Archive | January 28th, 2014

Syria: Innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of the siege of Adra as Islamist rebels are accused of massacre

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Rebels were accused of a massacre in the town last month, forcing survivors to flee or hide. Patrick Cockburn finds that neither side has the strength for a victory

The Independent

“They came through the main sewer at 4.30am and caught us by surprise,” says a Syrian soldier, who gave his name as Abu Ali, describing the rebel capture of part of the industrial town of Adra, just north of Damascus. “They chose a cold day in December to attack when there was snow and you could not see more than 2ft in front of you.”

Adra, with its giant cement, steel and car plants, has now become one more Syrian town where the army and rebels confront each other but neither side has the strength to win a decisive victory. As they skirmish, locals either flee or cower in their houses with little or no electricity or water.

The rebels who stormed the workers’ housing complex at Adra on 11 December belonged to two much-feared jihadi groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qa’ida affiliate in Syria, and the Jaysh al-Islam.

Khalal al-Helmi, a frail-looking 63-year-old retired employee of the oil ministry, says: “Three men came into our building and shouted ‘Go down to the basement’. We were down there three days.”

What went on in the streets of Adra immediately after the rebel occupation appears to add another grisly page to the list of atrocities in the Syrian civil war. Survivors say at least 32 members of religious minorities – Alawi, Christians, Druze and Shia – were killed immediately or taken away by gunmen who went from house to house with lists of names.

They are also reported to have killed doctors and nurses in a clinic and workers in a bakery who were thrown into their own ovens. Given that the jihadis still hold this part of Adra, the exact details cannot be checked, but survivors who have taken refuge in an enormous cement plant three miles away have no doubt that a massacre took place.

It is not easy to get to Adra, even though it is close to Damascus. We took a highway through the mountains west of the capital and then suddenly drove off it on to a precipitous earth track down which an enormous orange truck with a trailer carrying  a bulldozer was driving in front of us. The bulldozer turned out to be one of several making tracks through the scrub and heaping banks of earth to offer some protection from rifle fire. “Drive fast because there are many snipers about,” said an army officer escorting our small convoy.

Our destination was the giant cement plant which a former worker, now a refugee, said once employed 937 workers and produced 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of cement a day. It now looks like an enormous, dead mechanical monster with pathetic clothes lines carrying refugees’ washing strung between big concrete columns. Nearby was a small party of displaced people from Adra looking bedraggled and depressed. They said the army brought them bread but they were short of everything else.

The fall of part of Adra turned out, like almost everything else in the Syrian civil war, to be more complicated than first accounts. The town was always vulnerable because it is just north of Douma and Eastern Ghouta, both rebel strongholds. An English teacher called Billal said he had been a refugee for a year because the rebels had first taken the old town of Adra in February last year. He and his father took refuge in housing near the cement plant. It was only months later that Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Islam launched a second well-planned attack down a sewage tunnel that had outflanked the army defenders.

Syrian Army officers said they thought there were some 500 rebels in the big new housing complex at Adra. It is doubtful if they really know because they also said the rebels were digging tunnels so they could move without being fired on. They had local help, according to a former Adra resident, Hassan Kassim Mohammed, who said refugees from Douma and East Ghouta had been living in half-completed apartment blocks. These had acted as “sleeper cells” for the rebels and had given them lists of government employees. An employee of the information ministry, Heytham Mousa, has disappeared with his wife and daughter and his mobile phone is answered by a man who says he belongs to Jabhat al-Nusra.

I asked several officers why they did not counter-attack and retake Adra. They answered that there were thousands of civilians there whom the rebels were using as “human shields” and they denied an alternative explanation that they were short of soldiers. Even so, it was striking how few Syrian Army troops there were yesterday, either at the cement plant or in the front line, where there had been fighting around a bridge earlier in the week.

“They captured it and we took it back in five hours fighting,” said Abu Ali. An explanation as to quite why small rebel enclaves persist in Damascus and Homs is that government forces cannot afford to suffer the casualties inevitable if they stormed them. They have therefore relied on sieges and artillery bombardment to wear down rebel-held districts.

There may be doubts about the exact number of people murdered in Adra but not about the suffering of those who have fled to the industrial zone. It is cold even in the middle of the day and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent yesterday issued a statement saying it “was deeply concerned about the plight of the Adra residents who had fled the area”. It had distributed 31,000 blankets and 7,000 mattresses and was trying to provide clean water to 30,000 people. Adra is now surrounded by sand and rubble with occasional Syrian army outposts on top. Even so, the exact position of the front line was worryingly uncertain. At one point, a couple of Syrian army soldiers seem to have mistaken us for the enemy and fired a couple of shots.

A soldier in the vehicle in front of us jumped on to a heap of rocks and waved furiously in the direction from which the firing had come. Around the corner we came on what appeared to be an entire Syrian armoured division but we turned out to have stumbled on a tank cemetery where the Syrian army disposes of obsolete tanks which are left to gradually rust away.

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Mladic appears at Hague Tribunal with ex-boss Karadzic

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Ex-Bosnian Serb army commander, Ratko Mladic, also known as the Butcher of Bosnia, has appeared before The Hague Tribunal, refusing to testify at the trial of his former political master, Radovan Karadzic.

