have security, he’ll set fire to the whole Middle East. Now he’s started with Lebanon, then it’ll be Iraq, Jordan, Turkey.

“He’s killing more than 100 of his own people every day. We’re with the people who are being killed for no reason,” Imad added.

There are widespread fears that more clashes between Alawites and Sunnis in Tripoli could spread along the sectarian and political fault lines that run through the country.

The Alawites may be a small minority, but they are connected to a Syrian-backed alliance which includes the Shia factions Hezbollah and Amal, as well as some Christian groups – among them the northern warlord Suleiman Franjieh in nearby Zgharta.

“All the elements of a civil war are present,” said Samer Annous, a university lecturer and civil society activist.

“Poverty, rage among many people over things that are happening in Syria, sectarian divisions, corruption in government, the total collapse of the whole system.

“It’s just a pity to see our city again having to pay for the wars of others, regional powers including the Gulf states and the Syrians,” Mr Anbnous said.

Hezbollah’s role

There is a widespread perception that a proxy struggle is already taking place, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar pouring funds into Tripoli through a proliferation of Salafi Islamist groups which have become increasingly active on the ground.

“It seems that there is a kind of competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to control the Sunni street in Lebanon, and especially in Tripoli,” said Ziad al-Ayyoubi, another civil society activist.

“This is also directly related to the Syrian revolution. Qatar is the lead country in the Gulf supporting the Syrian rebels. It seems that it is using Tripoli and north Lebanon to get access to Syria. There are a lot of expensive new weapons on the front line here, and they’re not left over from the civil war.”

One of the best-known Salafi leaders in Tripoli, Shaikh Daai al-Islam al-Shahhal, also stressed the regional dimensions of the struggle.

“The end of the criminal regime in Syria is absolutely inevitable,” he said.

“That will deal a huge blow to the Safavid [Iranian] project of which it is a cornerstone. It will shake the Iranian and Iraqi regimes, and the allies of the Syrian regime in Lebanon.”

Chief among those allies is Hezbollah, the most powerful force in Lebanon, including the Lebanese army.

Hezbollah’s reaction to a Syrian collapse would set the frame for what happens next in Lebanon.

Mr Shahhal said he believed a conflict was not inevitable.

“I think some voices within Hezbollah organisation will call for preemptive steps to overturn the table in Lebanon in security terms.”

“But there will also be wiser and more aware voices, which may prevail, arguing that Hezbollah should adjust to the new Lebanese reality, and content itself with being one of the effective political parties in Lebanon.

“If they turn back [from the Iranian project], there would be no problems between them and us,” Mr Shahhal said.

Hezbollah has so far been extremely restrained in its attitudes on the ground in Lebanon, while strongly supporting the Assad regime politically.

There is no impression at present that it is spoiling for a fight, and when 11 Lebanese Shia pilgrims were abducted by Sunni rebels in northern Syria two months ago – they are still being held – it discouraged its supporters from making trouble to press for their release.

But one man who believes civil war is already here is Hussein Ali, an 88-year-old Alawite shopkeeper who has lived in Tripoli all his life.

One of his shops was recently attacked and smashed by Sunni thugs who he believed belonged to organised Salafi groups, part of a campaign that has sent many Alawites fleeing from mixed areas.

But he refuses to be intimidated, and has reopened.

He is fiercely critical of the local Alawite leaders, who he believes are encouraging their followers on a suicidal course.

“The Alawite community here is small – they’ll get swallowed up like candy,” he said.

“When the politics change, and the support from Syria goes, Hezbollah’s influence will go too. The Alawites here seem to believe the Assad family in Syria is there forever. They’ve made a mistake. But that doesn’t mean they deserve to be killed.”

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By Gilad Atzmon

Miss HolocaustHava Hershkovitz, right, a Holocaust survivor and winner of a beauty pageant is congratulated by another participant, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Thursday, June 28, 2012. Fourteen women who lived through the horrors of World War II paraded on stage Thursday night in an unusual pageant, vying for the honor of being Israel’s first “Miss Holocaust Survivor.” (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Huffington Post reported yesterday   that “Hava Hershkovitz, 79, was crowned ‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’ at a pageant held in Israel on Thursday.”

On Thursday, in a most unusual event, 14 Jewish women who survived the horrors of the Shoa paraded vying for the honour of being crowned Israel’s first “Miss Holocaust Survivor.”

Billed by the organizers as a ‘celebration of life’, the nearly 300 women from across Israel who registered for the competition were whittled down to the 14 finalists who appeared on Thursday.

As ever, suffering, victimhood and survival were shown to be at the heart of Jewish and Israeli culture. “I have the privilege to show the world that Hitler wanted to exterminate us and we are alive. We are also enjoying life. Thank God it’s that way,” said Esther Libber, a 74-year-old runner-up who fled her home in Poland as a child, hid in a forest and was rescued by a Polish woman.

The Miss Holocaust Parade seems to be one of the last remaining opportunities to extort cash out of the elder community. Today, nearly 200,000 aging survivors live in Israel – enough to keep some businesses afloat and I guess it is only a matter of time before we learn from the Huffington Post about the Shoa bodybuilding contest. (I understand that some survivors like my great uncle Yanka’le still visit the gym once a week). Such a contest could be endorsed by food supplement and weight lifting equipment companies – ideally Germans.

Apparently, Gal Mor, editor of the popular Israeli blog “Holes in the Net,” has already envisioned such a development, Yesterday, he pointed out that the Miss Holocaust pageant was misguided.

This is one step short of `Survivor-Holocaust’ or `Big Brother Auschwitz.’ It leaves a bad taste. Holocaust survivors should be above all this,” he wrote.

Actually, I disagree. The Israeli TV should seriously consider launching such a Shoa reality-TV show. They could call it ‘Big Mirror’ and in it they could, once again, incarcerate elder survivors – but this time in  Gaza or Guantanamo Bay. Sitting comfortably on our sofas with a pizza and a beer, we could watch our Jewish heroes 24/7. And we can learn from them, the very people who survived Hitler, how to survive in our Zionized universe. Such a program would clearly yield huge revenues as well as being educational and ethically driven.

Legendary Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban must have seen it all coming when he coined his famous adage ‘there is no business like Shoa business.’


Former Nazi Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has died and gone to hell



Yitzhak Shamir, the hawkish Nazi leader who balked at the idea of trading occupied land for peace with the Palestinians, died on Saturday after a long illness. He was 96.

He was twice Nazi prime minister in the 1980s and early 1990s. Rather than seek accommodation with the Palestinians, Nazi Shamir championed new Zio-Nazi Jewish settlements.

Zio-Nazi media said Shamir, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died at a nursing home in Herzliya Saturday.

Nazi Shamir served as prime minister for seven years, from 1983-84 and 1986-92, leading his party to election victories twice, despite lacking much of the outward charm and charisma that characterizes many modern politicians.

“Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles,” Nazi Shimon Peres said in a statement obtained by YNet news of Israel.

“Yitzhak Shamir belongs to a generation of giants, who founded the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people in its land,” Nazi Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “He led Israel with deep loyalty to both the people and the land.”

Nazi Gilada Diamant, Shamir’s daughter, said that her father “belonged to a different generation of leaders, people with values and beliefs. I hope that we have more people like him in the future. His political doing has undoubtedly left its mark on the State of Israel.

“Dad was an amazing man, a family man in the fullest sense of the word, a man who dedicated himself to the State of Israel but never forgot his family, not even for a moment. He was a special man,” she added.

