Archive | June 14th, 2014

Iraqi children to undergo heart surgery in I$raHell


Israel-based international organization Save a Child’s Heart coordinates arrival of children – 1, 4 and 5 – to Israeli hospital; 180 Iraqi children treated in Israeli operating rooms in recent decade

Omri Efraim

Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar approved Sunday the arrival of three Iraqi children – aged one, four and five – to Israel, in order to receive lifesaving medical care at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The three are expected to arrive at the Israeli hospital within the next few days.

Sa’ar approved the children’s entrance to the country on grounds of humanitarian aid, promoted by Save a Child’s Heart, an Israel-based international project, which has so far coordinated cardiac surgeries for some 3,000 children from 44 countries.

Since 2004, Ynet learned, 180 Iraqi children have made it to Israel – 50 of them in the past two years.

At the moment, Israeli hospitals are treating children from Iraq, as well as from the Palestinian Authority, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Gana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania and China. Doctors and nurses from Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Palestinian Authority and Georgia are also taking part on the project and are undergoing training in Israeli hospitals.

Founded in 1996, SACH funds the children’s operations via donations and a special budget by the Regional Cooperation Ministry, headed by Silvan Shalom.
שאמה ואמה. הגיעו מעיראק בסיוע עמותת "הצל לבו של ילד" (צילום: שילה שלהבת)

Shama and her mother, from Iraq (Photo: Sheila Shalhevet)

“This work produces a sense of fulfillment that is hard to put into words,” said Dr. Lior Sasson, the project’s lead surgeon and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center.

“We save children who would otherwise not have made it, because they could not get treatment. The ability to help parents from countries defined as ‘enemy countries’ and restore their hope after they’ve lost it is not at all obvious.”

Dr. Sasson added that during the Intifada the program continued to treat children from the Palestinian Authority: “Despite the animosity, that channel remained open. It breaks down barriers.”

Himself the son of Iraqi parents who immigrated to Israel when the country was founded, Sasson noted that through the project “We are in fact sowing seeds of peace with the country that my parents left.
מוחמד ואמו. ילד עיראקי שטופל לאחרונה בוולפסון  (צילום: שילה שלהבת)

Iraqi patient Muhammad with his mother (Photo: Sheila Shalhevet)


“The father of an Iraqi child treated here in 2005 called me during the Second Lebanon War to see if we’re ok. He wanted to see how we were and was worried about the entire medical staff. It was amazing to me.

Simon Fisher, Executive Director at Save a Child’s Heart, added that “the complexities of bringing in children from countries defined as ‘enemy countries’ depend on the cooperation between the medical staff and the government, but in the end it all proves that human life is above everything.”

Referring to the project’s staff, he stressed: “They build bridges and break stereotypes.”

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Preparing the Path to a Just Peace for Palestine/I$raHell


by Richard Falk


After several past failures to reconcile Fatah and Hamas under the single Palestinian umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a unity government was formed and its ministers sworn in on June 2nd in Ramallah. This supposedly interim government of ‘technocrats’ without party affiliations will be presided over by the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah.. Hamas was reported unhappy until with the composition of the government, withholding its approval until the last minute, but in the end went along. Additional to the diplomatic and long-term benefits of Palestinian unity, the people of Gaza could stand to gain in the short-term, especially if Egypt can now be persuaded to open its border for the passage of fuel and other necessities. Cairo’s aversion to Hamas’ Brotherhood past would be diluted in view of the PA, not Hamas, having become the legitimated governing authority for all Palestinians, including those living in Gaza. The urgent needs of the Gazans may help explain why the two Palestinian factions finally set aside the bitterness of the past, at least for now.

It is too soon to assess the wider implications of this political move that angers the Israeli government and has been greeted with hostile caution in Washington and Europe. For the first time since Hamas won the Gaza elections in 2006, and forcibly displacing a corrupt and abusive Fatah from its governing role a year later, the Palestinians are represented by a leadership that is inclusive of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The governmental machinery is presently presided over by Mahmoud Abbas who is Chair of the PLO and the President of the Palestinian Authority, which has promised elections of a new leadership within six months. Many Palestinians hope that the stage is now set to reduce the ‘leadership deficit’ that has hampered diplomacy at least since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. Arafat in the years leading up to his death lost the respect of many Palestinians, partly because he seemed too ready to please Washington in his search for a solution and partly because he lost his grip on corrupting elements within his own entourage. Unfortunately, the only Palestinian that has both the stature and a political appeal that stretches from one end of the spectrum of political opinion to the other is Marwan Barghouti, and he is serving a long-term prison sentence in an Israeli jail.

Israel’s Response

For the moment Palestinian diplomatic unity has been achieved, and seems to be unnerving Israel. Its highest officials and main media have not questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu truculent insistence that Israel will never negotiate with any Palestinian government that is “backed by Hamas,” and threatens a variety of hostile reactions ranging from accelerating the expansion of settlements to withholding customs transfer payments that the PA needs to meet its big public sector employment payroll of 150,000. Perversely, disavowing as illegitimate any Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas endows the organization with a ‘make or break’ political influence, or put differently, gives Israel a foolproof pretext for doing whatever it wants in occupied Palestine without encountering much adverse reaction. Such an unconditional posture confirms for me Israel’s disinterest in a diplomatic approach to real peace, and serves as an excuse for going forward with settlement expansion, ethnic consolidation of East Jerusalem, and continuing the punitive blockade and isolation of Gaza. This pattern was already present a few years ago when Al Jazeera published a series of documents associated with secret negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority in which the PA offered major concessions, and Israel reacted with disinterest and the absence of any counter-offers. [See Clayton Swisher, ed., The Palestine Papers: The End of the Road (Chatham, UK, 2011)]

The Israeli rejection of this move toward Palestinian reconciliation is rationalized by the contention that Hamas was and remains a terrorist organization, and is unacceptable as a political actor because it refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and renounce violence as a tactic of struggle. The United States and the EU share this assessment as a formal matter, but in a slightly more nuanced way although it continues to view Hamas as a terrorist organization, and hence an illegitimate interlocutor. Yet, to the openly declared disgust of Tel Aviv, the White House has announced that it will for the present continue to work with the PA, including keeping the aid flowing. It announced that it intends to closely monitor the role of Hamas in the unity government as the aid to the PA (worth $440 million this year) has been conditioned by the U.S. Congress on the absence of ‘undue influence’ on the part of Hamas. What constitutes undue influence is obviously in the eye of the beholder. Israel can be counted on do its part, exerting pressure via its lobbying allies on Israel’s many Congressional friends in Washington, to show that Hamas is indeed influencing PA policies at this point despite the absence of any Hamas officials in the formal leadership of the new PA government announced in Ramallah. If Israeli lobbying succeeds it could trigger a break in the flow of aid, and cause fiscal troubles for the PA, but maybe with political side benefits by providing Palestinians with badly needed increased room for diplomatic maneuver free from an overall subservience to the partisan wishes of Washington.

Whether this will happen is uncertain. There is sure to be a pushback in the United States by Republicans always eager to score points against the Obama presidency by claiming that Israel is not being supported in the manner that such a key ally deserves. As well, playing the anti-terrorist card still seems to be effective in agitating the American public. Even if Congress does force Obama’s hand, the effects are uncertain. For one thing, the Arab League has pledged $100 million per month to the PA to offset any shortfall arising from a suspension of aid, and several Arab governments have expressed their willingness to provide Ramallah with the equivalent of any funds withheld by Israel and the United States. If such a pledge is fulfilled, no sure thing given Arab past failures to deliver on similar pledges, it means that if aid is cut to the PA, the main effect will be political rather than economic. In this event, Tel Aviv and Washington would likely lose influence, while Cairo, Riyadh, and possibly Tehran seem poised to gain leverage not only with the Palestinians but throughout the Middle East.

Tentative Assessment

It is only possible at this stage to reach tentative conclusions. The move to unity comes after utter failure of the direct negotiations that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed so hard to get started last year. For most observers, especially in light of the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, there seems no longer any credible prospect of a two-state solution in a form acceptable to the people of Palestine or with the possibility of creating a viable and fully sovereign Palestinian state. Beyond this, Palestine has started to act more and more as a state, a status dramatically affirmed by Pope Francis in his recent visit to the holy land. In this regard, it should be appreciated that Israel broke off negotiating with Palestine prior to the formation of the unity government, and not because of Hamas. The break occurred because the governing authority in Ramallah decided to sign 15 international conventions as a state party, a seemingly responsible step for Palestine to take if it wanted to be perceived as a state. Such an effort by the PA to confirm Palestine as a state without the endorsement of Israel and Washington is a direct result of the disillusionment by the PA with the ridiculous inter-governmental diplomacy that is still being championed by the U.S. Government as the only path to peace. The Palestinians have been living without rights under Israeli occupation for more than four and a half decades, and many Palestinian families have been languishing in refugee camps in and around Palestine ever since 1948. Besides this, the deferral of a resolution of Palestinian claims is not a neutral reality. It helps Israel expand, while diminishing Palestinian expectations in relation to their own territorial and national destiny.