Karadzic and Mladic are two of the most important figures of the 1990s war in Bosnia, who are appearing together in public for the first time since the end of the conflict.

The ex-Bosnian Serb leader has called ex-deputy Ratko Mladic to give evidence at the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Karadzic faces 11 charges, including genocide relating to the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995. Both men have denied war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The hearing session was supposed to shed light on the relationship between Karadzic and Mladic during the fall of Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo in 1995.

Mladic deplored the UN tribunal as “satanic,” saying that testifying could prejudice his own case.

“This is a satanic court, which is putting on trial us Serbs because we are defending our people from you,” he added.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after 13 years on the run. He had been found living in disguise in Belgrade under a false name.

Mladic was on the run for 16 years before being arrested in 2011 in northern Serbia, where he had been also living under an assumed name.

Both Mladic and Karadzic have been charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in a war in which at least 100,000 people lost their lives.

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Assad Future Blocks Progress In Syria Peace Talks

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By ZEINA KARAM

AP

assad future

GENEVA (AP) — The key issue of a transitional government to replace President Bashar Assad blocked any progress Monday in Syrian peace talks, described by one delegate as “a dialogue of the deaf.”

The chief U.N. mediator expressed frustration over inflammatory public remarks by the two sides as he sought to identify some less-contentious issues in hopes of achieving any progress at all at the bargaining table.

But even the most modest attempts at confidence-building measures faltered — including humanitarian aid convoys to besieged parts of the central city of Homs and the release of detainees. Veteran mediator Lakhdar Brahimi somberly declared at the end of the day that he had little to report.

“There are no miracles here,” Brahimi said, adding that both sides nevertheless appeared to have the will to continue the discussions. Asked how he planned to bridge the enormous gap between the two sides, the veteran diplomat quipped: “Ideas, I’ll take them with great pleasure.”

The gulf between the two sides was on full display at a turbulent morning session in which the delegations from the opposition and the Syrian government faced off on the question of Assad’s future.

The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition wants an interim replacement for Assad, reiterating at every opportunity that the stated goal of the peace conference, agreed upon by international powers in preliminary talks in June, is to establish a transitional government with full executive powers.

But Assad, whose troops have a tenuous upper hand in Syria, has said he has no intention of stepping down and, on the contrary, may run again for president later this year. His delegates have capitalized on the ascendance of Islamic militants, saying the priority at the peace conference was to finds ways to combat terrorism.

“We came here with the intention of discussing a transitional governing body and they came with the intention of consecrating Bashar Assad’s presence,” said Rima Fleihan, a member of the coalition’s negotiating team.

Murhaf Jouejati of the coalition said the meeting ended on a “sour note,” and the session was broken up by Brahimi after the government delegation became confrontational.

“We thought there was no point in continuing this since it was going to be a dialogue of the deaf,” Jouejati said.

Syria’s uprising began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests that eventually turned into an insurgency and full blown civil war after a harsh military crackdown. The war has become a proxy conflict between regional powerhouses Iran and Saudi Arabia, with hints of a throwback to the Cold War as Russia and the United States back opposite sides.

Despite the rancorous rhetoric outside the conference room, both sides have said they won’t withdraw from the talks.

Brahimi said the parties were talking to the media “too much,” adding that he asked them to respect the confidentiality of the discussions and avoid exaggerations. Still, all signs pointed to impasse.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. was “realistic about how difficult this is going to be, but we are completely convinced that this is the only way forward for Syria, and that’s through negotiations.”

“What’s important is that the two parties have sat in the same room over the past several days to discuss critical issues. And this process is ongoing. And I would expect quite a few ups and downs along the way,” Carney said. “But it is the only way to end the conflict in Syria. It has to be ended through a negotiated political settlement.”

On Sunday, after three days of talks, a tentative agreement was reached for the evacuation of women and children trapped in Homs before aid convoys go in. As of Monday night, there was no progress on the ground.

Brahimi cited security problems for part of the delay. The opposition delegation has little control over armed groups inside Syria. Fighters affiliated with the Western-backed coalition have been engaged in deadly fighting with al-Qaida-backed militants, who do not accept the coalition’s authority and do not feel bound by agreements reached in Geneva.

The most powerful rebel groups include two that the U.S. has formally designated as foreign terrorist organizations: the Iraqi State of Iraq and the Levant, and Jabhat al-Nusra.

On Monday, talks were supposed to shift to thorny political issues such as Assad’s future.

As the meeting got underway, the government delegation put forward a paper focusing on the need to combat terrorism and halt funding and shipments of weapons to rebels fighting to topple Assad, delegates said.

Bouthaina Shaaban, an Assad adviser, called the paper an “expression of good will” in search of common ground, and said she was surprised the opposition rejected it.

“Either these people have no capacity to express their love and care for Syria, or they are ordered by foreign powers to ignore what is most important and most urgent for their country,” she said.

The opposition called the paper a deviation from the talks’ main goal of a transitional government.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the fighting, estimated that 1,200 women, children and elderly people are trapped in besieged areas of the old quarter of Homs.