Barely over 5 feet tall and built like a block of granite, Nazi Shamir projected an image of uncompromising solidity at a time when Palestinians rose up in the West Bank and Gaza, demanding an end to Zio-Nazi illegal occupation.

Defeated in the 1992 election, he stepped down as head of the Nazi Likud party and watched from the sidelines as his successor, Nazi Yitzhak Rabin, negotiated interim land-for-peace agreements with the Palestinians.

The agreements, including Palestinian puppet Yasser Arafat’s recognition of the Zio-Nazi regime, did nothing to ease his suspicion. In a 1997 interview with the New York-based Jewish Post, he declared: “The Arabs will always dream to destroy us. I do not believe that they will recognize us as part of this region.”

 Nazi Shamir, left, speaks in Madrid with his adviser Nazi Benjamin Netanyahu, October 30 1991, at the Madrid Middle East Peace conference.

He embraced the ideology of the Revisionists — that IsraHell is the sole owner of all of the biblical Holy Land, made up of IsraHell, the West Bank and Jordan.

The Labor movement, in power for IsraHell’s first three decades, agreed to a 1947 U.N.-proposed partition plan to allow the creation of the Zio-Nazi  state alongside a Palestinian entity. To Nazi Shamir and other Revisionists, that was tantamount to treason.

In later years, asked his view of territorial compromise for peace, Nazi Shamir said often that IsraHell had already given up 80 percent of the Land of IsraHell — a reference to Jordan.

Polish born

Born Yitzhak Jazernicki in Poland in 1915, he moved to pre-state Palestine in 1935. He joined Nazi Lehi, the most hardline of three Nazi Jewish movements resisting British mandatory authorities, taking over the Lehi leadership after the British killed its founder.

Captured twice, he escaped from two British detention camps and returned to resistance action. The second camp was in Djibouti, in Africa.

After the Zio-Nazi regime was founded in 1948, Nazi Shamir was in business for a few years before entering a career in Gestapo Mossad spy agency.

In the mid-1960s he emerged to join the right-wing Nazi Herut party, which evolved into the present-day Nazi Likud.

Nazi Shamir succeeded Nazi Menahem Begin as prime minister in 1983 in the aftermath of Zio-Nazi 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

His term was marked by the Palestinian uprising against Nazi occupation, and the 1991 Gulf war, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at IsraHell.

Arguing with the US

During the Gulf war, Nazi Shamir went along with American demands not to retaliate for the Iraqi missile strikes. After the war, the United States stepped up pressure to start a Middle East process that could lead in only one direction — compromise with the Arabs.

Exasperated by Nazi Shamir’s stubborn refusal to go along with their plans for a regional settlement, then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker once went on television, recited the switchboard number of the White House and told Nazi Shamir to call when he got serious about peace.

In the end, American pressure bent even Nazi Shamir. Despite his deep mistrust of Arab intentions, he agreed to attend the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid, sponsored by the United States and Russia.

Nazi Shamir hotly rejected the deals his successors made with the Palestinians, in which Zio-Nazi regime turned over control of some West Bank land to the Palestinians.

His pleasure at the 1996 election victory of  Likud leader Nazi Benjamin Netanyahu soured when Nazi Netanyahu continued to negotiate with the Palestinians and carry out land-for-security deals.

Before the 1999 election, Nazi Shamir resigned from the Nazi Likud and joined a new right-wing block called National Union, headed by Nazi Begin’s son, Ze’ev Binyamin.

The party, which rejected any turnover of land to the Palestinians, won only four seats in parliament, though it had seven members of the outgoing legislature on its list.

In 2001, Nazi Shamir was given his nation’s highest civilian honor, the IsraHell Prize awarded annually to outstanding citizens in several fields.

Nazi Shamir will receive a state funeral, which has been set for Monday, YNet reported. He will be laid to rest in the Nation’s Great cemetery on Mount Hertz

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Death of a Proud, Self-Avowed Terrorist


Palestine Police Force Wanted Poster offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang members, including (at center) Yitzhak Yezernitzky

Sometimes terrible people live long lives. Such is the case with Icchak Yezernitsky, a Russian-born racist, terrorist and eager ethnic cleanser who is better known to the world as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.  Shamir died today, June 30, 2012, at a Tel Aviv nursing home from Alzheimer’s Disease at the ripe old age of 96.  One can only wonder if he had forgotten all the war crimes he had committed.

Nearly every mainstream media outlet has eulogized Shamir with encomiums, or at least profound respect.  Here are some of Shamir’s greatest hits, most of which have been omitted from most of the media’s effusive obituaries:

Shamir was one of the leaders of Lehi (also known as The Stern Gang), a Zionist terrorist militia which rampaged through Palestine in the 1940s.  Were anyone to dispute that Lehi was a terrorist group, Shamir proudly affirmed that particular description in a 1943 article he wrote entitled “Terror.”  Shamir wrote,

Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war…We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle.

First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier.

The Zionist terror campaign of Plan Dalet, put into effect in early 1948 and described by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, consisted of “large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding population centres; setting fires to homes, properties, and goods; expulsion; demolition; and finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning.”

Shamir seemed to relish the opportunity to terrorize, murder and ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous population into order to make room for the nascent state of Israel.  The massacre of Deir Yassin in April 1948, during which over 100 unarmed villagers were murdered, was carried out by Zionist commandos of Shamir’s Lehi and Menachem Begin’s Irgun (of which Shamir was a former member). 

Following Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in May 1948, the United Nations reassessed its approach to the partition of Palestine and appointed a mediator, Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, to come up with new proposal while taking into account “the aspirations of the Jews, the political difficulties and differences of opinion of the Arab leaders, the strategic interests of Great Britain, the financial commitment of the United States and the Soviet Union, the outcome of the war, and finally the authority and prestige of the United Nations.”  Notice that the rights of the indigenous Palestinians were not included in this mandate.

Nevertheless, while Bernadotte’s second proposal was produced in consultation with British and American emissaries, then-President Harry Truman undermined its progress in the UN due to pre-election Zionist influence in the United States.  When Bernadotte finally presented his progress report, “Mediation, Truce Supervision, Refugees, Proposals for Peaceful Settlement,” on September 16, 1948, it included this unequivocal statement:

It is not yet known what the policy of the Provisional Government of Israel with regard to the return of Arab refugees will be when the final terms of settlement are reached. It is, however, undeniable that no settlement can be just and complete if recognition is not accorded to the right of the Arab refugee to return to the home from which he has been dislodged by the hazards and strategy of the armed conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The majority of these refugees have come from territory which, under the Assembly resolution of 29 November, was to be included in the Jewish State. The exodus of Palestinian Arabs resulted from panic created by fighting in their communities, by rumours concerning real or alleged acts of terrorism, or expulsion. It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries. (A/648 1.V.6)

The very next day, September 17, 1948, Bernadotte was assassinated in West Jerusalem by members of Lehi, acting on Shamir’s explicit orders.

In 1969, Shamir formally joined Begin’s “Freedom Party” (Herut), which Jewish luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt had decried years earlier as “a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties” which “preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority.”

In April 1988, during the first Intifada, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamirwarned that any Palestinian caught protesting would have his “head smashed against the boulders and walls.” He continued, “We say to them from the heights of this mountain and from the perspective of thousands of years of history that they are like grasshoppers compared to us.”

Shamir was a committed colonialist.  Even when, in September 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush threatened to withhold “loan guarantees sought by Israel unless the Israeli Government, which has ignored all of his previous appeals to halt settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, freezes building activity,” Shamir never halted further colonization of Palestine.