I believe the bottom line importance of the unity government is the Palestinian realization that no solution to the overall conflict is even conceivable without the participation of Hamas. Beyond this, allowing Hamas to become an active part of the political equation strikes a body blow against Israel’s strategy of keeping the Palestinians as divided and subdued as possible. Hamas has taken a series of important steps to be accepted as a political actor, and thereby overcome its reputation as a terrorist organization associated with its earlier embrace of indiscriminate political violence, especially extensive suicide bombing directed at civilian targets within Israel. After entering and winning Gaza elections in 2006, Hamas went on to exercise effective governing authority in the Gaza Strip since 2007. It has been governing under extremely difficult circumstances arising from Israeli blockade and hostility. It has managed to negotiate and comply with ceasefire agreements via Egypt. Most relevantly, by way of statements of and interviews with its leaders indicating a readiness to enter into long-term co-existence agreements with Israel for up to 50 years if Israel withdraws to the 1967 ‘green line’ borders and ends its blockade of Gaza. The firing of rockets that can be directly attributed to Hamas in this period are almost always launched in a retaliatory mode after an unlawful Israeli violent provocation; most of the rockets launched are primitive in design and capability, and have caused little damage on the Israeli side of the border and often seem to be the work of extremist militias in Gaza that act independently and in violation of Hamas. Despite the low number of Israeli casualties, the threats posed by these rockets should not be minimized as they do induce fear in Israeli communities with their range. It should be recognized, also, that Hamas is known to possess more sophisticated rockets that could cause serious casualties and damage, yet has refrained from using them except in the course of defending Gaza in response to the massive attack launched by Israel in November 2012.

This profile of Hamas in recent years appears to represent a dramatic departure from its earlier positions calling for the destruction of the Israeli state in its entirety. It is fair to ask whether this more moderate line can be trusted, which cannot be fully known until it is tested by a positive engagement by Israel and the United States. So far Israel has made no reciprocal gestures even to the extent of taking some cautious note of these changes in Hamas’ approach. Israel has continued to repeat its demands that Hamas unilaterally renounce political violence, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and indicate its acceptance of all past agreements with the Palestinian Authority. Even if Hamas were to take these steps it seems highly doubtful that Israel would alter its defiant position, continue to claim that such acts could not be trusted until further evidence of good faith are available, including amending the Hamas Charter. Doubts about Hamas’ trustworthiness seem a typically misleading distraction put forward by Tel Aviv. As whatever Hamas were to do, or even the PA, Israel would be sure to make its future security depend on its military capabilities, and place no reliance whatsoever on whether Palestinian political actors were true to their word. In the abstract, it does seem unreasonable to expect the Hamas to make these unilateral commitments demanded by Israel so long as the unlawful collective punishment of the people of Gaza in the form of the blockade continues.

At this point Hamas could and probably should do more to establish the bona fides of its abandonment of terror as a mode of armed struggle and its readiness to have peaceful relations with Israel for long periods of time. It could and should revise the Hamas Charter of 1987 by removing those passages that suggest that the Jews as a people are evil and provide jihadists with suitable targets that deserve to be stuck dead. It could also draft a new charter taking account of intervening developments and its current thinking on how best to wage the Palestinian liberation struggle. It may also be time for Hamas to make explicit a qualified commitment to a nonviolent path in pursuit of a just peace. In circumstances of prolonged occupation and state terrorism, Hamas is entitled to claim rights of resistance, although their precise contours are not clearly established by international law. Hamas is certainly entitled to act in self-defense within the constraints of international humanitarian law, and hence can condition any tactical renunciation of armed struggle by reserving these rights.

The one side of the Israeli rigidity that is rooted in psychological plausibility is the reality of fear, and Hamas if it wants to make progress toward a sustainable and just peace, would be well advised to do its best to recognize this obstacle. Ari Shavit starts his important, although not entirely persuasive book, in a revealing way: “For as long as I can remember, I remember fear. Existential fear…I always felt that beyond the well-to-do houses and upper-middle-class lawns of my hometown lay a dark ocean. One day, I dreaded, that dark ocean would rise and drown us all. A mythological tsunami would strike our shores and sweep my Israel away.” (My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013), ix.

I am not intending to suggest that such feelings in any way mitigate the injustices imposed on the Palestinian people for almost a century. I am saying that these feelings among Israeli are real and widespread among the Jewish population living in Israel, and that the process of inducing more Israelis to seek a genuine peace depend on sensitivity by Hamas to this reality. Such a call does not mean at all that Israel should not have done more in this period, especially to allay the strong suspicion that the excessive demands of the Israeli government issued in the name of security and the invocation of fear and loathing, whether toward Hamas or Iran, is not being manipulated by a cynical leadership in Tel Aviv with not the slightest interest in peace and accommodation on reasonable terms, but is primarily seeking to proceed toward the control of virtually the whole of historic Palestine and the exploitation of all its resources. In other words Israeli ‘fears’ are at once authentic and offer a useful dilatory tactic. I would also emphasize the relevance of the situation on the ground: Israel as a prosperous powerhouse and fully sovereign state as contrasted to Hamas, which is the governing authority of the tiny, blockaded, and totally vulnerable Gaza Strip whose impoverished population has been deliberately kept by Israel at a subsistence level and continuously subjected to Israeli state terror at least since 1967.

A salient issue in this context is whether it is reasonable and desirable to insist that Hamas adopt a new covenant as a precondition to its acceptance as a legitimate political actor. On the one side, as mentioned above, Israel if so motivated, could explore accommodation options without taking additional security risks because of its total military dominance, and thus without either trusting Hamas or making a renunciation of the 1987 Hamas Charter a precondition. On the other side, the fact that Hamas would be willing to amend its Charter or adopt a new one that would provide some tangible indication that it no longer is calling for the killing of Jews (Article 7) and the insistence that a sacred and violent struggle is mandated by Islam to persist until every inch of Palestine falls under Muslim rule (Articles 13 & 14). If the public declarations by Hamas leaders in the last several years are to be taken seriously, then Hamas owes it to itself and those acting in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to clarify its current political vision of peace and justice. Such clarification is consistent with reaffirming the responsibility of Israel and the Zionist movement for past injustices and the accompanying denial of fundamental and inalienable rights to the Palestinian people, above all, the right of self-determination.

From the positions set forth here, it seems clear that at this point the officialIsraeli leadership is not inclined to seek a diplomatic outcome to the struggle that includes addressing legitimate Palestinian grievances. For this reason alone, it is fair to conclude that the 1993 Oslo framing of diplomacy, as most recently exhibited in the Kerry negotiations, is a snare and delusion so far as Palestinians are concerned. It not only freezes the status quo, it shifts the realities on the ground in the direction of Israeli expansionism via annexation, and moves toward the final stage of Zionist thinking, incorporating Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) into an Israeli version of the one-state solution. These moves, in effect, normalize the apartheid structure of relations between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents, and shed the pretense of agreeing to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Against such a background, the incentive to change the Hamas Charter it should be understood is not to appease the Israeli government, but to manifest its own altered vision and strategy and to exert some influence upon the Israeli citizenry and world public opinion. It needs to be appreciated that whatever Hamas were to do to please Israel, it would make no essential difference. What is relevant to the present stage of the Palestinian national movement is to mobilize nonviolent militant resistance and solidarity support. It is on this symbolic battlefield of legitimacy that Palestinian hopes now rest.

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Bad to the Bone: A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine


by Jonas E. Alexis 

Ideologue Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, whose work we haveexamined in a previous article, declared that Israel over the years has maintained “a robust and vibrant democracy,” and that the Arabs should look up to Israel in order to free themselves from the shackles of undemocratic government.[1]

There is no doubt that Goldhagen knows what he is doing, because scholars of various stripes have shown him the utter silliness of many of his sophomoric arguments.[2] In fact, after much reflection on Goldhagen’s writing, Norman Finkelstein actually called him “the Holocaust industry poster boy.”[3]

Goldhagen knows he is deceiving readers into thinking that Israel is a democratic country. Goldhagen knows that the actual historical account shows that Israel does not even come close to having a vibrant democracy.[4]

Yet the Holocaust industry poster boy continues to perpetuate this fabrication precisely because Zionism cannot work without deliberate fabrications and colossal hoaxes.

What, then, is the actual account? What has the nation of Israel done to the Palestinains over the decades? It is perhaps high time to dispel this “vibrant democracy” myth.

The establishment of Israel in 1948 was a sort of “survival of the fittest” process: thousands upon thousands of Palestinians had to be systematically uprooted, slaughtered, and deported from their homes. Christians in the region suffered as well.[5]

Even David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, conceived the point that injustice had been done to the Palestinians, when he told Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, that

“If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs.

“We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Asuchwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”[6]


Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, who considers himself “a super-Zionist,” declares that

“In fact, from the beginning, a sense of urgency gave the first Zionists the profound conviction that the task of reconquering the country had a solid moral basis. The argument of the Jews’ historical right to the land was merely a matter of politics and propaganda.”[7]

He moves on to say that “Whereas the conquests of 1949 were an essential condition for the founding of Israel, the attempt to retain the conquests of 1967 had a strong flavor of imperial expansion.”[8] Moreover, “None of the major leaders of the labor movement believed that the Palestinians deserved the same rights” as the Jews.[9]

Judaizers and Zionists draw the ridiculous conclusions that Israel was outnumbered since its beginning in 1948,[10] and yet they won. The simple fact is that the same Judaizers never define what they mean by “outnumbered.”

Let us take for granted the argument that Israel was outnumbered. The Israeli soldiers were well-trained, while the Arab soldiers were “remarkably ineffective at translating…latent resources into actual military power, while Israel, by contrast, has been especially good at doing so.”