The opposition accused authorities of blocking a convoy of 12 trucks trying to get into the embattled city and said, “We will judge the regime by what it does, not by what it says.”

Shaaban dismissed the aid effort for Homs as a distraction aimed at bolstering the opposition’s credentials.

“This is to make a big fuss about taking two trollies to Homs,” she said. “Is this why we came to Geneva? Or we came here to solve the problem in Syria?” she said.

Homs Governor Talal Barrazi said the only obstacle to the flow of food into rebel-held areas was “some cases of sniper fire by terrorist groups.”

In a statement released by his office, Barrazi said it is willing to evacuate civilians who want to leave the old quarter to “any place they want to go to,” and they will get food and medical supplies.

“We are waiting for an answer from international organization representatives to specify the number of those who want to leave,” Barrazi said.

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Egyptian Activist Won’t Give Up On Democratic State Amid Severe Military Crackdown

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Khaled Mohamed Saeed.jpg

Khaled Said 28-year-old, beaten to death 

His crime was passing out fliers urging Egyptians to vote against a new constitution championed by the military. His punishment was swift and decisive: Security forces arrested him, threw him in a jail cell and branded him a spy, he says, adding that they beat him.

So commenced two days behind bars for 29-year-old Ahmad Badawy, an outspoken political activist who is among the thousands who have been arrested in recent days as the government pursues an increasingly heavy-handed crackdown on dissent of any kind.

Three years after the revolution that ended authoritarian strongman Hosni Mubarak’s rule, some Egyptians are decrying a return to totalitarian control, with seemingly any whiff of dissent crushed by the forces of Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

On Monday, Sissi appeared to further advance his reach for supreme power. Interim President Adly Mansour promoted Sissi to field marshal and hours later, the military generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces publicly backed him to run for president. It is Sissi’s “call to duty,” they say.

“[Egypt] has democratic procedures — presidential and parliamentary elections — but is still authoritarian in its essence,” says Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert and nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The basic structures of governance have been placed beyond any mechanisms of challenge or accountability.”

Badawy’s experience in detention sheds light on the intensity and breadth of the crackdown under this new political order. Anyone who speaks up is at risk of imprisonment in often torturous conditions. The prisons are bursting at the seams with academics, revolutionaries, prominent activists and suspected supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. Behind bars, prisoners regularly face beatings,starvation, even virginity tests” — an invasive procedure Sissi said in 2012 was to “protect the girls from rape.”

But Badawy, program manager at the Egyptian Democratic Academy (EDA), a Cairo-based democracy development NGO, says that despite the relentless government crackdown, he, his fellow co-workers, and a small group of political activists haven’t given up on Egypt’s revolution. And he is firm on his goals: He wants a secular, democratic government.

“People get tired fast,” he says, sitting in his office in downtown Cairo. “They want an easy solution. But things take time. You plant a seed and wait until it gets bigger.”

Badawy radiates optimism. In person, he is polite and soft-spoken, conscious of the political implications of every word he says. But in a recent post on his blog, he slammed the government for limiting freedom of speech: “This world is made of shit,” he writes, roughly quoting the Vietnam War movie “Full Metal Jacket.” “But I’m alive and ain’t afraid.”

He insists that given the right tools, Egypt can transform into a democratic state, despite its history of strongman leaders.

Since 2009, when Egypt was ruled by Mubarak, the EDA has organized small workshops and classes teaching the basics of democratic nation-building: how the voting process works, how different countries elect and form governments, how international organizations play a role in domestic politics.

Two years after its creation, revolution swept up Egypt in a passionate and hopeful frenzy. EDA’s Cairo office served as a communal sleeping area for many protesters who regularly demonstrated in Tahrir Square at dawn. When Mubarak’s reign crumbled, Badawy thought real democracy was right around the corner. But then the military generals of SCAF came to power, and human rights groups blasted them with torture accusations. Badawy describes what happened next — the election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi — with one word: “disaster.”

The military-backed government, which ousted Morsi last year, has now grabbed hold of the revolutionary narrative as its own, much to the chagrin of human rights groups and foreign governments like the United States. In a recently published report, Amnesty International wrote that it’s concerned “the Egyptian authorities are utilizing all branches of the state apparatus to trample on human rights and quash dissent.”

Much of the Egyptian population, fueled by very real fears of insurgency, is supporting the military and its “fight against terrorism.” To mark the anniversary of the revolution on Saturday, thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square, chanting Sissi’s name and calling for the assassination of all Brotherhood members. The posters of revolutionaries who died fighting for freedom were replaced by photos, T-shirts and masks plastered with the military general’s face. Those who protested against the military were immediately suppressed: By day’s end, more than 1,000 people were arrested and 49 killed in clashes with security forces. On Sunday, families swarmed Cairo’s main morgue, searching for loved ones who were killed.

“Revolutionaries say they want freedom and dignity,” Badawy says. “But normal people say they want stability and good development. They don’t care if it’s elected.”

The government says its actions are all in the name of security. As more bombs go off, like Friday’s four deadly explosions in Cairo, and more young conscripts are murdered, support for the military swells.