In June 1993, after being voted out of office, Shamir stated his desire to deliberately subvert any efforts to establish a Palestinian state by carrying out peace talks under false pretenses.  “I would have conducted the autonomy negotiations for 10 years, and in the meantime we would have reached half a million [Jewish] souls in Judea and Samaria.”  Lamenting the end of his administration, Shamir said it was “painful that in the coming four years I won’t be able to increase settlements in Judea and Samaria and Gaza.”

In 2005, Israelis voted Shamir the 29th Greatest Israeli in a poll conducted by Ynet.

Despite Shamir’s history of despicable violence and willful abrogation of international law, Barack Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney released a statement on behalf of the White House at the news of Shamir’s death.

“Yitzhak Shamir dedicated his life to the State of Israel,” the statement read. “From his days working for Israel’s independence to his service as Prime Minister, he strengthened Israel’s security and advanced the partnership between the United States and Israel.” 

It is unsurprising that Benjamin Netanyahu praised his Likud predecessor, saying, “He was a paragon of loyalty to the Land of Israel and the eternal values of the Jewish people,” adding that “Yitzhak Shamir belongs to a generation of giants, who founded the State of Israel and fought for the freedom of the Jewish people in its land.”

One should remind Netanyahu of Shamir’s proud justification of terrorism or perhaps simply note the words of the mayor of Tel Aviv under British Mandate, Israel Rokach, who in 1944 accused Shamir’s Zionist militia of “lacking even a spark of humanity and Jewish conscience” after Lehi gunmen murdered three British police officers in a public shooting.

Shamir’s daughter, Gilada Diamant, claimed her father “belonged to a different generation of leaders, people with values and beliefs. I hope that we have more people like him in the future.”  Certainly anyone who values human rights, justice, sovereignty, and self-determination for the Palestinian people, the rule of law, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Principles does not share Diamant’s hope.

Thomas Friedman once wrote that Shamir “exemplifies those Israeli leaders whose vision of tomorrow is yesterday.”  For all those whose innocent lives were obliterated or whose families suffered at the hands of Yitzhak Shamir due to his commitment to ethnosupremacism, colonialism and mass murder, any more visions of violence and bigotry that he may have had thankfully died today.


There’s also this:

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by Dr Paul Craig Roberts

Source:  Can the World Survive Washington’s Hubris?
Pictures and captions by Lasha Darkmoon


When President Reagan nominated me as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, he told me that we had to restore the US economy, to rescue it from stagflation, in order to bring the full weight of a powerful economy to bear on the Soviet leadership in order to convince them to negotiate the end of the cold war. Reagan said that there was no reason to live any longer under the threat of nuclear war.

The Reagan administration achieved both goals, only to see these accomplishments discarded by successor administrations. It was Reagan’s own vice president and successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, who first violated the Reagan-Gorbachev understandings by incorporating former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire into NATO and taking Western military bases to the Russian frontier.

The process of surrounding Russia with military bases continued unabated through successor US administrations with various “color revolutions” financed by the US National Endowment for Democracy, regarded by many as a front for the CIA. Washington even attempted to install a Washington-controlled government in Ukraine and did succeed in this effort in former Soviet Georgia, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. The President of Georgia, a country located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, is a Washington puppet. Recently, he announced that former Soviet Georgia is on schedule to become a NATO member in 2014.

Those old enough to remember know that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was an alliance between Western Europe and the US against the threat of the Red Army overrunning Western Europe. The North Atlantic is a long, long ways from the Black and Caspian Seas. What is the purpose of Georgia being a NATO member except to give Washington a military base on the Russian underbelly?

The evidence is simply overwhelming that Washington—both parties—have Russia and China targeted. Whether the purpose is to destroy both countries or merely to render them unable to oppose Washington’s world hegemony is unclear at this time. Regardless of the purpose, nuclear war is the likely outcome.


The presstitute American press pretends that an evil Syrian government is murdering innocent citizens who only want democracy and that if the UN won’t intervene militarily, the US must in order to save human rights. Russia and China are vilified by US functionaries for opposing any pretext for a NATO invasion of Syria.

The facts, of course, are different from those presented by the presstitute American media and members of the US government. The Syrian “rebels” are well armed with military weapons. The “rebels” are battling the Syrian army. The rebels massacre civilians and report to their media whores in the West that the deed was done by the Syrian government, and the Western presstitutes spread the propaganda.

Someone is arming the “rebels” as obviously the weapons can’t be purchased in local Syrian markets. Most intelligent people believe the weapons are coming from the US or from US surrogates.


The object is to fragment Syria into petty sectarian statelets forever at each others’ throats. Ideally, this will be accomplished by a war that will do for Syria what has already been done so spectacularly for Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, i.e., destroy their infrastructures and leave them in ruins. When Syria is destroyed and more of its land annexed to Israel, adding to the territory already stolen in the water-rich Golan Heights, the next step will be the fragmentation of Iran and the plunder of its oil and gas resources. Iran is the big one. Syria is the small one on the way to Iran. As the neoconservative chickenhawks in Washington keep saying: “Real men go to Tehran!”  (LD)

So, Washington has started a civil war in Syria, as it did in Libya, but this time the gullible Russians and Chinese have caught on and have refused to permit a UN resolution like the one the West exploited against Gaddafi.

To get around this roadblock, fish out an ancient Phantom fighter jet from the 1960s Vietnam war era and have Turkey fly it into Syria. The Syrians will shoot it down, and then Turkey can appeal to its NATO allies to come to its aid against Syria. Denied the UN option, Washington can invoke its obligation under the NATO treaty, and go to war in defense of a NATO member against a demonized Syria.

What was that Turkish plane doing sniffing around Syrian airspace? — It was begging to be shot down! So that Turkey could give NATO its casus belli, its pretext for all all-out attack on Syria in violation of international law. The warmongers in Washington have only one way of making a living nowadays — and that is by selling arms to war-torn countries and then systematically looting their resources. (LD)

The neoconservative lie behind Washington’s wars of hegemony is that the US is bringing democracy to the invaded and bombed countries. To paraphrase Mao, “democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun.” However, the Arab Spring has come up short on democracy, as have Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries “liberated” by US democratic invasions.

What the US is bringing is civil wars and the breakup of countries, as President Bill Clinton’s regime achieved in former Yugoslavia. The more countries can be torn into pieces and dissolved into rival factions, the more powerful is Washington.

Russia’s Putin understands that Russia itself is threatened not only by Washington’s funding of the “Russian opposition,” but also by the strife among Muslims unleashed by Washington’s wars against secular Muslim states, such as Iraq and Syria. This discord spreads into Russia itself and presents Russia with problems such as Chechen terrorism.

When a secular state is overthrown, the Islamist factions become free to be at one another’s throats. The internal strife renders the countries impotent. As I wrote previously, the West always prevails in the Middle East because the Islamist factions hate one another more than they hate their Western conquerors. Thus, when Washington destroys secular, non-Islamist governments as in Iraq and now targeted in Syria, the Islamists emerge and battle one another for supremacy. This suits Washington and Israel as these states cease to be coherent opponents.


The Russians are only too aware that the projected wars against Iran and Syria are proxy wars against them. The Chinese know that they, too, are being covertly targeted by these attacks on their Iranian and Syrian allies. Russia and China therefore have a stark choice: either to intervene and stop the planned destruction of Iran and Syria by the US, Israel and their camp followers in NATO and the Muslim world — or else be next on the hit list. (LD)

Russia is vulnerable, because Putin is demonized by Washington and the US media and because Putin’s Russian opposition is financed by Washington and serves US, not Russian, interests. The turmoil that Washington is unleashing in Muslim states leaks back to Russia’s Muslim populations.