Yigal Yadin, a senior military chief during the war and the IDF’s second chief of staff, believed that “if it had not been for the British presence in Palestine until May 1948, ‘we could have quelled the Arab riot in one month.’”[11]

Therefore, it is not irrational to posit that the 1948 war was in many ways literal ethnic cleansing, and some Jewish historians have made this exact argument.[12] Theodor Hertzl, founder of the Zionist movement, noted in 1895 that “Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor [Palestinians] must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”[13]

Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund, likewise declared at the dawn of the twentieth century, “It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country…There is no room for compromise on the point!…We must no leave a single village, not a single tribe.”[14] Similarly, David Ben-Gurion once again declared, “We will expel the Arabs and take their place.”[15]


Recently, Jewish writer Daniel Gordis has made the irresponsible argument that “Accounts of what actually occurred [during the Deir Yassin massacre] are still hotly contested….[Yehuda] Lapidot [Begin’s advisor and fried], continued to insist that there had been no deliberate massacre and the Arabs had resisted much more fiercely than anyone had anticipated.”[16]

Gordis’ book has received positive accolades from Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land; Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers; Dennis Ross of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and more importantly thought-police Deborah Lipstadt.

Lipbstadt has built almost her entire career going after those who (she claims) try to deny the Holocaust,[17] but now Lipstadt is approving a book denying the Deir Yassin massacre, which was a form of ethnic cleansing.

David Irving can be placed behind bars for asking important questions about Nazi Germany, but denying the Deir Yassin massacre is intellectually honest. Lipstadt even called Jimmy Carter’s bookPalestine: Peace Not Apartheid a “soft-core [of Holocaust] denial.”[18]Lipstadt even went to great length attacking people like Bishop Williamson. It must be noted that Williamson chastises liberals, conservatives, and even Catholics.

Yet as soon as he opened his mouth making an assertion with respect to the Holocaust, all of a sudden he is a wicked person. Lipstadt wrote no less than 18 short articles on the poor Bishop. Lipstadt even cut the Vatican right open for reinstating Williamson, saying things like the Vatican “has made itself look like it is living in the darkest of ages.”

In other words, to be historically virtuous, one has to deny Jewish ethnic cleansing and admit Goyim ethnic cleansing. Moreover, to even probe an important question or posit a historically satisfying assertion about Nazi Germany—as Irving has done—is not academically permissible. If you value your career more than truth and historical honesty, you’ve got to succumb to the Zionist narrative.


What we are seeing here is the Jewish takeover of academia and historical discourse.[19] And what do Catholic universities such as the University of Notre Dame do in response? They invited Lipstadt to beat them over the head Holocaust denial.[20]

Before she began her speech, Lipstadt was already introduced as a person who “may have helped the Vatican see the light” through her “scholarly” blogging. As E. Michael Jones rightly put it a few years ago,

Holocaust denial is another word for Jewish control of discourse, in particular historical discourse about World War II. A historian who publishes something a powerful Jew, which is to say a Jew with powerful backers, dislikes, that person will be punished.

“If the person in question lives by writing books, as David Irving once did, the Lipstadt brigade will get him blacklisted in the publishing industry. If the person in question is a professor, the big Jews will try to get him fired, as Deborah Lipstadt herself did in the case of Professor David O’Connell…

“More typical is the case of Norman Kinkelstein, who was fired from his job at DePaul University in Chicago. The fact that Finkelstein was a Jew himself doesn’t matter. It’s the big Jews, in this case Alan Dershowitz, who decide who is to live and who is to die in academe and publishing.”[21]

 Enough of Lipstadt. Now let us return to our topic.


According to serious historical accounts, Menachem Begin was a terrorist from top to bottom, but here we have Gordis telling us the opposite.

Israeli writer and “the official historian of the IDF Paratroopers” Uri Milstein has tried mightily to advance the idea that the Deir Yassin massacre was also a myth back in 2012.[22]

Gordis and Milstein’s books are infallible signs that we are in the presence of flesh-and-blood ideologues hopelessly attempting to rewrite history in order to drag the masses into the Zionist narrative. Even Israeli/Zionist historian Benny Morris, quoting Yitzhak Levy, wrote,

“The conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families—women, old people, children—were killed….Some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors….

“IZL troops had ‘raped a number of girls and murdered them afterwards…’ The IZL and LHI troopers systematically pillaged the village and stripped the inhabitants of jewelry and money. Altogether, 100-120 villages (including combatants) died that day…Most of the villages either fled or were trucked through West Jerusalem and dumped at Musrara, outside the Old City walls.”[23]

Let us reject Gordis’ desperate attempt to rewrite the Zionist holocaust in Palestine once and for all.


It is estimated that “more than half of Palestine’s native population, close to 800,000 people, had been uprooted, 531 villages had been destroyed, and eleven urban neighborhoods emptied of their inhabitants.” The 1948 plan, writes Jewish historian Ilan Pappe, “was a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity.”[24]

Other Jewish historians such as Avi Shlaim estimated that the number of Palestinians who have been uprooted from their homes is close to 730,000.[25]Benny Morris conceives the point that the 1948 expulsion of the Palestinians was cruel and atrocious.[26]

Palestinian Christians also suffered greatly during that time. Many of those Christians were separated from their families.[27] Jewish historian Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht estimated that there were about 900,000 Arabs in Palestine; when the dust was settled, 750,000 of those Arabs fled or were largely expelled from the land.

Incidentally, this was a Zionist policy from start to finish. David Ben Gurion wrote,

“We must do everything in our power to ensure that they never return.”[28] He also declared, “We will expel the Arabs and take their places…with the forces at our disposal.”[29] Feuerlicht goes on to say,

“An Israeli censorship board prohibited former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin from including in his memoirs an account of how 50,000 Palestinian civilians were forcibly expelled from two towns near Tel Aviv during the War of Independence in 1948. Rabin said the decision was Ben Gurion’s. Many elderly Arabs and Arab children died of the heat during a forced march to Arab lines.”[30]


The late Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan noted that

“We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here…Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages…There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”[31]

Vladimer (also known as Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, a founding father of right-wing Zionism, introduced the concept of “The Iron Wall” in 1923, which had for its premise that

“all colonization must continue in defiance of the weill of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ‘absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic.”[32]

After the war, several branches of Zionism began to blossom in new waves such as socialism and communism. A brand new Zionist movement that had its roots during the 1967 Six-Day War was Messianic Zionism, which espoused views such as Arabs are certainly the Amalekites who must be expunged.[33]

We see the same sort of ethnic cleansing through the years. Even the IDF confessed during the Gaza invasion that

“the lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers…You see people more or less running their life routine, taking a walk, stuff like that. Definitely not terrorists.

“I hear from other crews that they fired at people there. Tried to kill them… People didn’t seem to be too upset about taking human lives…We were allowed to do anything we wanted. Who’s to tell us not to?…You are allowed to do anything you want…for no reason other than it’s cool.”[34]

Deborah Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt

In the midst of this shameful situation, Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker declared that “the Israeli military adopted painstaking efforts to spare civilian lives in Gaza.”[35] In the same vein, the legendary Alan Dershowitz told us that

Hamas knew that Israel would never fire at a home with civilians in it. They also knew that if Israeli authorities did not learn there were civilians in the house and fired on it, Hamas would win a public relations victory by displaying the dead. Israel held its fire. The Hamas rockets that were protected by the human shields were then used against Israeli civilians.”[36]

As Norman Finkelstein has shown, the evidence and authorities to which Dershowitz appeal gives a completely different account. In the end, it was a cheap way for Israel to propagate deception about their crimes in Gaza.[37] But no one can actually say Israeli propaganda is just plain propaganda because that may lead to severe consequences.

When the reputable Jewish judge and member of the Human Rights Council Richard Goldstone condemned Israel’s violent actions in the Gaza war, he was immediately labeled as a sell-out and a self-hating Jew, even though he had said publicly that there were victims on both sides and that his deep love for Israel forced him to investigate the issue clearly and concisely.[38]

Judge Richard Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone

Goldstone is South-African, and the Jewish organization threatened to disrupt his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg if he dared to show up.[39]Alan Dershowitz called Goldtone a “despicable human being,” “an evil, evil man,” “a traitor to the Jewish people,” and the United Nation’s “token court Jew.”[40]

Benjamin Netanyahu likewise declared, “We face three major strategic challenges: the Iranian nuclear program, rockets aimed at our civilians and Goldstone.”[41]

Goldstone was suddenly removed from the Hebrew University’s Board of Govenors, although the university denied that it was related to his report on Israel.[42]

Goldstone later recanted, declaring that “if I had known then what I know now,” he would not have condemned the Israelis for their acts.[43] As John Dugard of the University of Pretoria has shown, Goldstone recanted not because there were verifiable evidence, but because he becan to rely on IDF sources.[44] The Jewish publication Forward declared that Goldstone was completely shaken after a meeting with leading Jewish organizations in South Africa, and that had a huge impact on his later report.

“Debating face to face with the [Jewish] community really shook him,” wrote David Sacks, associate director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. The Jewish leaders of course pronounced their anger against Golstone, and that indeed played a pivotal role in his new position.