Democracy may be a long way off now, Badawy says, chuckling at his own naivety. “But Egyptians are evolving,” he insists. “Nobody can make the process go backwards.”

Still, he often finds himself at odds with family and friends who say his cause is utterly pointless. “They think I’m crazy,” he says, shrugging. “And vice versa.”

Growing up in Cairo’s Nasr City and attending a school with children of Brotherhood members and supporters, Badawy recalls how students were made to memorize texts and taught not to question authority, a reality across much of Egypt’s crumbling education system today. He remembers refusing to memorize Quranic verses, and later, dropping out of college after his professor accused him of being part of the Brotherhood because he sported a beard.

Badawy blames much of Egypt’s struggle with democracy on how youth have been programmed to think.

“If you really want revolution, you need to start with the schools,” he says. “We need an educational movement.”

Badawy prides himself in EDA’s more avant-garde approach to education. He doesn’t want people to just regurgitate information, he says, but rather, discuss, debate and above all, question. Last week, the EDA even showed “In the Mood For Love,” a dark and romantic Hong Kong film about a man and a woman betrayed by their unfaithful spouses — a stark contrast to Egypt’s often conservative and censored film scene.

But as he works tirelessly to educate Egyptians on democratic values and nation-building, it seems his country may be on an entirely different path. As Peter Greste, one of four Al Jazeera English journalists arrested in December for “spreading false news,” warned in a recent letter written from Tora Prison: “Anyone who applauds the state is seen as safe and deserving of liberty. Anything else is a threat that needs to be crushed.”

Alaa Abd-El Fattah, known by many as a prominent voice of the revolution, wrote in a recent letter from Tora Prison that he feels powerless. He has been targeted or imprisoned by every regime since Mubarak, and most recently was locked up for breaking a law that requires demonstrators to receive approval to protest.

“The previous imprisonments had meaning because I felt that I was in jail by choice and it was for positive gain,” he writes. “Right now, I feel that I can’t bear people or this country and there is no meaning for my imprisonment other than freeing me from the guilt I would feel being unable to combat the immense oppression and injustice that is ongoing.”

When widely-respected activist Nazly Hussein, who has devoted her life to aiding families of political detainees, was released Saturday after protesting military rule, she took to Twitter and demanded one thing: freedom.

In Badawy’s opinion, the urge to live freely, an urge that ignited a powerful revolution, won’t go away anytime soon. As his colleagues and fellow activists find themselves behind bars, he maintains that it’s essential to keep fighting, even if it takes decades before his dreams of a democratic Egypt are realized. Even if he ends up in prison again.

In his office, a photo of young Khaled Said hangs as a silent reminder. The 28-year-old, beaten to death by two plainclothes policemen in 2010, became of symbol of the people’s rage over Mubarak’s police state and helped spark the revolution.

While many Egyptians have desperately grabbed hold of the state’s promise for security, rationalizing mass arrests and seemingly forgetting the revolutionary cry for social justice and freedom, Badawy sees the revolution as far from over.

An army of little blue and green toy soldiers surrounds his computer. Their guns are hoisted, aiming right at him.

“[The government] has their military,” he says, as a coy smile spreads across his face. “But I have my own army.”

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RÉSISTANT IN PALESTINE

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RAMZY BAROUD

 

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FRANCE: THE SHOAH AS STATE RELIGION?

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Blasphemy in Secular France

by DIANA JOHNSTONE

The campaign by the French government, mass media and influential organizations to silence the Franco-Cameroonese humorist Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala continues to expose a radical split in perception within the French population. The official “mobilization” against the standup comedian, first called for by Interior Minister Manuel Valls at a ruling Socialist Party gathering last summer, portrays the entertainer as a dangerous anti-Semitic rabble rouser, whose “quenelle”* gesture is interpreted as a “Nazi salute in reverse”.

For his fans and supporters, those accusations are false and absurd.

The most significant result of the Dieudonné uproar so far is probably the dawning realization, among more and more people, that the “Shoah”, or Holocaust, functions as the semi-official State Religion of France.

On RTL television last January 10, the well-known nonconformist commentator Eric Zemmour (who happens to be Jewish) observed that it was “grotesque and ridiculous” to associate Dieudonné with the Third Reich. Zemmour described Dieudonné as a product of the French left’s multiculturalism. “It’s the left that has taught us since May ’68 that it is prohibited to prohibit, that we must shock the bourgeois. It is the left that has turned the Shoah into the supreme religion of the Republic…”

Zemmour suggested that Dieudonné was provoking “the respectable left-wing bourgeoisie” and that he “reproaches Jews for wanting to conserve the monopoly of suffering and steal primacy in suffering from descendants of slavery”.

There is more than that at stake.  Reminders of the Shoah serve indirectly to justify France’s increasingly pro-Israel foreign policy in the Middle East.  Dieudonné opposed the war against Libya enough to go there to show his solidarity with the country being bombed by NATO.

Dieudonné began his career as a militant anti-racist.  Instead of apologizing for his 2003 sketch mocking an “extreme Zionist settler”, Dieudonné retorted by gradually extending his sphere of humor to cover the Shoah.  The campaign against him can be seen as an effort to restore the sacred character of the Shoah by enforcing repression of a contemporary form of blasphemy.