It has proved to be more difficult for Washington to interfere in China’s internal affairs, although discord has been sowed in some provinces. Several years from now, the Chinese economy is expected to exceed in size the US economy, with an Asian power displacing a Western one as the world’s most powerful economy.

Washington is deeply disturbed by this prospect. In the thrall and under the control of Wall Street and other special interest business groups, Washington is unable to rescue the US economy from its decline. The short-run gambling profits of Wall Street, the war profits of the military/security complex, and the profits from offshoring the production of goods and services for US markets have far more representation in Washington than the wellbeing of US citizens. As the US economy sinks, the Chinese economy rises.

Washington’s response is to militarize the Pacific. The US Secretary of State has declared the South China Sea to be an area of American national interest. The US is wooing the Philippine government, playing the China threat card, and working on getting the US Navy invited back to its former base at Subic Bay. Recently there were joint US/Philippines military/naval exercises against the “China threat.”

AMERICA believes it has a right to establish bases all over the Pacific Ocean, threatening Chinese interests . . . but would America like it if China established Chinese bases all over the Atlantic Ocean, threatening America? (LD)

The US Navy is reallocating fleets to the Pacific Ocean and constructing a new naval base on a South Korean island. US Marines are now based in Australia and are being reallocated from Japan to other Asian countries. The Chinese are not stupid. They understand that Washington is attempting to corral China.

For a country incapable of occupying Iraq after 8 years and incapable of occupying Afghanistan after 11 years, to simultaneously take on two nuclear powers is an act of insanity. The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers—Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy. The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction.

The criminally insane government in Washington, regardless whether Democrat or Republican, regardless of the outcome of the next election, is the greatest threat to life on earth that has ever existed.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the REAL President of America — the man who runs the American Madhouse with the help of AIPAC and America’ s  Zionist organizations . . .


Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


‘Israelis are helping write US laws, fund US campaigns, craft US war policy’

Jun 30, 2012

Philip Weiss

At Al Jazeera, Ahmed Moor has a piece titled, “How the Israel lobby erodes US sovereignty.” Strong words. Moor says that Israelis are “helping write US laws, funding US campaigns, and helping craft US war-making policy.”

Part of his case is the Mark Kirk Senate bill on refugees that came straight out of Israel.

Ha’aretz reported that the senator had some help with his legislative burden, and not only from his deputy chief of staff, Richard Goldberg. It turns out that the amendment to the bill was first written by an Israeli politician. Einat Wilf, a member of the Israeli parliament, reportedly spent months working with current and former AIPAC employees, including Steve Rosen – who was once suspected by FBI agents of obtaining classified US government information and passing it on to Israeli officials – to deliver the language on Palestinian refugees to the US legislature.

In summary: a senator who suffered crippling neurological damage received legislation from an Israeli politician by way of AIPAC before he slipped it into a US bill that eventually became law. In other words, an Israeli politician helped write a US law. Then she boasted about it. “I have nothing against the descendents of refugees and I’m not asking them to give up of their dream of returning,” Haaretz quoted Wilf as saying. “But if we want a two-state solution, UNWRA can’t continue to aid an inflation of refugees … It ends up harming peace.”

Annie Robbins treated the same scandal on our site. When is the American press going to go after that story?

The good news is that leftists and realists are carving out new territory together. Moor’s post recalls Scott McConnell’s essay at the Mideast Policy Council of a year or so back, saying that Israel is a “transmission belt” for a lot of really bad ideas to the U.S., including Islamophobia:

[The special relationship] is at bottom a transmission belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent, a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and their country’s role in it through Israel’s eyes…

the United States receives, principally, the enmity of Israel’s seemingly ever-expanding circle of foes, a small percentage of whom resort to terrorism. And, as an added bargain, it gets a powerful domestic lobby that now pursues as its main activity the incitement of wars between the United States and Israel’s enemies.

What’s the difference between South Africa and Israel?

Jun 30, 2012

Phil Weiss, with Alex Kane

The Forward has posted a podcast about the big decision by a Wall Street firm to delist Caterpillar from its socially-responsible index of companies. Gal Beckerman says:

It’s been a number of years since the BDS movement kind of — 2005 was the initial call. South Africa, yes, there was a slow build to it. But there was a feeling of unanimity, at some point. One domino fell; all the dominos fell. And I don’t quite see that happening here.
And it’s not, I don’t think, a comment on the moral — y’know, on whether the cause of Apartheid is more or less moral than the cause of Palestinians. I think it’s just there are countervailing forces here in a way that there were absolutely not during the South Africa situation.
Beckerman’s “countervailing forces” comment is in line with a statement by Sasha Polakow-Suransky in the great new film Roadmap to Apartheid. Polakow-Suransky wrote the book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. In the film he says:

[In the 80s] the South Africans actually seek out advice from the Israelis on how to sell themselves In the west and how to improve their image. The South Africans looked to Israel as a sort of beacon, and they didn’t understand why Israel had managed to withstand criticism for decades and survive, and why South Africa was failing.

The countervailing force that Beckerman and Polakow-Suransky are talking about is the Israel lobby. In the Israel case, there is a large bloc inside American political culture that ardently supports the existence of a Jewish state and will go to great measures to back its every policy. F.W. De Klerk, the former South African prime minister who did as much as anyone to end apartheid, has said that the two-state solution, which remains an article of faith inside American political life, is in essence what the white South Africans were trying to get with apartheid and Bantustans, separation.

One measure of this countervailing force is the discourse in our leading newspapers. Polakow-Suransky is now an editor at the New York Times op-ed page. His book of 2010 said that if Israel fails to dismantle West Bank settlements and create a viable Palestinian state, the apartheid label will be appropriate. Charney Bromberg, David Shulman, and Stephen Robert have all said or suggested in the last year or so that apartheid is a correct description of the West Bank. But can we expect this argument to make it into Polakow-Suransky’s newspaper?  So far the newspaper’s op-ed page has called the apartheid charge a “slander.”

Alex Kane dissents on this one:

The discussion at the Forward is intelligent and interesting. But I think Beckerman is wrong on the South Africa comparison. The movement to divest from South African apartheid began in the 1960s, and it took till the 1980s for it to to have real impact, at least according to this Wikipedia history.

I also think it’s newsworthy what the Forward’s Nathan Guttman said: That this time, the divestment resolutions at the Presbyterian assembly are “serious,” and “pro-Israel activists seem to me at least to be kind of pessimistic. They think the Israel resolutions do have a chance to pass.”

There seems to be real divestment momentum coming off the TIAA-CREF/MSCI decision.

Syria: No to intervention, no to illusions

Jun 30, 2012

Phyllis Bennis

A protester makes a victory sign behind the Syrian flag during a protest against President
Bashar al-Assad in April, 2011. (Photo: UPI)

Fifteen months on, the short Syrian spring of 2011 has long since morphed into a harsh winter of discontent. Syria is close to full-scale civil war. If the conflict escalates further, it will have ramifications far outside the country itself. As former UN Secretary-General and current envoy of both the UN and the Arab League Kofi Annan put it, “’Syria is not Libya, it will not implode; it will explode beyond its borders.”

Like so many other times before, the human cost of this conflict is incalculably high. It’s not surprising that the normal human reaction is “we’ve got to do something!”   But exactly what any army or air force might do that would actually help the situation isn’t very clear.  U.S./NATO military intervention didn’t bring stability, democracy or security to Libya, and it certainly is not going to do so in Syria.