Sacks continues to say that the Jewish organizations “went in very hard against him.” After one particular meeting with a Jewish group, “There were no smiling handshakes afterwards. Avrom [Krengel]’s opening statement was pretty merciless.”[45] Several members of the United Nations also accused Goldstone of yielding to outside forces and pressure.[46]


It is generally viewed that “several friends cited what they viewed as the cumulative toll of a stream of calumny hurled at the famously unemotional jurist.”[47]

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a friend of Goldstone, declared, “It has been like watching an innocent man whipped at the stake. His dedication to Israel is so strong and rooted. He suffered at the thought that his work was being used to delegitimize Israel. It truly wounded and pained him.”[48]

“According to these friends, Goldstone didn’t fully understand how politically charged any criticism of Israel could be, and was blindsided by the anger and emotion the report engendered.”[49]

Surely he did not understand. As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tells us, many Jewish lawyers sued Goldstone, saying that “The Goldstone Report is nothing less than a modern version of the infamous blood libels against the Jewish people.”[50]

Put simply, the Zionists were ethnically slaughtering the Palestinians in 1948, and that Talmudic process has never died out over the past few decades. The Times of Israel has recently reported that “The European Union is willing to provide financial compensation for Palestinian refugees and their descendants who renounce their ‘right of return’ in a final peace deal with Israel…”

Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Does that make any sense at all? What if some other ethnic groups are willing to provide financial compensation to members of the European Union and their descendants if they renounce their land of birth? Will they be able to accept that challenge? If not, why in the world are they treating decent Palestinian refugees like animals in an Israeli lab experiment? Why the double standard?

No doubt that some Israeli academics such as Neve Gordon, who served as a member of the Israel peace camp for almost thirty years, would refer to the Israel today as “an apartheid state.”[51]

More recently, Jewish scholar Richard Falk, formerly of Princeton, came to the same conclusion, saying that Israel carried out

“systematic and continued effort to change the ethnic composition of East Jerusalem…[Israel’s policies are] unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

“What is called occupation is now more widely understood to be a form of annexation, the embodiment of apartheid in the sense that there’s a discriminatory dual system of law, giving legal protection to the Israeli settlers and subjecting the Palestinian population under occupation to a continuing existence without rights.

“Every increment of enlarging the settlements or every incident of house demolition is a way of worsening the situation confronting the Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations.[52]

Amos Schocken, owner and publisher of Haaretz, declared the same thing, that Israel is an apartheid state.[53]

Gordon would agree with Pappe and other Israeli historians that the 1948 war was indeed ethnic cleansing.[54]Moreover, since the 1940s, at least one particular Israeli group, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (commonly known as Lehi) viewed themselves “as a master race and the Arabs as a slave race.”[55]

Shira Robinson Book

This ethnic cleansing of course continues today, and dozens of former Israeli soldiers are coming out saying that they have indeed mistreated the Palestinians.[56] One of the invidivuals who recognized this in the twentieth century is the Russian Jewish thinker Ahad Ha’am.

After visiting Palestine in 1891, Ha’am began to take the Arab-Israeli issues seriously, and subsequently wrote that the Israelis treated the Arabs unfairly and

“shamefully and without reason and even brag about it, and nobody stands to check this contemptible and dangerous tendency.”[57]

This is again another reason Jewish historians such as Arno J. Mayer would conclude that “Zionism was born out of violence…”[58] David Ben-Gurion made it clear in October of 1937:

“We must expel Arabs and take their places…and, if we have to use force—not to dispossess the Arabs of the negeve and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places—then we have force at our disposal.”[59]

When many Arabs were forced to leave their homes, Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president who was very instrumental in the Zionist movement, called it

“a miraculous clearing of the land: the miraculous simplification of Israel’s task.”[60]

These statements were of course repeated in one way or another by Jewish terrorists, including Meir Kahane who in 1971 declared,

“In two years time, [the Arabs]…will come to me, bow to me, lick my feet, and I will be merciful and allow them to leave. Whoever does not will be slaughtered.”[61]

Baruch Goldstein, Jewish terrorist, “was a protégé of Meir Kahane and a member of the Kach Party,”[62] a terrorist party that was founded by Kahane himself.[63]

 We saw a resurgence of this attitude during the decades after the creation of the nation of Israel, where Talmudic scholars would cite passages from the Talmud saying that God made a mistake in creating the Ismaelites, and Gentiles are “a people like a donkey.”[64]

The Jerusalem Post reported that Ariel Sharon “urged Israeli soldiers to beat Arab schoolchildren in the West Bank.”[65] It was also reported that Sharon gave instructions to “cut of their testicles,” because “the only good Arab is a dead Arab.”

In the process, General Hartabi took his troops in a Hebron school and clubbed Palestinian students.[66] The Palestinians retaliated by throwing a stone at Hartabi’s car. In return, Hartabi terrified the area by ordering his troops to fire in the street and to cut the hot water supply.[67]
YouTube – Veterans Today –

This is the true history of Zionism in the Middle East.  And when you see the Zionist regime in Israel and America saying that Putin had violated international law in Crimea, you can be sure that you are in the presence of an evil ideology which must be expunged once and for all. After all, American-born Chabad rabbi Yaakov Bleich is already in Ukraine with others saying that Ukraine ought to adopt the American way of pluralism. In other words, Ukraine has to adopt the zionification of America.

Thinking that Putin is completely blind and has no background in history, the Zionist ends up sending him an ultimatum indirectly saying, Do as I say, not as I do.” As Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail right points out, it never occurs to those “silly, half-educated politicians” that

 “Russia has good historical reasons to fear its neighbours. It never crosses their mind that the borders drawn by the victorious West in 1992, like those drawn at Versailles in 1919, are an unsustainable, unjust mistake.

“They never ask why Britain (or the USA) should be hostile to Russia, or what the quarrel between us actually is. What is it to us whose flag flies over Sevastopol? Yet it matters greatly to those who live there. They cast every Russian action as evil, and every Ukrainian action as saintly.”

As it turns out, those politicians and the people behind the media know what they are doing. For example, suppose some renowned political mush-head and psychotic actually come out and declare,

This is really beyond all boundaries. It’s about time we grab our guns and kill go kill those damn Israelis together with their leader, because they have stolen Palestinian lands and are now indirectly controlling America. There would be no fucking way that they would still more lands and control much of the world. [There is] a way to kill those assholes.”

You can be sure that the media would play this record over and over so that they would beat just about everyone over the head with it. Yet this was actually what Yulia Tymoshenko has said about Russia and PutinDo you really think that the media, the neocons, and the Zionists will let Americans know any time soon? Will they spread the word? You be the judge.

Kudos for Jim W. Dean, who broke the story here at VT!

Yulia Tymoshenko

Yulia Tymoshenko

Lasha Darkmoon pointed out a few weeks ago,

“It was Putin, after all, who had brought the seven crooked Russian oligarchs to book, six of them Jewish; and it was also Putin who managed to claw back much of the plundered wealth that these financial predators had filched from the Soviet Union after its dissolution in 1991…

“It’s therefore in the interests of billionaire oligarchs like Akhmetov and corrupt politicians like Jewess Yulia Tymoshenko — with her crooked business dealing swith Semyon Moglievich, head of the Jewish Russian mafia — that Ukraine’s richer region, the Crimea, should remain within full reach of its future expectant plunderers.

“It is to be noted that the glamorous Yulia, with her pretty face and sexy hairstyle, has long been the darling of the Western media. Having become Ukraine’s first Prime Minister in January 2005 and Ukraine’s third richest woman, according toForbes magazine, Yulia subsequently spent time behind bars on serious corruption charges. There are now plans afoot to make this former jailbird Prime Minister of Ukraine again.”

Darkmoon moved on to declare that Tymoshenko has “close links to the Jewish Russian mafia.”

If that is true, then Tymoshenko has every reason to declare that she longs to put a bullet into Putin’s head. Didn’t they butcher the Tsar family at the dawn of the Bolshevik Revolution? Why should we doubt that they will not try to do it again?

[1] Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, “Arabs Should Take Cue from Israel,” Jewish Daily Forward, December 12, 2011.

[2] See for example Albert S. Lindemann, Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Norman Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Burn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (New York: Holt, 1998); David Rieff, “The Willing Misinterpreter,”National Interest, October 28, 2009.

[3] Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkley: University of California Press, 2008), xxi.

[4] For a recent development, see for example Shira Robinson, Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013).

[5] See for example Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: One World, 2007), 180-183.

[6] Quoted in John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), 96.

[7] Zeev Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 338.

[8] Ibid., 336.

[9] Ibid..

[10] Dave Hunt, Countdown to the Second Coming, 32.

[11] Mearsheimer and Walt., 81, 82.

[12] See for example Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: One World Publications, 2006). Israeli historian Benny Morris has made similar arguments; see Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah, 5, 14.

[13] Quoted Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews: A People Torn Between Israeli Power and JewishEthics (New York: Times Books, 1983), 242.

[14] Ibid., 243.

[15] Quoted in Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code, xxiii.

[16] Daniel Gordis, Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul (New York: Schocken Books, 2014), 75.

[17] Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth (New York: Penguin, 1994).

[18] Quoted in Johnny Paul, “Holocaust Scholar Warns of New ‘Soft-Core Denial,’” Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2007.

[19] For a much extensive discussion on this, see Jones, Jewish Revolutionary Spirit, 1000-1005.

[20] See E. Michael Jones, “Holocaust Denial and Thought Control: Deborah Lipstadt at Notre Dame University,”Culture Wars, May 2009.

[21] E. Michael Jones, L’Affaire Williamson: The Catholic Church and Holocaust Denial (South Bend: Fidelity Press, no date).

[22] Uri Milstein, The Birth of the Palestinian Nation: The Myth of the Deir Yassin Massacre (Springfield, NJ: Gefen Books, 2012).

[23] Benny Morris, 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 127.

[24] Pappe, Ethnic Cleansing, xiii.

[25] Avi Shalim, Israel and Palestine (New York: Verso, 2009), 54.

[26] Ibid., 55.