To confirm this impression, on January 9 an “historic” agreement was reached between the Paris Prosecutor’s Office and the French Shoah Memorial that any teenager found guilty of anti-Semitism may be sentenced to undergo a course of “sensitivity to the extermination of the Jews”.  Studying genocide is supposed to teach them “republican values of tolerance and respect for others”.

This is perhaps exactly what they don’t need.  The Prosecutor’s Office may be unaware of all the young people who are saying that they have had too much, rather than not enough, Shoah education.

An atypical article in Le Monde of January 8 cited opinions anyone can easily hear from French youth, but which are usually ignored. After interviewing ten left-leaning, middle class spectators who denied any anti-Semitism, Soren Seelow quoted Nico, a 22-year-old left-voting law student at the Sorbonne, who adores Dieudonné for “liberating” laughter in what he considers a stuffy conformist society of “good thoughts”.  As for the Shoah, Nico complained that “they’ve been telling us about it since elementary school. When I was 12, I saw a film with bulldozers pushing bodies into ditches.  We are subjected to a guilt-inducing morality from the earliest age.”

In addition to history courses, teachers organize commemorations of the Shoah and trips to Auschwitz.  Media reminders of the Shoah are almost daily.  Unique in French history, the so-called Gayssot law provides that any statement denying or minimizing the Shoah can be prosecuted and even lead to prison.

Scores of messages received from French citizens in response to my earlier article (CounterPunch, January 1, 2014) as well as private conversations make it clear to me that reminders of the Shoah are widely experienced by people born decades after the defeat of Nazism as invitations to feel guilty or at least uncomfortable for crimes they did not commit.  Like many demands for solemnity, the Shoah can be felt as a subject that imposes uneasy silence. Laughter is then felt as liberation.

But for others, such laughter can only be an abomination.

Dieudonné has been fined 8,000 euros for his song “Shoananas”, and further such condemnations are in the offing.  Such lawsuits, brought primarily by LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme), also aim to wipe him out financially.

“Hatred”

One line in the chorus against Dieudonné is that he is “no longer a comedian” but has turned his shows into “anti-Semitic political meetings” which spread “hatred”.  Even the distant New Yorkermagazine has accused the humorist of making a career out of peddling “hatred”.  This raises images of terrible things happening that are totally remote from a Dieudonné show or its consequences.

There was no atmosphere of hatred among the thousands of fans left holding their tickets when Dieudonné’s January 9 show in Nantes was banned at the last minute by France’s highest administrative authority, the Conseil d’Etat. Nobody was complaining of being deprived of a “Nazi rally”.  Nobody thought of causing harm to anyone. All said they had come to enjoy the show.  They represented a normal cross-section of French youth, largely well-educated middle class. The show was banned on the grounds of “immaterial disturbance of public order”. The disappointed crowd dispersed peacefully.  Dieudonné’s shows have never led to any public disorder.

But there is no mistaking the virulent hatred against Dieudonné.

Philippe Tesson, a prominent editor, announced during a recent radio interview that he would “profoundly rejoice” at seeing Dieudonné executed by a firing squad. “He is a filthy beast, so get rid of him!” he exclaimed.

The internet Rabbi Rav Haim Dynovisz, in the course of a theology lesson, acknowledged that Darwin’s theory of evolution, which he rejects, had been proved by Dieudonné to apply to “certain” people, who must have descended from gorillas.

Two 17-year-olds have been permanently expelled from their high school for having made the quenelle gesture, on grounds of “crimes against humanity”.  The Franco-Israeli web magazine JSSNews is busily investigating the identities of persons making the quenelle sign in order to try to get them fired from their jobs, boasting that it will “add to unemployment in France”.

The owners of the small Paris theater, “La Main d’Or”, rented by Dieudonné on a lease running until 2019, recently rushed back from Israel expressing their intention to use a technicality to end his lease and throw him out.

The worst thing Dieudonné has ever said during his performances, so far as I am aware, was a personal insult against the radio announcer Patrick Cohen.  Cohen has insistently urged that persons he calls “sick brains” such as Dieudonné or Tariq Ramadan be banned from television appearances.  In late December, French television (which otherwise has kept Dieudonné off the airwaves) recorded Dieudonné  saying that “when I hear Patrick Cohen talking, I think to myself, you know, the gas chambers…Too bad…”

With the anti-Dieudonné campaign already well underway, this offensive comment was seized upon as if it were typical of Dieudonné’s shows.  It was an excessively crude reaction by Dieudonné to virulent personal attacks against himself.

Irreverence is a staple for standup comics, like it or not.  And Dieudonné’s references to the Holocaust, or Shoah, all fall into the category of irreverence.

On matters other than the Shoah, there is no shortage of irreverence in France.

Traditional religions, as well as prominent individuals, are regularly caricatured in a manner so scatological as to make the quenelle look prudish. In October, 2011, Paris police intervened against traditional Catholics who sought to interrupt a play which included (the apparent) pouring of excrement over the face of Jesus.  The political-media establishment vigorous defended the play, unconcerned that it was perceived by some people as “offensive”.