The one crucial outside approach that could help resolve at least the immediate conflict – serious negotiations in which both sides are represented – for the moment remains out of reach. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint UN and Arab League envoy in Syria, has proposed at a new diplomatic initiative that would include the Syrian regime’s supporters, Iran and Russia, as well as the U.S.-allied western countries and those Arab and regional governments backing the armed opposition.  So far the U.S. has rejected the proposal, at least regarding Iran, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that Tehran is part of the problem in Syria and thus can’t be part of the solution. The current UN secretary-general, Ban ki-moon, who frequently reflects Washington’s interests, further undercut the potential of his own envoy’s proposal, saying that Assad has “lost all legitimacy” – diplomatic code for “we don’t have to talk to him.”

For those eager for analogies or counterparts, this isn’t Egypt or Libya, where opposition to the leader was overwhelming.  Despite his government’s history of brutal repression, Bashar al-Assad still enjoys significant support from parts of Syria’s business elites, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, and some in minority communities (Christian, Shi’a, parts of the Druse and even some Kurds) whom the regime had cultivated for many years.  The opposition was divided from the beginning over whether massive reform or the end of the Assad regime was their goal. It divided still further when part of the opposition took up arms, and began to call for international military intervention. The non-violent opposition movement, which still rejects calls for military intervention, survives, but under extraordinary threat.

There is no question that the regime has carried out brutal acts against civilians, potentially including war crimes. It also appears the armed opposition is responsible for attacks leading to the deaths of civilians. It is increasingly difficult to confirm who may be responsible for any particular assault. The UN monitors on the ground, whose access was already severely limited, have now been pulled from the field.  The regime has allowed a few more foreign journalists to enter the country, but restrictions remain and the fighting is so severe in many areas they are often unable to get solid information. The regime is clearly responsible for more attacks with heavy weapons, including tanks and artillery, but it is also clear that the anti-government forces are being armed with increasingly heavy weapons, largely paid for by Qatar and Saudi Arabia and coordinated by Turkey and the CIA. Indications are growing of well-armed outside terrorist forces operating in Syria as well.

Accountability, whether in national or international jurisdictions, is crucial – but stopping the current escalation of violence and avoiding all-out war must come first.


Syria is erupting in a region still seething in the aftermath of the U.S. war in Iraq. While most U.S. troops and mercenaries have left Iraq, the destruction and instability left behind have created a legacy that will last for generations.  One aspect of that legacy is the sectarian divide that the U.S. invasion and occupation imposed in Iraq – and as the expansion of that divide continues across the region, the threat of increasing sectarianism in Syria looms.  Although the Assad regimes – from father Hafez’s rise to power in 1970 through his son Bashar’s rule since 2000 – have always been ruthlessly secular, Syria remains a poster-country for sectarian strife.  The ruling Assad clan are Alawites (a form of Islam related to Shi’ism), ruling over a country with a large Sunni majority.

If the increasing sectarianism of the Syrian conflict extends beyond its borders, it could lead to regional conflagration involving even greater refugee flows and potentially battles in or around Syria’s neighbors Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey or elsewhere. Already, alongside the international power interests colliding in Syria, there is the beginning of a Sunni-Shi’a proxy war taking shape, with Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Shi’a Iran, backing opposing forces.


Iran’s role is the single most important basis for U.S. and other western interest in Syria, making that emerging proxy war even more dangerous. At this moment of continuing U.S. pressure, increasing U.S. and EU sanctions, and Israeli threats against Iran, Syria remains a tempting proxy target.  Syria itself isn’t a significant oil producer, and Washington has been far more concerned about keeping Syria’s borders secure for Israel, and reducing Iranian influence than with getting into Syria itself.  Damascus’s longstanding economic, political and military ties with Tehran mean that efforts to weaken or undermine Syria are widely understood to be at least partly aimed at undermining Iran, by destroying Tehran’s one reliable Arab ally.  This is perhaps the most influential factor pushing the U.S. towards greater action against Syria.

Certainly the U.S., the EU and the U.S.-backed Arab Gulf governments would prefer a more reliable, pro-western (meaning anti-Iranian), less resistance-oriented government than Assad’s in Syria, which borders key countries of U.S. interest including Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey.  They would also prefer a less repressive government, since brutality brings protesters out into the streets, threatening instability.  But for the moment, despite the U.S. involvement in helping its allies arm the opposition, conditions in the area still make a direct Libya-style U.S./NATO military strike on Syria somewhat less likely.

The U.S. and its allies are all too aware of the consequences for their own interests of direct military involvement in Syria – based on what they see now in post-Qaddafi Libya.  That model in Syria would create greater instability in the core of the strategic Middle East; expanding regional sectarianism; chaotic borders adjoining Israel, Iraq and Turkey; extremist Islamism gaining a foothold in Syria; and the end of any potential diplomatic arrangement with Iran.  In Europe, there is no “attack Syria” pressure equivalent to the political demands brought to bear on French and Italian leaders to intervene in Libya last year, following the PR fiasco of their overt colonial-style disdain for the earlier uprising in Tunisia.  For Turkey, among the most active supporters of arming the opposition, Syria’s shoot-down of the Turkish plane could lead to even stronger calls for military intervention; so far, though, while Ankara’s call for a NATO “discussion” of the matter means risks of escalation continue, the uncertainty of whether the plane was over international or Syrian waters has allowed both governments to moderate their responses.

So at the moment it still appears unlikely the Obama administration would risk an attack on Syria without a UN Security Council endorsement. And that endorsement is simply not going to happen in the near future. China and Russia have both indicated they oppose any use of force against Syria, and so far they are both opposing additional sanctions as well.

Russian opposition to an attack on Syria goes beyond Moscow’s usual resistance to Security Council endorsement of intervention anywhere in the world. It goes to the heart of Russia’s strategic national interests, including its military capacity and its competition with the west for power, markets and influence in the Middle East. Russia’s relationship to Syria more or less parallels the U.S. relationship to Bahrain: Damascus is a major Russian trading partner, especially for military equipment, and most crucial of all, hosts Moscow’s only Mediterranean naval base (and only military base outside the former Soviet Union), in Tartus on Syria’s southern coast.

Certainly there are no guarantees. Politics still trumps strategic interests.  The risk of a U.S./NATO attack on Syria remains, and the threat could be ratcheted up again in a moment.  This isn’t about humanitarian concerns –neither the U.S. nor any other country has ever used military force for purely humanitarian purposes. But the “CNN factor” –the relentless depiction of all-too-real heart-wrenching suffering – creates a political reality that influences decision-making in Washington, London, Paris, Ankara and beyond.  As the violence escalates in Syria, as more civilians, especially children, are killed, calls for intervention, some real and some cynical, escalate as well.

In the U.S. and Europe, the media and politicians’ earlier embrace of the armed opposition has subsided somewhat as reports rise of opposition attacks and resulting civilian casualties. But anti-Assad propaganda remains dominant.  And Washington is in election mode, so the pressure to “do something” is on the rise. The calls for military intervention are coming from the media and some in Congress, from neo-cons who never gave up on their plans for regime change across the Arab world, and from hawkish liberal interventionists who again see military force as a solution to every human rights or humanitarian problem.

There are also prominent opponents of military force inside the White House and Pentagon, who recognize it would create worse problems for U.S. interests (even if they don’t care much about the impact on Syrian civilians). Whether they can stand up to election-year “do something” pressures remains unclear. The push-back by those in civil society who say no to military intervention, while refusing to accept the mechanical “enemy of my enemy is my friend” claims that the Syrian regime is somehow a fraternal bastion of anti-imperialist legitimacy, will be crucial.