[27] Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code, xxiv.

[28] Feuerlicht, 243.

[29] Quoted Baylis Thomas, The Dark Side of Zionism: Israel’s Quest for Security through Dominance (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009), 19.

[30] Feuerlicht, 243.

[31] Ibid., 245.

[32] Quoted in Baylis Thomas, The Dark Side of Zionism, 17.

[33] Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism, 18.

[34] Quoted in Norman Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion(New York: OR Books, 2010), 88.

[35] Ibid., 88-89.

[36] Alan Dershowitz, “Israel’s Policy is Perfectly ‘Proportionate,’” The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2009.

[37] Finkelstein, This Time, 86-88.

[38] See for example Roger Cohen, “The Goldstone Chronicles,” The New York Times, April 7, 2011.

[39] Chris McGreal, “Goldstone Family Drawn into Row over Gaza Report,” The Guardian, April 30, 2010; Barry Bearak, “South African Judge May Be Kept from Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah,” The New York Times, April 16, 2010.

[40] McGreal, “Goldstone Family Drawn into Row over Gaza Report.”

[41] Bearak, “South African Judge May Be Kept from Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah.”

[42] Abe Selig, “Goldstone Stripped of Honorary Hebruew U Governorship,” The Jerusalem Post, June 5, 2010.

[43] Natasha Mozgovaya, “Goldstone Affirms our Position that Israel did Not Commit War Crimes in Gaza, U.S. Says,” Haaretz, April 5, 2011.

[44] John Dugard, “Where Now for the Goldstone Report?,”, April 6, 2011.

[45] Larry Cohler-Esses, Gal Beckerman and Claudia Braude, “Did a Private Meeting Prompt Goldstone to Change His Mind?,” Forward, April 6, 2011.

[46] Ethan Bronner, “Colleagues Rebuke Gaza Report’s Author,” The New York Times, April 14, 2011; Ed Pilkington, “UN Gaza Report Co-Authors Round on Goldstone,” The Guardian, April 14, 2011.

[47] Cohler-Esses, Beckeman and Braude, “Did a Private Meeting Prompt Goldstone to Change His Mind?.”

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] “Prodded by Danon, U.S. Lawyers Set to Sue Goldstone,” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 7, 2011.

[51] Neve Gordon, “Boycott Israel,” Lost Angeles Times, August 20, 2009.

[52] Quoted in Umberto Bacchi, “Israel Guilty of Ethnic Cleansing and Apartheid, Says UN Rapporteur,”International Business Times, March 21, 2014.

[53] Robert W. Merry, “An Israeli Issues a Dissent over Alleged ‘Apartheid,’” National Interest, November 30, 2011.

[54] Neve Gordon, Israel’s Occupation (Berkley: The University of California Press, 2008), xix.

[55] Sasha Polakow-Suransky, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa(New York: Pantheon Books, 2010), 107.

[56] See for example Harriet Sherwood, “Former Israeli Soldiers Break the Silence on Military Violation,”Guardian, May 16, 2011.

[57] Shlaim, Israel and Palestine, 56.

[58] Arno J. Mayer, Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (New York: Verso, 2008), 7.

[59] Quoted in Shalaim, Israel and Palestine, 58.

[60] Ibid., 59.

[61] Quoted in Carig Unger, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future (New York: Scribner, 2007), 134.

[62] Ibid., 136.

[63] Ibid., 134.

[64] Quoted in Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle (MA: South End Press, 1999), 124.

[65] Quoted in ibid., 129.

[66] Ibid., 129.

[67] Ibid., 129.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Bad to the Bone: A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

Why did the Iraqi army collapse in Mosul?


A picture taken with a mobile phone shows an armoured vehicle belonging to Iraqi security forces in flames on June 10, 2014, after hundreds of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major assault on the security forces in Mosul. (Photo: AFP)

The suspicious collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS’s onslaught has raised many questions as to why its 600,000 soldiers have disappeared into thin air, as well as questions about the fate of billions of dollars spent on training and equipping this army. According to some military experts, one cause of the army’s weakness could be the absence of a unifying doctrine within its ranks.

Baghdad – What happened in Iraq in the past few days is not only a military collapse, but also solid proof of the government’s failure to provide security and basic services to the citizens, and to protect the people and the state’s assets and natural resources.

But how and why did this happen? So far, the government has not been able to give answers, but the information available indicates a series of mistakes had been made, precipitating an unprecedented collapse of a 600,000-strong army with an annual budget of $5.6 billion.

According to experts, the government allocates $3 billion annually for armament, and a similar amount for operational costs, wages, and daily expenses, in addition to $1 billion allocated to the emergency budget of the Ministry of Defense. This amount is usually spent in full each year, given the unstable security situation in many parts of Iraq.

Military affairs expert Dr. Hisham al-Hashemi says that the Iraqi army comprises 15 divisions, each made up of 12,000 to 15,000 troops, in addition to the Air Force, the Navy, the Security Forces, Intelligence, and Military Police. The total number of troops is 600,000, which should be sufficient to thwart any plot or attack against Iraq, he says, “were it not for the weak military spirit, corruption among officers, and the desertion of the officers in charge of the Ninawa Operations Command.”

Explaining the causes of the security forces’ retreat, Dr. Hashemi said, “The defeat is the result of military commanders relying on political parties to justify their actions and protect them, while neglecting their military responsibilities, and being preoccupied with side activities for profiteering, as well as their lack of moral integrity.”

Local media had reported the desertion of Deputy Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Abboud Qanbar and Land Forces Commander Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan, following the withdrawal from Mosul. However, the two men have denied this, saying that they have been carrying out their duties in Baghdad since Tuesday – the day ISIS took control of the majority of Mosul. So far, the government has not laid any blame on them.Qanbar and Ghaidan had returned on Tuesday evening to Baghdad from Erbil via Baghdad International Airport. When officials at the airport were asked why they had allowed the two men to pass despite reports about their involvement in surrendering Mosul, the answer was that there was no outstanding warrant for their arrest. On the next day, the two generals donned their uniforms and went to their offices without facing any questions about what had happened.

Ali al-Nour, another military affairs expert, believes that the army’s collapse is not the result of a single mistake, but rather of the accumulation of many political and military errors, in addition to what he described as the state’s failure to contain corruption, and provide basic security and services for the citizens.

Nour told Al-Akhbar that what happened in Mosul was not just the result of corruption, but the culmination of all of the corruption Iraq has seen since 2003, pointing out that what happened was a result of the lack of proper security consultation, sectarian quotas in security posts, and the lack of seriousness among politicians when it comes to state-building after 2003.

He added, “Corruption is institutionalized in Iraq. It is therefore natural for the military to be part of the corruption, with many officials profiteering from it, without performing their duty. They sell fuel, vehicles, and weapons, smuggle prisoners, and extort people.” Nour also pointed out that the army has no doctrine, save for sectarianism.

For instance, he said, a Shia soldier might not be interested in defending a Sunni city, and vice versa, pointing out that an army’s doctrine should be a combination of emotional and intellectual bonds that the army has failed to develop, even though soldiers are paid more than university professors. Nour said, “The ordinary soldier is paid a [monthly] salary of $1,300 and above, while professors earn only $1000.” In addition, officers with the rank of Major General and above are paid more than $6,000 a month, which is more than what a deputy minister earns.Nour continued, “The problem of armament and empty slogans, which led to the U.S. withdrawal without preparing an alternative, was also a big mistake.” The military expert then drew attention to the growing phenomenon of “ghost soldiers,” or soldiers enrolled in the army without being assigned duties or even attending, for which officers are paid half of the ghost soldiers’ salaries, all with the knowledge of senior officials at the Army Command and some MPs.

In the opinion of the military expert, what happened in Iraq is a reflection of the troubling situation in the region, but also the result of the huge wealth that has been squandered by sectarian quota-based clientelism. Nour said it was unlikely that assistance from the U.S. army or any international assistance to the Iraqi army would solve the security crisis, unless all crises in the region were addressed together.

Nour downplayed the army’s rapid collapse in Mosul, however, saying that he expected the regions seized by ISIS would be retaken.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Nouri al-Maliki has announced the formation of a new auxiliary army, the restructuring of the regular army, and the re-evaluation of existing security plans, after the failures of field commanders in their commissions.

In this regard, the military expert deemed the move to be “similar to the formation of the People’s Army of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, though this time it is different for being voluntary rather than compulsory.” Nour then pointed out that this step could be invested properly to avoid forming any sectarian militias or vigilante popular committees. “Maliki no doubt regrets dismantling the Sahawat forces, which were an important auxiliary force alongside the army in recent years, specifically in the areas currently occupied by ISIS,” he added.

Military and security centers have started registering volunteers wishing to fight against ISIS from the provinces of the South, Middle Euphrates, and Baghdad. According to unofficial reports, 16,000 volunteers have so far enlisted from these areas.

Posted in IraqComments Off on Why did the Iraqi army collapse in Mosul?

Iraq: Understanding the coup in Mosul and its consequences


Iraqi men take part in a demonstration to show their support for the call to arms by Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the city of Najaf on June 13, 2014. (Photo: AFP – Haider Hamdani)

There is a huge difference between the conspiratorial interpretation of events and the interpretation of an actual conspiracy, which many tend to overlook, namely, that the former is a subjective view that holds everything is a plot by the enemies – where even sand storms that hit Iraq could be a conspiracy – while explaining an actual conspiracy, entails a realistic analysis of causes, effects, and evidence thereof, with the intention of understanding a real conspiracy that has been planned and executed by one side against another. Major conspiracies are not rare throughout history, and some historians have even stated that history is nothing but a long series of plots.