Recently, France gave a big welcome to the Ukrainian group calling itself “Femen”, young women who seem to have studied Gene Sharp’s doctrines of provocation, and use their bare breasts as (ambiguous) statements. These women were rapidly granted residence papers (so hard to get for many immigrant workers) and allowed to set up shop in the midst of the main Muslim neighborhood in Paris, where they immediately attempted to try (unsuccessfully) to provoke the incredulous residents.  The blonde Femen leader was even chosen to portray the symbol of the Republic, Marianne, on the current French postage stamp, although she does not speak French.

Last December 20, these “new feminists” invaded the Church of the Madeleine near the Elysée Palace in Paris, acted out “the abortion of Jesus” and then pissed on the high altar.  There were no cries of indignation from the French government. The Catholic Church is complaining, but such complaints have a feeble echo in France today.

Why the Shoah Must Be Sacred

When Dieudonné sings lightly of the Shoah, he is believed by some to be denying the Holocaust and calling for its repetition (a contradictory proposition, upon reflection).  The sacred nature of the Shoah is defended by the argument that keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust is essential to prevent it from “happening again”.  By suggesting the possibility of repetition, it keeps fear alive.

This argument is generally accepted as a sort of law of nature.  We must keep commemorating genocide to prevent it from happening again.  But is there really any evidence to support this argument?

Nothing proves that repeated reminders of an immense historic event that happened in the past prevent it from happening again. History doesn’t work that way. As for the Shoah, gas chambers and all, it is quite preposterous to imagine that it could happen again considering all the factors that made it happen in the first place.  Hitler had a project to confirm the role of Germans as the master “Aryan” race in Europe, and hated the Jews as a dangerous rival elite.  Who now has such a project? Certainly not a Franco-African humorist!  Hitler is not coming back, nor is Napoleon Bonaparte, nor is Attila the Hun.

Constantly recalling the Shoah, in articles, movies, news items, as well as at school, far from preventing anything, can create a morbid fascination with “identities”. It fosters “victim rivalries”.  This fascination can lead to unanticipated results. Some 330 schools in Paris bear plaques commemorating the Jewish children who were deported to Nazi concentration camps.  How do little Jewish children today react to that?  Do they find it reassuring?

This may be useful to the State of Israel, which is currently undertaking a three-year program to encourage more of France’s 600,000 Jews to leave France and go to Israel. In 2013, the number of Aliyah from France rose to more than 3,000, a trend attributed by the European Jewish Press to the “French Jewish community’s increasingly Zionistic mentality, particularly among young French Jews, and a manifestation of efforts by the Jewish Agency, the Israel government, and other non-profits to cultivate Jewish identity in France.”

“If this year we have seen Aliyah from France go from under 2,000 to more than 3,000, I look forward to seeing that number grow to 6,000 and beyond in the near future, as we connect ever more young people to Jewish life and to Israel,” declared Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.  Surely, one way to encourage Aliyah is to scare Jews with the threat of anti-Semitism, and claiming that Dieudonné’s numerous fans are Nazis in disguise is a good way to do this.
But as for Jews who want to live in France, is it really healthy to keep reminding Jewish children that, if they are not wary, their fellow citizens might one day want to hoard them onto freight trains and ship them all to Auschwitz?  I have heard people saying privately that this permanent reminder is close to child abuse.

Someone who thinks that way is Jonathan Moadab, a 25-year-old independent journalist who was interviewed by Soren Seelow. Moadab is both anti-Zionist and a practicing Jew.  As a child he was taken to tour Auschwitz. He told Seelow that that living with that “victim indoctrination” had engendered a sort of “pre-traumatic stress syndrome”.

“Dieudonné’s jokes about the Shoah, like his song Shoananas, are not aimed at the Shoah itself,” he says, “but at the exploitation of the Holocaust described by the American political writer Norman Finkelstein.”

On January 22, on his web site Agence Info Libre, Jonathan Moadab openly called for “separating the State from the Holocaust religion”.  Moadab cites professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz as the first to point out the many ways in which the Holocaust has become the new Jewish religion. If that is so, everyone has the right to practice the religion of the Shoah. But should it be the official religion of France?

French politicians never cease celebrating the “laicité”, the secularism, of the French Republic. Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who proclaims his own devotion to Israel, because his wife is Jewish, recently called the Shoah the “sanctuary that cannot be profaned”.  Moadab concludes that if the Shoah is a sanctuary, then the Holocaust is a religion, and the Republic is not secular.

Changes are taking place in the attitude of young people in France. This change is not due to Dieudonné.  It is due to the passage of time.  The Holocaust became the religion of the West at a time when the generation after World War II was in the mood to blame their parents.  Now we are with the grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, of those who lived through that period, and they want to look ahead.  No law can stop this.

*As described in my earlier article, the “quenelle” is a vulgar gesture roughly meaning “up yours”, with one hand placed at the top of the other arm stretched down to signify “how far up” this is to be. Using the name of a French dumpling, Dieudonné started using this gesture in a wholly different context years ago, as an expression of defiance, incredulity or indifference.