Syria’s position, geographic and political, and the resulting interest in it from outside actors, makes things very complicated.  The country lies on the fault lines of the Middle East – from sectarian divides in war-battered Iraq and precariously-balanced multi-confessional Lebanon and across the broader region, to great power competition including the U.S and NATO vs. Russia, to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to the roles of non-Arab Turkey and Iran.  There is a crucial divergence between the role the Assad regime has played domestically and its regional position. As Jadaliyya co-editor Bassam Haddad has written, “most people in the region are opposed to the Syrian regime’s domestic behavior during the past decades, but they are not opposed to its regional role. The problem is the Syrian regime’s internal repression, not its external policies.” That opinion could describe the view of many Syrians as well.

Of course unlike Egypt or Tunisia, the target of Syria’s original non-violent protests was not a U.S.-backed dictator but a brutal though somewhat popular leader at the center of the anti-western resistance arc of the Middle East.  And even if Assad had played a consistent anti-imperialist role in the region, Syrians would have every right and reason to challenge his regime’s brutality and denial of human rights. But the claim led some international activists to lionize the Syrian government as a bastion of anti-imperialism and therefore to condemn all opposition forces as lackeys of Washington.

In fact the regime’s reality is far different. Certainly the U.S. views Syria, largely based on its alliance with Iran (and somewhat for its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon) as an irritant. But Damascus has never been a consistent opponent of U.S. interests. In 1976 it backed a massive attack by right-wing Falangists and other Christian militias against the Palestinian refugee camp at Tel al-Zataar during Lebanon’s civil war. In 1991 Syria sent warplanes to join the U.S. war coalition to attack Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. After 9/11 George W. Bush collaborated with the Assad regime to send innocent detainees such as Maher Arar to be interrogated and tortured in Syria.

It is also crucial to note which important U.S. ally in the Middle East has been uncharacteristically silent regarding the Syrian uprising: Israel.  One would have expected Tel Aviv to be leading the calls for military intervention against Syria, the demands for regime change, the constant drumbeat of demonization and the calls for war. But Israel has been largely silent – because despite the rhetorical and diplomatic antagonism between the two, Syria has been a generally reliable and predictable neighbor.  The occasional border clash or small-scale eruption of violence aside, Assad has kept the border, and thus the economically strategic and water-rich Golan Heights, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, largely quiescent. As late as 2009 Assad was offering Israel negotiations “without preconditions” over the Golan Heights.  And further, Assad is a known quantity; despite Syria’s close ties to Iran, Israel has little interest in a post-Assad Syria like today’s Libya, with uncontrolled borders, unaccountable militias, arms flooding in and out, rising Islamist influence, and a weak, illegitimate and corrupt government ultimately unable to secure the country.  For Israel, the “anti-imperialist” Assad still looks pretty good.


The Syrian uprising that began in early 2011 was part of the broader regional rising that became known as the Arab Spring. Like their counterparts, Syria’s non-violent protesters poured into the streets with political/democratic demands that broke open a generations-long culture of fear and political paralysis. Like those who mobilized against U.S.-backed dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, the Syrian protesters were both secular and religious, reflecting a wide diversity of backgrounds and opinions. There were calls for democratization, demands that long-silenced voices be heard and empowered, and for immediate and massive political changes.

For some that meant that the regime must end, some were willing to negotiate with the government without Assad, still others called for broad reforms, ending political repression and opening the political system, within the existing governing structures.  But at first none called for international military intervention.

Then, like in Libya, some in the Syrian opposition, particularly military defectors, took up arms in response to the regime’s brutal suppression of the initially non-violent protests. The defensive use of arms soon morphed into a network of militias and fighters, largely unaccountable and uncoordinated – some of whom later began to call for military assistance.

Now some U.S. and supporters of western military intervention in Syria, last year’s assault on Libya provides the model of how to respond to a human rights/humanitarian crisis.  They believe it was a victory for human rights when a couple of European leaders proposed a no-fly zone, and part of the anti-Qaddafi opposition eagerly accepted their offer, and part of the Arab League and part of Europe and part of the Obama administration and most of NATO agreed.  With the fig leaf of Arab League approval (the African Union was sidelined as soon as it refused to support the military assault), the U.S./NATO warplanes quickly became the air force of the armed Libyan opposition, the “no-fly zone” was immediately transformed into an all-out air war and bombing campaign, and “protection of civilians” was instantly redefined as regime change.

But they were wrong to see it as a “human rights victory” then and they are more visibly wrong now. A year later, following the overthrow (and killing) of Qaddafi and the deaths of thousands of Libyans, the now-divided country struggles with out-of-control militias holding thousands of prisoners, torture, escalating violence, continuing attacks on sub-Saharan Africans and other foreigners, a virtually powerless government with more legitimacy in the West than at home, and a shattered national, social and physical infrastructure.

The impact of a military strike in Syria could be even worse. Syria’s conflict poses far more complex challenges than any of the earlier derailments from the non-violent mobilizations of the Arab Spring in Bahrain, Yemen or even Libya. Inside the country, the nature of Syria’s diverse economy, its strong middle class, the once relatively small gap between Syrian wealth and poverty, all mean that the regime maintains some level of legitimacy despite years of repression against political critics. Bashar al-Assad appears to maintain significantly more support than did Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, for instance.  The Assad regime’s own minority status strengthens claims it is protecting other Syrian minorities. And the tight links between ruling family and the military, mean that despite significant numbers of increasingly high-level military defections, the government and top military command appear largely intact.  If the defections, such as the high-visibility flight to Jordan of Syrian air force officer in their Russian-made MiG fighter plane, escalate, the military capacity of the regime will be seriously undermined. But so far, the military-government unity remains viable.

For ordinary Syrians, struggling to survive amid escalating fighting, with virtually no access to electricity, water or medical assistance in more and more cities, the only hope starts with ending the fighting. The best – probably the only – useful thing outside powers can do, would be to move immediately towards serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate, with the goal of imposing an immediate ceasefire. Kofi Annan’s call for just such a diplomatic option could be the start, if Washington could be pressured to reverse its opposition.

Such a diplomatic channel – bringing together Iran and Russia on one side, the U.S., EU, Turkey and pro-western Arab monarchies on the other, under UN auspices – would not solve all the problems that led to the Syrian crisis. The United Nations, particularly the veto-bound Security Council, remains thoroughly undemocratic, with U.S. domination a longstanding challenge. This kind of diplomacy would likely not reflect all the diverse interests of the Syrian people – but it would stop the current escalation towards full-scale civil war, and perhaps open enough political space to re-empower the original indigenous non-violent democratic movements in Syria.  It will only work if it is kept out of the UN’s currently popular “responsibility to protect” (R2P) framework, which inevitably leads to outside military force.

The best the Annan plan could achieve would be to bring enough pressure to bear on the two sides (assuming the U.S./western/Arab monarchy side and the Russian/Iranian side could agree on a goal) to reverse the current military escalation and perhaps impose a lasting ceasefire, long enough to force real negotiations inside Syria between a re-empowered internal opposition and the regime on some kind of political transition. Finding agreement between the diplomatic sponsors, let alone between the two sides inside Syria, will obviously not be easy.

But only with an end to the war, will the original unarmed opposition forces have a chance to remobilize public support for the internal, non-violent protest movement for real change, reclaiming social movements for Syria’s own freedom and democracy, and reasserting Syria’s place in the Arab Spring.