In a recent speech, hours after Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to radical Islamic insurgents, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the collapse of the government forces in the city was a conspiracy. Some on social media, including myself, saw this as a continuation of the old tradition adopted by the defeated, though I had reservations about this view in the end.

Indeed, when Maliki used the terms “deception” and “coordinated rumors” to describe what had happened, I recalled immediately what the late Baathist leader Hani al-Fekaiki once revealed. Fekaiki was one of the masterminds of the military coup of February 8, 1963. In his book, the “Dens of Defeat,” he wrote, “We have toppled the regime of Abdul Karim Kassem with the weapon of rumors.” In truth, the Baath regime used psychological warfare very skillfully, as many experts assert.

The facts are starting to unfold. What happened in Mosul was a “special kind of military coup” that the faction led by Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had been working on silently, patiently, and cunningly for a long time, until it finally managed to plant a complex and formidable network of former officers who had been excluded during the de-Baathification from the military in favor of more favored officers according to the sectarian quota system, especially in the provinces of Nineveh and Salah al-Din. ISIS was used as a “husk” in which their move was embedded, in order to terrorize their opponents, as part of a cynical nihilistic alliance.

Nihilistic because the time when the Baath can plan, execute, and triumph then rule the country for decades is behind us for good. The facts on the ground in Mosul and Tikrit will no doubt dispel the dreams of Douri and his militias in a matter of months, if not weeks, though this unfortunately will be very bitter and painful for the Iraqis in those regions.

The first nightmare that Douri will have to deal with is the inevitable clash between his men and the jihadis from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other groups. In effect, clashes as such almost erupted very recently when portraits of Douri were put up for display in the areas seized by the insurgents. Ultimately, however, what is certain is that this coup has moved to implement the plan for the partition of Iraq in earnest, and opened the door wide to direct intervention by regional powers Iran and Turkey, as well as Western and other world powers.Maliki’s speech was inconsistent, superficial, and betrayed his confusion. It seems that his primary goal was to increase the morale of his allies and partners in government, with no signs that he has any regrets, or that he could ever tire of the misinformation and lies of his military leaders and advisers, even when he is facing a dangerous and earthshaking military defeat.

Maliki said there was a conspiracy behind the fall of Mosul, claiming that he knew the names and details of those who launched rumors and ordered troops to withdraw, even though they were more than capable to repel the attack on the city. Yet hours later, Tikrit – no less – fell to the insurgents as well. So did Maliki know the details there too, but did not have enough time to avoid the second strike? It is not clear.

Maliki’s remarks suggest there was a security breach in the army command in Mosul, engineered by ISIS and Douri’s faction in the Baath Party. This is very plausible if not very likely, but the problem and the cause of the defeat in Nineveh at the hands of ISIS and the Baath insurgency does not lie there, but with the prime minister and his partners in the sectarian political process. For one thing, Maliki and his partners have failed to end this process or at least make it viable, because it was created by the U.S. occupation as an antithesis to the pluralism and diversity of Iraqi society.

Maliki failed to achieve real national and communal reconciliation. He failed on services, he failed on security, and he became an enabler of corruption and a protector of the corrupt in his government. His government exacerbated sectarian and ethnic polarization in the country, and as a result of all of this, the political process continued to rot and decay. Patriotic and democratic Iraqis opposed to the occupation and sectarianism had warned against the consequences of this for Iraq’s unity and existence so many times that their voices went hoarse.

ISIS and its allies’ takeover of the capital of northern Iraq and other cities, and the events of the past few days, is an official death certificate for the sectarian political process. Maliki has only two options now: Drown Iraq in a devastating and protracted civil war that no side will win; or – and this is the second option that I believe Maliki does not have the courage to pursue – end the sectarian political process and call a constitutional convention with the participation of all political forces and community leaders to amend the constitution and launch a national political process that would criminalize political sectarianism, and declare a secular and civil state based on the principles of citizenship rather than on confessional foundations, as the occupiers and their allies wanted.Otherwise, in a month or two, Maliki will still be peddling the same claims, except that thousands more Iraqis will have been killed, injured, or driven out from their homes, and many more cities will have been razed to the ground, while the unity of Iraq and its people will be up in the air.

But, how was the Mosul coup executed?

According to events on the ground, and an analysis of testimonials and news reports, we believe that two main factions took part in the attack: Douri’s Baath faction, which was in charge of planning and planting Baathist officers in the government troops leadership and preparing hundreds of fighters as part of the Naqshbandi militias, to replace the Baath’s defunct militias, and Takfiri groups like ISIS, Ansar al-Sunna, and others, who provided well-trained fighters. This is in addition to tribal-sectarian forces led by people like Harith al-Dhari, who gave his blessings to the coup from Amman, Ali Hatem, and clerics like Rafi Rifai and Abdul Malik al-Saadi, who have always claimed that the Iraqi army is an “occupation army” in the Western regions. Meanwhile, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to the news website Al-Badil Al-Iraqi, the gunmen who first stormed Mosul were mostly non-Iraqis. Later on, those gunmen were replaced by Iraqi militants spotted protecting banks and public installations, while the foreign fighters moved on to other battlefronts.

The plot was carried out smoothly and easily at the predetermined zero hour, which the coup leadership had relayed to its “moles” inside the Iraqi army in the provinces of Nineveh and Salah al-Din. Thus, senior army commanders such as the Deputy Chief of Staff Abboud Qanbar and Land Forces Commander Ali Ghaidan found themselves without an army or middle-ranking officers, and their only option was to request to be evacuated by Kurdish militias to the nearby city of Erbil.The commander of Nineveh Operations Mahdi Gharrawi was able to escape a similar fate, as he had at the time been at the headquarters of one of his brigades on the outskirts of Mosul, in al-Khazer region. Kurdish parties have attempted to smear the man and forged a picture showing him with the Peshmerga militia behind him, but he succeeded in proving that he had not left his position and that he was in the process of regrouping his forces.

It is worth noting that the Peshmerga have played a suspicious role in the events in Mosul, with reports that the Kurdish militia was forcing retreating Iraqi soldiers to undress and put on civilian clothes, before photographing them in a manner that suggested they were fleeing from the battle.

Consequences of the Mosul coup

Of the major consequences on the medium and long terms for the Mosul coup orchestrated by Douri and his allies in the suicidal Salafi groups, we highlight the following:

Iraq is on the path to being partitioned into sectarian mini-states, or at least, the provinces of Nineveh, Tikrit, and parts of Diyala could be carved out of Iraq by force of arms. However, Anbar’s special tribal circumstances make it difficult to implement a similar plan there. Indeed, in Anbar, an Iraqi national identity remains strongly rooted, and a plan to turn the province into an autonomous region was thwarted despite all the clamoring by strong parties to this end. Hostility to Takfiri groups is strong throughout the province as well, with the exception of Fallujah perhaps, though there are local frictions that were not visible in the recent past, and which now mar relations between communities and clans in Anbar and Nineveh.

The door is now wide open to regional intervention, especially by Iran, with its sectarian calculations and concerns regarding Western belligerence, and Turkey, which has similar calculations in addition to its old ambitions in the “Province of Mosul” of the Ottoman Empire. The door is also open to Western intervention, which could take the form of a direct albeit gradual comeback by U.S. occupation forces into Iraq, or at least, the form of substantial backing for the sectarian system in a way that would ensure further dependency on the United States.

The Mosul coup has put an end to the idea of stopping or even tapering de-Baathification in the context of the Accountability and Justice law. Instead, the current government might launch a violent and comprehensive campaign against Baathists, and it will no longer be easy for democratic and left-wing voices demanding an end to or a tapering of de-Baathification – or to have it deemed a criminal rather than a political process – to restate these demands. For one thing, it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Baath’s chronic obsession with plots and coups is incurable, which will mean that thousands of innocents are set to pay the price for Douri’s folly and power hunger […].

The coup will be the final nail in the coffin of “Saddamism” and militia-minded forces in Iraq, and will strengthen the flames of sectarian polarization and open the door to sectarian fighting among Iraq’s Arabs. In the process, a new disgraceful episode has been added to the record of Saddam’s Baath Party, while its enemies will note that the Baath had cooperated with Western intelligence in the past to carry out its coups, the Baath under Douri is collaborating with extremist groups who have killed scores of his people, and suicide bombers who blew up Iraqi civilians in the streets and houses […]. This may push some Iraqi Baathists loyal to their ideas and experience to oppose what happened, although we are not very optimistic about this.

The coup will cause the loss of the oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan Regional Government. The province has been practically under occupation by the Kurdish Peshmerga since June 12. Not many Sunni Arabs will rush to defend it after what happened in Mosul and Tikrit. However, the Anbar province may reach out to the provinces of the center and the south to form the nucleus of a different Iraq that would end the sectarian militia-led mini-states in Mosul and elsewhere, if the sectarian system in Baghdad falls.

On the flip side of this gloomy picture, the coup could also spell the end for the era of sectarian power-sharing and the constitution drafted by the occupation, having proven its threat to the unity of Iraq, its territorial integrity, and the wellbeing of its people. The question now is this: How can this era be practically ended, to launch the process to build an Iraq based on citizenship and equality, atop the ruins of the Iraq of sects and quotas?

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Syria: Support from the US, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan to Al-Qaeda

Lee Roy's photo.
Lee Roy's photo.