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HOLOCAUST DAY – THE TIME IS RIPE FOR A JEWISH APOLOGY

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By Gilad Atzmon

A mass protest in Paris on Sunday against French President François Hollande turned into an anti-Jewish demonstration and ended in clashes between police and protesters.

Seemingly, Jewish organisations around the world are scared by the recent developments in France. Once again, they clearly failed to appreciate the growing mass fatigue of Shoah indoctrination and belligerent lobby politics. However, I would contend that instead of whining about the “rise of anti-Semitism”, Jews better, once and for all, learn to ask why?  Why the Jews again? Why are they hated? What is it in Jewish politics that evokes so much resentment? Why does it happen time after time?

It wasn’t easy for me to admit in my latest book that Jewish suffering is actually embedded in Jewish culture. In other words, Jews are actually destined to bring disasters on themselves. Jewish politics and culture, unfortunately, is obnoxious, abusive, as well as racist, and supremacist to the bone. Jewish culture is set

to infuriate theGoyim just because Jews are defined by negation – that chilling sensation of being hated.

Interestingly enough, early Zionism, was a promise to change it all. Herzl, Nordau, Borochov and Weizmann believed that a “homecoming project” would transform the Diaspora Jews into ethical new Israelites.  They were sure that a settlement project would make the Jew lovable and respected.  But they were obviously wrong. Zionism was destined to crash.  In spite of being driven by anti-Jewish sentiments, Zionism was quickly defeated by Jewishness (Jewish spirit, culture and ideology). It matured into a vile chauvinist amplification of every possible crude Jewish symptom it was initially supposed to eradicate.

Many Jews around the world are commemorating the Holocaust this week. But if I am correct, maybe the time is ripe for Jewish and Zionist organisations to draw the real and most important lesson from the Holocaust. Instead of constantly blaming theGoyim for inflicting pain on Jews, it is time for Jews to look in the mirror and try to identify what it is in Jews and their culture that evokes so much fury. It may even be possible that some Jews would take this opportunity to apologise to the Gentiles around them for evoking all this anger.

I would willingly take this opportunity and make an apology, but I have not been a Jew for a while now.

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Is I$raHell’s Naziyahu certifiable?

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Delusional Binyamin Netanyahu

By Alan Hart

The expanded and most explicit form of my headline question is this: Is Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of sound mind and knowingly talking propaganda nonsense about threats to Israel’s security in order to fool the world, including most of its Jews, or is he unbalanced, mentally disturbed, even clinically insane?

I ask because his rubbishing in Davos of the most important speech any Iranian leader has made since the revolution which brought the mullahs to power 35 years ago sent me to bed recalling something my father said to me when I was a very young boy: “There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.”

What was there in President Rouhani’s address to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting for Netanyahu to see if he was of sound mind?

What Rouhani said

Rouhani’s main message to the region, and probably Saudi Arabia in particular, was that his government is fully prepared “to engage with all neighbouring countries to achieve shared practical solutions on a range of issues”.

His main message to the world, and probably President Barack Obama in particular, was this:

In recent years a dominant voice has been repeatedly heard. “The military option is on the table.” Against the backdrop of this illegal and ineffective contention, let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach. So, in the name of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I propose, as a starting step, consideration by the United Nations of the project the World Against Violence and Extremism, WAVE. Let us all join in this WAVE. I invite all states, international organizations and civil institutions to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction… We should start thinking about a coalition for enduring peace across the globe instead of the ineffective coalitions for war in various parts of the world.

Of course, he was on a charm offensive and taking full advantage of being at the Davos meeting to appeal to the major investors present, but in my view that did not dilute the integrity of his vision of the new politics needed to create a better world. He was surely speaking for most citizens everywhere when he said: “People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism. They hope for change in the status quo.”

His message on nuclear matters was unambiguous.

The Iranian people, in a judiciously sober choice in the recent elections, voted for the discourse of hope, foresight and prudent moderation – both at home and abroad. In foreign policy, the combination of these elements means that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a regional power, will act responsibly with regard to regional and international security, and is willing and prepared to cooperate in these fields, bilaterally as well as multilaterally, with other responsible actors… Iran’s nuclear programme – and for that matter, that of all other countries – must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes. I declare here, openly and unambiguously, that, notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been, and will always be, the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions. Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme.

Netanyahu’s delusions

What was Netanyahu’s response?

President Rouhani’s speech was, he said, “A change of words without a change of deeds… Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.” With an engaging smile and giving the impression that he was authorized to speak for the rest of the world, Zionism’s Grand Master of Deception added, “We all know that.”

… the real madness of Netanyahu’s assertion is that even if Iran did posses a few nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them, it would not launch a first strike on Israel because to do so would guarantee its own complete destruction.

So, as Netanyahu says he sees it, Iran is hell bent on developing nuclear weapons for the purpose of wiping the Zionist (not Jewish) state off the face of the earth. As I have pointed out in the past, the real madness of Netanyahu’s assertion is that even if Iran did posses a few nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them, it would not launch a first strike on Israel because to do so would guarantee its own complete destruction. All Iranians know that.