There are at least five distinct forces at play in the Syrian uprising:

  • The regime – power largely concentrated in the extended Assad family and broader Alawite community; political leadership closely interconnected with top military command and mukhabarat (secret police).  Maintains some popular support also from key business and banking powers in Syria, especially in Damascus and Aleppo. Has political support and some military assistance from Iran; recent expressions of political support from ALBA countries of Latin America (Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua,Venezuela) in context of U.S. and other western threats. Key military and commercial ties with Russia, especially through providing Russia with naval base at Tartus. Higher-level defections from military on the increase.
  • The original non-violent opposition – broad and diverse, secular and faith-based. Many activists came together in new informal coalitions and groupings that bypassed some older, more staid organizations.  Maintains opposition to arming of opposition and especially to any outside military intervention. These activists were the primary force of the early uprising, but achieved less visibility as regime’s repression targeting non-violent actions succeeded in suppressing protests, international media was largely excluded, and internal independent media focused primarily on attacks on civilians. Renewed attention in recent months, including documenting street protests that are continuing despite civil war-like conditions in the country. It appears that more public mobilizations, including but not limited to street protests, are on the rise again with broadly democratic participation, especially in and around the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo, once known as relative strongholds of regime support.  In April a young woman stood alone outside the parliament in Damascus with a banner that read “Stop the Killing, we want to build a homeland for all Syrians.” Islamist forces are among those involved in the non-violent opposition; for instance longtime Syrian non-violent leader Sheikh Jawad Said.

    The non-violent opposition also includes the National Coordination Committee, made up of 13 political parties including some leftist forces, and independent mainly secular activists. They are against any military intervention, including a so-called “no-fly zone” (that opened the assault on Libya); their leader, Hussein Abdul Azim, said “we reject foreign intervention – we think it is as dangerous as tyranny. We reject both.”  They do, however, support economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Assad.  The NCC does not call for overthrowing the regime, but instead for a national dialogue – though it does not support Assad’s proposed dialogue initiative, but rather a process conditioned on the pullback of military forces from the streets, ending attacks on peaceful protests, and release of all political prisoners. Some in the NCC have called for trying to replace the SNC as the “official” or recognized representative of the Syrian opposition.

  • The internal Syrian armed opposition – originally based on military defectors who created Free Syrian Army, morphed into assorted militias using FSA name, but with little central coordination; includes both defectors and armed civilians. FSA leaders have admitted they are not in control of the proliferation of groups of armed civilians operating under the FSA name. In recent weeks numbers of soldiers reported killed have escalated, as have reports of direct fights between regime soldiers and armed opposition groups. Appear to be receiving heavier weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey is providing logistical support to transfer weapons, and U.S. providing “non-lethal” military equipment including night-vision goggles, GPS gear, etc.
  • The internal/external supporters of the armed opposition –  grouped primarily in the Syrian National Council (SNC), and call explicitly for overthrow of the regime.  Includes Muslim Brotherhood, Local Coordination Committees (grassroots activist groups inside Syria), Kurdish factions, and others, including exile factions.  Muslim Brotherhood probably most organized single organization within it; consistent disagreements over Islamist influence. Have political base outside Syria, in Italy and Turkey.  Originally claimed to defend non-violent nature of uprising but later called for coordinating role over armed factions inside and control of all weapons going in (FSA says will not cooperate with that, want weapons directly).  At least some of SNC leadership calling for outside military assistance. The SNC recently asked individual countries to provide the Syrian opposition with “military advisers, training and provision of arms to defend themselves.”  Very diverse politically, secular and Islamist, have had continuing problems with achieving enough unity to engage with international forces. Despite divisions, uncertain leadership and questionable levels support from inside Syria, SNC has been adopted by western (U.S., parts of EU) and Arab Gulf (Saudi, Qatar) governments and to some degree Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “they will have a seat at the table as a representative of the Syrian people.”  The SNC has appeared weaker in recent months.

    Largely through the SNC, the U.S. is providing the Syrian opposition with “non-lethal” military supplies, including communications gear, GPS equipment more. Washingtonis also apparently supporting some kind of military training and backing efforts to unify the disparate opposition elements into a more coherent whole.

  • Non-Syrian armed forces – unknown forces, apparently mostly non-Syrian, including volunteers or others from international Islamist fighting groups appear to be arriving to fight in Syria.  Goals unclear, could include opposition to Alawite/Shi’a government (Alawites considered an off-shoot of Shi’a Islam, and thus heretical to some extremist Sunni fundamentalists), and/or efforts to create chaos through military attacks resulting in power vacuums they might hope to fill.

A shorter version of this piece first appeared on the Al Jazeera English website.

Walt suggests liberalism and Zionism are irreconcilable

Jun 30, 2012

Philip Weiss

Earlier today I commented on the common ground of realists and lefties on foreign policy. Well I just read Steve Walt’s very favorable review of Peter Beinart’s book, The Crisis of Zionism, and I’m struck by the extent to which Walt, a coldblooded realist, espouses lib-left ideas in the three criticisms he offers of the book: an ethnocracy cannot be a democracy, non-Jews have to be involved in the debate over our foreign policy, and Beinart’s call for segregated Jewish schooling would undermine an American tradition of “tolerance” through assimilation.

The fact that the New York Times and the likes of Eric Alterman– avowed liberals– are not publishing these criticisms and Steve Walt at Foreign Policy is shows a, the aphasia of the mainstream liberal discourse when it comes to Israel, and b, these liberal ideas are lowhanging fruit, rich political material; and a coalition can be forged of human-rights leftwingers and national-interest realists. Note that Austin Branion made several of these points in his review for us.

Here are Walt’s three criticisms:

Although I believe one can learn a great deal from The Crisis of Zionism, and think that it will be widely read over time, it has three problems worth noting. First, and most importantly, I think Beinart understates the tensions between liberalism and Zionism. At its core, liberalism privileges the individual and believes that all humans enjoy the same political rights regardless of ethnic, religious or other characteristics. But Zionism, like all nationalisms, privileges a particular groupover all others. Israel is hardly the only country where this tension exists, and Beinart is correct to say that an end to the occupation would reduce the contradictions between liberal values and Israeli practices. But that tension will not disappear even if two states were created, if only because Israel will still have a sizeable Arab minority which is almost certain to continue being treated as a group of second-class citizens. It is hard to see how Israel could remain an avowedly “Jewish” state while according all Israeli citizens equal rights and opportunities both de jure and de facto. Could an Israel Arab ever become head of the IDF or Prime Minister in a “Jewish state?” The question answers itself.

Second, I think it is unfortunate that Beinart chose to direct his book almost entirely toward the American Jewish community. That is his privilege, and it’s possible that the best way to get a smarter U.S. policy would be to convince American Jewry to embrace a different approach. Yet Beinart’s focus also reinforces the idea that U.S. Middle East policy — and especially its policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is a subject that is only of legitimate concern to Jewish-Americans (and Arab-Americans) and can only be legitimately discussed by these groups. In fact, U.S. Middle East policy affects all of us in countless ways and it ought to be a subject thatanyone can discuss openly and calmly without inviting the usual accusations of bigotry or bias. I’m sure Beinart would agree, yet his book as written sends a subtly different message.

Third, Beinart’s proposal to use public monies (such as school vouchers) to subsidize full-time Jewish schools strikes me as wrong-headed. I have no problem with any groups setting up private schools that emphasize particular religious values. What bothers me is the idea that the rest of society ought to subsidize these private enterprises whose avowed purpose is to sustain a particular group’s identity. I’d say the same thing, by the way, if a Catholic, Episcopal, Muslim, Sikh, Mormon, or Zoroastrian commentator were advocating similar public backing for schools catering to his or her group. Assimilation has been the key to ethnic tolerance here in the United States, and critical to our long-term success as a melting-pot society. Public education that brings students from different backgrounds together has been a key element in that process, and that’s where public funds should go.