“”The “few” thousand people under ISIS is a lie propagated by the West that tried to minimize and conceal the strength of al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. One does not control millions of people and so much territory with 6-7 thousand armed men. Not even al Qaeda.

Several months ago, towards the end of 2013, I published this little exercise of mine on the numerical strength of al Qaeda in Syria, which, therefore, excludes Iraq, but much of what applies to Syria is also valid for Iraq–in terms of the massive cover-up of the massive expansion of al Qaeda armies thanks to massive special forces and financial support from the US, NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, and till June of 2013 also from Egypt and after September 2011 also from Libya. We can also add the Taliban to this mix.

Yes, they too are part of this dangerous terror coalition of the willing, and the recruitment for these al Qaeda armies has been a vast enterprise stretching from the US, Great Britain, Europe, the Horn of Africa, Northern Africa, the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan–a strange combination of highly paid special forces, local elites, and masses of the otherwise unemployed produced as a result of the so-called youth-bulge in the Muslim countries to which we can now add the new (otherwise) permanently unemployed in the West. So here is what I wrote back and what is I think useful to remember when hearing, for example, the Economist’s claim that the ISIS is erely some 6-7,000 strong men.

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Syria: Will “accidental” detainees be covered by the general amnesty?


Men are freed from the central jail in the Syrian city of Homs on June 13, 2014 after Syria begun releasing prisoners under the new Syrian amnesty. (Photo: AFP)

The case of detainees remains one of the most complicated issues in the Syrian crisis due to the variation of cases that include prisoners from armed groups, political detainees, and civilians detained in error. The latest presidential general amnesty law sheds new light on this issue.

Damascus countryside– Along with prisoners from opposition groups, several types of detainees languish in Syrian prisons. Some of them are prisoners of conscience and political detainees. However, the numbers of civilians in jail “by mistake” is larger by orders of magnitude. They were detained for being at the wrong place in the raging war.

In the countryside around Damascus, suspicion alone is enough to land someone in detention. The wrong family name, a torn identification card, belonging to a certain region, a wrongful accusation, or several other minor reasons could lead to an arrest.

Some detainees are only kept for a few hours. But many are spending months in jail, due to the manner in which the authorities are dealing with the issue. Ali Nasser (pseudonym), a worker in the industrial zone in south Reef Damascus was arrested six times; the longest was for a few days. “In most of the cases, I was arrested due to my last name,” he said. “Some of my relatives are fighters.”

“Although my name is not on the arrest lists, my family name was enough to get me arrested at every new checkpoint,” he added with a smile. “All the checkpoints know me by now. The last four times, soldiers from other checkpoints intervened to get me released.”But many of Ali’s colleagues were not that lucky. “Those whose families cannot get them released before being transferred to one of the headquarters are much less likely to be released,” he explained. “Being transferred there means the charge is stuck and there is no escape from prison and the courts.”

The question of detainees emerged as a key issue in the various reconciliations taking place in the regions around the capital, Damascus. Sharif Harees is an activist working on reconciliation in the town of al-Tal (north of the city) described the situation to Al-Akhbar. “Reconciliation committees presented lists of detainees to the authorities and, in most cases, more than 90 percent were released. Those who were involved in major crimes, such as murder or contacts with foreign intelligence, remained in detention,” he said.

“But why did they treat innocent people on equal footing with the killers before the settlement? Why does the issue require such enormous efforts from the families and interventions from state leaders and political parties to be solved?” Harees wondered.

However, the problem has not been solved, despite the several general amnesty decrees against criminals and offenders since the beginning of the crisis. “The problem of arbitrary arrests cancelled out the effects of all the decrees,” lawyer Moaz Sallouta, an expert in cases involving terrorism, told Al-Akhbar. “We kept receiving similar cases throughout our work on releasing detainees.”

“Most of the cases in our court are simple and are resolved as soon as they reach a judge, such as similarity of names, loss of identification card, or accusations by questionable sides without evidence,” he explained. However, the major difficulties are during the pretrial phase. “Sometimes people are arrested for 40 days or more.” Even worse is “the corruption of some of the court employees, who manipulate the dates of the trials, based on connections or bribes.”

Some expert believe the latest general amnesty (Decree No.22 of 2014) issued on June 9, had a deep impact on the complicated question of detainees. Justice Louai Amash describes the amnesty decree as “the most comprehensive in the history of the Syrian Arab Republic.” Its text only excluded charges “which the Syrians would not forgive, such as espionage and high treason, in addition to severe moral crimes related to deviance and contravening nature.”The decree includes “military deserters who fled inside or outside [the country] and the foreigners who came to Syria to carry out terrorist operations, on the condition that they turn themselves in a period not exceeding one month from the date of issuing the decree.”

Reef Damascus’ public prosecutor Ahmad al-Sayyid maintains that the Justice Ministry “is preparing a list of names covered by the decree. It will be sent to the prisons and detention centers for their release.” So far, 274 inmates from Damascus central prison were released under the decree.

On the other side, some believe the decree remains vague in some respects, especially for detainees at the security branches who have not yet been transferred to the prisons or courts. “Implementation is what’s more important,” says the father of one of the detainees. “My son was arrested two weeks ago and we still don’t know where he is. Our hopes were raised by the amnesty, but we cannot put his name on the list since we don’t know where he is.”

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Lebanon: Migrant workers face ignorant officials, negligent prosecutors in battle for justice


Migrant domestic workers call for an end to the slave-like sponsorship system at a labor day rally in 2012 in Beirut. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

“As for the domestic workers who go out on Sundays, what about the employer? He has children, what about their safety? What if she goes out on Sunday and is infected with AIDS?”

Thus spoke the president of Beirut’s Labor Arbitration Council, Hiam Khalil, on Friday at the release of a detailed study examining the obstacles to justice facing migrant workers in Lebanon. The joint study was released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) at a workshop attended by over 70 people and held in Beirut.

The study found that negligent prosecutors, exclusionary laws and a lack of access to information are but some of the obstacles facing migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.

As the president of a council meant to settle disputes between workers and employers in Beirut, Khalil’s remarks suggested a fourth obstacle to justice: the very officials who are supposed to be helping workers.

“Domestic workers shouldn’t benefit from the labor code,” she said during a panel discussion at the workshop, adding that they should not be afforded the protection of Lebanon’s Code of Labor because they don’t pay rent and utilities.

“We are talking about a 625,000 LL ($417) minimum wage, but this would be four times their salary in their countries of origin,” Khalil added, although she failed to specify which countries she meant.

“Protection should not be given to domestic workers to the detriment of their employer’s interests,” said Khalil, referring to the workers as banat, or “girls.”

Representatives from government ministries, employment agencies, embassies and NGOs attended the workshop organized by the sponsors of the report. Some of those present voiced concern over the ideas conveyed in Khalil’s remarks.

“I wish the discourse would evolve beyond the idea that the women will go out and get infected with HIV,” said ILO senior gender specialist Emanuela Pozzan, also speaking at the panel discussion. “Domestic workers are not commodities and the way you have been talking about them makes me think you are talking about them as commodities… It’s diminishing. It’s unfair.”

“We’re going to be here in 20 years discussing the same things,” she added.

Nabil Abdo, an ILO national coordinator, pointed out that migrant domestic workers themselves were absent from the room.

“We are talking about them is if they were minors, not adults,” he said. “Even the terminology used here — they are not ‘girls,’ they are workers.”

Physical, psychological and sexual abuse

The study, entitled “Access to Justice of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon,” examined the cases of 730 Ethiopian migrant domestic workers who have sought aid from the legal assistance arm of CLMC since 2007 and found that nearly two-thirds were facing forced labor situations, defined by the ILO as any work extracted from a person under threat of punishment and without free consent.

While factors like the kafala, or sponsorship system, and migrants’ lack of awareness about their rights play a part, the report also reveals systematic judicial negligence, documenting instances when the public prosecutor declined to pursue justice for workers who were bruised and otherwise wounded. The 100-page report recommends extending labor laws to cover migrant workers and regulating employers more effectively, among other measures.

“The report constitutes a formative step towards understanding the legal and administrative challenges faced by Lebanon in dealing with the victims of exploitation and human trafficking,” said Frank Hagemann, Deputy Regional Director of the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States, in a set of prepared remarks delivered on Friday at the workshop. “Access to justice is far from a reality for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.”

Forced recruitment, poor working and living conditions, the difficulty of leaving abusive employers, and coercive measures of restriction were among the indicators of forced labor the report examined.

More than half of the 730 workers reported working over 85 hours per week, and a similar proportion said their documents had been confiscated by employers.

While stories of domestic workers hanging themselves or leaping from balconies have always suggested an epidemic of abuse in Lebanon, the joint study brings the full picture into focus.

One in three came to CLMC escaping physical abuse, one in four were escaping psychological abuse, and one in ten of the 730 is a survivor of sexual violence perpetrated in Lebanon.

These figures, which represent only those who managed to escape their situation, are an unsurprising product of the kafala system, which places workers under a kind of house arrest at the mercy of their employers.

“There is a lack of fair laws in Lebanon which makes migrant domestic workers victims of thekafala system, which is characterized by feudalism and slavery,” said Father Paul Karam, the president of Caritas Lebanon, during his remarks at the workshop on Friday. “The kafala system has disfigured our civilized image, and our generosity, hospitality and kindness as Lebanese.”The sponsorship system is rooted in a confusing network of Ministry of Labor requirements and decrees issued by Lebanon’s intelligence agency, General Security. It forbids workers from leaving their employer’s home without permission, or from seeking a different job without their employer’s consent.