If Netanyahu was of sound mind he would not only have given Rouhani’s Davos speech the consideration it deserved, he would take full account of Israel’s growing isolation in the world and, also, the fact that an increasing number of American Jews are no longer sympathetic to what one Jewish-American has called “the blood-and-soil nationalism of Zionism”. The conclusion such introspection would invite in a sound Netanyahu mind is that if he doesn’t want to go down in history as the leader who approved Israel’s suicide plan and confirmed that Zionism is (as the title of my book asserts) the real enemy of the Jews, he had better be serious about peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians could accept.

As to Netanyahu’s actual state of mind, he is obviously deluded (my dictionary tells me that means he is “holding or acting under false beliefs”), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is certifiable. What it does most probably mean is contained in a truth revealed to me way back in 1980 by then retired Major-General Shlomo Gazit, the best and the brightest of Israel’s directors of military intelligence. I put it to him that Israel’s existence had never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Through a sad smile he replied, “The trouble with us Israelis is that we have become the victims of our own propaganda.”

Though I am not an expert on the subject, it seems to me that what Netanyahu needs most of all is some psychiatric help.

President Obama recently said in an interview with the New Yorker that the chances of getting a real Israel-Palestine peace process going were “less than 50-50”. Perhaps he should take Secretary of State John Kerry off the case a put a leading psychiatrist on it.

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Davos honors head of Nazi regime

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peres

World Economic Forum rewards head of Israeli regime with the Spirit of Davos in Switzerland, on January 24, 2014.
Organizers of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos have given a reward to the head of the Israeli regime occupying Palestine in an odd bid to portray the aggressor regime as a peaceful one.

Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum, rewarded the Israeli President Shimon Peres with the ‘Spirit of Davos’ award in Switzerland on Friday, al-Alam reported.

Schwab further noted that this is the first time the World Economic Forum presents an award to anyone.

Peres, who leads a regime known for its horrible record of persisting human rights violations against Palestinians and other nations in the Middle East, claimed that he will ring the bell for “peace in the region.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations and other international organizations have repeatedly charged the Israeli regime with barefaced human rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territories.

The Tel Aviv regime further continues its construction of new settlements in West Bank and East al-Quds, defying a long-running demand by the international community to halt the illegal infringement.

In recent months, meanwhile, hundreds of American and British academics and thousands of human rights activists have called for imposing sanctions on the Israeli regime for its persisting atrocities against Palestinians.

 

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Naziyahu: World Wising Up to Iran

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netanyahusdog

Nazi Prime Minister says there is ‘greater sharpness and greater clarity’ regarding Rouhani’s ‘contradictory and mendacious messages.’

Israel National News

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that in his meetings with world leaders at Davos, he found “greater sharpness and greater clarity” regarding Iran’s “contradictory and mendacious messages.”

“I must say that the main interest was in regard to Iran’s ‘assault of pleasantness,’” he told his Cabinet. “Here, perhaps in contrast to what was depicted in the talks with the leaders, there was greater sharpness and greater clarity regarding the contradictory and mendacious messages that came up in Rouhani’s speech. Rouhani said that Iran was against international involvement in Syria, but Iran is the country that is most involved and aids the Assad regime in perpetrating mass slaughters on a daily basis.

“He said that he was against the killing of innocents,” Netanyahu went on, “but several days previously dozens of people were executed in Iran, most of whom, I can assure you, were innocent. He said that they favored free access to technology even as Iran denies its citizens free access to the Internet. He said that he favored the recognition of all countries in the Middle East and refused to answer the pointed questions that were directed to him about recognizing the State of Israel. The regime there calls for our destruction on an almost daily basis. Finally, the most important and most significant thing, Rouhani said that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge.

“If Iran persists in saying this it means that the permanent agreement, which is the goal of any diplomatic process with Iran, cannot succeed. In effect, Iran is insisting on maintaining its ability to attain [enough] fissionable material for a bomb without any time constraints following the breakthrough. This means that many of the things which we have been saying will come true – are indeed coming true. Of course, there was also an attempt there to break through the sanctions regime. US Secretary of State Kerry told me that the US would act in order to maintain the existing sanctions, which is important, but it is important to see the test of its implementation.

“In any case, Iranian President Rouhani’s remark that Iran would not dismantle even one centrifuge, alongside the interview given by the ‘exceedingly moderate’ Foreign Minister Zarif, in which he made it clear that Iran has an ideological agenda that brings it into perpetual conflict with the West and with the US, because it aspires to see a different world, a different world order, and you know what he means, the combination of these two remarks is causing people to understand that the reality vis-à-vis Iran is not rosy. There is a problem here. We know the truth. There is a regime here that, under cover of an assault of smiles, is trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons, to reach the status of a threshold state that could achieve nuclear weapons very quickly, and a country that has not changed its true ideology at all.

“There are arguments inside Iran. There is an internal struggle within Iran over domestic reforms, but there is no change, not as of now, neither in the military nuclear program nor in Iran’s aggressive policy throughout the Middle East and in regard to terrorism well beyond the Middle East. Therefore, such a country cannot be allowed to have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. This has been, and remains, our policy. I assure you that whoever we came into contact with there heard matters clearly both from myself and from President Peres.”

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