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The Peace People and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire says ‘NO to War in Syria’


by Eileen Fleming

A Little History regarding Mairead Corrigan Maguire:

In 1976, in Belfast, thousands of ordinary people throughout Northern Ireland, led by mostly women, demonstrated for an end to the killings known as “The Troubles” which began in 1969. By 1998, over thirty-four hundred people were killed in the crossfire of a brutal war against British colonial interests, revolutionary republicanism, and a revolt against the age-old, oppressive bigotry and fanaticism of religious ideologies.

On August 10, 1976, Máiread Corrigan Maguire’s two nephews and one of her nieces, all little children, were killed on a Belfast street corner. “A British army patrol shot and killed an IRA gunman, Danny Lennon, whose car then plowed into the sidewalk, killing the children, and severely injuring Mairead’s sister Anne, who died several years later. In a land soaked with blood, their deaths came as a severe shock. Suddenly, thousands of people began to say, “Enough is enough. The killing and violence have to stop.”

Máiread, Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, organized weekly peace marches and demonstrations were attended by over half a million people throughout Ireland and England.

Máiread has insisted “that a peaceful and just society can be achieved only through nonviolent means and that the path to peace lies in each of our hearts.”

Fueled by her faith, Maried, a lone voice of wisdom, compassion and common sense stood on the streets of Belfast and said “No — No to the IRA, No to the UDA and LVF (the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force, unionist/ loyalist paramilitaries), No to the British government’s emergency laws and interrogation centers and human rights abuses, No to injustice, bigotry, discrimination, No to any desecration of human life and dignity.’

In Belfast during the 1980′s and early 90′s, Máiread’s vision of non-violence was dismissed, ridiculed, and ignored, while those who called for retaliatory vengeance and violence were applauded. From the start, Maried understood that her dream had to reach beyond the narrow boundaries of North Ireland to embrace a non-violent future for all humanity.

After a year of political negotiations, a breakthrough settlement was reached on Good Friday 1998, bringing Northern Ireland to an Easter dawn of peace.

Maried and Betty were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for what had once been unimaginable became reality and Maried continues to envision the unimaginable: justice and peace in Israel Palestine.

On 25 JUNE 2012, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire said ‘NO to War in Syria’ and has called for all inclusive dialogue to solve the conflict.

Mairead Maguire said:

People around the world are deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis in Syria. While we are being presented with some perspective of what is occurring on the ground to the people of Syria, the door seems closed to others. We search for voices we can trust, voices which point to a peaceful, lasting solution to the conflict. We search for truth because it is truth which will set the Syrian people free. Truth is difficult to find, so through the haze of conflicting narratives we must inevitably hear the voices and wisdom of men and women of peace in Syria.
Many may believe that there is a fight going on in Syria for ‘democracy’ and‘freedom’.

We can be seduced into thinking there is a magic wand or instant formula to mix that will create a democratic country, but there are none.If it is a democracy people want they must strive for it in their own way.

It is said the Greek idea of democracy was that people would be equally valued. This is something every society has to strive for at every point in its history; it itself is a ‘revolutionary’ concept and a nonviolent revolutionary action.

Strive to value everyone equally. It is an idea, a motivation for a better world that doesn’t require blood; it requires the hard work of people and the nurturing of a community spirit; a constant growing of peace and it starts within each human heart.

Who are the voices of peace in regard to the crisis in Syria? Many of them we cannot hear from where we are standing. They are the mothers and father and children who want to leave their homes to walk to market or to school without fear. They are the people, who have been working hard for Syria, for the idea of Syria as a secular and modern country.

There are some Syrian voices that have been heard consistently since the beginning of the crisis. Many of them are anonymous and they speak to us about injustices and atrocities.

Numbers are given and fingers are pointed. The blame may be apportioned correctly or it may not. Everything is happening too quickly; commentators and politicians are making decisions with haste and looking only in one corner for support for their certainty.

But in the heat of the madness of violent ethnic/political conflict we must listen and ask questions and hear and speak with some uncertainty because it is certainty that can take a people and a country in a rush to war.

The face of the Mufti of Syria is hardly known in the western world, but if we have learned anything from past conflict, it is the importance of all inclusive dialogue. He and many other Syrians who have peace in their hearts should be invited to sit with a council of elders from other countries, to tell of their stories and proposals for ways forward for the Syrian people.

The United Nations was not set up to provide an arena for the voices and games of the powerful; rather it should be a forum for such Syrian voices to be heard. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the Syrian people and find peaceful ways forward in order to stop this mad rush towards a war the mothers and fathers and children of Syria do not want and do not deserve.

We all know there are Imams, priests and nuns, fathers, mother, young people all over Syria crying out for peace and when the women in hijabs shout to the world after a bombing or a massacre in Syria ‘haram, haram’ let us hear and listen to them.

We are sure there are many heroes in Syria among them, Christian Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests, and religious.

A modern hero of peace, one whose name we do know and whose voice we have heard is Mother Agnes Mariam*.

In her community her voice has been clear, pure and loud. And it should be so in the West. Like many people in Syria she has been placed in life threatening situations, but for the sake of peace she has chosen to risk her own existence for the safety and security of others. She has spoken out against the lack of truth in our media regarding Syria and about the terror and chaos which a ‘third force’ seems to be spreading across the country. Her words confront and challenge us because they do not mirror the picture of events in Syria we have built up in our minds over many months of reading our newspapers and watching the news on our televisions. Much of the terror has been imported, we learn from her.

She can tell us about the thousands of Christian refugees,forced to flee their homes by an imported Islamist extreme.

But Mother Agnes Mariam’s concerns, irrespective of religion, are for all the victims of the terror and conflict, as ours must be.

In all our hearts we know War is not the answer for Syria (Nor for Iran). Intervention in Syria would only make things worse. I believe all sides are committing war crimes and the provision of arms will only results in further death.

The US/UK/NATO and all foreign governments should stay out of Syria and keep their funding and troops out of Syria.
We should support those Syrians who work for peace in Syria and who seek a way of helping the 22 million or so people of Syria to resolve their own conflict without furthering the chaos or violence.

*Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross is a greek-Catholic (Melkite) nun of Lebanese / Palestinian descent and has lived and worked in Syria for 18 years. She restored the ancient ruined monastery of St. James the Mutilated at Qara, in Homs province where she founded an order which serves the local and wider community. In 2010 the monastery welcomed 25,000 visitors both Syrian and international.

Mairead Maguire

The Peace People,

224 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 6GE, Northern Ireland

Phone: 0044 (0) 28 9066 3465 Email:

PS: After Mairead read my first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE, she emailed me, “I have just finished reading your wonderful book ‘Keep Hope Alive’. I found it most inspiring and can see in your story the influences of your Spiritual journey – Merton, Dorothy Day, Fox, St. John of the cross, Francis!! All of whom I share as they are, I believe, great guides to the Spiritual journey. The book brought me closer to you Eileen – and I was Moved by your great heart and compassion for all those who suffer – Especially the Israelis and the Palestinians and people of Gaza. Thank you for your faithfulness to them (and for helping to provide and Plant so many Olive trees – a real symbol of hope for the Palestinians.” – Mairead Maguire

PSS: I met Mairead in 2008 Read more…

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