Migrant workers who feel threatened enough to leave — or “escape” — their employers can thus face civil and criminal charges, and they often do, as the study shows.

Of the 441 CLMC legal cases involving Ethiopian migrant domestic workers between 2008 and 2012, a mere 10 percent were brought with the worker as plaintiff, while the remaining cases saw workers defending themselves from charges like irregular residence, theft, prostitution and illegal entry, according to the report.

A judge anonymously quoted by the report said that exploited workers, fearing prosecution, are encouraged to not complain.

Judiciary: Negligent or actively hostile

Even workers who have successfully escaped their employers can face incredible difficulty in achieving the cooperation of Lebanon’s judiciary.

“In some cases, we didn’t understand why the public prosecutor didn’t initiate legal proceedings when notified of violations committed against migrant workers,” said Alix Nasri, a co-author of the report.

Public prosecutors sometimes declined to pursue cases against employers, even when workers had visible bruises and lesions, according to the report.

In other cases, they prosecuted the worker instead.

Tiruye Yilezu Meperia’s employer withheld $3,400 worth of wages over a period of 29 months. The employer declined to pay and the case reached the public prosecutor, who instead fined the worker 200,000 LL ($133) for holding expired documents.

Meperia was deported before the dispute was resolved, suggesting that simply reaching the courts is no guarantee of a just resolution for migrant domestic workers.

Indeed, workers are often deported before a verdict is reached, according to Sarah Wamsa, a legal researcher with the Beirut-based NGO, The Legal Agenda.

“The public prosecutor is creating a trial in absentia, 100 percent,” said Wamsa, who has separately examined over 450 cases involving migrant domestic workers.

The public prosecutor can deport a worker regardless of whether she’s the plaintiff or defendant, Wamsa added.“The public prosecutor refers her to General Security, and the Director General of General Security Abbas Ibrahim decides whether she stays in the country or not,” Wamsa said. “He personally decides. Usually the decision is that she can’t stay in the country and is deported.”

General Security sent Colonel Elie Deek as a representative to Friday’s workshop, according to report co-author Alix Nasri. Colonel Deek left 75 minutes into the five-hour workshop, and could not be reached for comment.

Deportation visits emotional and financial hardship on workers, who can be forced out of the country simply for going to the police to try to claim missing wages from their employers.

As a phenomenon, systematic deportation hinders any progress for migrant workers in Lebanon, said Wamsa, because the workers are often long-gone once the verdict is even reached.

The way forward

The report outlines three complementary approaches to improving access to justice for migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, falling broadly into the categories of legislative reform, abuse prevention and measures for winning the cooperation of key stakeholders.

Migrant domestic workers should be afforded the protection of the Lebanese Code of Labor, the report suggests. Article 7 of the Code specifically excludes domestic workers from its protective powers. As a result, the employment of migrant domestic workers is presently regulated by the private sector and General Security, with little input or oversight from the Ministry of Labor.

The report also recommends the adoption and implementation of Law no. 164 which criminalizes human trafficking, and improved judicial control over private employment agencies, which are often complicit in the abuse of workers.

Among suggestions for better legal representation for workers, the report suggests the creation of a special human rights prosecutor that workers could complain to directly.

The report argues for the adoption of a standard contract in compliance with international norms and also suggests workers be given the right to bargain collectively.

“The labor code doesn’t recognize domestic workers as workers,” said Castro Abdallah, the head of the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees in Lebanon.

“Many domestic workers have died here in Lebanon and nobody knows about them,” Abdallah added. “They should have the right to go out and the right to rest.”

“My wife gave birth to my child and our domestic worker took care of our child, our most precious thing,” Abdallah said. “They are helping us. Without her help my wife could not go back to work. We are calling for the protection of women’s rights in Lebanon.”

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In Defence Of The Ottomans Against Imran Hosein – Sheikh Lokman Efendi

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Lebanese army cracks down on ZiO-Wahhabi al-Nusra Front in Ersal


Lebanese army soldiers stationed outside a neighborhood in Beirut after capturing a wanted jihadist earlier this year. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

The Lebanese army intensified its security measures near the country’s borders with Syria’s Qalamoun region amid a crackdown on al-Nusra Front militants fleeing Syria. The military operation will in fact take some time, and is expected to further intensify if the Syrian army decides to regain control over al-Zabadani.

After the battle in Syria’s Qalamoun subsided and the army seized back most towns and villages neighboring the Lebanese border, the threat of militants fleeing to Lebanon turned into a serious crisis.

Ersal, a Lebanese border town that has been dragged into the Syrian crisis since the onset of the conflict, has turned into a vital site for al-Nusra Front and other militants who have been attacking Lebanese residents and Syrian refugees alike, committing murders, theft and kidnappings for ransom. Many citizens have also been prevented from reaching their lands on the outskirts of the town.

However, early on Friday, June 13, troops from the army’s Airborne Regiment patrolled the town’s barren ranges and raided refugee camps in Wadi Hamid, mainly targeting the Martyrs’ Camp, to arrest fugitives and seize logistic equipment.

Measures taken by the Lebanese army, along with the military campaign launched by the Syrian army a few months ago, mitigated the effect of militants pouring into Lebanon and stopped bomb-rigged cars and suicide bombers from reaching deep into Lebanese territory.

Distressed, militants besieged in barren mountains recently began to push deeper into the Lebanese territory, seeking food and cash.

In addition to the threat they pose, information received by security forces suggested that some militants were planning to erect residential buildings in Ersal’s rugged hills, paving the way for a permanent foothold in the border area, which pushed the army to take action.

Meanwhile, information from al-Zabadani suggests that the Syrian army will soon launch a military operation to retake the region, which will lead more militants to head toward Lebanon.

Lebanese military sources confirmed to Al-Akhbarthat “the Lebanese army is determined to preserve security in the border regions and to stop militants from attacking citizens,” adding that “the operation is proceeding slowly but that its results are guaranteed.”The sources stressed on the importance of “coordinating with the Syrian armed forces in the coming period because coordination was limited in the past during Qalamoun battle.” The sources added, “It is important for the two countries to coordinate if the Syrian armed forces launch an operation in al-Zabadani.”

On the ground, Friday’s army raids in search of militants and terrorist suspects led to the arrest of five individuals “confirmed of having received training with terrorist groups,” a security official told Al-Akhbar.

Zaher. A, a member of Abdullah Azzam Brigades, in addition to four others, Nour C, Adel G, Mohamed G and Haytham G were among those arrested, the source revealed.

According to the official, the cameras, computers and CDs that were seized “prove that the militants have received training with terrorist groups.” Wireless communication devices, cell phones and IDs were also found with them.

Although the army campaign was hailed in Ersal, some residents complained about “restricting it to the town, instead of expanding [the operation] to the ranges where militants are preventing us from inspecting our land and benefiting from it,” one of Ersal’s prominent residents told Al-Akhbar.

The man revealed that a local named Abdel Rahman al-Houjairi “was hit with a bullet in the chest while inspecting his field in the area,” explaining that “militants showed no mercy for a 65-year-old man who remains today in intensive care, suspended between life and death.”

He urged the army “to do more than just conduct a raid every month or so,” and called upon it to “patrol the area daily to prevent the militants’ violations.”

However, the military operations have not yet succeeded in releasing Mekhayel Mourad, a Ras Baalbek resident who was kidnapped by al-Nusra Front militants four days ago from a rock crushing plant at his town’s outskirts.

Security forces have also been unable to uncover the fate of two Syrian refugees who came from the town of Qara, Mahmoud and Atef al-Badawi, who were kidnapped by al-Nusra Front militants from inside their refugee camp at the outskirts of Ersal, while a third relative named Ahmed Youssed al-Badawi, 32, was killed after being accused of spying for the Syrian regime.

Security forces have also been unable to gather any information regarding the fate of other kidnapped individuals.

The killing of al-Badawi reminded locals of the communiqué distributed in Ersal last February, threatening to execute “people from the towns of Qara, al-Maara and al-Jraijir who cooperate with the Syrian regime.” At the time, the bodies of Ali al-Naqshi and others were retrieved while security forces have yet to resolve any of those crimes.

Within this framework, mayor of Ras Baalbek, Michel al-Arja told Al-Akhbar , “We have not received any information about Mekhayel Mourad until yesterday afternoon,” saying that kidnappers asked the rock crashing plant owner, Refaat Meshref, for a US$ 150,000 ransom to release Mourad and return the machines and equipment they stole.

Arja revealed that, “We are communicating with our friends in Ersal who are negotiating with militants and we were promised yesterday afternoon that he was going to be released.”

However, Arja did not seem very confident and urged, “the Lebanese state to step in to protect its citizens and liberate Mourad,” calling upon the army to “deploy soldiers from its two barracks in the region to protect Ras Baalbek from attacks, since the plant’s incident, which included kidnapping and theft, was the fifth in just a few months.”

Meanwhile, Syrian army intelligence services arrested a man named Yehya Abdullah al-Hussein in Mashari al-Qaa region and seized drugs in his possession. The man is thought to belong to the group of Omar al-Atrash, an Ersal local who has already been arrested by the Lebanese army and charged with terrorism. The army also arrested Hussein Ali al-Atrash, accused of stealing motorbikes.

In the meantime, Syrian military planes carried out air strikes near the border with al-Tufail village, targeting militants from al-Nusra Front that “tried to sneak into the Syrian village of Rankous while some al-Nusra militants were attacking the army’s positions in the village.”

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